Statement of SCOTT RITTER September 3, 1998 at UNITED STATES SENATE Joint Legislative Hearing of the Committees on Armed Services and Foreign Affairs 216 Hart Office Building, Washington, DC
Last week I resigned my position with UNSCOM out of frustration because the U.N. Security Council, and the United States, as its most significant supporter, was failing to enforce the post-Gulf War resolutions designed to disarm Iraq. I can speak to you today from first hand experience about the effectiveness of American policy, or lack thereof, with respect to the U.N. effort to rid Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction. I sincerely hope that my actions might help to change things.
It was very sad to hear Madeleine Albright on Tuesday night - giving an interview from Moscow challenging my credentials. She told the world, through CNN, that Scott Ritter "... doesn't have a clue about what our overall policy has been... that we are the foremost supporters of UNSCOM..." I do have a clue, in fact several, all of which indicate that our government has clearly expressed its policy one way and then acted in another. Such clues include various statements by Ms. Albright, a report to the Congress on 6 April by the President of the United States, and several statements made to me and other UNSCOM officials at a variety of inter-agency briefings held at the State Department, the Pentagon, and the White House. If these were the only clues, the Administration's record would be impressive. However, I can say without fear of contradiction, and with the confidence that most of my former colleagues agree with me, that those clues derived from the practical experience obtained on the ground in Iraq and behind the scenes at the United Nations, tell another story: that the United States has undermined UNSCOM's efforts through interference and manipulation, usually coming from the highest levels of the Administration's National Security Team, to include Ms. Albright herself.
Iraq, today is not disarmed, and remains an ugly threat to its neighbors and to world peace. Those Americans who think that this is important and that something should be done about it have to be deeply disappointed in our leadership.
I am here today to provide you with specific details about the scope and nature of interference by this Administration in UNSCOM, the debilitating effect that such interference has on the ability of UNSCOM to carry out its disarmament mission in Iraq, and to appeal to the Administration and to the Senate to work together to change America's Iraq policy back to what has been stated in the past - full compliance with the provisions of Security Council resolutions, to include enabling UNSCOM to carry out its mission of disarmament in an unrestricted, unhindered fashion. Only through the re-establishment of such a policy, clearly stated and resolutely acted upon, does the United States have a chance of resuming its leadership role in overseeing the effective and verifiable disarmament of Iraq, so that neither we nor Iraq's neighbors in the Middle East will be threatened by Saddam Hussein's nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons, or long-range ballistic missiles capable of delivering such weapons
Within the confines of the need to protect the sources used by UNSCOM to gather relevant information, I am prepared to give you whatever details I can so you will understand why I gave up such an interesting, challenging, and meaningful position in which I had hoped to have the chance to contribute to making the world a little safer.