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Public Papers - 1991

Statement by Press Secretary Fitzwater On Iraq

1991-09-18

Under U.N. Security Council Resolutions 687 and 707, Iraq is obligated to eliminate its weapons of mass destruction and its ballistic missile capabilities. Iraq is also required to permit U.N. Special Commission and International Atomic Energy Agency inspection teams to verify Iraqi compliance.

In order to fulfill its inspection responsibilities, the U.N. Special Commission needs to be able to use its helicopters and other aircraft over Iraq. Iraq has refused to allow U.N. helicopters to operate unimpeded in Iraq. This is a clear violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 707, which permits the use of helicopters without condition. The United States and other members of the U.N. Security Council have therefore been discussing the most appropriate means to continue inspections in Iraq.

Consistent with those discussions, military planners have examined options to provide helicopters and support necessary to continue U.N. inspections. But there has been no decision to deploy these U.S. forces, nor will such a decision be required if Iraq complies with the provisions of U.N. Resolutions 687 and 707.

In the meantime, the Government of Saudi Arabia has requested deployment of U.S. Patriot units to the Kingdom as a deterrent against the continuing Iraqi missile threat. The United States has granted the request for this purely defensive system in light of the current Iraqi threat and continued Iraqi noncompliance with U.N. Security Council resolutions.

Iraq continues to employ concealment and deception to evade U.N. Special Commission inspection teams and thus to preserve a residual capability to produce and deploy these weapons illegally. We believe Iraq still possesses several hundred Scud missiles of the type used against Saudi Arabia during the Gulf war.

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