News

USIS Washington 
File

20 February 1998

TEXT: VIDEOTAPED REMARKS BY CLINTON ON EXPANSION OF UN RES 986

(Strongly supports doubling Iraq's oil-for-food program) (1150)



Washington -- President Clinton says the United States "strongly
supports the UN Secretary General's recommendations to more than
double the amount of oil Iraq can sell in exchange for food, medicine,
and other humanitarian supplies.


"We will work hard to make sure those funds are used to help the
ordinary people of Iraq," Clinton said February 20 in videotaped
remarks on expansion of UN Resolution 986.


"To all our Arab and Muslim friends," Clinton said, "let me say
America wants to see a future of security, prosperity, and peace for
all the people of the Middle East. We want to see the Iraqi people
free of the constant warfare and repression that have been the
hallmark of Saddam's regime. We want to see them living in a nation
that uses its wealth not to strengthen its arsenal but to care for its
citizens and give its children a brighter future. That is what we'll
keep working for -- and what the people of Iraq deserve."


Following is the White House text:



(begin text)



THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary



February 20, 1998



VIDEOTAPED REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT

ON EXPANSION OF UNITED NATIONS RESOLUTION 986



THE PRESIDENT: No people have suffered more at the hands of Saddam
Hussein than the Iraqi people themselves. I have been very moved -- as
so many others around the world have been -- by their plight. Because
of Saddam Hussein's failure to comply with U.N. resolutions, the
sanctions imposed by the U.N. at the end of the Gulf War to stop him
from rebuilding his military might are still in place.


As a result, the people of Iraq have suffered. They are the victims of
Saddam's refusal to comply with the resolutions he promised to honor.
The United States strongly supports the U.N. Secretary General's
recommendation to more than double the amount of oil Iraq can sell in
exchange for food, medicine, and other humanitarian supplies. We will
work hard to make sure those funds are used to help the ordinary
people of Iraq.


Since the Gulf War, our policy has been aimed at preventing Saddam
from threatening his region or the world. We have no quarrel with the
Iraqi people, who are heirs to a proud civilization and who have
suffered for so many years under Saddam's rule.


From the beginning, the international sanctions that are aimed at
denying Saddam Hussein the finds to rebuild his military machine have
permitted food and medicine into Iraq. The United States has led the
way in trying to make sure Iraq had the resources to pay for them. In
1991, with our leadership, the U.N. Security Council encouraged Iraq
to sell oil to pay for these critical humanitarian supplies. Saddam
Hussein rejected that offer for four years, choosing instead to let
his people suffer. What resources he had went not to caring for his
people but to strengthening his army, hiding his weapons of mass
destruction, and building lavish palaces for his regime.


In 1995 America led a new effort to aid the Iraqi people. After
refusing the proposal for a year, Saddam finally accepted U.N.
Security Council Resolution 986, which permits the sale of oil for
food. Then he engaged in delay and bureaucratic wrangling for yet
another year before allowing the resolution to take effect.


Perhaps worst of all, Saddam deliberately and repeatedly delayed the
pumping of oil, which held up shipments of food and medicine to the
Iraqi population. Even so, the international community has managed to
deliver to the Iraqi people more than 3 million tons of food.


Just as Saddam deprives his people of relief from abroad, he represses
them at home -- brutally putting down the uprisings of the Iraqi
people after the Gulf War, attacking Irbil in 1996, and draining the
marshes of Southern Iraq.


Saddam's priorities are painfully clear: not caring for his citizens
but building weapons of mass destruction and using them -- using them
not once but repeatedly in the terrible war Iraq fought with Iran, and
not only against combatants but against civilians, and not only
against a foreign adversary but against his own people. And he has
targeted Scud missiles against fellow Arabs and Muslims in Iran, Saudi
Arabia, and Bahrain.


Now he is trying to rid Iraq of the international inspectors who have
done such a remarkable job in finding and destroying his hidden
weapons -- weapons he himself promised in 1991 to report and help
destroy. If Saddam is allowed to rebuild his arsenal unchecked, none
of the region's children will be safe.


America is working very hard to find a diplomatic solution to this
crisis Saddam has created. I have sent my Secretary of State, my
Defense Secretary, and my Ambassador to the United Nations literally
around the world to work with our friends and allies. If there is a
way to resolve this peacefully, we will pursue it to the very end.


But from Europe to the Persian Gulf, all agree on the bottom line:
Saddam must allow the U.N. weapons inspectors to complete their
mission with full and free access to any site they suspect maybe
hiding material or information related to Iraqi weapons of mass
destruction programs. That is what Saddam agreed to as a condition for
ending the Gulf War way back in 1991.


Nobody wants to use force. But if Saddam refuses to keep his
commitments to the international community, we must be prepared to
deal directly with the threat these weapons pose to the Iraqi people,
to Iraq's neighbors, and to the rest of the world. Either Saddam acts
or we will have to.


Saddam himself understands that the international community places a
higher value on the lives of the Iraqi people than he does. That is
why he uses innocent women and children as human shields, risking what
we care about -- human lives -- to protect what he cares about -- his
weapons. If force proves necessary to resolve this crisis, we will do
everything we can to prevent innocent people from getting hurt. But
make no mistake: Saddam Hussein must bear full responsibility for
every casualty that results.


To all our Arab and Muslim friends, let me say America wants to see a
future of security, prosperity, and peace for all the people of the
Middle East. We want to see the Iraqi people free of the constant
warfare and repression that have been the hallmark of Saddam's regime.
We want to see them living in a nation that uses its wealth not to
strengthen its arsenal but to care for its citizens and give its
children a brighter future. That is what we'll keep working for -- and
what the people of Iraq deserve.


(end text)