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John Negroponte: Iraq 'back to business as usual'

John Negroponte, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations
John Negroponte, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations

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(CNN) -- John Negroponte, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said the U.N. inspectors' report doesn't give the United States hope that Iraq is complying with demands that it disarm.

Negroponte spoke to reporters Monday after chief U.N. inspectors Hans Blix and Mohammed ElBaradei briefed the Security Council on their first two months of work in Iraq. The following is a partial transcript.

NEGROPONTE: ... Unfortunately, nothing we have heard today gives us hope that Iraq intends to fully comply with Resolution 1441 or any of the 16 resolutions that preceded it over the last 12 years.

The purpose of 1441 was disarmament. It was never the task of the inspectors to look under every rock to find Iraq's hidden weapons. Inspections are a means to verifying and achieving disarmament when a country has determined that it will voluntarily disarm.

Inspections are a means to an end, and they cannot be expected to achieve disarmament when a country has an active program of denial and deception as is the case with Iraq.

The international community knows what voluntary disarmament looks like. We have seen it with South Africa, the Ukraine and other nations. And what we have seen from Iraq over the past 12 years and over the past 80 days is not it.

Resolution 1441 presented Iraq with at least two important tests: First, would Iraq submit a currently accurate, full and complete declaration of all aspects of its [weapons of mass destruction] program and delivery systems?

And second, would Iraq cooperate immediately, unconditionally and actively with UNMOVIC [the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission] and IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency]?

What we have seen over the past 80 days is that, in spite of the urgency introduced in Resolution 1441, Iraq is back to business as usual. The danger is that the council may return to business as usual as well.

We received a revealingly inadequate declaration that the inspectors themselves have called rich in volume and poor on information. It was a declaration that did not even address the most basic questions of concern, dating back to 1999 as contained in the compendium of outstanding disarmament issues prepared by UNSCOM. And we have seen nothing since the December 7 declaration to indicate that they plan to remedy this situation and come into compliance with Resolution 1441.

In the past few weeks alone, inspectors found 12 chemical warheads that should have been in the declaration but were not. They also found 3,000 pages of secret Iraqi government documents -- documents I would note that should've been included in the declaration but were not -- hidden in the home of an Iraqi scientist.

This is physical evidence that Iraq's declaration is inaccurate and incomplete.

In terms of cooperation, there is an entire state apparatus in Iraq whose sole purpose is to obstruct the inspections. Inspectors are outnumbered by minders [Iraqi officials], sometimes by as many as five to one, each time they head out on a mission.

Iraq has canceled interviews and has refused Dr. Blix's request to employ the U-2 reconnaissance aircraft, a clear violation of Resolution 1441.

They are not cooperating unconditionally. Iraq is failing both of these tests. And in the days ahead, we believe the council and its member governments must face its responsibilities and consider what message -- council and resolution -- sends to Iraq and other proliferators. It benefits no one to let [Iraqi President] Saddam [Hussein] think he can wear us down into business as usual as he has practiced it over the past 12 years. ...

QUESTION: Which way will America go? Will [it] go unilaterally, or [does] it still want to work with the Security Council?

NEGROPONTE: We're going to go into these consultations now and again on Wednesday, and I'm sure there'll be more on all of this as the situation unfolds, but I must excuse myself.


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