- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 3, 2002

President Bush yesterday said Saddam Hussein's compliance with the United Nations after a week of weapons inspections is "not encouraging" and warned the Iraqi leader to come clean by Sunday.
"The inspectors are not in Iraq to play hide-and-seek with Mr. Saddam Hussein," Mr. Bush said in a speech at the Pentagon. "On or before the eighth of December, Iraq must provide a full and accurate declaration of its weapons of mass destruction and ballistic-missile programs."
The speech was part of a concerted effort by the administration and its allies, especially Britain, to toughen its rhetoric against Saddam Hussein in order to pre-empt any international complacency while inspections are under way. Similarly tough talk came from Vice President Richard B. Cheney and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz.
"Last month, Saddam's regime said it would deal with U.N. inspections," Mr. Cheney said in a speech in Denver. "Saddam has made such pledges before, and he has violated them all, time and time again."
In London, Mr. Wolfowitz said the administration knows Saddam is "hiding things." He compared the Iraqi dictator to former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, who is currently on trial in The Hague on charges of war crimes.
"We all knew how bad Milosevic is," Mr. Wolfowitz said. "Well, Milosevic is a Sunday school teacher compared to Saddam Hussein."
Although the eyes of the world have been focused for a week on the weapons inspections, Mr. Bush warned against placing too much emphasis on this one measure of Iraqi compliance.
"Inspectors do not have the duty or the ability to uncover terrible weapons hidden in a vast country," he said. "The responsibility of inspectors is simply to confirm the evidence of voluntary and total disarmament.
"It is Saddam Hussein who has the responsibility to provide that evidence as directed, and in full," the president added. "Any act of delay, deception or defiance will prove that Saddam Hussein has not adopted the path of compliance and has rejected the path of peace."
Mr. Bush said the inspections have just one purpose: allowing the United States to determine whether Iraq has given up its quest for chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.
"Has Saddam Hussein changed his behavior of the last 11 years? Has he decided to cooperate willingly and comply completely, or has he not?" he asked. "So far, the signs are not encouraging.
"A regime that fires upon American and British pilots is not taking the path of compliance," he said. "A regime that sends letters filled with protests and falsehoods is not taking the path of compliance."
The president was referring to a screed against the United States in an Iraqi letter last month announcing that Baghdad would comply with the demands of a U.N. Security Council resolution.
He was also referring to ongoing attempts of the Iraqi military to shoot down U.S. planes patrolling no-fly zones in northern and southern Iraq. The latest exchange of fire between Iraqi anti-aircraft installations and a U.S. military jet occurred yesterday in the northern no-fly zone.
But there were also signs that the inspections themselves were not going smoothly. U.N. officials reported yesterday that materials that had been marked by a previous inspections regime were moved without explanation from an Iraqi facility.
Meanwhile, a U.N. spokesman acknowledged that its inspectors gave advance notice to Iraqi officials before inspecting two sites. The State Department yesterday downplayed the importance of that advance notice, even though the inspections are supposed to be surprises.
Bush administration officials were not the only people ratcheting up the rhetoric against Saddam Hussein. British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw released a detailed, 23-page report on the torture of Saddam Hussein's opponents inside Iraq.
"The dossier does make for harrowing reading, with accounts of torture, rape and other horrific human rights abuses," Mr. Straw said at a press conference.
The British government aired a videotape of prisoners being kicked and stomped in the face. Amnesty International accused Prime Minister Tony Blair's government of using Baghdad's human rights abuses to gin up justification for a military strike against Iraq.
"This selective attention to human rights is nothing but a cold and calculated manipulation of the work of human rights activists," said Irene Khan, Amnesty International's secretary-general.
But Mr. Bush said yesterday a military strike is by no means inevitable.
"We're a peaceful nation," he said before signing a bill increasing defense spending by $30 billion. "War is the last option for confronting threats.
"Yet the temporary peace of denial and looking away from danger would only be a prelude to broader war and greater horror," he said. "America will confront gathering dangers early, before our options become limited and desperate."
Mr. Bush reiterated his warning that Saddam could supply weapons of mass destruction to al Qaeda or other terrorist networks. He also raised the possibility that Baghdad could be continuing its weapons programs even as inspectors scour the countryside.
Saddam has a long history of seeking biological and chemical and nuclear weapons, even while U.N. inspectors were present in his country, he said. "As the U.N. inspections process gets under way, we must remember that inspections will only work if Iraq fully complies."
Mr. Cheney said Saddam's regime is currently "developing weapons for the sole purpose of inflicting death on a massive scale."
The vice president also rebutted arguments from his predecessor, Al Gore, who has accused the administration of jumping "from one unfinished task to another" by going after Iraq before finishing the job in Afghanistan.
"Confronting the threat posed by Iraq is not a distraction from the war on terror," Mr. Cheney told a gathering of Air National Guard officers. "It is absolutely crucial to winning the war on terror.
"Saddam Hussein is harboring terrorists and the instruments of terror. He is pressing forward with weapons of mass destruction."
Mr. Cheney added to hearty applause: "The war on terror will not be won till Iraq is completely and verifiably deprived of weapons of mass destruction."


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