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US Administration's position with regard to Iraq

Administration's position with regard to Iraq

Secretary Colin L. Powell Testimony before the House Committee on International Relations Washington, DC September 19, 2002

As Prepared

Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, I am pleased to appear before you to testify on the Administration's position with regard to Iraq.

Congressman Hyde, Congressman Lantos, you and I have been discussing Iraq for a long time. In fact, many of the committee members go back with me to the days of the Gulf War.

In 1990, Saddam Hussein s forces invaded Kuwait, brutalized the population, and rejected the international community s ultimatum to withdraw.

The U.S. built a world-wide coalition with the clear political purpose of liberating Kuwait. The military instrument of that coalition, led by America, had an equally clear military objective that flowed directly from the political purpose: eject the Iraqi army from Kuwait.

The United Nations Security Council endorsed this purpose and objective, and the international community responded with unprecedented political backing, financial support, and military forces. As a result, we not only accomplished our mission in the Gulf War, the way we did it was a model of American leadership and international cooperation.

When the war ended, the UN Security Council agreed to take measures to ensure Iraq did not threaten any of its neighbors again. Saddam Hussein was a man after all who had sent his armies against Iran in 1980 and then against Kuwait in 1990, who had fired ballistic missiles at neighboring countries, and who had used chemical weapons in the war with Iran and even against his own people. The United States and the international community were strongly determined to prevent any future aggression.

UN Security Council Resolution 687 of 3 April 1991 fixed the terms of the ceasefire in the Gulf. The fundamental purpose of this resolution and many more that followed was restoration of regional peace and security by way of a series of stringent demands on Iraq, particularly its disarmament with respect to weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles with ranges greater than 150 kilometers. Desert Storm had dramatically reduced Iraq s more conventional military capability while at the same time not leaving Iraq so prostrate it could not defend itself against Iran.

Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, you know the rest of the story. You heard the President relate it at the United Nations seven days ago today. Iraq has defied the United Nations and refused to comply completely with any of the UN Security Council Resolutions. Moreover, since December 1998 when the UN s inspection teams left Iraq because of the regime s flagrant defiance of the UN, the Iraqi regime has been free to pursue weapons of mass destruction. Meanwhile, the world has changed dramatically.

Since September 11, 2001, the world is a different place. As a consequence of the terrorist attacks on that day and of the war on terrorism that those attacks made necessary, a new reality was born: the world had to recognize that the potential connection between terrorists and weapons of mass destruction moved terrorism to a new level of threat. In fact, that nexus became the overriding security concern of our nation. It still is. It will continue to be for some years to come.

We now see that a proven menace like Saddam Hussein, in possession of weapons of mass destruction, could empower a few terrorists to threaten millions of innocent people.

President Bush is fully determined to deal with this threat. His Administration is determined to defeat it. I believe the American people would have us do no less. President Bush is also aware of the need to engage the international community. He understands how powerful a strong and unified international community can be, as we have seen so well-demonstrated in the war on terrorism in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

The need to engage the international community is why the President took his message on the grave and gathering danger of Iraq to the United Nations last week. Moreover, it is the United Nations that is the offended party, not Iraq, as some might claim.

It was United Nations resolutions that were systematically and brutally ignored and violated for these past 12 years. It was United Nations inspectors who found it impossible to do their job and had to leave the work unfinished. The President s challenge to the United Nations General Assembly was a direct and simple one: If you would remain relevant, you must act.

The President s speech was powerful and energized the UN General Assembly debate. It changed the political landscape on which this issue was being discussed. Iraq is the problem. Iraq is in material breach of the demands placed upon it by the United Nations.

President Bush made clear in his speech what Iraq must do to repair this breach:

+ Iraq must immediately and unconditionally forswear, disclose, and remove or destroy all weapons of mass destruction, long-range missiles, and all related material. + Iraq must end all support for terrorism and act to suppress it, as all states are required to do by UN Security Council resolutions. + Iraq must cease persecution of its civilian population, including Shi a, Sunnis, Kurds, Turkomans, and others, again as required by UN Security Council resolutions, + Iraq must release or account for all Gulf War personnel whose fate is still unknown. It must return the remains of any who are deceased, return stolen property, accept liability for losses resulting from the invasion of Kuwait, and it must cooperate fully with international efforts to resolve these issues, once again as required by Security Council resolutions. + And Iraq must immediately end all illicit trade outside the oil-for-food program. It must accept UN administration of funds from that program, to ensure that the money is used fairly and promptly for the benefit of the Iraqi people.

Over the past weekend I watched the pressure build on Iraq as the Arab League, the Secretary General and others pressed Iraq on the need to take action.

Four days ago, on Monday, Iraq responded with a familiar, tactical ploy. The Iraqi Foreign Minister said Iraq would let the inspectors in without conditions. But he is not deceiving anyone. It is a ploy we have seen before, on many occasions. And on each occasion, once inspectors began to operate Iraq continued to do everything to frustrate their work.

In May 1991, for example, just after suspension of hostilities in the Gulf War, Iraq accepted the unrestricted freedom of entry and exit without delay or hindrance for UN inspectors and their property, supplies, and equipment.

In June 1991 a short month later Iraqis fired warning shots at the inspectors to keep them away from suspicious vehicles.

Three months later, in September, the Iraqis confiscated a set of documents from the inspectors. When the inspectors refused to comply with an Iraqi demand to give up a second set of documents, the Iraqis surrounded them and for four days refused to let them leave the inspection site. Finally, when the UN threatened enforcement action, the inspectors were allowed to leave.

In February 1992 Iraq refused to comply with a UN inspection team s decision to destroy certain facilities used in proscribed programs and in April of that year Iraq demanded a halt to the inspectors aerial flights.

Later, in July of that year, Iraq refused the inspectors access to the Iraqi Ministry of Agriculture. The inspectors had reliable information that the site contained archives related to proscribed activities. They finally gained access only after members of the Council threatened enforcement action.

In January 1993, Iraq refused to allow the UN inspection teams to use their own aircraft to fly into Iraq. In June and July of 1993, Iraq refused to allow the UN inspectors to install remote-controlled monitoring cameras at two missile engine test stands. In March 1996, Iraqi security forces refused UN inspection teams access to five sites designated for inspection. The teams entered the sites after delays of up to 17 hours which of course permitted the Iraqis to remove any incriminating evidence. In November 1996, Iraq blocked UN inspectors from removing remnants of missile engines for in-depth analysis outside Iraq. In June 1997, Iraqi escorts on board a UN inspector team helicopter attempted physically to prevent the UN pilot from flying the helicopter in the direction of its intended destination.

In that month also, Iraq again blocked UN inspection teams from entering designated sites for inspection. In September 1997, an Iraqi officer attacked a UN inspector on board a UN helicopter while the inspector was attempting to take photographs of unauthorized movement of Iraqi vehicles inside a site designated for inspection.

Also in September, while seeking access to a site declared by Iraq to be "sensitive," UN inspectors witnessed and videotaped Iraqi guards moving files, burning documents, and dumping ash-filled waste cans into a nearby river.

Mr. Chairman, I have left out much and could go on all the way to the departure of the UN inspection teams from Iraq in December 1998 because they could no longer do their job. And I could talk about Operation Desert Fox, the military action that resulted. But I believe you get the point.

The Iraqi regime is infamous for its ploys, its stalling tactics, its demands on inspectors sometimes at the point of a gun, and its general and consistent defiance of the mandate of the UN Security Council.

There is absolutely no reason at all to expect that Iraq has changed, that this latest effort to welcome inspectors without conditions is not another ploy.

Let s be clear about the reason for their announcement. The Iraqis did not suddenly see the error of their past ways. They were responding to the heat and pressure generated by the international community after President Bush s speech.

The United States has made it clear to our Security Council colleagues that we will not fall for this ploy. This is the time to apply more pressure, not to relent. We must not believe that inspectors going in on the same conditions that caused their withdrawal four years ago is in any way acceptable. These four years have been more than enough time for Iraq to procure, develop, and hide proscribed items well beyond the reach of the kinds of inspectors that were subject to Saddam s cheat and retreat approach from 1991 to 1998.

The United States has determined that Iraq s obstruction of UN Security Council resolutions and its gross violation of its obligations cannot continue. In his speech to the General Assembly, the President challenged the Security Council to live up to its responsibilities. The UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, said the same thing. We, our closest allies, and our friends around the world are prepared to do our part to enforce Security Council resolutions and render harmless the Iraqi threat. We are discussing now the best way to proceed with the other members of the Security Council and with close friends. We are trying to find a solution.

If part of the solution involves an inspection regime, it must be a regime that goes in with the authority of a new resolution that removes the weaknesses of the present regime and which will not tolerate any Iraqi disobedience. It cannot be a resolution that will be negotiated with Iraq. The resolution must be strong enough and comprehensive enough that it produces disarmament, not just inspections.

Many UN members, including some on the Security Council, want to take Iraq at its word and send inspectors back in without any new resolution or new authority. This is a recipe for failure.

The debate we have begun to have within the Council is on the need for and the wording of a resolution. Our position is clear. We must face the facts and find Iraq in material breach. Then, we must specify the actions we demand of Iraq which President Bush has already shown us. And we must determine what consequences will flow from Iraq s failure to take action.

That is what makes this time different. This time, unlike any time over the previous 12 years of Iraqi defiance, there must be hard consequences. This time, Iraq must comply with the UN mandate or there will be decisive action to compel compliance.

We will listen to other points of view and try to reach agreement within the Council. It will be a difficult debate. We will also preserve the President s ability to defend our nation and our interests.

Some have suggested that there is a conflict in this approach, that U.S. interests should be our total concern.

But Mr. Chairman, both of these issues are important. We are a member of the UN Security Council. We are a member of the UN. It is a multilateral institution whose resolutions have been violated. But the United States, as a separate matter, believes that its interest is threatened. We are trying to solve this problem through the United Nations and in a multilateral way. The President took the case to the UN because it is the body that should deal with such matters as Iraq. It was created to deal with such matters. And President Bush is hoping that the UN will act and act in a decisive way.

But at the same time, if the UN is not able to act and act decisively -- and I think that would be a terrible indictment of the UN -- then the United States will have to make its own decision as to whether the danger posed by Iraq is such that we have to act in order to defend our country and our interests.

And Mr. Chairman, our diplomatic efforts at the United Nations would be helped by a strong Congressional resolution authorizing President Bush to take action.

The President should be authorized to use all means he determines appropriate, including military force, to enforce the UN Security Council resolutions Iraq is defying, and to defend the United States and its interests against the threat Iraq poses, and to restore international peace and security to the region.

I ask for your immediate action on such a resolution to show the world that we are united in this effort.

Mr. Chairman, my colleagues in the intelligence community and in the Department of Defense are giving the Congress what it will need with respect to intelligence on Iraq and on military contingency planning. So I won t speak to those areas.

But let me say this about the Iraqi threat before I stop and allow the greater part of this time for your important questions.

We can have debates about the size and nature of the Iraqi stockpile of WMD and of mid- and long-range missiles. But no one can doubt the record of Iraqi violations of United Nations Security Council resolutions, one after another, and for twelve long years.

And no one can doubt that the Iraqi dictator s intentions have not changed. He wants weapons of mass destruction as clearly as he wants to remain in power.

These two realities stare us in the face and cannot must not be avoided.

Thank you and I ll stop there and take your questions.

[End]

Released on September 19, 2002


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