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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.