98166. Cohen Says Saddam Must Provide Full Accounting of Weapons
By Paul Stone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON -- Saddam Hussein must offer "convincing
evidence" Iraq has destroyed its weapons of mass destruction
before the current crisis can come to an end.
That's the message Defense Secretary William S. Cohen
sent the Iraqi president March 17 in a speech here at the
National Press Club.
"I would like to point out that the crisis is not
over," Cohen said, referring the recent face-off between
Iraq and the international community over weapons inspection
rules. "After seven years, it is clear that Iraq is not to
be trusted. It has displayed a historical pattern of deceit,
deception and delay. "The bottom line is that Iraq may still
be holding munitions and operational missiles with warheads
filled with deadly chemical or biological agents," Cohen
Iraq has offered no proof to back its claim it has
destroyed 50 warheads filled with the deadly nerve agent
sarin, 25 Scud warheads and 157 bombs filled with biological
agents, 130 tons of chemical agents and more than 15,000
chemical weapons, he said.
"He (Saddam) must, once and for all, make a full, final
and complete declaration about what he has and what he has
destroyed," Cohen said. "Saddam Hussein has an affirmative
duty to produce hard evidence -- records, names, dates and
places describing what was destroyed, how, when and where.
It is not the inspectors' responsibility to prove that he is
guilty of having and hiding these weapons ... It is Saddam's
responsibility to provide proof positive that he is not."
Although critical of Iraq's past behavior, calling it a
"historical pattern of delay, deception and deceit," Cohen
praised the recent agreement reached with Iraq to resume the
inspection process. "Under this agreement, nothing is off
limits, there are no deadlines and there is no bar against
repeat visits to the same site," the secretary said.
At minimum, Cohen said, the agreement gives U.N.
inspectors the access they need to find and destroy weapons,
munitions and missiles, and to institute a long-term
monitoring system to ensure Iraq does not build more.
He warned Saddam the United States is prepared for a
long and protracted process, and he should not expect
international sanctions to be lifted soon.
"Only when Saddam is in full compliance with all
relevant U.N. resolutions will there be sanctions relief for
the Iraqi people," Cohen said. "Given Saddam's track record,
full compliance may be a long time coming."
He urged the international community to remain vigilant
and said U.S. forces will remain in the region at the ready.