Clinton demands total access for U.N. arms inspectors
Source: Annan expected to make Baghdad trip
February 17, 1998
Web posted at: 2:38 p.m. EST (1938 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. President Clinton said Tuesday that
Washington still favors a diplomatic solution to the Iraq
crisis, but stressed that any solution must include free and
unfettered access for U.N. weapons inspectors.
"A diplomatic solution must include, or meet, a clear,
immutable, reasonable, simple standard: Iraq must agree --
and soon -- to free, full, unfettered access to these
(inspection) sites anywhere in the country," Clinton said.
Clinton spoke at the Pentagon, after military leaders briefed
him on preparations for possible strikes. Accompanying him
were Vice President Al Gore, Secretary of Defense William
Cohen and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Hugh Shelton.
The president urged Americans to be ready for a possible
attack on Iraq, and he warned that Iraqi President Saddam
Hussein had used biological weapons against his own people --
and would likely use the weapons again unless he were
prevented from doing so.
Hussein, said the president, "threatens the security of all
the rest of us."
|Sound clips from Clinton's speech
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|"Saddam Hussein could end this crisis..."|
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|"Force can never be the final answer..."|
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|"...and Saddam Hussein agreed..."|
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|"...debilitating conditions on the inspectors..."|
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|"...Iraqi agents have undermined and undercut UNSCOM"|
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Clinton said Hussein and the Iraqi leadership had repeatedly
lied to the United Nations about the country's weaponry.
"It is obvious that there is an attempt here based on the
whole history of this (weapons inspections) operation since
1991 to protect whatever remains of his capacity to produce
weapons of mass destruction, the missiles to deliver them and
the feedstock necessary to produce them," Clinton said.
The president said that after the Gulf War ended in 1991,
Iraq admitted having a massive offensive biological warfare
- 5,000 gallons of Botulinum (causing Botulism)
- 2,000 gallons of Anthrax
- 25 biological-filled Scud warheads
- 157 aerial bombs
Clinton said Iraq still posed a threat to the national
security of the United States and the "freedom-loving world."
'He ... will be to blame for the consequences'
He accused Iraq of trying to thwart U.N. inspections by
reinterpreting the meaning of Gulf War resolutions as to
which sites can be inspected, for how long and by which
Clinton, who has ordered military forces to the gulf region
in case a military strike is needed, warned Hussein not to
continue to delay or oppose the U.N. demands on weapons
inspections: "He, and he alone, will be to blame for the
The president said the U.S. had the military means to achieve
the objective and secure the "vital strategic interests" of
the United States in the Gulf region.
"A military operation cannot destroy all the weapons of mass
destruction capacity. But it can, and will, leave him
(Hussein) significantly worse off than he is now, in terms of
the ability to threaten the world with these weapons or to
attack his neighbors," Clinton said.
"Force can never be the first answer," he emphasized, "but
sometimes it's the only answer."
Annan trip to Baghdad expected
Iraq, meantime, pledged to make "all serious and legitimate"
efforts to peacefully resolve the crisis.
A statement issued by Hussein's Revolutionary Command Council
said Iraq hopes U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan will "come
here with an open mind and free will" to conduct talks.
Annan, who planned to consult later Tuesday with the five
permanent members of the Security Council, is expected to
travel to Baghdad later in the week, diplomatic sources told
CNN. They said Annan would be carrying a document clearly
specifying "red lines beyond which Annan cannot go" in talks
with Iraqi officials.
The document is described by one source as "tactical
advice" from the council's permanent members to Annan. Under
it, Annan could offer Hussein the prospect of modifying the
inspection system for strictly residential buildings within
Iraq's so-called "presidential" sites, and perhaps to leave
some strictly residential buildings uninspected.
Reacting to Clinton's speech, Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister
Tariq Aziz denounced the threat of military action.
"The United States doesn't have authorization by the
Security Council to attack Iraq by military means," he told
CNN in a telephone interview from Baghdad.
Washington insists U.N. resolutions in effect since the Gulf
War provide all the authorization needed for an attack.
Aziz also rejected the U.S. assertion that Iraq's weapons of
mass destruction are a threat to neighboring countries.
"Among all our neighbors, only Kuwait has joined the American
plan to attack Iraq," he said. "So if all our neighbors are
really threatened by us, why didn't they join the (U.S.-led)