Today’s action by the U.N. Security Council is the result of a good deal
of hard work over the past several months. President Bush has rallied
our nation and the world to address the danger posed by Saddam Hussein’s
regime. Until he spoke out the world was drifting along and Iraq
was hard at work developing weapons of mass destruction, having thrown
out the inspectors.
But the President took his case to Congress and the American people—and
Then the President took his case to the U.N.—and the Security Council has
Now, the world’s attention is turning to Baghdad. Saddam Hussein
has a choice to make: He can give up his weapons of mass murder—or,
as the President has said, he can lose power.
The burden of proof is not on the United States or the U.N. to find his
weapons of mass destruction and destroy them. The burden of proof
is on him—to prove to the world that he is disarming as he agreed to do
a decade ago, and as required by now 17 U.N. resolutions.
As the President made clear this morning, inspections can be effective
only if the target nation has made a choice to disarm, and wants to prove
to the world that they are doing so. They cannot be effective in
uncovering deceptions and violations if the target country is determined
not to cooperate.
The task the international community now faces is to determine what choice
Saddam Hussein will make:
Has he accepted, finally, that he has no choice left but to disarm?
Or, as so often before, has he simply made a tactical retreat, in the hope
of keeping his WMD aspirations alive?
We know this much: the only thing that has brought us to this point
is the growing threat of military pressure on the Iraqi regime. And
the only way to finish the job facing the U.N. today—to disarm his regime—is
to keep that pressure up.
Since 1998, the Iraqi regime has refused to allow any inspectors into the
country. They are reversing course today, only when they began to
realize they had no other choice. The minute Saddam and his small
ruling clique sense that they are out of danger, they will have no further
incentive to cooperate, and any U.N. inspection and disarmament efforts
will fail once again.
There will be a number of opportunities in the coming weeks to discover
Iraq must not take or threaten hostile action against inspectors or coalition
aircraft upholding U.N. resolutions.
Within seven days, Iraq is required to confirm an intention to comply.
Within thirty days, Iraq must fully and truthfully declare all of its WMD
capabilities, programs and stockpiles.
Iraq must comply with all demands to inspect any site and interview any
individuals inspectors see fit—including interviews outside of Iraq.
As the President said this morning, “any act of delay or defiance will
be an additional breach of Iraq’s international obligations…. If Iraq fails
to fully comply, the U.S. and other nations will disarm Saddam Hussein.”
During this period the U.S. will:
Continue patrolling the skies over Iraq;
Continue working with friends and allies to keep military pressure on Iraq;
Continue working with the Iraqi opposition to prepare for military action;
Continue developing a humanitarian relief and reconstruction plan for post-Saddam
Saddam Hussein must understand: this is Saddam Hussein’s regime’s last
chance to come into compliance with all U.N. Security Council resolutions.
The choice rests not in Washington or New York, but in Baghdad. For
the sake of peace, let us hope the Iraqi regime chooses wisely.