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Public Papers - 1991 - February

Remarks on the Persian Gulf Conflict


Good morning.

The United States and its coalition allies are committed to enforcing the United Nations resolutions that call for Saddam Hussein to immediately and unconditionally leave Kuwait. In view of the Soviet initiative which, very frankly, we appreciate, we want to set forth this morning the specific criteria that will ensure Saddam Hussein complies with the United Nations mandate.

Within the last 24 hours alone we have heard a defiant, uncompromising address by Saddam Hussein, followed less than 10 hours later by a statement in Moscow that, on the face of it, appears more reasonable. I say ``on the face of it'' because the statement promised unconditional Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait, only to set forth a number of conditions. And needless to say, any conditions would be unacceptable to the international coalition and would not be in compliance with the United Nations Security Council Resolution 660's demand for immediate and unconditional withdrawal.

More importantly and more urgently, we learned this morning that Saddam has now launched a scorched-earth policy against Kuwait, anticipating perhaps that he will now be forced to leave. He is wantonly setting fires to and destroying the oil wells, the oil tanks, the export terminals, and other installations of that small country. Indeed, they're destroying the entire oil production system of Kuwait. At the same time that that Moscow press conference was going on and Iraq's Foreign Minister was talking peace, Saddam Hussein was launching Scud missiles.

After examining the Moscow statement and discussing it with my senior advisers here late last evening and this morning, and after extensive consultation with our coalition partners, I have decided that the time has come to make public with specificity just exactly what is required of Iraq if a ground war is to be avoided.

Most important, the coalition will give Saddam Hussein until noon Saturday to do what he must do: begin his immediate and unconditional withdrawal from Kuwait. We must hear publicly and authoritatively his acceptance of these terms. The statement to be released, as you will see, does just this and informs Saddam Hussein that he risks subjecting the Iraqi people to further hardship unless the Iraqi Government complies fully with the terms of the statement.

We will put that statement out soon. It will be in considerable detail. And that's all I'll have to say about it right now.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 10:43 a.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to President Saddam Hussein and Foreign Minister Tariq `Aziz of Iraq.

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