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Remarks on the Situation in Iraq

November 14, 1997

Two days ago and again last night, the United Nations Security Council sent a clear, unanimous message to Iraq: Stop obstructing the international weapons inspectors who are the eyes and ears of the world on your weapons of mass destruction capability.

Instead of complying with the unequivocal will of the international community, Saddam chose to expel the weapons inspectors from Iraq and, in so doing, to defy the United Nations. Saddam has spent the better part of the last two decades and much of the wealth of his nation not on providing for the needs and advancing the hopes of the Iraqi people but on a program to build an arsenal of the most terrible weapons of destruction—nuclear, chemical, biological—and on the missiles to carry them to faraway places.

The U.N. inspectors have done a remarkable job of finding and destroying the weapons and the weapons potential he was hiding and preventing him from building new weapons. These quiet inspectors have destroyed more weapons of mass destruction potential over the last 6 years than was destroyed in the entire Gulf war. Their work is important to the safety of Saddam's neighbors and, indeed, to people all around the world. It must be allowed to continue.

Today and in the days ahead, the United States will work intensively with our allies and our friends in the region and around the world to convince Iraq to comply with the will of the international community as expressed in the United Nations resolution.

Meanwhile, the U-2 missions over Iraq must continue. Without inspectors on the ground, it is more important than ever to monitor events from the air. And we will maintain a strong military presence in the Gulf. To that end, I have ordered today the aircraft carrier George Washington to the region as a prudent measure to help assure that we have the forces we need for any contingency.

This is a crisis of Saddam's making. It can be unmade only when he can no longer threaten the international community with weapons of mass destruction.

Thank you.

NOTE: The President spoke at 2:46 p.m. in the Briefing Room at the White House.

William J. Clinton, Remarks on the Situation in Iraq Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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