7/15/99 State Dept. on Iraq WMD

U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing

*** Excerpt ***

QUESTION: Maybe this is another question that you won't like. There's a story, I believe in the Post this morning, suggesting that the Iraqis have not done very much since December to reconstitute their weapons of mass destruction. What do you have to say about that?

MR. RUBIN: Well, first of all, let me say that that isn't a question I don't like, and I, in fact, enjoyed your question as well, as I enjoy all the questions here in the briefing room. Sometimes I enjoy them and don't like them at the same time. Because I'm the spokesman for the State Department, I'm capable of holding those two thoughts in my head.

But in response to your question, the only effective means for the international community to know whether Iraq is taking steps to reconstitute its weapons of mass destruction program is to have inspectors on the ground with the right to visit all sites. We need expert UN weapons inspectors on the ground with full Iraqi cooperation, as required under Security Council resolutions, for us to have high confidence that there is credible arms control in Iraq. Those Security Council resolutions haven't changed. The problem is Iraq's refusal to do what the Council - that's the entire world, through the Council - has directed it to do.

With respect to our ability to monitor outside of inspections, let me say that it is limited; that the only really effective way is to have inspections. Having said that, I think it's fair to say that we have no reason to believe there have been significant efforts to reconstitute their weapons of mass destruction programs.

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