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USIS Washington 
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17 March 1998

TEXT: DEFENSE SECRETARY COHEN SAYS IRAQI CRISIS IS NOT OVER

(Saddam Hussein must give evidence of what he destroys) (2400)



Washington -- Defense Secretary Cohen says the international community
must continue to test Iraqi President Saddam Hussein "to see if he
intends to fulfill or flout his obligations."


Even though United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan concluded a
memorandum of understanding with Iraq, Cohen warned, it "is not a
question of trust," but of verification.


Cohen told members of the National Press Club March 17 that Saddam
Hussein "has an affirmative duty to produce hard evidence" of his
compliance. The Iraqi leader must "once and for all, make a full,
final and complete declaration about what he has and what he has
destroyed," the secretary said, and then he "must reconcile his
declarations with his deeds."


Following is the text of Cohen's remarks as prepared for delivery:



(begin text)



Today, I want to take stock of where we stand in this continuing
crisis. I want to outline in the clearest possible terms what Saddam
Hussein's obligations are to the world and what he must do to meet his
obligations. I also want to discuss the larger threat of weapons of
mass destruction and what the United States is doing about it, not
only in Iraq, but here at home.


I met with Secretary General Annan twice last week during his visit to
Washington. We discussed in detail his memorandum of understanding
with Saddam. Secretary General Annan is to be commended for his
persistence and patience in securing this agreement. We are already
seeing positive results.


For the first time, Saddam Hussein has agreed to unconditional,
unfettered and unrestricted access to all suspected sites in Iraq.
UNSCOM (United Nations Special Commission) inspectors will for the
first time have access to so-called "sensitive" sites and to eight
so-called "presidential" sites that Iraq once tried to claim were off
limits. Under this agreement, nothing is off limits, there are no
deadlines and there is no bar against repeat visits to the same site.
Last week, an UNSCOM inspection team returned to Iraq for the first
time under the agreement and inspected, for the first time, the Iraqi
Ministry of Defense.


This agreement also preserves the integrity and independence of the
inspection process. Chairman Richard Butler remains in charge of
UNSCOM and continues to report to the Security Council through
Secretary General Annan. The special inspection team for the eight
so-called "presidential" sites will report to, and remain under the
operational control of, Chairman Butler. The diplomats accompanying
this team will observe, not interfere.


If fulfilled by Iraq, this agreement will at last give the UNSCOM
inspectors the access they need to find and destroy Iraq's chemical,
biological and nuclear materials and munitions; to find and destroy
the missiles to deliver these weapons; and to institute a system for
long-term monitoring to ensure Iraq does not reconstitute or rebuild
more.


But even as we note the many positive aspects of this agreement, it is
important to remember that it could not have been reached without
American-led military muscle. It is also important to remember that it
was Saddam Hussein who precipitated this crisis. He tried to dictate
to the international community when, where, how and for how long
inspections were to occur. He threatened to shoot down the U-2
surveillance flights that bear the U.N. banner and are flown by
American pilots. He threatened to attack our forces in the region or
those of our allies and he kicked American inspectors out of Iraq.


Today, it is clear that Saddam Hussein's strategy of evasion and
avoidance has failed. The economic sanctions that have denied him
approximately $110 billion to rebuild his military remain in place.
The UNSCOM inspectors remain in Iraq with more access than ever. The
international community remains in agreement that Saddam must comply
fully with his obligations. And the U.N. Security Council has made it
clear that he faces the "severest consequences" if he does not.


But this crisis is not over. These last seven years have taught us
that Iraq cannot be trusted. It has displayed an historical pattern of
delay, deception and deceit. After the Gulf War, the Iraqis gave what
was supposedly a full, final and complete declaration on each of their
weapons of mass destruction programs. They claimed that their weapons
had been destroyed and denied ever producing chemical weapons. After
the defection of Saddam Hussein's son-in-law in 1995, Iraqi officials
confessed to having materials and munitions they had lied about for
years. But even today, there is a vast gap between what Iraq professes
and what it is required to prove.


Iraq claims it destroyed 25 SCUD warheads filled with biological
agents such as botulinum toxin, which can kill within three days by
paralyzing the lungs. Iraq claims it destroyed 50 warheads filled with
sarin, an agent that attacks the nervous system and kills within 15
minutes. But they have failed to provide convincing evidence. While
UNSCOM through its own efforts has confirmed the destruction of 30
warheads, Iraq has failed to provide credible evidence that the
remainder have been destroyed, and indeed UNSCOM has found Iraq's
explanations to be false.


Iraq claims it destroyed 157 bombs filled with biological agents like
anthrax, a minute quantity of which -- no larger that a speck of dust
-- can kill within four or five days. But they offer no credible
evidence of this destruction. Iraq claims it destroyed 130 tons of
chemical agents and over 15,000 chemical weapons. But they have failed
to demonstrate either. Iraq claims it destroyed enough precursor
chemicals to manufacture 200 tons of VX, a mere drop of which can kill
within minutes. Still, they offer no convincing evidence.


Iraq has made declaration after declaration, each one supposedly full,
final and complete, but each one has been found to be false. Even the
international technical teams that traveled to Baghdad at the
invitation of Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz report that Iraq
continued to deceive and delay as recently as last month. The bottom
line is that Iraq may still be hiding munitions and operational
missiles with warheads filled with deadly chemical or biological
agents.


So judging the success of this memorandum of understanding is not a
question of trust. It is a question of verification. President Reagan
used to say, "Trust but verify." Now we are saying, "Inspect and
verify." The international community must continue to test Saddam to
see if he intends to fulfill or flout his obligations.


During this testing phase, Saddam is betting that the world will see
the initial access given the UNSCOM inspectors, declare victory and
bring them home. He is counting on the world to turn its attention
elsewhere so he can turn his attention to lifting the sanctions and
rebuilding his military machine. But success is not inspectors
knocking on doors, walking through empty buildings or finding empty
drawers or files that have been cleared by Iraqi search and destroy
missions.


The key measure of success is not simply the access granted by Iraq
nor the discoveries made by the inspectors. The true test is the kind
of evidence and proof Saddam offers that he is being truthful. He
must, once and for all, make a full, final and complete declaration
about what he has and what he has destroyed. He must reconcile his
declarations with his deeds.


Let me be as clear as I can. Saddam Hussein has an affirmative duty to
produce hard evidence: records, names, dates and places describing
what was destroyed, how, when and where. Under the U.N. Security
Council Resolutions, it is not the inspectors' responsibility to prove
that he is guilty of having and hiding these weapons, to find
biologically or chemically-tipped missiles in a 170,000-square-mile
haystack. It is Saddam's responsibility to provide proof positive that
he has not. The burden of proof is on Saddam Hussein.


Only when Saddam is in full compliance with all relevant U.N.
resolutions will there be sanctions relief for the Iraqi people who
have suffered so needlessly for his intransigence. In short, Saddam
still has many promises to keep and the inspectors still have miles to
go before Iraq can insist on sanctions relief. That's why the
international community must remain vigilant. And that's why we will
maintain our forces in the region at the ready.


One of the greatest dangers in such times of crisis is that, to
paraphrase T. S. Eliot, we will have the sudden illumination that we
had the experience but missed the meaning. The larger meaning of this
moment is that we live in a world where more powerful weapons are in
the hands of more reckless people who are more likely to use them.
Iraq is one of at least 25 countries that already have or are
developing nuclear, biological or chemical weapons and the means to
deliver them. Of these, many have ties to terrorists, religious
zealots, or organized crime groups who also seek these weapons.
Chemical and biological weapons are truly the poor man's atomic bomb,
cheaper to buy, easier to build and extremely deadly.


America's military superiority also presents a superpower paradox.
Potential adversaries know they cannot win a conventional challenge to
our forces. So they are more likely to resort to unconventional,
asymmetrical methods such as biological and chemical weapons. We
cannot let our vulnerability to these weapons become our Achilles
heel.


This is the reason that I announced in November the creation of a new
Threat Reduction Agency to serve as the DOD focal point, not only for
our technical work, but for the intellectual analysis required to
confront this threat.


We recognize that the use of chemical and biological weapons is a
likely condition of future warfare. Planning and preparing for their
use on future battlefields is therefore a key element of our defense
strategy and our war planning.


We also recognize that there is no silver bullet, no single response
to this threat. Rather, we must prevent the spread of weapons of mass
destruction. We must protect ourselves by deterring their use. And we
must prepare for the possibility that these weapons may be used in
America.


Prevention must be our first and foremost line of defense. Our
Cooperative Threat Reduction program, Nunn-Lugar, is helping to
destroy and dismantle nuclear and chemical weapons throughout the
former Soviet Union. The United States also actively participates in a
range of arms control and nonproliferation regimes to lessen the
chance of rogue nations or terrorists acquiring weapons of mass
destruction.


Despite our efforts, proliferation is likely to occur. So our second
line of defense must be to protect ourselves through deterrence and
defense. We have made very clear to Iraq and to the world that if
America or U.S. forces are attacked by nuclear, chemical or biological
weapons, we have the ability and will to deliver a response that is
overwhelming and devastating.


We also deter adversaries by making sure our forces are ready to fight
and win on any battlefield, even one that is contaminated. In the QDR
(Quadrennial Defense Review), I directed that we increase our spending
over the coming five years by nearly $1 billion additional to improve
the ability of our forces to find and destroy these weapons before
they are used against our troops; to arm our forces with the most
advanced detection and decontamination equipment; and, to give them
new, lighter protective suits. Earlier this month, we started
vaccinating our Persian Gulf forces against anthrax and we will
continue until all our forces are immunized. We go to such lengths
because defense is itself a deterrent. The more prepared our forces
are, the less likely an attack against them will succeed and the less
likely potential adversaries will try to do so.


Yet this season of anniversaries reminds us that the front lines are
no longer just overseas, they are also here at home. Five years ago
last month, six were killed and thousands were injured in the World
Trade Center blast. And three years ago this week, the sarin gas
attack in Tokyo's subway killed a dozen and injured thousands.


Some believe an even more deadly chemical or biological catastrophe on
American soil is inevitable. While nothing is inevitable until it
happens, we must be prepared for this potential future, and we are. We
are building a third line of defense grounded in domestic preparation.
DOD is leading a Federal effort to train the "first responders" in 120
of America's largest cities. These first responders are the police,
firefighters and medical technicians who will be first on the scene of
a terrorist attack.


Today, I am announcing the creation of the military's first-ever rapid
assessment teams to ensure the Department of Defense is even more
prepared. Ten special National Guard teams will be dedicated to
assisting local civilian authorities in the event of a chemical or
biological attack. These teams will arrive quickly, assess the scene
and help to ensure affected areas get the Federal help they need.


I am also announcing that Reserve units already trained to respond to
attacks abroad will be given more training and opportunities to assist
here at home.


In its first year, this entire plan will avail over 3,000 more
personnel trained and ready to assist civilian authorities. In future
years, our Guard and Reserve will assist even more. This new
initiative will be the cornerstone of our strategy for preparing
America's defense against the possible use of weapons of mass
destruction.


At the dawn of the nuclear age, Winston Churchill remarked, "We can be
carried back to the stone age on the gleaming wings of science as
easily as we can glide into the mysteries of the 21st Century. The
choice has always been man's." Churchill's words were true then and
they are even more true today in a world where fanatical actors may be
rabid in the face of reason. Today, the choice is America's. We can
choose to close our eyes to the threat of weapons of mass destruction,
one of the greatest threats of our times. Or we can choose to confront
this challenge and thus enter the 21st Century stronger and more
secure.


(end text)