As delivered to the Council on Foreign Relations, New York City
Wolfowitz: (Applause.) Pete, thank you for that kind introduction, and thank you for the kind compliment, not to me, but to the Department of Defense. It really is a bunch of incredibly brave and incredibly skilled and unbelievably smart people doing amazing things in difficult circumstances and it’s an honor to be part of them. Every so often I get one of those introductions that’s sort of over the top and one is tempted - not in your case - but to recall what the late Vernon Walters cited to me as the first of his three laws of human behavior, which is, “Anyone who says flattery will get you nowhere has obviously never received any.” Before I am tempted to be flattered by the size of my audience today I know that it has nothing to do with me personally and everything to do with the importance of the topic. But I appreciate very much the opportunity the council has given me to speak, not only to a large group here in New York, but also simultaneously to a large group in Washington. It’s a great tribute to what you’ve done, Les, with this organization. It’s really ... it started at a high level and it’s come a lot further. That’s a real accomplishment. And it’s a pleasure to be back here in New York, which happens to be my birthplace and a city I really do love. The last time I spoke here was a little more than a year ago and the occasion was to commission a ship named the USS Bulkeley, a ship named after a New Yorker, Admiral John Bulkeley, who left a big mark on the Navy during a career that spanned some three decades and a career that included actions in World War II that earned him the Congressional Medal of Honor. It was enormously fitting to commission a great warship named for a man whose life symbolized the resilience and resolve that the world came to associate with this great city since September 11th of 2001-and how appropriate it was that the commissioning took place within walking distance of Ground Zero.
As terrible as the attacks of September 11th were, however, we now know that the terrorists are plotting still more and greater catastrophes. We know they are seeking more terrible weapons-chemical, biological, and even nuclear weapons. In the hands of terrorists, what we often call weapons of mass destruction would more accurately be called weapons of mass terror. The threat posed by the connection between terrorist networks and states that possess these weapons of mass terror presents us with the danger of a catastrophe that could be orders of magnitude worse than September 11th. Iraq’s weapons of mass terror and the terror networks to which the Iraqi regime are linked are not two separate themes - not two separate threats. They are part of the same threat. Disarming Iraq and the War on Terror are not merely related. Disarming Iraq of its chemical and biological weapons and dismantling its nuclear weapons program is a crucial part of winning the War on Terror. Iraq has had 12 years now to disarm, as it agreed to do at the conclusion of the Gulf War. But, so far, it has treated disarmament like a game of hide and seek-or, as Secretary of State Powell has termed it, “rope-a-dope in the desert.”
But this is not a game. It is deadly serious. We are dealing with a threat to the security of our nation and the world. At the same time, however, President Bush understands fully the risks and dangers of war and the President wants to do everything humanly possible to eliminate this threat by peaceful means. That is why the President called for the U.N. Security Council to pass what became Resolution 1441, giving Iraq a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations and, in so doing, to eliminate the danger that Iraq’s weapons of mass terror could fall into the hands of terrorists. In making that proposal, President Bush understood perfectly well that compliance with that resolution would require a massive change of attitude and actions on the part of the Iraqi regime. But history proves that such a change is possible. Other nations have rid themselves of weapons of mass destruction cooperatively in ways that were possible to verify. So let’s talk for a moment about what real disarmament looks like: There are several significant examples from the recent past-among them South Africa, Ukraine and Kazakhstan. In South Africa, for example, President De Klerk decided in 1989 to end that country’s nuclear weapons program and, in 1999 , to dismantle all their existing weapons. South Africa joined the Nonproliferation Treaty in 1991 and later that year accepted full scope safeguards by the U.N.’s atomic energy agency. South Africa allowed U.N. inspectors complete access to both operating and defunct facilities, provided thousands of current and historical documents, and allowed detailed, unfettered discussions with personnel that had been involved in their nuclear program. By 1994, South Africa had provided verifiable evidence that its nuclear inventory was complete and its weapons program was dismantled. In the 1990s, President Kravchuk of Ukraine and President Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan ratified the Nuclear Nonproliferation and START Treaties, committing their countries to give up the nuclear weapons and strategic delivery systems that they had inherited with the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Kazakhstan and Ukraine both went even further in their disclosures and actions than was required by those treaties. Ukraine requested and received US assistance to destroy its Backfire bombers and air-launched cruise missiles. Kazakhstan asked the United States to remove more than 500 kg. of highly enriched uranium. Given the full cooperation of both governments, implementation of the disarmament was smooth. All nuclear warheads were returned to Russia by 1996, and all missile silos and heavy bombers were destroyed before the START deadline. Each of these cases was different but the end result was the same: the countries disarmed while disclosing their programs fully and voluntarily. In each case, high-level political commitment to disarmament was accompanied by the active participation of national institutions to carry out that process. In each case, the responsible countries created a transparent process in which decisions and actions could be verified and audited by the international community.
In Iraq’s case, unfortunately, the situation is the opposite. U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441 gave Saddam Hussein one last chance to choose a path of cooperative disarmament, one that he was obliged to take and agreed to take 12 years ago. We were under no illusions that the Baghdad regime had undergone the fundamental change of heart that underpinned the successes I just mentioned. Nevertheless, there is still the hope—if Saddam is faced with a serious enough threat that he would otherwise be disarmed forcibly and removed from power—there is still the hope that he might decide to adopt a fundamentally different course. But time is running out.
The United States entered this process hopeful that it could eliminate the threat posed by Iraq’s weapons of mass terror without having to resort to force. And we’ve put more than just our hopes into this process. Last fall, the Security Council requested member states to give, quote, “full support,” unquote, to U.N. inspectors.
The United States answered that call and President Bush directed departments and agencies to provide, I quote, “material, operational, personnel, and intelligence support,” unquote, for U.N. inspections under Resolution 1441. Such assistance includes a comprehensive package of intelligence support, including names of individuals whom we believe it would be productive to interview and information about sites suspected to be associated with proscribed material or activities. We have provided our analysis of Iraq’s nuclear, chemical, biological and missile programs, and we have suggested an inspection strategy and tactics. We have provided counterintelligence support to improve the inspectors’ ability to thwart Iraqi attempts to penetrate their organizations.
The United States has also made available a wide array of technology to support the inspectors’ efforts, including aerial surveillance support in the form of U-2 and Predator aircraft. So far, Iraq is blocking U-2 flights requested by the U.N., in direct violation of Resolution 1441, which states that inspectors shall have free and unrestricted use of manned and unmanned reconnaissance vehicles.
Let’s consider for a moment what inspectors can do and what they can’t. As the case of South Africa and the other success stories demonstrate, inspection teams can do a great deal to verify the dismantling of a program if they are working with a cooperative government that wants to prove to the world it has disarmed. It is not the job of inspectors to disarm Iraq; it is Iraq’s job to disarm itself. What inspectors can do is confirm that a country has willingly disarmed and provided verifiable evidence that it has done so. If a government is unwilling to disarm itself, it is unreasonable to expect the inspectors to do it for them. They cannot be charged with a “search and destroy” mission to uncover so-called smoking guns, especially not if the host government is intent on hiding them and impeding the inspectors’ every move. Inspectors cannot verify the destruction of weapons materials if there are no credible records of their disposition.
Think about it for a moment. When an auditor discovers discrepancies in the books, it is not the auditor’s obligation to prove where the embezzler has stashed his money. It is up to the person or institution being audited to explain the discrepancy. It is quite unreasonable to expect a few hundred inspectors to search every potential hiding place in a country the size of France, even if nothing were being moved. And, of course, there is every reason to believe that things are being moved constantly and hidden. The whole purpose, if you think about it, for Iraq constructing mobile units to produce biological weapons could only have been to be able to hide them. We know about that capability from defectors and other sources, but unless Iraq comes clean about what it has, we cannot expect the inspectors to find them.
Nor is it the inspectors’ role to find Saddam’s hidden weapons when he lies about them and conceals them. That would make them not inspectors, but detectives, charged with going through that vast country, climbing through tunnels and searching private homes. Sending a few hundred inspectors to search an area the size of the state of California would be to send them on a fool’s errand or to play a game. And let me repeat: this is not a game.
David Kay, a former chief UNSCOM inspector, has said that confirming a country’s voluntary disarmament is a job that should not take months or years. With cooperation, it would be relatively simple because the real indicators of disarmament are readily apparent. They start with the willingness of the regime to be disarmed, the commitments communicated by its leaders, the disclosure of the full scope of work on weapons of mass destruction, and verifiable records of dismantling and destruction.
Unfortunately, though not surprisingly, we have seen none of these indications of willing disarmament from Iraq.
So let’s discuss what disarmament does not look like. Despite our skepticism about the intentions of the Baghdad regime, we entered the disarmament process in good faith. Iraq has done anything but that.
Instead of a high-level commitment to disarmament, Iraq has a high-level commitment to concealing its weapons of mass terror. Instead of charging national institutions with the responsibility to dismantle programs, key Iraqi organizations operate a concealment effort that targets inspectors and thwarts their efforts. Instead of the full cooperation and transparency that is evident in each of those disarmament success stories, Iraq has started the process by openly defying the requirement of Resolution 1441, and I quote, “to provide a currently accurate, full and complete” declaration of all of its programs.
Indeed, with its December 7th declaration, Iraq resumed a familiar process of deception. Secretary Powell has called that 12,200-page document a catalogue of recycled information and brazen omissions that the secretary said, “totally fails to meet the resolution’s requirements. Most brazenly of all”—I’m still quoting Powell—“the Iraqi declaration denies the existence of any prohibited weapons programs at all,” unquote. Among those omissions are large quantities of anthrax and other deadly biological agents and nuclear-related items that the U.N. Special Commission concluded Iraq had not accounted for. There are also gaps in accounting for such deadly items as 1.5 tons of the nerve gas VX, 550 mustard-filled artillery shells, and 400 biological weapons-capable aerial bombs that the U.N. Special Commission concluded in 1999—and this is the U.N.’s conclusion—Iraq had failed to account for.
There is no mention of Iraqi efforts to procure uranium from abroad. Iraq fails to explain why it’s producing missile fuel that seems designed for ballistic missiles it claims it does not have. There is no information on 13 recent Iraqi missile tests cited by Dr. Blix that exceeded the 150-kilometer limit. There is no explanation of the connection between Iraq’s extensive unmanned aerial vehicle program and chemical or biological agent dispersal. There is no information about Iraq’s mobile biological-weapons production facilities. And, very disturbingly, Iraq has not accounted for some two tons of anthrax growth media.
When U.N. inspectors left Iraq in 1998, they concluded, and I quote: “The history of the Special Commission’s work in Iraq has been plagued by coordinated efforts to thwart full discovery of Iraq’s programs,” unquote. What we know today from the testimony of Iraqis with first-hand knowledge, from U.N. inspectors and from a variety of other sources, about Iraq’s current efforts to deceive inspectors suggests that Iraq is fully engaged today in the same old practices of concealment and deception. Iraq seems to be employing virtually all of the old techniques that it used to frustrate U.N. inspections in the past.
At the heart of those techniques, of course, is hiding things, and moving them if they’re found. In the past, Iraq made determined efforts to hide its prohibited weapons and to move them if inspectors were about to find them. In 1991, in one of the first, and only, instances where the inspectors found prohibited equipment, they came upon some massive calutrons, devices used for enriching uranium, at an Iraqi military base. Even at that early stage, Iraq had begun to make provisions to move its illegal weapons in case inspectors stumbled across them. As the inspectors appeared at the front gate, the Iraqis moved the calutrons out the back of the base on large tank transporters.
Today, those practices continue, except that over the last 12 years, Iraqi preparations for concealing their illegal programs have become more extensive and sophisticated. Iraq’s national policy is not to disarm but rather to hide its weapons of mass terror. That effort, significantly—the effort of concealment—is led by none other than Saddam’s own son, Qusay, who uses a Special Security Organization under his control for that purpose. Other security organizations contribute to these “anti-inspection” activities, including the National Monitoring Directorate, whose ostensible purpose is to facilitate inspections. Instead, it provides tip-offs of sites that are about to be inspected and uses “minders” to intimidate witnesses. Iraqi security organizations and a number of government agencies provide thousands of personnel to hide documents and materials from inspectors, to sanitize inspection sites and to monitor the inspectors’ activities. Indeed, the “anti-inspectors” vastly outnumber the couple of hundred of U.N. personnel on the ground in Iraq.
Already, we have multiple reports and other evidence of intensified efforts to hide documents in places where they are unlikely to be found, such as private homes of low-level officials and universities. We have reports and other evidence of prohibited material and documents being relocated to agricultural areas and private homes or hidden beneath mosques and hospitals. Furthermore, according to these reports, the material is moved constantly, making it difficult to trace or find without absolutely fresh intelligence. It is a shell game played on a grand scale with deadly serious weapons.
Those efforts at concealment are assisted by active surveillance and penetration of the inspectors. In the past, Iraq systematically used its intelligence capabilities to support efforts to conceal its illegal activities. Former inspector David Kay recalled that in 1991, the inspectors came across a document warning the chief security official of the facility they were about to inspect, that David Kay would lead the U.N. team. That warning had been issued less than 48 hours after the decision had been made for Kay to lead the team, and at that time, fewer than 10 people within the inspection organization were supposed to know the operational plan.
In the 1990s, there were reports that Iraqi intelligence recruited U.N. inspectors as informants. And it was known that Iraqi scientists were fearful about the confidentiality of their interviews. Recent reports that Iraq continues these kinds of efforts are a clear sign that it is not yet serious about disarmament.
Today, we also anticipate that Iraq is likely to target U.N. computer systems through cyber intrusions to steal inspections, methods, criteria, and findings. And we know that Iraq has the capability to do that. According to Khidhir Hamza, a former senior official in the Iraqi nuclear program, Iraq’s Babylon Software Company was set up to develop cyber warfare capabilities on behalf of the Iraqi Intelligence Service in the early 1990s. Some people assigned to Babylon were segregated into a highly compartmented unit and tasked with breaking into foreign computers to download sensitive data. Some of the programmers reported that they had accumulated sufficient expertise to break into moderately protected computer systems, such as those that the inspectors depend upon.
Further technique is intimidation and coercion, both of the inspectors and of the people they’re inspecting. In the past, Iraq did not hesitate to use pressure tactics to obtain information about the inspectors. Sometimes the pressure was quite crude. During the UNSCOM period, one inspector was reportedly filmed in a compromising situation and blackmailed.
Sometimes the pressure was more subtle. Richard Spertzel, a former inspector in the biological warfare unit, recalled the case of an Iraqi official who coyly asked a member of Spertzel’s team, “Just how far is it from Salt Lake City to Minnesota?” Since this woman had just moved from Salt Lake City to Minneapolis a few days prior to her arrival in Iraq, you can imagine that she was unnerved by the comment.
More recently Iraq has again begun referring to the inspectors as spies, clearly hoping to make them uncomfortable at best and afraid at worst, and to intimidate Iraqis from interacting with them.
For Iraqis, there is nothing subtle about the intimidation. As President Bush stated so correctly, and as numerous reports by Human Rights Watch and other organizations confirm, “The dictator of Iraq is a student of Stalin, using murder as a tool of terror and control, within his own cabinet, within his own army, and even within his own family.”
Today we know from multiple sources that Saddam has ordered that any scientist who cooperates during interviews will be killed, as well as their families. Furthermore, we know that scientists are being tutored on what to say to the U.N. inspectors and that Iraqi intelligence officers are posing as scientists to be interviewed by the inspectors.
And finally, of course, there’s obstruction, and obstruction concealed by lying. In the past, U.N. inspectors faced many instances of delay, with excuses that ranged from, “We can’t find the keys,” to “You can’t come in here because only women are allowed.” When all else fails, lying becomes a standard technique.
Richard Butler, the former head of the U.N. Special Commission, reported, and I quote, “Iraqi leaders had no difficulty sitting across from me and spontaneously changing a reported fact or figure.” For example, he said, six previously reported warheads could suddenly become 15, or vice versa, with no explanation or apology about a previous lie. Butler reports that actions taken to obstruct inspectors were often explained away with excuses that were as credible as “the dog ate my homework.” One example that Butler quotes, literally: “A wandering psychopath cut some wires to the chemical plant monitoring camera. It seems he hadn’t received the medicine he needed because of the U.N. sanctions.” (Laughter.) And here’s another: “The wicked girlfriend of one of our workers tore up the documents in anger.”
During the UNSCOM period, Richard Spertzel on one occasion confronted Dr. Rihab Taha, still a principal and sinister figure in Iraq’s biological weapons program. He said to her, and I quote, “Dr. Taha, you know that we know that you’re lying, so why are you doing it?” Dr. Taha drew herself up and replied, “Dr. Spertzel, it is not a lie when you are ordered to lie.” Lying was more than a technique. It was, and it remains, a policy.
Today, Iraqi obstruction continues on large issues as well as small ones. Authorities that Resolution 1441 confers unconditionally on the inspectors are constantly subject to conditions by the Baghdad regime. For example, the resolution requires that the U.N. inspectors shall have, quote, “free and unrestricted use and landing of fixed- and rotary-winged aircraft, including manned and unmanned reconnaissance vehicles,” unquote. But Iraq has objected to U-2 flights and shoots at our Predators. Even more serious, Iraq has yet to make a single one of its scientists or technical experts available to be interviewed in confidential circumstances free of intimidation as required by the U.N. resolution.
Long ago Iraq became accustomed to the fact that even when caught, the consequences could be negligible. And hence a new game entered the lexicon: cheat and retreat. This happened on issue after issue. For example, as Butler reports—I’m quoting again—“Initially Iraq had denied ever having manufactured, let alone deployed, VX. But this was not true.” Confronted with evidence of VX in soil samples, the Iraqis then admitted they had manufactured, but claimed a quantity of no more than 200 liters. Subsequent probing showed they’d made far more. So Iraq’s initial complete lie had been replaced by a false statement about the quantity. Iraq then reached for a third lie: they’d never weaponized VX. This, it turned out, was yet a third falsehood.
The same pattern was repeated with Iraq’s nuclear and biological weapons. Baghdad revised its nuclear declaration to the IAEA four times within 14 months of the initial submission in April 1991. During the UNSCOM period, Iraq submitted six different biological warfare declarations, each one of which the U.N. inspectors rejected. Following the defection of Saddam’s son-in-law, Husayn Kamil, Iraq dramatically disclosed more than half a million pages of biological weapons-related documents. But, in fact, sparse relevant information was buried within a massive volume of extraneous data, all of which was intended to create the appearance of candor and to overwhelm the U.N. inspectors’ analytical resources.
A process that begins with a massive lie and proceeds with concealment, penetration, intimidation and obstruction cannot be a process of cooperative disarmament. The purpose of Resolution 1441, I repeat, was not to play a deadly game of hide-and-seek or cheat-and-retreat for another 12 years. The purpose was to achieve a clear resolution of the threat posed by Iraq’s weapons of mass terror.
If Iraq were to choose to comply with the requirement to dismantle its weapons of mass terror, we would know it. We would know it from their full and complete declaration of everything that we know that they have, as well as by revelations of programs that our intelligence has probably not yet discovered. Recall that after the Gulf War, we were stunned by the magnitude of Iraq’s nuclear program, despite all of our intelligence efforts and those of our allies, including Israel, and even though Iraq had been subject to IAEA inspections for many years.
We would know it if we saw an attitude on the part of the Iraqi government that encouraged people to cooperate with inspectors, rather than intimidated them into silence and lies. We would know it when inspectors were able to go about their work without being spied on or penetrated. And we would know it most of all when Iraqi scientists and others familiar with the program were clearly speaking freely.
But in the absence of full cooperation, particularly in the absence of full disclosure of what Iraq has actually done, we cannot expect that the U.N. inspectors have the capacity to disarm an uncooperative Iraq, even with the full support of American intelligence and the intelligence of other nations.
American intelligence capabilities are extraordinary, but they are far from the omniscient, all-seeing eye depicted in some Hollywood movies. For a great body of what we need to know, we are dependent on traditional methods of intelligence—that is to say, human beings, who either deliberately or inadvertently are communicating to us.
It was only after Saddam Hussein’s son-in-law, Husayn Kamil, defected in 1995 that U.N. inspectors were led to a large cache of documents, on a chicken farm, that contained important revelations about Iraq’s biological weapons. In contemplating the magnitude of the task of finding such hidden sites, one might ask: How many farms are there in Iraq? How many structures are there in which important documents could be stored? How many garages in that big country are large enough to hold the tractor-trailers that make up an Iraqi mobile biological weapons factory?
And we need to be worried. Even when inspectors were in Iraq before, the Baghdad regime was building and retaining weapons of mass terror. It would be folly to think that those efforts stopped when the inspectors left.
Consider that in 1997, U.N. inspectors found Iraq had produced and weaponized at least 10 liters of ricin. In concentrated form, that quantity of ricin is enough to kill more than 1 million people.
Baghdad declared to the U.N. inspectors that it had over 19,000 liters of botulinum toxin, enough to kill tens of millions; and 8,500 liters of anthrax, with the potential to kill hundreds of millions. And consider that the U.N. inspectors believe that much larger quantities of biological agents remained undeclared. Indeed, the inspectors think that Iraq has manufactured two to four times the amount of biological agents it has admitted to and has failed to explain the whereabouts of more than two metric tons of raw material for the growth of biological agents. Despite 11 years of inspections and sanctions, containment and military response, Baghdad retains chemical and biological weapons and is producing more. And Saddam’s nuclear scientists are still hard at work.
As the President put it, and I quote, “The history, the logic and the facts lead to one conclusion: Saddam Hussein’s regime is a grave and gathering danger. To suggest otherwise is to hope against the evidence. To assume the regime’s good faith is to bet the lives of millions and the peace of the world in a reckless gamble. And this is a risk we must not take.”
So, we come back to the imperative: Baghdad must disarm, peacefully if at all possible, but by force if necessary. The decision on whether Iraq’s weapons of mass terror will be dismantled voluntarily or whether it will have to be done by force is not up to us, it is not up to the inspectors, it is not up to the United Nations. The decision rests entirely with Saddam Hussein. So far, he has not made the fundamental decision to disarm, and unless he does, the threat posed by his weapons programs will remain with us, and, indeed, it will grow.
Yes, there are real dangers in confronting a tyrant who has and uses weapons of mass terror and has links to terrorists. But those dangers will only grow. They are far greater now than they would have been five or 10 years ago, and they will be much greater still five or 10 years from now. President Bush has brought the world to an extraordinary consensus and focus on this problem; it is time to see it resolved, voluntarily or by force, but resolved one way or another. And time is running out.
On a happier note, if one thinks about it, once freed from Saddam’s tyranny, it is reasonable to expect that Iraq’s educated, industrious population of more than 20 million could build a modern society that would be a source of prosperity, not insecurity, for its neighbors.
Barham Salih, a very brave and distinguished Iraqi Kurdish leader, spoke recently of the dream of the Iraqi people, and I quote. He said, “In my office in Suleymaniyah, I meet almost every day some traveler who has come from Baghdad or other parts of Iraq. Without exception, they tell me of the continuing suffering inflicted by the Iraqi regime, of the fearful hope secretly nurtured by so many enslaved Iraqis for a free life, for a country where they can think without fear and speak without retribution.”
We may someday look back on this moment in history as the time when the West defined itself for the 21st Century, not in terms of geography or race or religion or culture or language, but in terms of values, the values of freedom and democracy.
For people who cherish freedom and seek peace, these are indeed difficult times. But such times can deepen our understanding of the truth. And this truth we know: the single greatest threat to peace and freedom in our time is terrorism. So this truth we must also affirm: the truth does not belong to tyrants and terrorists. The truth belongs to those who dream the oldest and noblest dream of all—the dream of peace and freedom.
Thank you. (Applause.)
Peterson: Okay. We’ll now go to our Washington friends. Bob Orr?
Orr: Thank you, Pete. I think Judge Webster will ask the first question.
Q: Mr. Secretary—
Wolfowitz: Hi, Bill.
Q: (Inaudible.) Can you hear me?
Wolfowitz: I can hear you fine.
Q: Fine. Thank you.
Well, your well-chosen remarks brought back many memories of the same kind of dissemination, cheating and evasion 10, 12 years ago, and now we see some more. I think the American people right now, not to mention some of our erstwhile friends and allies around the world, are looking for what kind of a case can be made for what kind of action. And in that—to that extent, the role of intelligence does play a role.
I think we have heard far more—at least I have heard far more of a case from you this morning than I have heard in bits and pieces in the last several months of illustrations. And I’m wondering to what extent a strategy can be developed to provide more factual intelligence in a way that does not prejudice, of course, sources and methods, but makes the case in a way that the American people can understand it and be willing to support it.
Wolfowitz: Of course, you know probably better than anyone the difficulties in revealing things we know, because inevitably you reveal things about how you found them out. At the risk of teasing the press, there are three words in my speech that I was forced to substitute for two rather stunning paragraphs, on the grounds that we would say too much about what we’re observing even today.
But what I’d really like to do is to go to the premise of this question. And it’s not to say it’s the wrong question; I understand why people ask it all the time. But just think about it for the moment.
Saddam Hussein must watch CNN. He certainly gets daily reports on every question that’s asked here, sort of like a serial murderer sitting out there, saying, “Well, the district attorney has no grounds for arresting this man, no way to go for him.”
We have got to send a message to Saddam Hussein that he has to change. If he thinks that every little possible loophole in the case, every possible way of explaining away, every resort to the old patterns of cheat-and-retreat will get him off the hook, then we are going to continue marching down a road that leads to only one and—one rather grim conclusion.
Twelve years ago we entered, with real expectations, into a process for Iraq’s voluntary disarmament. We really believed it would happen. We were disappointed.
This time we went into it with our eyes open, with an understanding that the only way it could happen was if he were convinced that we were prepared to act.
I understand—I understand very well, and we spent a lot of time talking, especially to senators and congressmen, about the concerns you refer to. But I think it is very important to make it clear we have a powerful case. It is a case grounded in history. It is a case grounded in current intelligence, current intelligence that comes not only from American intelligence, but many of our allies; intelligence that comes not only from sophisticated overhead satellites and our ability to intercept communications, but from brave people who told us the truth at the risk of their lives. We have that; it is very convincing. At some point we can probably talk about more of it.
But right now, time is running out. It is time for Saddam Hussein to do something that he clearly hasn’t done yet, and it is the essential solution to this problem.
Orr: Perhaps, Paul, I could give do a little follow-up. Why do you think it’s been so difficult to persuade our leading allies—France and Russia, and so forth—of the evidence that presumably you’ve shared a lot of?
Wolfowitz: I don’t know. That would sort of require me to speculate about motives, and you get in trouble when you do that.
I think one of the problems with a lot of people is a well-intentioned belief that the key to preventing war is to persuade us that we mustn’t act. And the key, in fact, here to achieving the one alternative to war, which is cooperative disarmament, is to persuade Saddam Hussein that he must act. So I would say whatever the intentions of our allies—and I believe they agree with us completely that he has these weapons—I would hope they’d put more effort into persuading Saddam Hussein than into persuading us.
Orr: Thank you.
Now we’ll come to New York, please.
Q: Michael Gordon, New York Times. Paul, I’d like to just follow up on the first question. The Bush administration has asserted not only that Iraq has had weapons of mass destruction, but that it has resumed production of biological and chemical weapons. And President Bush, in his appearance before the General Assembly, cited Iraq’s efforts to acquire aluminum tubes as evidence that Iraq was trying to rejuvenate its nuclear weapons program.
But not all of these claims have been accepted by the U.N. inspectors that you cite. For example, just two weeks ago, the IAEA said that it had looked into the matter of the aluminum tubes and determined, on the evidence so far, that it thought they were for a conventional rocket program. And the IAEA also said that the uranium—attempts to purchase uranium that you cited in your speech today—that it had received no information from any governments that would allow it to determine the validity of this assertion as to when Iraq tried to purchase uranium, whether it was recent or long ago, as the Iraqis assert.
Given that we’re talking about matters of war and peace, does the administration plan to make a further report and provide intelligence information to address these concerns stated by the IAEA in its public report, and to buttress its claims that Iraq has resumed the production of weapons of mass destruction? And if not, is this because of targeting concerns, sources and methods, or do you simply not have reliable information that would stand up in a public forum on this?
Wolfowitz: I think the short answer, Michael, really is there is a lot of evidence; as the evidence accumulates, our ability to talk about it undoubtedly will grow. But we don’t have a lot of time; time is running out, and I repeat: What has clearly not happened is any change of attitude by the Iraqi regime.
Yeah, it’s possible that we have been misinformed on some things. The only way to verify that you’ve been misinformed is with the kind of openness of the South Africans or the Ukrainians or the Kazakhs demonstrated. If you can go into places and talk freely to people and look at all the records, you might be convinced. But in a country that has a history of constructing Potemkin villages, there’s absolutely no way to know whether what the inspectors were shown were indeed those aluminum tubes that we’re concerned about or whether it was a whole facade constructed to substantiate a certain story.
So, you’ve got to look at Iraq’s behavior toward the inspectors; you’ve got to look at Iraq’s intimidation of its scientists. These efforts to obstruct are very, very clear signs of Iraq’s intentions, just as 12 years of foregoing what are estimated to be $100 billion to $200 billion of oil revenues in order to not comply with U.N. resolutions are a sign of their policy.
Peterson: Let’s take another New York question. Over here, please.
Q: Thank you. I’d like to follow up also on Judge Webster’s question. I think, Mr. Wolfowitz, your answer amounts to: “We can’t tell you what we have of information, but trust us. It’s there.” Now, isn’t the fundamental principle of a democratic free nation precisely not to trust government? Why should Americans trust their government? We’ve heard that before in Vietnam, we’ve heard it many times: “Trust us,” and it turned out to be untrustworthy.
I don’t see how this administration thinks it can build a policy for war, preventive war, that would be accepted by our allies and by American citizens on the basis of “We’ve got the info; we can’t tell you how we got it or where we got it; we got it, trust us.” And isn’t that a foolish and ultimately self-destructive way for this administration to proceed?
Wolfowitz: In some cases, we can tell very clearly where we got information from. In some cases, you would put somebody’s life at risk if you told how you got it. That’s a fact of life; it’s not something you can overcome.
I must say I sort of find it astonishing that the issue is whether you can trust the U.S. government. The real issue is, can you trust Saddam Hussein? And it seems to me the record is absolutely clear that you can’t. And we’re going to have to have some very powerful evidence that he has changed and that we can trust him, because otherwise, we are trusting our security in the hands of a man who makes ricin, who makes anthrax, who makes botulism toxin, who makes aflatoxin, and who has no compunctions whatsoever about consorting with terrorists. Who do you want to trust?
Peterson: (Calls on questioner.)
Q: Kathleen McCarthy, the Graduate Center, City University of New York. Thank you for a very interesting talk, Mr. Secretary.
My question is this: Why is it a much more important immediate short-term goal to disarm Iraq than North Korea, when we know that North Korea also has a very sophisticated arsenal and ties to terrorist groups. Why is supporting and promoting freedom in Iraq more important than promoting freedom in North Korea, when we also know that the administration there is very cruel as well?
Wolfowitz: It’s a reasonable question and I hear it a lot. It seems to me, though, very often it sort of comes in the form of let’s not do anything because everything ought to wait for something else. When President Bush first talked about Iran and Iraq and North Korea in the same speech, everybody said, “It’s terrible, these countries are all different.” Well, they are different. We’ve developed different policies for each. And now that we have different policies, people say, “How come you’re treating them differently?” (Laughter.)
We have not one, but 17, U.N. Security Council resolutions to deal with the problem of Iraq. We’re at a point of real decision, and if we lose that point, the credibility not only of the United States but of the entire world body is going to go down the tubes. We haven’t yet even been able to bring the North Korean issue to the Security Council, much less have a resolution. When we do—and I think we will, and I think we should, and I think we’re going to—our credibility and the credibility of the Security Council will be greatly increased if we have managed—peacefully or, if necessary, by force—to enforce the will of the U.N. expressed in 1441.
These are different cases, different countries. The North Korean people suffer as much, maybe worse, if it’s possible. They’re the only candidates in the world for suffering worse than the Iraqi people.
But again, it is a different case. We have different partners, different countries to work with. We have got to have a strategy that doesn’t just do one problem at a time, take the most important one and wait for everything else. We’re trying, in a reasonable way, to focus now where we have the world’s entire attention focused, to clean up something that’s 12 years old.
The North Korean problem is there, and we’re also dealing with that. But it’s a good question. Thank you.
I think this has to be my last one. Pete, I’m sorry.
Peterson: All right. Well, then we’ll go to Washington, please. Bob Orr?
Orr: Karen DeYoung?
Q: Thank you. My question is also on intelligence. You said that it’s not the job of inspectors to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and disarm Iraq, but it’s for Iraq to voluntarily supply that information. If that’s the case, why, then, are we interested in giving the inspectors some of our most sensitive intelligence information, as we’ve said we’ve done, to help them find those weapons?
And secondarily, we now say that we have been supplying some of that information, primarily site information, presumably so that the inspectors have a chance of finding some of it. Yet it doesn’t seem to have produced any results yet. Is that because, in your view, that the intelligence was mistaken, or the inspectors have not been able to follow up on all of it yet? And if the latter is the case, then what’s the case against giving them more time to use that intelligence?
Wolfowitz: There are many good reasons for giving the inspectors intelligence, starting with the fact that we’ve been asked by the Security Council in 1441 to do exactly that. And we believe in complying with the resolution, though the Iraqis are not. And as I said in my talk, at some length, there is a clear, important role for inspectors to play in verifying if you have genuine compliance. And if you saw the signs of genuine compliance, you would also want the most sophisticated intelligence, to make sure that those signs that you saw were not somehow deceptions.
But when you see signs, absolutely clear signs, that that fundamental decision to disarm hasn’t been made; when you start with 12,200 pages of what has been called, correctly, a long, long lie, the inspectors are disabled. The inspectors are there, I repeat, to enable us to have confidence, if Iraq decides to disarm cooperatively, that it has in fact done so.
If Iraq decides to continue hiding and cheating and stealing, the inspectors cannot disarm Iraq, and they may or may not find particular things in particular places. Biological weapons labs, as I mentioned, are a prime example.
But if you’re looking for evidence, you can start with the fact that they have a declaration that is known to be false even by the standards of the old U.N. report.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)