President Bush: "World Can Rise to This Moment"
Statement by the President
4:33 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: The Secretary of State has now briefed the United
Nations Security Council on Iraq's illegal weapons programs, its
attempts to hide those weapons, and its links to terrorist groups. I
want to thank Secretary Powell for his careful and powerful
presentation of the facts.
The information in the Secretary's
briefing and other information in our possession was obtained
through great skill, and often at personal risk. Uncovering secret
information in a totalitarian society is one of the most difficult
intelligence challenges. Those who accept that challenge, both in
our intelligence services and in those of our friends and allies,
perform a great service to all free nations. And I'm grateful for
their good work.
The Iraqi regime's violations of Security Council resolutions are
evident, and they continue to this hour. The regime has never
accounted for a vast arsenal of deadly biological and chemical
weapons. To the contrary; the regime is pursuing an elaborate
campaign to conceal its weapons materiels, and to hide or intimidate
key experts and scientists, all in direct defiance of Security
This deception is directed from the highest levels of the Iraqi
regime, including Saddam Hussein, his son, the Vice President, and
the very official responsible for cooperating with inspectors. In
intercepted conversations, we have heard orders to conceal materiels
from the U.N. inspectors. And we have seen through satellite images
concealment activity at close to 30 sites, including movement of
equipment before inspectors arrive.
The Iraqi regime has actively and secretly attempted to obtain
equipment needed to produce chemical, biological and nuclear
weapons. Firsthand witnesses have informed us that Iraq has at least
seven mobile factories for the production of biological agents,
equipment mounted on trucks and rails to evade discovery. Using
these factories, Iraq could produce within just months hundreds of
pounds of biological poisons.
The Iraqi regime has acquired and tested the means to deliver
weapons of mass destruction. All the world has now seen the footage
of an Iraqi Mirage aircraft with a fuel tank modified to spray
biological agents over wide areas. Iraq has developed spray devices
that could be used on unmanned aerial vehicles with ranges far
beyond what is permitted by the Security Council. A UAV launched
from a vessel off the American coast could reach hundreds of miles
Iraq has never accounted for thousands of bombs and shells
capable of delivering chemical weapons. The regime is actively
pursuing components for prohibited ballistic missiles. And we have
sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi
field commanders to use chemical weapons -- the very weapons the
dictator tells the world he does not have.
One of the greatest dangers we face is that weapons of mass
destruction might be passed to terrorists, who would not hesitate to
use those weapons. Saddam Hussein has longstanding, direct and
continuing ties to terrorist networks. Senior members of Iraqi
intelligence and al Qaeda have met at least eight times since the
early 1990s. Iraq has sent bomb-making and document forgery experts
to work with al Qaeda. Iraq has also provided al Qaeda with chemical
and biological weapons training.
We also know that Iraq is harboring a terrorist network, headed
by a senior al Qaeda terrorist planner. The network runs a poison
and explosive training center in northeast Iraq, and many of its
leaders are known to be in Baghdad. The head of this network
traveled to Baghdad for medical treatment and stayed for months.
Nearly two dozen associates joined him there and have been operating
in Baghdad for more than eight months.
The same terrorist network operating out of Iraq is responsible
for the murder, the recent murder, of an American citizen, an
American diplomat, Laurence Foley. The same network has plotted
terrorism against France, Spain, Italy, Germany, the Republic of
Georgia, and Russia, and was caught producing poisons in London. The
danger Saddam Hussein poses reaches across the world.
This is the situation as we find it. Twelve years after Saddam
Hussein agreed to disarm, and 90 days after the Security Council
passed Resolution 1441 by a unanimous vote, Saddam Hussein was
required to make a full declaration of his weapons programs. He has
not done so. Saddam Hussein was required to fully cooperate in the
disarmament of his regime; he has not done so. Saddam Hussein was
given a final chance; he is throwing that chance away.
The dictator of Iraq is making his choice. Now the nations of the
Security Council must make their own. On November 8th, by demanding
the immediate disarmament of Iraq, the United Nations Security
Council spoke with clarity and authority. Now the Security Council
will show whether its words have any meaning. Having made its
demands, the Security Council must not back down, when those demands
are defied and mocked by a dictator.
The United States would welcome and support a new resolution
which makes clear that the Security Council stands behind its
previous demands. Yet resolutions mean little without resolve. And
the United States, along with a growing coalition of nations, is
resolved to take whatever action is necessary to defend ourselves
and disarm the Iraqi regime.
On September the 11th, 2001, the American people saw what
terrorists could do, by turning four airplanes into weapons. We will
not wait to see what terrorists or terrorist states could do with
chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapons. Saddam
Hussein can now be expected to begin another round of empty
concessions, transparently false denials. No doubt, he will play a
last-minute game of deception. The game is over.
All the world can rise to this moment. The community of free
nations can show that it is strong and confident and determined to
keep the peace. The United Nations can renew its purpose and be a
source of stability and security in the world. The Security Council
can affirm that it is able and prepared to meet future challenges
and other dangers. And we can give the Iraqi people their chance to
live in freedom and choose their own government.
Saddam Hussein has made Iraq into a prison, a poison factory, and
a torture chamber for patriots and dissidents. Saddam Hussein has
the motive and the means and the recklessness and the hatred to
threaten the American people. Saddam Hussein will be stopped.