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Rice says Iraq pursuing 'shell game'

National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice writes in an op-ed piece that  Iraq's weapons declaration
National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice writes in an op-ed piece that Iraq's weapons declaration "amounts to a 12,200-page lie."

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice wrote in a statement published Thursday that Saddam Hussein's regime "is still treating inspections as a game" and "it should know that time is running out."

Rice's statement, which appeared as an op-ed piece in The New York Times, said Iraq is "failing in spectacular fashion. By both its actions and its inactions, Iraq is proving not that it is a nation bent on disarmament, but that it is a nation with something to hide.

"Iraq is still treating inspections as a game. It should know that time is running out."

Rice wrote "it is Iraq's obligation to provide answers" to the many questions about weapons programs. She said Iraq's weapons declaration "amounts to a 12,200-page lie" and "resorts to unabashed plagiarism."

"Far from informing, the declaration is intended to cloud and confuse the true picture of Iraq's arsenal. It is a reflection of the regime's well-earned reputation for dishonesty and constitutes a material breach of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1441, which set up the current inspections program."

She said Iraq is not allowing inspectors "immediate, unimpeded, unrestricted access" to facilities and people involved in its weapons program.

"As a recent inspection at the home of an Iraqi nuclear scientist demonstrated, and other sources confirm, material and documents are still being moved around in farcical shell games. The regime has blocked free and unrestricted use of aerial reconnaissance."

Rice wrote that the declaration doesn't account for Iraq's efforts "to get uranium from abroad, its manufacture of specific fuel for ballistic missiles it claims not to have, and the gaps previously identified by the United Nations in Iraq's accounting for more than two tons of the raw materials needed to produce thousands of gallons of anthrax and other biological weapons."

She said the list of people involved with weapons of mass destruction programs "ends with those who worked in 1991 -- even though the United Nations had previously established that the programs continued after that date."

Interviews with scientists have occurred "in the watchful presence of the regime's agents," Rice wrote.

Iraq "has a high-level political commitment to maintain and conceal its weapons, led by Saddam Hussein and his son Qusay, who controls the Special Security Organization, which runs Iraq's concealment activities," Rice said.

Rice contrasted Iraq's lack of cooperation to the actions of South Africa, Ukraine and Kazakhstan -- examples of "what it looks like when a government decides that it will cooperatively give up its weapons of mass destruction."

Also, she said, the discovery of 12 chemical warheads last week was "particularly troubling" and pointed out that Iraq "has filled this type of warhead with sarin," a deadly nerve agent.

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