Remarks to the U.N.
September 12, 2002
Mr. Secretary General, Mr. President, distinguished
delegates, and ladies and gentlemen: We meet one year and
one day after a terrorist attack brought grief to my country,
and brought grief to many citizens of our world. Yesterday,
we remembered the innocent lives taken that terrible morning.
Today, we turn to the urgent duty of protecting other lives,
without illusion and without fear.
We've accomplished much in the last year -- in Afghanistan
and beyond. We have much yet to do -- in Afghanistan and
beyond. Many nations represented here have joined in the
fight against global terror, and the people of the United
States are grateful.
The United Nations was born in the hope that survived
a world war -- the hope of a world moving toward justice,
escaping old patterns of conflict and fear. The founding
members resolved that the peace of the world must never
again be destroyed by the will and wickedness of any man.
We created the United Nations Security Council, so that,
unlike the League of Nations, our deliberations would be
more than talk, our resolutions would be more than wishes.
After generations of deceitful dictators and broken treaties
and squandered lives, we dedicated ourselves to standards
of human dignity shared by all, and to a system of security
defended by all.
Today, these standards, and this security, are challenged.
Our commitment to human dignity is challenged by persistent
poverty and raging disease. The suffering is great, and
our responsibilities are clear. The United States is joining
with the world to supply aid where it reaches people and
lifts up lives, to extend trade and the prosperity it brings,
and to bring medical care where it is desperately needed.
As a symbol of our commitment to human dignity, the United
States will return to UNESCO. (Applause.) This organization
has been reformed and America will participate fully in
its mission to advance human rights and tolerance and learning.
Our common security is challenged by regional conflicts
-- ethnic and religious strife that is ancient, but not
inevitable. In the Middle East, there can be no peace for
either side without freedom for both sides. America stands
committed to an independent and democratic Palestine, living
side by side with Israel in peace and security. Like all
other people, Palestinians deserve a government that serves
their interests and listens to their voices. My nation
will continue to encourage all parties to step up to their
responsibilities as we seek a just and comprehensive settlement
to the conflict.
Above all, our principles and our security are challenged
today by outlaw groups and regimes that accept no law of
morality and have no limit to their violent ambitions.
In the attacks on America a year ago, we saw the destructive
intentions of our enemies. This threat hides within many
nations, including my own. In cells and camps, terrorists
are plotting further destruction, and building new bases
for their war against civilization. And our greatest fear
is that terrorists will find a shortcut to their mad ambitions
when an outlaw regime supplies them with the technologies
to kill on a massive scale.
In one place -- in one regime -- we find all these dangers,
in their most lethal and aggressive forms, exactly the
kind of aggressive threat the United Nations was born to
Twelve years ago, Iraq invaded Kuwait without provocation.
And the regime's forces were poised to continue their march
to seize other countries and their resources. Had Saddam
Hussein been appeased instead of stopped, he would have
endangered the peace and stability of the world. Yet this
aggression was stopped -- by the might of coalition forces
and the will of the United Nations.
To suspend hostilities, to spare himself, Iraq's dictator
accepted a series of commitments. The terms were clear,
to him and to all. And he agreed to prove he is complying
with every one of those obligations.
He has proven instead only his contempt for the United
Nations, and for all his pledges. By breaking every pledge
-- by his deceptions, and by his cruelties -- Saddam Hussein
has made the case against himself.
In 1991, Security Council Resolution 688 demanded that
the Iraqi regime cease at once the repression of its own
people, including the systematic repression of minorities
-- which the Council said, threatened international peace
and security in the region. This demand goes ignored.
Last year, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights found that
Iraq continues to commit extremely grave violations of
human rights, and that the regime's repression is all pervasive.
Tens of thousands of political opponents and ordinary citizens
have been subjected to arbitrary arrest and imprisonment,
summary execution, and torture by beating and burning,
electric shock, starvation, mutilation, and rape. Wives
are tortured in front of their husbands, children in the
presence of their parents -- and all of these horrors concealed
from the world by the apparatus of a totalitarian state.
In 1991, the U.N. Security Council, through Resolutions
686 and 687, demanded that Iraq return all prisoners from
Kuwait and other lands. Iraq's regime agreed. It broke
its promise. Last year the Secretary General's high-level
coordinator for this issue reported that Kuwait, Saudi,
Indian, Syrian, Lebanese, Iranian, Egyptian, Bahraini,
and Omani nationals remain unaccounted for -- more than
600 people. One American pilot is among them.
In 1991, the U.N. Security Council, through Resolution
687, demanded that Iraq renounce all involvement with terrorism,
and permit no terrorist organizations to operate in Iraq.
Iraq's regime agreed. It broke this promise. In violation
of Security Council Resolution 1373, Iraq continues to
shelter and support terrorist organizations that direct
violence against Iran, Israel, and Western governments.
Iraqi dissidents abroad are targeted for murder. In 1993,
Iraq attempted to assassinate the Emir of Kuwait and a
former American President. Iraq's government openly praised
the attacks of September the 11th. And al Qaeda terrorists
escaped from Afghanistan and are known to be in Iraq.
In 1991, the Iraqi regime agreed to destroy and stop developing
all weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles,
and to prove to the world it has done so by complying with
rigorous inspections. Iraq has broken every aspect of this
From 1991 to 1995, the Iraqi regime said it had no biological
weapons. After a senior official in its weapons program
defected and exposed this lie, the regime admitted to producing
tens of thousands of liters of anthrax and other deadly
biological agents for use with Scud warheads, aerial bombs,
and aircraft spray tanks. U.N. inspectors believe Iraq
has produced two to four times the amount of biological
agents it declared, and has failed to account for more
than three metric tons of material that could be used to
produce biological weapons. Right now, Iraq is expanding
and improving facilities that were used for the production
of biological weapons.
United Nations' inspections also revealed that Iraq likely
maintains stockpiles of VX, mustard and other chemical
agents, and that the regime is rebuilding and expanding
facilities capable of producing chemical weapons.
And in 1995, after four years of deception, Iraq finally
admitted it had a crash nuclear weapons program prior to
the Gulf War. We know now, were it not for that war, the
regime in Iraq would likely have possessed a nuclear weapon
no later than 1993.
Today, Iraq continues to withhold important information
about its nuclear program -- weapons design, procurement
logs, experiment data, an accounting of nuclear materials
and documentation of foreign assistance. Iraq employs capable
nuclear scientists and technicians. It retains physical
infrastructure needed to build a nuclear weapon. Iraq has
made several attempts to buy high-strength aluminum tubes
used to enrich uranium for a nuclear weapon. Should Iraq
acquire fissile material, it would be able to build a nuclear
weapon within a year. And Iraq's state-controlled media
has reported numerous meetings between Saddam Hussein and
his nuclear scientists, leaving little doubt about his
continued appetite for these weapons.
Iraq also possesses a force of Scud-type missiles with
ranges beyond the 150 kilometers permitted by the U.N.
Work at testing and production facilities shows that Iraq
is building more long-range missiles that it can inflict
mass death throughout the region.
In 1990, after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, the world imposed
economic sanctions on Iraq. Those sanctions were maintained
after the war to compel the regime's compliance with Security
Council resolutions. In time, Iraq was allowed to use oil
revenues to buy food. Saddam Hussein has subverted this
program, working around the sanctions to buy missile technology
and military materials. He blames the suffering of Iraq's
people on the United Nations, even as he uses his oil wealth
to build lavish palaces for himself, and to buy arms for
his country. By refusing to comply with his own agreements,
he bears full guilt for the hunger and misery of innocent
In 1991, Iraq promised U.N. inspectors immediate and unrestricted
access to verify Iraq's commitment to rid itself of weapons
of mass destruction and long-range missiles. Iraq broke
this promise, spending seven years deceiving, evading,
and harassing U.N. inspectors before ceasing cooperation
entirely. Just months after the 1991 cease-fire, the Security
Council twice renewed its demand that the Iraqi regime
cooperate fully with inspectors, condemning Iraq's serious
violations of its obligations. The Security Council again
renewed that demand in 1994, and twice more in 1996, deploring
Iraq's clear violations of its obligations. The Security
Council renewed its demand three more times in 1997, citing
flagrant violations; and three more times in 1998, calling
Iraq's behavior totally unacceptable. And in 1999, the
demand was renewed yet again.
As we meet today, it's been almost four years since the
last U.N. inspectors set foot in Iraq, four years for the
Iraqi regime to plan, and to build, and to test behind
the cloak of secrecy.
We know that Saddam Hussein pursued weapons of mass murder
even when inspectors were in his country. Are we to assume
that he stopped when they left? 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 this 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.
Delegates to the General Assembly, we have been more than
patient. We've tried sanctions. We've tried the carrot
of oil for food, and the stick of coalition military strikes.
But Saddam Hussein has defied all these efforts and continues
to develop weapons of mass destruction. The first time
we may be completely certain he has a -- nuclear weapons
is when, God forbids, he uses one. We owe it to all our
citizens to do everything in our power to prevent that
day from coming.
The conduct of the Iraqi regime is a threat to the authority
of the United Nations, and a threat to peace. Iraq has
answered a decade of U.N. demands with a decade of defiance.
All the world now faces a test, and the United Nations
a difficult and defining moment. Are Security Council resolutions
to be honored and enforced, or cast aside without consequence?
Will the United Nations serve the purpose of its founding,
or will it be irrelevant?
The United States helped found the United Nations. We
want the United Nations to be effective, and respectful,
and successful. We want the resolutions of the world's
most important multilateral body to be enforced. And right
now those resolutions are being unilaterally subverted
by the Iraqi regime. Our partnership of nations can meet
the test before us, by making clear what we now expect
of the Iraqi regime.
If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will immediately
and unconditionally forswear, disclose, and remove or destroy
all weapons of mass destruction, long-range missiles, and
all related material.
If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will immediately end
all support for terrorism and act to suppress it, as all
states are required to do by U.N. Security Council resolutions.
If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will cease persecution
of its civilian population, including Shi'a, Sunnis, Kurds,
Turkomans, and others, again as required by Security Council
If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will release or account
for all Gulf War personnel whose fate is still unknown.
It will return the remains of any who are deceased, return
stolen property, accept liability for losses resulting
from the invasion of Kuwait, and fully cooperate with international
efforts to resolve these issues, as required by Security
If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will immediately
end all illicit trade outside the oil-for-food program.
It will accept U.N. administration of funds from that program,
to ensure that the money is used fairly and promptly for
the benefit of the Iraqi people.
If all these steps are taken, it will signal a new openness
and accountability in Iraq. And it could open the prospect
of the United Nations helping to build a government that
represents all Iraqis -- a government based on respect
for human rights, economic liberty, and internationally
The United States has no quarrel with the Iraqi people;
they've suffered too long in silent captivity. Liberty
for the Iraqi people is a great moral cause, and a great
strategic goal. The people of Iraq deserve it; the security
of all nations requires it. Free societies do not intimidate
through cruelty and conquest, and open societies do not
threaten the world with mass murder. The United States
supports political and economic liberty in a unified Iraq.
We can harbor no illusions -- and that's important today
to remember. Saddam Hussein attacked Iran in 1980 and Kuwait
in 1990. He's fired ballistic missiles at Iran and Saudi
Arabia, Bahrain, and Israel. His regime once ordered the
killing of every person between the ages of 15 and 70 in
certain Kurdish villages in northern Iraq. He has gassed
many Iranians, and 40 Iraqi villages.
My nation will work with the U.N. Security Council to
meet our common challenge. If Iraq's regime defies us again,
the world must move deliberately, decisively to hold Iraq
to account. We will work with the U.N. Security Council
for the necessary resolutions. But the purposes of the
United States should not be doubted. The Security Council
resolutions will be enforced -- the just demands of peace
and security will be met -- or action will be unavoidable.
And a regime that has lost its legitimacy will also lose
Events can turn in one of two ways: If we fail to act
in the face of danger, the people of Iraq will continue
to live in brutal submission. The regime will have new
power to bully and dominate and conquer its neighbors,
condemning the Middle East to more years of bloodshed and
fear. The regime will remain unstable -- the region will
remain unstable, with little hope of freedom, and isolated
from the progress of our times. With every step the Iraqi
regime takes toward gaining and deploying the most terrible
weapons, our own options to confront that regime will narrow.
And if an emboldened regime were to supply these weapons
to terrorist allies, then the attacks of September the
11th would be a prelude to far greater horrors.
If we meet our responsibilities, if we overcome this danger,
we can arrive at a very different future. The people of
Iraq can shake off their captivity. They can one day join
a democratic Afghanistan and a democratic Palestine, inspiring
reforms throughout the Muslim world. These nations can
show by their example that honest government, and respect
for women, and the great Islamic tradition of learning
can triumph in the Middle East and beyond. And we will
show that the promise of the United Nations can be fulfilled
in our time.
Neither of these outcomes is certain. Both have been set
before us. We must choose between a world of fear and a
world of progress. We cannot stand by and do nothing while
dangers gather. We must stand up for our security, and
for the permanent rights and the hopes of mankind. By heritage
and by choice, the United States of America will make that
stand. And, delegates to the United Nations, you have the
power to make that stand, as well.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
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