- The Washington Times - Monday, November 11, 2002

Senior U.S. officials say Saddam Hussein will be held to a "zero-tolerance" standard on arms inspections under the tough new U.N. Security Council resolution and warned that military action, with or without U.N. support, will deal with any breach.
"We believe we ought to approach this with a zero-tolerance attitude because we have been down this road with Saddam Hussein before," Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said yesterday on CNN.
National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice echoed his remarks in appearances on network news interview programs. "We have to have a zero-tolerance view of the Iraqi regime this time. The next material breach by Saddam Hussein has got to have serious consequences," Miss Rice told Fox News interviewers.
The Security Council resolution, adopted Friday by a vote of 15-0, demands that Iraq destroy its weapons of mass destruction and open up to U.N. weapons inspectors or face "serious consequences," which were not spelled out. "Friday was a wonderful day. The U.N. showed its relevance," Mr. Powell said on CBS.
Both he and Miss Rice, as well as White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr., said the United States would act against Saddam if the Security Council declines to do so.
"The United States and Great Britain and our allies are prepared to act. The U.N. can meet and discuss, but we don't need their permission" to invade Iraq, Mr. Card said on NBC's "Meet the Press." He said Congress has already given President Bush that authority.
Miss Rice put it this way: "The fact is the president has been clear enough about his intention to use force should we be unable to disarm Saddam Hussein peacefully. I think Saddam understands."
Mr. Powell left no doubt as to the nature of the "serious consequences" Saddam will face if he refuses to come clean and acknowledge the weapons of mass destruction he is hiding in his country. Under the new Security Council resolution, Saddam must disclose the weapons he has by Dec. 8.
Iraq insists it has no weapons of mass destruction, which it was originally ordered to eliminate after its defeat in the 1991 Persian Gulf war. This was among the sanctions the United Nations imposed on Iraq for starting the war by invading neighboring Kuwait.
If Saddam refuses to comply with this resolution, it will be the 17th he has ignored. But, in the past, the United Nations allowed him to flout the resolutions with impunity.
"I can assure you if he doesn't comply this time, we are going to ask the U.N. to give authorization for all necessary means," Mr. Powell said. "If the U.N. isn't willing to do that, the United States, with like-minded nations, will go and disarm him forcefully. And the president has made that clear."
Arab foreign ministers meeting in Cairo yesterday urged Saddam to accept the terms of the resolution.
Yesterday Saddam called on the Iraqi parliament to hold an emergency session this week to consider the resolution, a move Miss Rice called "ludicrous."
"Saddam Hussein is an absolute dictator and tyrant, and the idea that he somehow expects the Iraqi parliament to debate this they've never debated anything else," Miss Rice said. "I'm surprised he even bothered to go through this ploy."
Mr. Powell said he doesn't know whether Saddam will comply with the latest U.N. resolution. Miss Rice said, "You have to be very skeptical" that he will comply. Iraq must tell the United Nations its intentions by Friday.
Both Miss Rice and Mr. Powell said Iraq must show evidence that it is cooperating with U.N. weapons inspections soon after the inspectors return to that country after a four-year absence.
Miss Rice said Saddam "has to lead the inspectors" to weapons sites, and "he has to provide access to people who know what's going on in these programs." There is not enough time, given the deadlines included in the U.N. resolution, for inspectors to "go hunting and pecking" through a country the size of France in search of weapons of mass destruction. The days of "cat and mouse games" are over, she said.
Mr. Powell said the inspectors must report to the Security Council about the treatment they receive from Saddam's government, "not play rope-a-dope in the desert with them."
Although the Security Council will review the nature of any breach to determine how it should be handled, the United States will also be examining the violation to decide "whether it should prepare or begin to prepare for military action, either as part of a U.N. effort, or separately," he said.
As a member of the Security Council, the United States will have a role in its assessment. "You can be sure we'll be pressing the Security Council at that point to show very little tolerance or understanding for any of the kinds of excuses Saddam Hussein might put forward," Mr. Powell added.
Miss Rice said Iraq had better not try to negotiate findings by the inspectors, as negotiations will not be allowed.
Asked whether Iraq would face "serious consequences" if Saddam continues to insist he has no weapons of mass destruction, she said that such a denial would tell the world "that this is not a regime that is changing its stripes."
Mr. Powell said that if Saddam lies about the weapons he possesses, that would constitute a "material breach" of the resolution.
And though Saddam is not obligated to tell the United Nations until Nov. 15 whether he will accept the return of inspectors, both Mr. Powell and Miss Rice said he does not have a choice.
The U.N. resolution says the goal is disarmament, not regime change in Iraq. But "he must accept," Mr. Powell said. "If he doesn't, the Security Council will have to decide" what to do.
Miss Rice said she believes that Saddam would declare weapons he's concealing only "if he believes he's going to be taken down."

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide