Did Saddam Hussein Really Change His Spots Last Week?
September 22, 2002
by Mary Mostert, Analyst - Banner of Liberty
I didn’t believe the United Nations could move that fast, but, after being bawled out by President George W. Bush just last Thursday, on Monday almost the entire membership had changed its tune. Perhaps UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said it best: http://www.un.org/apps/sg/offthecuff.asp) (1) "A lot has happened in this building since Thursday. I believe the President’s speech galvanized the international community. As most of you heard, almost every speaker in the General Assembly urged Iraq to accept the return of the inspectors.
"And I can confirm to you that I have received a letter from the Iraqi authorities conveying its decision to allow the return of the inspectors without conditions to continue their work and has also agreed that they are ready to start immediate discussions on the practical arrangements for the return of the inspectors to resume their work.
"I would want to pay particular tribute to all the Member States, and to the Arab League, who played a key role in this, and to thank Secretary-General Amre Moussa of the Arab League for his strenuous efforts in helping to convince Iraq to allow the return of the inspectors."
He then sent the letter "on to the Security Council and they will have to decide what they do next, and of course Mr. [Hans] Blix [Executive Chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission] and his team will be ready to continue with their work."
On Saturday, President Bush said in his radio address, "Today this regime likely maintains stockpiles of chemical and biological agents, and is improving and expanding facilities capable of producing chemical and biological weapons. Today Saddam Hussein has the scientists and infrastructure for a nuclear weapons program, and has illicitly sought to purchase the equipment needed to enrich uranium for a nuclear weapon. Should his regime acquire fissile material, it would be able to build a nuclear weapon within a year."
In the same few days, anti-Bush Left has been trying to tell us that, through the person they describe as a "true-blue American hero Scott Ritter" who served with the UN inspection team," that "President Bush has no proof of any new weapons of mass destruction threat emanating from Iraq," and that he was "lying to the American people to get them to go to war."
However, others tell a different story. Dr. Khidir Hamza, an Iraqi scientist who got his training in nuclear physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Florida State University headed Saddam Hussein’s nuclear weapons program, until he defected to the West in 1994. In a November 2, 2000 Carnegie Institute Non-Proliferation Roundtable, Hamza was asked where he thought the Iraqi nuclear program was then. (Dr. Hamza responded, http://www.ceip.org/files/projects/npp/resources/hamzatranscript.htm) (3) "Much of the work was being moved, specially during the inspections. A lot of the work would move around in hospitals, factories, military areas, bunkers, anywhere. ... The nuclear weapons work never stopped."
Last month testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Dr. Hamza was even more specific. Citing German intelligence estimates, he said Iraq had "more than 10 tons of uranium and one ton of slightly enriched uranium that could give Iraq enough weapons-grade uranium to build three nuclear weapons within three years." In addition, Hamza said, Iraq is trying to extend the range of its missiles in order to reach Israel.
So, who do we believe? Scott Ritter and his anti-Bush buddies or Dr. Hamza, who claims when Scott Ritter was "inspecting" in his country for nuclear weapon research and not finding anything they were moving the lab around?
Is this a change of heart by Saddam Hussein -or, just another effort by Saddam Hussein to buy time? In June of last year (Iraq claimed in a meeting with the UN Security Council) (3) that it had "implemented all obligations imposed on it by the relevant Security Council resolutions" and has demanded that the Security Council "take all necessary measures to destroy the weapons of mass destruction of Israel" and charged "The United States had perpetrated multiple aggressions" against Iraq."
However, President Bush said in response to Iraq’s "willingness" to allow inspectors to return, "This is not a matter of inspections. It is about disarmament of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and the Iraqi regime’s compliance with all other Security Council resolutions."
Should we, at this point, actually believe that Saddam Hussein has changed his spots over the past weekend and is ready to abandon his pursuit of weapons of mass destruction? Somehow, I sort of doubt it.
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