- The Washington Times - Monday, October 21, 2002

Two top Bush administration officials said yesterday that America would accept the continuation of Saddam Hussein's regime if Iraq disarms, apparently backing away from the official U.S. policy of seeking the ouster of the dictator.
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice said in television interviews yesterday that a disarmed Saddam could remain in power, and Mr. Powell said that is now President Bush's position.
"Remember where regime change came from it came from the previous administration," Mr. Powell said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
That demand, he said, "came out of the Congress in 1998, when it was thought the only way to get rid of weapons of mass destruction was to change the regime. We will see whether [the Iraqis] cooperate or not." However, "regime change" is a demand that Bush administration figures have made often.
On CNN's "Late Edition," Miss Rice also spoke of the goal of Iraqi disarmament instead of regime change.
"The goal here is to disarm Saddam Hussein. In order to do that, we are going to have to test his willingness to cooperate," she said. "This time it has to be a test of his willingness to disarm, because if he is not willing to disarm, then we're going to have to disarm him."
Mr. Powell was asked on NBC about his statements to USA Today editors and reporters on Oct. 2 indicating that Saddam might be able to remain in power if Baghdad agrees to disarm completely.
"What I said was that if Saddam disarmed entirely and satisfied the international community, that would be a change in attitude, a change in the way the regime is looking at its situation in the world. And it is consistent with what the president has said previously and subsequently," he said.
"So [Saddam] can save himself, in effect, and remain in power?" host Tim Russert asked Mr. Powell.
"All we're interested in is getting rid of those weapons of mass destruction. We think the Iraqi people would be a lot better off with a different leader, a different regime. But the principal offense here are weapons of mass destruction," Mr. Powell said.
Asked whether Vice President Richard B. Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, both administration hawks, share his view that there can be disarmament without regime change, Mr. Powell, who for 18 months has said that Saddam must go, said:
"The president has made it clear what the United States' position is."
In the Oct. 2 interview with USA Today, Mr. Powell said Mr. Bush "indicated that this is a matter that might be resolved without war."
"What the president is saying to the U.N. is this: Your resolutions have been violated. If you can get the inspectors back in under a tightened tough regime with consequences for failure to perform, you can disarm this society," he said. "If you can do that and get them to change their behavior so that they accept disarmament, then you have a different kind of regime, no matter who's in Baghdad."
Pressed as to whether Saddam could remain in power under those circumstances, Mr. Powell said: "I think the case can be made because it would be an Iraq that's willing to give up, or participate in the destruction, of these weapons of mass destruction."
He made his comments yesterday as the United States prepares to present a resolution to the U.N. Security Council early this week that Mr. Powell said would focus on the need for Saddam to disclose and surrender weapons of mass destruction. Iraq insists it has no such weapons.
Mr. Powell said the final resolution must have three components: "First of all, any resolution will have to document that [Saddam] is in violation of these many U.N. resolutions over the years. Secondly, the resolution must contain a strong new inspection regime, so he can't defeat it the way he did the previous one. And I think such a resolution must also talk about the fact that consequences lay ahead" for noncompliance.
Mr. Powell said there are differences of opinion on what the consequences would be and that the debate among council members has centered on "how those consequences get determined."
In multiple network interviews yesterday, Mr. Powell did not specify that the new resolution would call for military force if Saddam violates its mandates. But he said, "I'm confident that any resolution we come up with would in no way affect the president's authority, with other like-minded nations, to act in the presence of continued Iraqi violation."
Mr. Powell said on NBC that he believes the United States "will be successful" in getting the council to approve a resolution that contains an "indictment" of Saddam's record of flouting U.N. resolutions, that requires a "tough inspection regime" and that makes a "linkage to consequences."
In a speech to the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 12, Mr. Bush presented five steps that Iraq must take to avoid warfare. The first two called for total disarmament and to end support for and the use of terrorism.
The third called for Iraq to "cease persecution of its civilians." The fourth said Iraq must "release or account for all Gulf War personnel whose fate is still unknown." He said Saddam must return the remains, including "stolen property," of all who died "from the invasion of Kuwait" in 1990 and "accept liability for losses resulting" from that invasion.
The fifth requirement was that Iraq "immediately end all illicit trade outside the oil-for-food program" and that it accept "U.N. administration of funds from that program" so that it "promptly and fairly benefits the Iraqi people."
Administration officials are skeptical that Saddam will disclose and surrender weapons of mass destruction, since he contends Iraq has none. Mr. Cheney has said that Baghdad would never allow U.N. weapons inspectors to have complete, unfettered access to potential weapons sites.
Last week, John Bolton, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, told reporters that regime change in Iraq must be as thorough as the "de-Nazification" of Germany after World War II.
"It's not just the one person," Mr. Bolton said of Saddam. "It's the top people around him."

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide