Tracking Number:  173564

Title:  "Iraq Given One Week for Total Withdrawal from Kuwait." The White House warned that Iraq must complete its withdrawal from Kuwait within one week or risk the start of a devastating ground war. (910222)

Date:  19910222


02/22/91 1Ne Re IRAQ GIVEN ONE WEEK FOR TOTAL WITHDRAWAL FROM KUWAIT (White House lays down coalition's terms) (1100) By Alexander M. Sullivan USIA White House Correspondent

Washington -- Iraq must complete its withdrawal from Kuwait within one week or risk the start of a devastating ground war, the White House warned February 22.

Further, White House Press Secretary Marlin Fitzwater asserted, Iraq must have withdrawn from Kuwait City by February 25 and allowed for return of Kuwait's legitimate government by that time.

Fitzwater outlined a series of steps Baghdad must begin by 1700 GMT February 23, terming them "the minimum kinds of actions" Saddam Hussein needs "to take to comply with the United Nations resolutions."

President Bush went to the White House Rose Garden earlier February 22, after 48 hours of diplomacy in Moscow and Washington, to deliver an ultimatum to Iraq: get out of Kuwait in 14 hours or face the consequences.

"The coalition," Bush said, "will give Saddam Hussein until noon (1700 GMT) Saturday to do what he must do -- begin his immediate and unconditional withdrawal from Kuwait." He said the statement Fitzwater would provide later in the day would make public "with specificity just exactly what is required of Iraq if a ground war is to be avoided."

Bush accused Saddam Hussein, "anticipating perhaps that he will now be forced to leave," of starting a "scorched earth policy" inside Kuwait as of February 22. He said "the entire oil production system of Kuwait" was being put to the torch by Iraqi troops, including oil wells, storage tanks and export terminals.

Fitzwater told a questioner the United States had heard nothing from Saddam Hussein, adding, "the scorched earth policy that he has initiated in Kuwait only today does not lend us much reason for optimism" about an end to the war. In publishing the list of steps, "We wanted to be very clear that he has an end this affair right now," he explained.

Fitzwater would not say if a ground war would start immediately if Saddam Hussein spurned the "minimum kinds of actions" required. "We've said that we are holding off on

GE 2 POL502 the ground war pending this opportunity," he said, "and we will wait and see what happens and then make those decisions."

Fitzwater listed six steps Iraq must take, noting they were being published after close consultations with the 28 nations in the gulf coalition, and after lengthy conversations between Bush and Soviet President Gorbachev and between Secretary of State Baker and Soviet foreign ministry officials.

In what he termed "a final effort to obtain Iraqi compliance with the will of the international community," Fitzwater called on Iraq to publicly accept and authoritatively communicate that acceptance to the United Nations before noon New York time February 23.

The coalition demanded that:

-- Iraq "begin large-scale withdrawal from Kuwait by noon New York time, Saturday, February 23," and "complete military one week."

-- "Within the first 48 hours, Iraq must remove all its forces from Kuwait City and allow for the prompt return of the legitimate government of Kuwait."

-- Iraq must "withdraw from all prepared defenses along the Saudi-Kuwait and Saudi-Iraq borders; from Bubiyan and Warbah Islands, and from Kuwait's Rumaylah oil field within the one week specified."

-- Cooperating with the International Committee of the Red Cross, Iraq must "release all prisoners of war and third- country civilians...and return the remains of killed and deceased servicemen" beginning "immediately with the initiation of the withdrawal" and finishing "within 48 hours."

-- Iraq must remove "all explosives or booby traps, including those on Kuwaiti oil installations," and designate Iraqi military liaison officers to work with Kuwaiti and other coalition forces on the operational details related to Iraq's withdrawal, and to provide "all data on the location and nature of any land or sea mines."

-- Iraq must halt combat flights over Iraq and Kuwait except for transport aircraft carrying troops out of Kuwait, and permit exclusive control of Kuwaiti airspace by coalition aircraft.

-- Iraq must cease all destructive acts against Kuwaiti citizens and property and release all Kuwaiti detainees.

Both Bush and Fitzwater praised Gorbachev's effort to work with Saddam Hussein for an end to the war on terms

GE 3 POL502 acceptable to the United Nations. Gorbachev had sent his personal emissary to Baghdad for a series of talks and met at least twice in the last two days with Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz. In fact, the Soviet leader had announced a list of items he said had been agreed to by Aziz, including Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait in return for several post-war inducements, including lifting of the U.N. embargoes against Baghdad.

Bush said he appreciated the Soviet initiative but pointed out that "any conditions" would be unacceptable to the international coalition and would further fail Security Council Resolution 660's demand for "immediate and unconditional withdrawal."

Fitzwater called the Soviet work "a serious and useful effort" but noted "major obstacles remain." He charged that what the Iraqis had told Moscow "would constitute a conditional withdrawal" that would also prevent implementation of U.N. resolutions, one of which calls for an arms embargo against Baghdad.

"Only the Security Council can agree to lift sanctions against Iraq," Fitzwater noted, "and the world needs to be assured in concrete terms of Iraq's peaceful intentions before such action can be taken." Without some sort of supervision, he suggested, Saddam Hussein would be free to waste Iraq's oil wealth "to rearm" instead of providing for "the well-being of his people."

The February 21 Moscow announcement that Iraq had agreed to what it called unconditional withdrawal at first stirred widespread hope that the war might soon end. The White House reacted cautiously, saying Bush and Gorbachev had spent more than 30 minutes on the telephone discussing the initiative. On analysis, however, too many strings were found to be tied to the "unconditional" withdrawal and by early morning, senior administration officials were telling reporters the plan was "unacceptable."

Fitzwater said Bush and Baker spoke with Gorbachev for 75 minutes February 22 in a thorough discussion of the situation. Moscow, which voted for all 12 of the Security Council resolutions condemning Iraq, is not a member of the gulf coalition, meaning it has not contributed armed forces to the anti-Iraq effort.

Fitzwater pledged that coalition forces "will not attack retreating Iraqi forces" but warned that any breach of the stated terms "will bring an instant and sharp response" from the coalition. NNNN

File Identification:  02/22/91, PO-502; 02/22/91, AE-508; 02/22/91, AR-522; 02/22/91, EP-520; 02/22/91, EU-502; 02/22/91, NE-506; 02/22/91, NA-505
Product Name:  Wireless File
Product Code:  WF
Thematic Codes:  1NE
Target Areas:  AF; AR; EA; EU; NE
PDQ Text Link:   173564