NEW YORK (BP)–President Bush addressed world leaders Sept. 12 at the United Nations, declaring that Iraq’s arsenal of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons must be stopped or “risk millions of lives in a reckless gamble.”
“The conduct of the Iraqi regime is a threat to the authority of the United Nations, and a threat to peace,” Bush said in his 15-minute address. “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?”
World leaders have been slow to affirm Bush’s call to confront what he called “the grave and gathering danger” of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Only Britain has offered firm support for the United States.
After Bush’s address, Iraq’s U.N. Ambassador Mohammad Al-Douri charged that Bush “chooses to deceive the world and his own people by the longest series of fabrications that have ever been told by a leader of a nation.”
While reaction from evangelical groups was sparse, the leaders of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and American Center for Law and Justice applauded Bush’s position on Iraq.
“The president made a convincing and eloquent case that Saddam Hussein’s ability to use weapons of mass destruction to attack and destroy Americans, our allies and his own people must be eliminated,” said Richard Land, president of the ERLC.
“Saddam Hussein has violated and disregarded every meaningful agreement or treaty that he has signed and has proven himself to be an utterly untrustworthy, narcissistic megalomaniac,” Land said, referencing Bush’s list of reasons action must be taken.
Hussein “comes closer to meeting modern history’s worst standard of extremely dangerous world leader, Adolph Hitler, than perhaps any other figure to emerge since Hitler’s death in 1945,” Land said.
ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow, in a prepared statement, said Bush had presented “a clear and compelling case of how Iraq and Saddam Hussein continue to build an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction, engage in international terrorism, and are responsible for egregious human rights violations.”
Bush, in his address, said Hussein “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,” the president said.
Last year, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights found that Iraq continues to commit grave violations of human rights, and that the regime’s repression is all-pervasive, Bush said. 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, Bush said, while wives are tortured in front of their husbands, children in the presence of their parents, with all these horrors concealed from the world by the apparatus of a totalitarian state.
Among other violations cited by Bush:
— 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 (the first President Bush). Iraq’s government openly praised the attacks of Sept. 11. 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 fundamental pledge, Bush said.
— From 1991-95, the Iraqi regime said it had no biological weapons. After a senior official in its weapons program defected and exposed the 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.
— In 1995, after four years of deception, Iraq finally admitted it had a crash nuclear weapons program prior to the Gulf War. Were it not for that war, the regime in Iraq likely would have possessed a nuclear weapon no later than 1993, Bush said.
— 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 nuclear weaponry. 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. In its testing and production facilities, Iraq is building more long-range missiles that can inflict mass death throughout the region.
— 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 ceasefire, 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.
“If we fail to act in the face of danger, the people of Iraq will continue to live in brutal submission,” Bush warned the United Nations. “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.”
If Hussein remains in power, Bush said, the region will have “little hope of freedom and [will be] 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.”
Land, in his comments to Baptist Press, asked, “Can anyone doubt that when he has developed nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, that he will use them against America and her allies?
Bush is “absolutely correct in stating to the U.N. that if the U.N. will not take care of this problem, we must,” Land said. “To disarm Hussein is equivalent to preventing a desperate madman from loading the gun he already has in his hand.
“The closest historical analogy is Hitler’s decision to reoccupy the Rhineland in 1936 in violation of the Versailles treaty,” Land recounted. “We now know that if the Allies had opposed Hitler then, the German general staff would have removed Hitler from power. The result would have been the saving of tens of millions of lives. Just so, stopping Hussein now will in all probability prevent the deaths of untold numbers of people in the future.”
Sekulow said Bush put forth at the United Nations “a sound and reasonable strategy for dealing with Iraq and its leader Saddam Hussein. We support the President’s call for a regime change in Iraq and applaud his efforts to challenge the United Nations to enforce numerous resolutions that have been ignored by Iraq. … At a time when we are engaged in a global war against terrorism, we cannot stand by and watch Iraq and Saddam Hussein continue to ignore U.N. resolutions.”
Sekulow said Iraq “represents a real threat to freedom and security — not only to America — but to our friends around the world. Without question, President Bush is justified in pursuing a strategy that protects America and our freedoms. … We encourage President Bush to take whatever action is necessary to protect the United States.”