THE WHITE HOUSE AT WORK
Thursday, December 17, 1998
AIR STRIKES AGAINST IRAQ
The United States Gave Iraq The Opportunity To Avoid Air Strikes. President Clinton's decision to order air strikes against Iraq for its failure to comply with the United Nations Special Commission's (UNSCOM) weapons inspections came after a similar episode six weeks ago, when Saddam Hussein announced that he would no longer cooperate with UNSCOM, whose job is to oversee the elimination of Iraq's capability to retain, create and use weapons of mass destruction, and to verify that Iraq does not attempt to rebuild that capability. The U.N. Security Council voted 15 to zero to condemn his actions and to demand that he immediately come into compliance. When Saddam still failed to comply, the United States prepared to act militarily. It was only then, at the last possible moment, that Iraq backed down. It pledged to the U.N. that it had made "a clear and unconditional decision to resume cooperation with the weapons inspectors." The President decided to give Saddam one last chance to prove his willingness to cooperate.
The UNSCOM Report Details Saddam's Failure To Comply. Over the past three weeks, the U.N. weapons inspectors have carried out their plan for testing Iraq's cooperation. The testing period ended this weekend, and Tuesday night, UNSCOM's Chairman, Richard Butler, reported the results to U.N. Secretary General Annan. In four out of the five categories set forth, Iraq has failed to cooperate and has actually placed new restrictions on the inspectors:
President Clinton Acted In The National Security Interest Of The United States. In ordering air strikes against Iraq, President Clinton acted on the unanimous recommendation of his national security team. We had to act for several reasons:
President Clinton Will Continue To Pursue A Long-Term Strategy to Ensure Iraqi Compliance. The President is also pursuing a long-term strategy to contain Iraq and its weapons of mass destruction, and work toward the day when Iraq has a government worthy of its people. The President remains prepared to use force again if Saddam takes threatening actions and will continue to work with the international community to maintain and enforce economic sanctions.