Committee on International Relations
U.S. House of Representatives
Henry J. Hyde, Chairman
CONTACT: Sam Stratman, (202) 226-7875, January 27, 2003

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Hyde Remarks on UNMOVIC/IAEA Reports
"Disarmament cannot succeed if inspectors are reduced to playing hide and seek."

(WASHINGTON) -- U.S. Rep. Henry J. Hyde (R-IL), chairman of the House International Relations Committee, remarked today on the preliminary reports of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA):

The disarmament of Iraq cannot succeed if inspectors are reduced to playing ‘hide and seek.’ Throughout the 1990s, the UN identified tons of biological and chemical weapons, missiles, and other threats that Iraq had long since promised to give up.

In Resolution 1441, Saddam Hussein’s regime was given a final chance to come clean, declare its weapons, and help the UN inspectors destroy them or verify their prior destruction. It has demonstrably failed to do so. First, it has failed to acknowledge and identify weapons the UN has previously demonstrated exist. Second, it has obstructed efforts to determine the disposition of those weapons, and as we learned today, Saddam’s regime is blocking overflights by UN surveillance aircraft and halting UN interviews with Iraqi scientists. Of course, if given enough time, the inspectors may stumble across even more evidence of illegal Iraqi weapons. But to what end? The Iraqis have given no indication that, as Dr. Blix said, they ‘have come to genuine acceptance, not even today, of the disarmament that was demanded of it.’

Now, either the UN Security Council’s threatened ‘serious consequences’ will occur – or they will not. If they do not, what signal will we send to Saddam and to other potential aggressors about the will of the international community? What signal will we send about the determination of the United States of America? If no consequences flow from the Blix report, we reduce the UN to a glorified debating society. The world has been down this road before, with the League of Nations.

Unfortunately, some foreign governments – and some individuals here in the United States – won’t allow themselves to be convinced by the evidence of Saddam’s systematic violations of international law. If they were jurors, they would be disqualified for ‘failure to deliberate.’

The fact that no amount of evidence of Iraq’s bad faith will ever be enough for some members of the international community should not stop that community – and cannot stop the United States – from acting to defend its interests. Our German allies have said they won’t help us even if the Security Council calls for action against Saddam. For this French government, it seems no reason to act will be enough, so any excuse will do. Or perhaps it is their commercial interests that require them to sit this one out. In any event, Saddam has let us know that we must act, and soon.