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2/22/03 - RICE ON PROTESTS - 2003-02-24

Millions of people in cities such as Berlin, London, and New York have protested against the possibility of a U.S.-led coalition to force Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to disarm.

There are people who feel strongly that war against Iraq is an option that should not be pursued. And in the United States and other free countries, people have the freedom to protest. But as U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said, “One, of course, does not have that freedom in Baghdad, where the wishes and the concerns and the suffering of the Iraqi people seem to be falling by the wayside.”

Ms. Rice said that it is important “to remember the true nature of the Iraqi regime, how they rape and torture, how they kill women in front of their families to make a point, [and] to remember that Saddam Hussein is acquiring and has acquired weapons of mass destruction.” He has used chemical weapons against the Iraqi people, including the Kurdish minority.

As a condition for ending the Persian Gulf War in 1991, the United Nations required Iraq to stop developing ballistic missiles with a range of more than one-hundred-fifty kilometers and to end its chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons programs. Iraq defied the U-N and in 1998 forced U-N weapons inspectors to leave. U-N Security Council resolution fourteen forty-one, approved unanimously in November, gave Iraq a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations. That resolution, said Ms. Rice, “simply states” that if Iraq fails to comply, it will face serious consequences.

Iraq was supposed to file a full and complete declaration about its weapons of mass destruction. “Instead,” said Ms. Rice, Iraq filed “a declaration that everyone knows was a joke -- twelve-thousand pages of nothing.” Iraq is not cooperating. Iraq is deceiving.

Tyrants like Saddam Hussein do respond to toughness. If Saddam Hussein doesn’t disarm, as required by the U-N, then, as President George W. Bush has said, a “coalition of the willing” is prepared to do it for him.