USIS Washington 
File

05 March 1998

TRANSCRIPT: RIEDEL MARCH 4 WORLDNET "DIALOGUE" ON IRAQ

(UN to Saddam: comply or face severest consequences) (9160)



Washington -- The latest United Nations resolution on Iraq sends the
clearest and strongest message to date from the international
community to Saddam Hussein: comply or face the severest consequences,
according to Bruce Riedel, Special assistant to President Clinton for
Near East and South Asian Affairs.


"I think it's important to remember why this (U.N. resolution) is
important," Riedel said. "Iraq is the only country in the world today
which has a government which is a repeat offender in the use of
weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles. Iraq has started
two wars in our lifetime. It has used chemical weapons against its
neighbors and against its own people. It has fired missiles at Tel
Aviv, at Tehran, at Riyadh and at Manama. This is a very dangerous
government which the international community must take efforts to
ensure cannot threaten peace and security again," he said.


"The resolution passed (by the Security Council) sends that signal in
no uncertain terms to the Iraqi government."


In the wide-ranging Worldnet interview with journalists in Amman,
Cairo and London, Riedel also talked about the differing
interpretations among U.N. Security Council members of the term
"severest consequences," and the authority the United States has under
U.N. resolutions to take military action against Iraq.


"We believe we have had a mandate to take action if necessary for some
time," he said. "That mandate existed from U.N. Security Council
Resolution 678, which authorized military action in 1991. ... When
Iraq is in violation of the Security Council resolution that created
the cease-fire in 1991, Resolution 687, the United States and its
allies have in the past used military force in order to compel Iraqi
compliance. We did this in 1992, 1993 and 1996," he said.


However, Riedel stressed that the U.S. goal in the Gulf is not to use
military force for its own sake. He underscored President Clinton's
repeated view that the United States prefers a peaceful and diplomatic
solution to end Iraq's defiance of U.N. resolutions, and his concern
for the plight of Iraqi people under Saddam's rule. He said U.S. and
allied forces will remain in the Gulf to ensure that the latest
diplomatic efforts succeed.


He also made the following points:



-- "It has been the United States and international community which
has cared about the Iraqi people. Saddam has cynically tried to use
something that we care about, the suffering of his own people, in
order to protect what he most cares about, his weapons of mass
destruction and missiles. That's why the United States and other
members of the Security Council decided to expand the oil-for-food
proposal."


__ "I frankly reject that argument that the United States has put more
effort into containing Iraq than it has into trying to bring about a
breakthrough in the Middle East peace process. We have done both."


-- "The United States is not trying to impose its will or Americanize
the Gulf. The U.S. forces in the Gulf are there at the request of our
friends in the region. It is not just the United States forces that
rallied to the defense of Security Council resolutions this time. We
had the support of the United Kingdom, from Canada, from many European
countries, from Argentina, and we enjoyed the support from many
countries in the (Gulf) region."


Following is a transcript of the interview:



(For more information on this subject, contact our special Iraq
website at:
http://www.usia.gov/iraq)



(Begin transcript)



MR. FOUCHEUX: Welcome to Worldnet, I'm Rick Foucheux. On Tuesday the
United Nations Security Council passed a resolution that warns Iraq of
the severest consequences if it breaks the agreement worked out by
Secretary General Kofi Annan for U.N. inspectors to search for hidden
weapons with obstruction.


Here to discuss recent events and the U.S. policy toward Iraq is Bruce
Riedel. Mr. Riedel is the special assistant to the president and
senior director for Near East and South Asian Affairs of the National
Security Council. Mr. Riedel, welcome to Worldnet's "Dialogue."


MR. RIEDEL:  Thank you very much.



MR. FOUCHEUX: It's a pleasure to have you with us. Before we begin
with our audience overseas, perhaps you could comment on the latest
resolution in the United Nations.


MR. RIEDEL: I'd be very happy to. This resolution is a very important
message from the international community to the government of Iraq. It
sends a very strong signal that Iraq must comply with U.N. Security
Council resolution, and it must live up to the commitments that it
gave to the secretary general in Baghdad a week ago -- or it will face
the severest consequences.


Let's take a minute to set the stage here. Since the middle of 1997,
Iraq has in a series of challenges confronted the international
community, and the regime that was created in 1991 after the Gulf War.
That regime created a U.N. Special Commission with the responsibility
to find and destroy all of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and
long-range ballistic missiles. Over the last seven years it has been
very successful in doing that, despite continued deceit and other
efforts to conceal by the government of Iraq.


Since the middle of last year, Iraq has posed several challenges.
First, in the fall it told UNSCOM that all the Americans in UNSCOM had
to leave. Then this January it said eight so-called presidential sites
were off limits to the inspectors. In each case the international
community has responded and the United States and its allies have sent
forces to the region to give that diplomacy credibility. We now have
an opportunity to see if Iraq will finally live up to its commitments.


I think it's important to remember why this is important. Iraq is the
only country in the world today which has a government which is a
repeat offender in the use of weapons of mass destruction and
long-range missiles. Iraq has started two wars in our lifetime. It has
used chemical weapons against its neighbors and against its own
people. It has fired missiles at Tel Aviv, at Tehran, at Riyadh and at
Manama. This is a very dangerous government which the international
community must take efforts to ensure cannot threaten peace and
security again.


The resolution passed on Monday sends that signal in no uncertain
terms to the Iraqi government.


MR. FOUCHEUX: Thank you, Mr. Riedel, for those comments. And once
again we are pleased to have you in our studios.


MR. RIEDEL:  Thank you, it's a pleasure to be here.



MR. FOUCHEUX: I also want to welcome all of our participants gathered
in Amman, Cairo and London. Let's begin our program now in Amman. Go
ahead with your first question please in Amman.


Q: Mr. Riedel, the question from Amman is: Jordan called for a
two-track dialogue between the U.N. secretariat and the other track
between the U.S. administration and the Iraqi leadership. What are the
U.S. conditions and what is your evaluation of that?


MR. RIEDEL: Thank you. The United States is not a party in this
dispute with Iraq. Iraq's obligations are to the United Nations
Security Council and to the international community. It knows what
those obligations are. Let's bear in mind that in 1991 Iraq was asked
in Resolution 687 to provide within 15 days a full, final and complete
status of all its WMD programs and its ballistic missiles. It is now
more than 2,000 days later and Iraq has yet to do it. This is not an
issue just between the United States and Iraq; it is an issue between
the United Nations and Iraq. Iraq has to fulfill the requirements that
it gave in 1991 and live up to its obligations under these
resolutions. Kofi Annan went to Baghdad with the support of the
international community and with the standing of the Security Council.
This is not a question about whether the United States and Iraq are
talking to each other; it's a question of whether Iraq lives up to its
obligations.


MR. FOUCHEUX: Thank you, Amman. Now let's go to Cairo for a question.
Please go ahead with your first question in Cairo.


Q: Mr. Riedel, I would like now to examine your thoughts or your own
reading of the agreement reached between Iraq and the United Nations
earlier on. And the reason I'm asking this question is because there
is clearly a difference in the understanding or the reading of the
agreement when it comes to the United States as the terms "severest
consequences" is interpreted by the United States as the right to use
military action if Iraq breaks the promises it made. But at the same
time we heard U.N. Chief Kofi Annan saying yesterday that the severest
consequences, or in case a military action should be taken -- this --
the United States has to go back to the Council, and there should be a
sort of consultation between the members. So I would like to know what
you think about that.


MR. RIEDEL: Yes, I am sure that the Council had one very important
objective in mind when it passed this resolution. And I think all
members agree, and I think the secretary general said it very well on
Monday night. And that was to send a message to Iraq that it needs to
comply. The patience of the world, the patience of the Council, has
run thin.


Now, we can all talk about what are the specific steps that would be
taken if Iraq violates this agreement again. The important thing is
that Iraq not violate this agreement again. In the days, weeks and
months ahead the U.N. Special Commission will be conducting
inspections in Iraq. We need to see whether Iraq lives up to its
obligations. The United States has long had the view that it already
has the authority under existing U.N. Security Council resolutions to
take military action should that become action.


But let me underline a point that President Clinton has made I think
again and again since the beginning of this crisis: Our preferred
outcome is a diplomatic solution that allows UNSCOM to do its job.
These inspectors have destroyed more of Iraq's weapons of mass
destruction than all of the bombs dropped in Desert Storm. The best
way for the international community and for Iraq to move forward is to
let UNSCOM do its job. That's the message the Council was sending on
Monday. That is the message the United States is reiterating every
day.


MR. FOUCHEUX: All right, thank you in Cairo. Now let's join our
audience in London. Please go ahead in London.


Q: Mr. Riedel, I am -- (inaudible) -- representing the Arab News
Network, ANN, from London. The question is: There has been some rumors
in the Arab world that President Clinton might meet President Saddam
Hussein to solve the crisis for good. Is that possible? -- the first
thing, the first question.


And the second part: How long are you going to keep your forces in the
area? Some people believe that keeping a large force in the area might
mean to them that there is going to be an occupying force for years to
come, and that will put pressure, financial pressures, on the Arab
countries to support those forces. Is that possible, Mr. Riedel, I
mean this interpretation?


MR. RIEDEL: Let me deal with both of your questions. The president has
absolutely no plans and no intention of meeting with Saddam Hussein.
As I said earlier, this dispute is between the United Nations and
Iraq, not a bilateral dispute between our two countries. We have no
plans, no interest, in direct dialogue. We think the Iraqis have to
live up to the obligations they have to the U.N. Security Council.


As for your second question, I think it's very important to bear in
mind why diplomacy has so far been able to succeed in this crisis. The
secretary general made it clear, both in his speech on Monday and in
Baghdad, diplomacy worked because it was backed by the credible threat
of the use of force. If there has been no threat of the use of force,
we can all know what would have happened: Iraq would today be in
flagrant violation of all of its requirements. Instead Iraq was forced
to back down and allow UNSCOM into these sites.


The United States and many of its allies have long maintained a
military presence in the Gulf in order to back up the requirements of
the cease-fire resolution in 1991. Today the United States is not
alone in its military forces in the Gulf. Since the beginning of this
crisis, many other countries, including the United Kingdom, Australia,
New Zealand, Denmark, Argentina, Hungary, Romania, Canada and several
others, have sent forces to work with us in the Gulf. We enjoy the
support of several Gulf states in providing use of their bases and
facilities in order for those forces to operate. Those forces are not
there to occupy anybody's territory. They are there with the approval
and with the permission of the countries that allow us to use those
facilities.


The sole purpose of those forces is to send a message to the Iraqi
government that it must comply with the U.N. Security Council
resolutions. The size of these forces fluctuate, depending on the
nature of the situation in the region and the degree of tension there
is. I am confident that the United States will maintain a sufficient
force there in order to be able to deal with any contingency.


MR. FOUCHEUX: Thank you, London. Let's return now to Amman for more
questions. Please go ahead once again in Amman.


Q: Yes, Mr. Riedel, my name is -- (inaudible) -- from Jordan
Television. And my question is: In the recent crisis between Iraq and
the U.N. the Security Council appeared deeply divided on the possible
use of force against Iraq. Don't you think there is an increasing
opposition to any future military action? Thank you.


MR. RIEDEL: There are differences of opinion between Council members
on what is the best tactics in order to achieve our common objective.
I think it's first of all important though to recognize there was
unanimity on the common objective, which was Iraqi compliance.


The United States and some of its partners, as I just said -- the
United Kingdom and others -- believe that if necessary force will have
to be used in order to get the Iraqis to do what they are obligated to
do under these Security Council resolutions. We will not hesitate if
we have to do that.


Others have their own view. I would remind you that in 1991 there was
also not entire unanimity about what to do next and what was the right
strategy to pursue. At that time President Bush took the right
decision and began Desert Storm in order to expel the Iraqi forces
from Kuwait. President Clinton will not hesitate if he feels the
responsible thing to do is to take action in order to compel Iraq to
comply with the Security Council resolutions, or if he feels it is the
only way that we can keep the threat of Iraq's weapons of mass
destruction programs under control.


Q: Mr. Riedel, would you please elaborate more on your reading of
Security Council Resolution 1154? Does it give a mandate to the United
States to attack Iraq without prior coordination with France, China or
Russia? Thank you.


MR. RIEDEL: Our view is quite simple: We believe we have had a mandate
to take action if necessary for some time. That mandate existed from
U.N. Security Council Resolution 678, which authorized military action
in 1991 in order to compel Iraq to comply with the U.N. Security
Council resolutions. When Iraq is in violation of the Security Council
resolution that created the cease-fire in 1991, Resolution 687, the
United States and its allies have in the past used military force in
order to compel Iraqi compliance before. We did this in 1992, we did
this in 1993, we did this in 1996. The United States' view is it has
the authority under the resolutions already to take action if it need
be.


But let me stress again our goal here is not to use military action
for the sake of using military action. Our objective, the president's
objective, is a diplomatic solution that allows UNSCOM to go about its
job and to do its job in the most effective way possible.


Q: (Off mike) -- Jordan Television. It is obvious that the world and
the Iraqi people have had enough of the sanctions imposed. Don't you
think that it is time to work towards lifting the sanctions on the
Iraqi people? And when you have your military strategy, do you think
of the Iraqi people that they might really suffer? Thank you.


MR. RIEDEL: I thank you for raising the issue of the Iraqi people,
because I think it's a very important one. Since 1991 the United
States has led the way in trying to do something for the Iraqi people.


Let me go back to what I said earlier. In 1991, Iraq promised to
provide a full, final and complete declaration in 15 days. It has not
done so. The burden of sanctions is not on the United Nations and not
on the United States; it is on the leadership of the Iraqi government
which has cynically abused its own people in order to hold onto this
arsenal of terrifying weapons.


In 1991, the United States led the way in proposing a Security Council
resolution that would allow Iraq to export oil to buy food and
medicine for its people. For five years the Saddam Hussein government
decided to disregard that resolution and refused to implement it.
Finally in 1996 it belatedly agree to allow that to happen. Then it
stalled again and again in setting forth the principles that would
allow that resolution to go into place. Finally, after years and years
of Iraqi refusal and bottlenecks, food and medicine is flowing into
Iraq under United Nations control. The United States this January was
an instrumental player in getting the Security Council to broaden that
resolution and expand it so that more oil can be sold in order to get
food and medicine to the Iraqi people.


It has been the United States and the international community which
has cared about the Iraqi people. Saddam has cynically tried to use
something that we care about, the suffering of his own people, in
order to protect what he most cares about, his weapons of mass
destruction and missiles. The international community needs to see
through this and to understand clearly who cares about the Iraqi
people here and who doesn't. I think the answer is, as we all know,
Saddam Hussein doesn't care one bit whether his people starve to death
or not. He cynically uses their starvation as a card in order to
engage diplomatic support from outside. We should see through this
farce for what it is.


Q: Mr. Riedel, but as you might have referred to Saddam Hussein, the
recent showdown with Iraq that produced the same Saddam Hussein with
new proportions and popular dimensions and better rehabilitation
within the Arab world, including Syria, Egypt and some Gulf states. I
would like your opinion about if Saddam Hussein wasn't replaced after
seven years of sanctions, overt action and covert action, do you think
one year more in addition to those 2,000 days you referred to, can
topple a stronger Saddam? Thank you.


MR. RIEDEL: The question here I don't think is whether the Arab world
likes Saddam Hussein or he is popular in the Arab world. I really
doubt that very many Arabs find this a particularly attractive kind of
leader -- a man who starves his own people, gases his own people,
invaded a fellow Arab state, fires missiles at the capitals of fellow
Arab states. I think our friends in the Arab world understand Saddam
Hussein for what he is.


Unfortunately his apparatus of terror and security keeps him in power.
The United States looks forward to the day when Saddam Hussein is gone
and there is a government in Iraq that we can work with and that we
can help reintegrate into the world community. We will reach out and
do all that we can in order to help that government. But in the
interim I think we have to be realistic about this. We cannot let a
very dangerous regime have in its hand very dangerous weapons to use
against its neighbors. Does anyone doubt what Saddam Hussein would do
if the sanctions regime were gone, if UNSCOM were gone? I don't think
so. I think we all know that this repeat offender would once again try
to impose his will on the Middle East, and would once again threaten
his neighbors. It is our responsibility as a leader in the
international community to do what we can in order to contain him and
prevent him from being able to do that again. I think the leaders in
Riyadh, in Cairo, in Amman and other places understand this very well.


Q: Mr. Riedel, this is again Jordan Television. Going back to the
Iraqi people, you mentioned medicine and food going in now to Iraq.
Nobody thinks -- I mean, everybody thinks that this is not enough.
Iraq has 24 million people, and the food going in now and medicine is
not enough for them all.


And the other part of my question: Iraq does not have any means -- any
extra means to produce more oil in order to get more money. What is
your comment on that? Thank you.


MR. RIEDEL: That's why the United States and other members of the
Council decided in January -- in February actually -- to expand the
oil-for-food proposal. We have more than doubled it from $2 billion
worth of oil being exported every six months to over $5 billion worth
of oil being exported every six months. The resolution also lays out
procedures in order to help rebuild those aspects of the Iraqi oil
infrastructure that would make it possible for Iraq to do that. But
these things need to be done under careful control. The Saddam
government is not a government we can trust. It is one that we must
constantly keep under scrutiny and make sure we test what it is doing,
and that we verify that the food and medicine that it is buying is
actually going to the Iraqi people and not to Saddam's supporters in
the Republican Guard or the Special Republican Guard. The United
States led the effort to expand that resolution. President Clinton, on
the day that it was expanded, gave a message to the Iraqi people on
television. He stressed that our quarrel is not with the Iraqi people.
We have no desire to see the Iraqi people suffer for another minute.
We look forward to the day when the man who has imposed their
suffering, Saddam Hussein, is gone from power, and we can deal with
someone who cares about the Iraqi people.


Q: Mr. Riedel, I have here two questions please. If Iraq, as you
suggested, complied fully with Security Council Resolution 1154, would
the United States withdraw its troops from the Arab Gulf? And how long
would it take the United States to do that?


My other question is: Americans strongly resolve to implement Security
Council resolutions on Iraq, including 1154 and 687, is not matched by
equal resolve to implement similar Security Council resolutions
regarding Lebanon and the occupation of Israeli troops to Lebanon. I
am referring to Security Council Resolution 425. Would you like to
elaborate on this point, and the other point? How would you explain
anti-U.S. demonstrations in Arab capitals whose heads are friendly to
the United States? Thank you.


MR. RIEDEL: Let me go through each of your questions, because I think
they are very important.


First of all, Iraq's compliance with this new Security Council
resolution, and living up to the promises it made to the secretary
general is not something that can be measured in days or weeks. Iraq's
track record is clear. We will have to be vigilant and strong for as
long as this regime is in power. The level of U.S. forces in the
region will go up and down depending on the level of tension. Our
friends in the region -- Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain -- asked us to
bring those forces in in order to ensure their security and the
stability of the region. We will continue to stay there as long as we
continue to have requests from those governments to provide that level
of support.


Let me turn to the peace process, because I think that's a very
important issue. Yesterday the president met with his peace process
team. It is his strong feeling that now that the Iraq crisis has
abated somewhat we need to get back to the business of trying to get
the Middle East peace process back on track again. This has been a
high priority for President Clinton for both terms. Remember that in
January he invited Prime Minister Netanyahu and Chairman Arafat to
Washington to the White House. We had long discussions with both into
the wee hours of the morning in January on several nights. It is time
now for the leaders in the area, particularly the prime minister and
the chairman, to make some hard decisions about how to get -- this
process back on track. The peace process is a vital part of American
foreign policy. We have led the way in trying to bring about peace
between Israel and all of her Arab neighbors for the last quarter
century; we will continue to do that.


I frankly reject the argument that the United States has put more
effort into containing Iraq than it has into trying to bring about a
breakthrough in the Middle East peace process. We have done both. This
president has put in an enormous effort into trying to get this peace
process moving, and he has had important successes. The peace treaty
between Israel and Jordan; agreement between Israel and the
Palestinian Authority that for the first time has given Palestinians
self-rule inside of their own country and their own areas. These are
very important achievements. The president is determined to do all he
can to continue to assist that. That is why on the night that the
agreement was reached in Baghdad, among the first things the president
did was call President Mubarak, King Hussein and Prime Minister
Netanyahu and urged them to move on with this peace process and do
what they can to make it move again. You will see American
determination to continue to do that.


As for Syria and Lebanon, we also want to see those tracks move
forward. The Israeli government this week is making an interesting
initiative asking for implementation of Resolution 425. We hope that
will start the process of moving these negotiations forward. The
United States cannot impose its will, and should not impose a peace
plan on the Arab-Israeli partners. But it can help, and it will
continue to do all it can to help facilitate the negotiations between
them.


MR. FOUCHEUX: Thank you, Amman. Now let's continue our program in
Cairo. Please go ahead once again in Cairo.


Q: Mr. Riedel, let me introduce my guests here in Cairo, Ambassador
Saim Bashir (sp), a veteran diplomat and commentator, and Mr. Ahmed
Badissi (sp), deputy editor-in-chief of the -- (inaudible) --
newspaper here in Cairo. We are starting with a first question from
Ambassador Bashir (sp).


Q: Mr. Riedel, I have a three-pronged question for you. First, what
makes the United States sure that an air attack on Iraq will achieve
in 1998 what it failed to achieve in 1991 when more than 400,000 U.S.
forces were on the ground? You left Iraq in shambles. Even the Kurds.
And their problem over the past seven years failed to find a solution,
and the U.S. was unable to calm the situation there. That's number
one.


Number two is that your inspection process seems to have been a
failure -- not only because Saddam Hussein's game at manipulation, but
when Hussein Kamel disclosed to America some of the materials that
have been stored, your inspection team didn't know anything about it,
which means that you have a faulty inspection team, or the whole
concept of inspection needs examination. After all, in situations of
weapons of mass destruction the only balance is not inspection
underground, but (a balance of terror ?). If Israel has a nuclear
power and it refuses to submit to the IAEA, then the Arabs have to
develop a counter like the U.S. did with the Soviet Union. That's
question one.


Question two: What kind of Iraq would have been left after an American
attack? Would the situation post-attack be more stabilizing not only
to the Iraqis but to the rest of the Middle East? You don't talk about
what will happen to Iraq. All you tell me is that you care about the
Iraqi people while you are exercising collective penalty against the
innocent. If you want to get rid of Saddam Hussein, if you want to
protect the means of weapons of mass destruction, by all means go
ahead and do it. But for seven years you failed to do it, and you are
putting the blame on the innocent Iraqi people for the operation that
the American army, American intelligence, American air force failed to
achieve.


Number three, you conducted a policy of unilateralism in the Security
Council in the Middle East without any regard for the feeling of the
Arab people. The Arab people and not the Arab governments. You are
putting the Arab governments, the friendly governments, at risk when
you act unilaterally, stating that you feel for the Iraqi people. Go
ahead and get rid of Saddam Hussein, if that is your policy. Rid the
Middle East -- all the Middle East, not only Iraq -- of means of mass
destruction -- but stop by all means of inflicting pain on the
innocent. Thank you.


MR. RIEDEL: Thank you. I will try to see if I can recall all of those
questions, that is quite a bundle.


Let me start with the military action. Our goal in 1991 -- and I would
remind you that Egyptian forces joined with us in Operation Desert
Storm and played an important role in this -- was the liberation of
Kuwait. We succeeded in doing that. This go around, if we had had to
use military force -- and again let me stress our objective from the
beginning was a diplomatic solution - -but if we had to use military
force the president laid out a very simple criteria to judge it. We
would seek to significantly diminish Iraq's weapons of mass
destruction capability and the threat that it could pose to the
region. I am confident that had we used force, or if we have to use
force in the days, weeks ahead, we will be able to succeed in
accomplishing those objectives.


You talk about the inspectors as if they are American inspectors --
they are not. It's a United Nations operation in which many countries
participate. Over 45 countries have provided people for the UNSCOM
inspections in the past. Egypt has been one of those partners in the
UNSCOM process. It will continue to be so, I hope, in the future.
These inspectors have been very successful in what they have done,
despite deliberate Iraqi attempts to hide, to conceal, and to confuse
the process, the inspectors have time in and time out been able to
uncover more and more about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. The
inspectors have destroyed more of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction
process than all the bombs dropped in Desert Storm. That's why it is
so important that they continue to be able to do their job.


They have also been very successful in uncovering the lies of the
Iraqi regime. You mentioned Hussein Kamel. I think that's a good
example to go back to. In 1991 and for four years after that Iraq
claimed that it had no biological weapons program whatsoever -- said
it had never done anything to develop biological weapons. Then in 1995
the same Kamel defected to Jordan, and suddenly days later Iraq came
forward with quantities of documents about a biological weapons
program. The UNSCOM inspectors looked into those documents and they
found a trail that led them to a facility outside of Baghdad at a
place called el-Hakim (sp). El-Hakim (sp) is the largest biological
weapons producing facility anywhere in the Third World. UNSCOM, after
a thorough inspection of this facility, decided it needed to be
destroyed, and in 1997 it was completely destroyed and leveled. That's
a good example of how the UNSCOM process has worked, despite Iraq's
efforts to stop it.


Your last question was about unilateralism. I don't think that's the
process we have here at all. The United States has an important role
to play as a leader, but the Security Council, as it did this week,
has often acted unanimously on Iraq resolutions. There is not full
agreement of course on all the tactics, but I think there is unanimity
in agreeing that Iraq must comply with the U.N. Security Council
resolutions as long as Iraq is led by a regime that flagrantly
disregards the will of the international world.


Q: Mr. Riedel, my first question to you is the Gulf of Arabia has
become the only region in the world where the U.S. is resorting to the
violent use of force, or least threatening to the use of force from
time to time although Kuwait is liberated and its independence has
become no longer question. Do you want this region to be completely
Americanized? Is that what you mean by the only superpower in the
world?


Also we don't -- the Egyptians -- the man in the street in Cairo is
not able to understand that U.S. diplomacy is not able to distinguish
between the U.N. Security Council and the U.S. National Security
Council. There should be a difference for sure. And some say that
there is -- the repeated question that there is some kind of double
standard in the Middle East and in the Gulf of Arabia, while the U.S.
is tolerating Israel's weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear
bombs, whereas you are mobilizing the U.S. naval and air force against
a blockaded and hungry Iraq. If this is not a racist situation, as the
people or the manifestations in Ohio have raised the emblem, it could
be some kind of unprovoked aggression, because UNSCOM and the U.N.
inspection is underway throughout Iraq. For seven years now they have
done a better job than the U.S. use of force. Thank you.


MR. RIEDEL: Well, I am not sure what the question is there, but let me
repeat several of the underlying principles here. The United States is
not trying to impose its will or Americanize the Gulf. The U.S. forces
in the Gulf are there at the request of our friends in the region. You
talked about Kuwait. I talked on Kuwaiti television just a few days
ago with listeners in Kuwait. I don't think the Kuwaiti people feel
that they can live safely with the Iraqi government led by Saddam
Hussein still in power. There is a tremendous sense that the Iraqi
government continues to threaten Iraq, despite the promises it's made
to the United Nations.


The United States maintains forces in the Gulf, as it does in several
others parts of the world, in order to encourage stability and to
prevent dictators like Saddam Hussein from trying to carry out their
desires to impose their will on their neighbors.


Let me also point out again what I said earlier. It is not just United
States forces that rallied to the defense of the Security Council
resolutions this time. We had the support from the United Kingdom,
from Canada, from many European countries, from Argentina, and we
enjoyed the support from many countries in the region which allowed us
to use their facilities or to overfly their countries in order to be
able to bring this buildup of forces there.


And let me also once again point out the purpose of this use of force.
It was to send a credible and real signal to the government of Iraq
that it could not ignore the will of the international community. I
think it succeeded in doing that. I hope it succeeded in doing that.
We will find out as UNSCOM goes about its inspections in the days
ahead whether or not Iraq has gotten that message.


Q: Mr. Riedel, the United States in the last few years concentrated
more on its dialogue with the Arab governments in the area of Middle
East. Why doesn't the United States try on a variation; that is, to
speak to the Arab people, to try to make the American dream the
American impulse for democracy, the rule of law, the sense of justice,
the lack of double standard the rule? When you talked about Israel and
the efforts of the administration, you are talking about visitations.
The visitation did not stop Mr. Netanyahu's government of taking the
land; i.e., dispossessing the Palestinians of their territory under a
technical qualification. This is not usurping Palestinian territories.
This is to make the Israelis and the Palestinians live together,
respect each other, cooperate with each other. Why doesn't the United
States, both the administration and Congress, and the public, invest
in the Arab people by adopting a one policy, no double standard, that
is reasonable and sensible to all the people across the fighting line.
If you do that you might find that Mr. Saddam Hussein would be left
exposed, that those who play havoc with the rule of law will be
exposed, and that the American public and the Arab public will have a
lot to share together. Thank you.


MR. RIEDEL: I think the United States has been reaching out to the
Arab world and to the Arab people. We have relations with many Arab
governments. Those relations are extremely good with many of our
partners -- Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and others. We have no quarrel
with the Arab people. President Clinton has made clear on numerous
occasions that he rejects the arguments of those who say that there is
some kind of clash of civilizations between the United States, Islam
or the Arab world. We totally categorically reject that.


Let me go back to the peace process for a minute. It has been the
United States that has led the way in trying to bring about agreements
between Israel and its Arab neighbors. We are proud of the fact that
on the White House Lawn the Israeli-Egyptian peace agreement was
signed in 1980, and that in the early years of the Clinton
administration we were able to witness the signing of the agreement
between Chairman Arafat and the Israeli leadership at that time. We
will continue to do what we can in order to facilitate that process.
But let me remind you that it was with American diplomacy and American
help that Palestinians for the first time in their history were able
to begin ruling themselves in Gaza, in Nablus, in Bethlehem, and only
a year ago getting self-rule in Hebron. These are important milestones
on the road forward. The United States is not giving up on that
process. The United States will continue to invest great energy in it.


But I think we have to be careful here to recognize that there is no
equivalency between Israel and Iraq. Israel has not engaged in using
weapons of mass destruction against its neighbors. Israel has not
engaged in firing ballistic missiles against its neighbors. Israel has
not gassed its own people with chemical weapons as Saddam Hussein has
done. Israel is engaged in a process of negotiations with its
neighbors. It has signed peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan. It has
signed an agreement with the Palestinian Authority. It has entered
into negotiations with Syria and Lebanon. What we need to do now it
not draw equivalencies between Israel and Iraq, but to move this
process forward. And we need the leaders, both on the Israeli side and
on the Palestinian side, and in Damascus and in Beirut, to make the
hard decisions that they need to make in order to move this process
forward. This process has been stuck for months. We know it and you
know it. In order to move it forward we can help, and we will help.
The president has sent his secretary of state to the region several
times in the last six months. He has sent Ambassador Ross even more
times. He has met with the leaders in the White House just this past
January. He will continue to do what he can. But at the end of the day
it is the leaders themselves who have to make the hard decisions to
move their peoples forward towards peace.


Q: Yes, Mr. Riedel, do you think that another U.S. strike that removes
Saddam Hussein will serve U.S. interests in the region of the Arabian
Gulf? Some experts say if Saddam survived another strike this will
lead to the U.S. losing its credibility in the West and in the Gulf of
Arabia. How do you see that?


MR. RIEDEL: As I said earlier, the United States never made getting
rid of Saddam Hussein the objective of any proposed or hypothetical
military action. Air power isn't going to remove a despot like Saddam
Hussein who is willing to hide among his own people in order to avoid
military responses. We know that and you know that.


Our objective, should we have to use military force, would be to
substantially reduce the threat Iraq is able to pose to the
neighborhood. After that we would have to continue to find ways in
order to contain this very dangerous government until the day comes
about when there is a change of leadership in Iraq.


I think it is safe to say that most Iraqis, most Arabs, most people
throughout the region all share one common objective: they long for
the day that Saddam Hussein is no longer able to tyrannize his own
people and threaten the region. Until that day comes though the
international community has a responsibility in order to keep him from
threatening the region and to do what it can at the same time to help
the Iraqi people. That is America's objective as well.


MR. FOUCHEUX: Thank you, Cairo. We will return now to London for more
questions. Please go ahead in London.


Q: Mr. Riedel, again -- (inaudible) -- representative of the Arab News
Network, ANN. In 1991, the forces of the alliance could have marched
to Baghdad. Mr. Bush, the president at the time, stopped that. And
some people actually believed in the theory of conspiracy between
Washington and the Iraqi government, probably indirectly, because they
say that as long as Saddam Hussein is there he is -- the American
forces, the American interests, are kept because American forces are
still in the area. And now even President -- the Libya leader two days
ago talked publicly on television about this, and congratulated both
President Clinton and Saddam on their "trick," as he described it. Is
that true, first of all?


MR. RIEDEL: The United States is not engaged in a conspiracy to keep
Saddam Hussein in power. I know that that theory is widely prevalent
in some quarters, but it is ridiculous. I had the privilege of working
for President Bush in 1991. He had no desire to see Saddam Hussein
stay in power. But he also knew that once the liberation of Kuwait had
been completed the international community had fulfilled its mandate.
And moving American, Egyptian, British, Syrian forces to Baghdad was
not part of that mandate. We do not seek to impose some kind of new
government on Iraq by military force. Ultimately changing the
government of Iraq is something that the Iraqi people have to do. As I
said earlier, we look forward to the day when that happens. Until then
we have to ensure that this regime is contained. But we are not
engaged in any kind of conspiracy to keep Saddam Hussein in power. We
look forward to the day that he is gone. It will be a much better day
for us, for Iraq, and for the entire region.


Q: (Inaudible) -- actually some time ago that as long as Saddam
Hussein is in power there will be no lifting of the sanctions. Does
that stand now after the Annan agreement?


MR. RIEDEL: The U.S. position has been consistent since the beginning
of the Clinton administration. We want to see Iraq fulfill all of its
requirements under all of the United States Security Council
resolutions. Until that happens the issue of lifting sanctions is a
hypothetical one.


Let's go back to what Iraq's requirements are. They were to give a
full accounting of its weapons of mass destruction program, but also
to do other things -- to give clear assurances that it respects the
sovereignty and independence of Kuwait, to answer questions about the
600 or so Kuwaitis missing or prisoners of war after Desert Storm.
Iraq has still failed to do those things as well. Those 600 people are
still unaccounted for, and their families in Kuwait still worry and
wonder what has happened to their loved ones.


Iraq holds within its own hands the power to bring about the lifting
of sanctions. What the Saddam Hussein government has done has pushed
that day off again and again and again. The Security Council in its
resolution this week noted that fact. It said that Iraq's actions --
not the international community's and not the United States' -- are
the reason why the issue of lifting sanctions has been pushed off as
far as it has.


Q: Mr. Riedel, I recently interviewed the Egyptian foreign minister.
He said actually publicly again on television that there were plans to
defy Iraq and some other Arab countries and bring on a new border,
similar to that of -- (inaudible) -- of 1916. Is that true, first of
all? And, second, is there any American-British plans to create a
Kurdish state at the expense of Iraq?


MR. RIEDEL: The answer to both of those questions is no. The United
States supports the territorial integrity of Iraq. That has been our
posture since 1990; it continues to be our posture. We are not
interested in seeing Iraq broken apart. We are interested in seeing
Iraq comply with Security Council resolutions and respect the will of
the international community. We have no desire and we have no plans --
we have engaged in no conspiracy to bring about a division of Iraq.


Q: Mr. Riedel, as you know there is a majority in the Arab world who
really believe in the American justice and in the American way of life
as being pioneers, especially in this age, the new civilization. Now
few -- one week ago President Clinton addressed the Arab people, the
Muslim people, about the Iraqi question, and said that he was
concerned about the future of the peoples of the area. But while the
Iraqi people had no means of protecting themselves against the spread
of chemical and biological agents -- say after -- during bombing Iraq
or after bombing Iraq we witnessed that the capitals of the world
rushed to send gas masks, other protective means, to the Israeli
people. I mean, did any one in the United States administration
consider that, that the Arab people, the Iraqi people, the neighboring
countries, had no means of protecting themselves?


MR. RIEDEL: Let me state very clearly that as we look at military
options the president has instructed his military commanders to do
everything they can to ensure that there is minimal risk of civilian
casualties. But if chemical and biological weapons are still in Iraq,
and were somehow blown up and dispersed during a military action, I
think we have to bear in mind whose fault that would be. Iraq was
supposed to give those weapons up. The Saddam government was supposed
to announce where it kept them. If now we discover through a military
action that they are still there, I think that clearly answers the
question who was at fault here.


You raise the question about why Israel desired gas masks and other
protective gear during this crisis. I think you know the answer as
well as I do, because in 1991 for no reason Iraq attacked Israel in
the midst of the Gulf War. It fired 39 Scud-type missiles against
Israeli cities. It underscores a point I made earlier: This Iraqi
government is really unique. Many countries around the world have
weapons of mass destruction, many countries have ballistic missiles,
many countries have them in the Middle East. But only one has used
them again and again and again, and only one has used them not only
against its neighbors but against its own people. That government
falls into a separate category. It is a repeat offender, and the
international community has a responsibility to make sure it is not
able to do it again in the future.


Q: But, Mr. Riedel, I mean that is true, but at the same time Iraq
attacked Saudi Arabia as well, and Bahrain as you just mentioned. And
nobody has mentioned -- nobody has cared about providing the people
of, say, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain or Iran or Syria with any gas masks or
protective gear as you put it. I mean, why is that? Why has that been
ignored?


MR. RIEDEL: I think some of those governments have taken steps in
order to provide protective equipment and protective gear. The United
States has also deployed its Patriot missile systems in several of
those countries in order to ensure that we can do the best we can to
defend them with the most modern military technologies we have. We
have Patriot missile systems for example deployed in Saudi Arabia in
order to ensure protection of our forces, and to the extent we can of
the Saudi nation as well.


Israel is in a special category because it was attacked without any
provocation whatsoever in 1991. The Israeli government has a
responsibility to its people to take the steps necessary.


The point here though is not whether or not gas masks are being
distributed in different places; it is why does this question arise at
all? Why do people throughout the region -- why do governments
throughout the region -- including in Iran, including in Israel,
including in the Gulf -- feel threatened by this regime? I think the
answer is self-evident: The regime's pattern of deceit, of threatening
the region, and of using force to try and get its goals.


Q: Mr. Riedel, there is another question about negotiations, if you
can allow me to ask it. Syria entered into these negotiations with
Israel in sincerity, and under the supervision of the United States
government. The whole process has come to a halt just because of the
change of government in Israel. Now Syria does not believe in the
neutrality of the United States, and actually they believe that there
is no point of conducting any negotiations. If you go back a little
bit, Washington also was a witness, signatory to the Washington peace
deal with Israel between the Palestinians and Israel, and the late
Yitzhak Rabin was there, President Arafat was there, President Clinton
was there. And now again the Israeli government has come back on its
promise -- I mean the previous government's promise or even signature.
I mean, what is the way to get out of this dilemma? Isn't there a
moral question to ask that the United States, because of its
superpower status, because of its -- because it's a broker of peace in
the area -- they have to -- I mean, Washington has to influence to
pressure not only the Arab side, but Israel as the same side, and not
say we are not going to pressurize -- the leaders have to come and
make peace with themselves. I mean, this is not acceptable in the Arab
world. What do you think about the whole thing?


MR. RIEDEL: The United States is very proud of the role that it has
played in trying to bring about peace between Israel and the Arab
states. We are determined to continue to do all that we can. This is a
priority for President Clinton. As I said yesterday, he met with the
rest of his peace process team to try to see ways to move this thing
forward. We want to move on all tracks, including the Syrian track and
including on the Palestinian track. The Israeli-Syrian negotiations
actually broke down before the change of government in Israel. We
regret that they have not been able to start again. We are constantly
looking for ways to try to get that process moving again. The
Israeli-Palestinian negotiations have been bogged down for months. We
are determined to do all we can to press that forward. At the end of
the day though peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors is
fundamentally a decision that Israelis and Arabs have to make. They
have to make the hard decisions to move forward. We can help them. We
can facilitate it, and we will do that. President Clinton regards this
as one of his highest foreign policy priorities. But only the leaders
themselves can make the decisions that they can explain to their own
peoples as to why to move forward. I am confident that you will see in
the weeks, months, ahead the United States continuing its efforts to
broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians, between Israel and
Syria, and between Israel and Lebanon.


MR. FOUCHEUX: Thank you in London. And with that I'm afraid we have
run out of time. I'd like to thank our guest, Mr. Bruce Riedel, for
joining us once again.


MR. RIEDEL:  Thank you very much.



MR. FOUCHEUX: Thank you, Mr. Riedel. I'd also like to thank all of our
participants in Amman, Cairo and London. I'm Rick Foucheux for
Worldnet.


(End transcript)