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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 12 March, 2003, 12:42 GMT
Text of Donald Rumsfeld remarks
Donald Rumsfeld
Mr Rumsfeld's comments caused waves on both sides of the Atlantic
United States Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld indicated at a press conference the United States may invade Iraq without British forces but said the decision would be made by President George W Bush.

"The president made clear that he is determined to confront the threat posed by Saddam Hussein and that if he does not disarm, he will be disarmed by a coalition of willing countries.

And I believe that if such a decision were to be made, it would prove to be a large coalition.

We hope to see the United Nations act.

The credibility of the UN is important to the world. But if the Security Council fails this test of resolve, a coalition will be ready to act nonetheless.

He is an accomplished deceiver, or else why would so many in the world community continue to be deceived so long?
Donald Rumsfeld
The question before the United Nations is clear: Is Saddam Hussein taking this final opportunity that was offered by Resolution 1441 to disarm or not?

And the answer to the question, it strikes me, is increasingly obvious.

He makes a show of destroying a handful of missiles; missiles which he claimed in his declaration did not violate UN restrictions, but now admits that they do violate UN restrictions.

Yet even as he destroys those missiles, he's ordered the continued production of the very same types of missiles.

He claims to have no chemical or biological weapons, yet we know he continues to hide biological and chemical weapons, moving them to different locations as often as every 12 to 24 hours, and placing them in residential neighbourhoods.

Civilians at risk

He is an accomplished deceiver, or else why would so many in the world community continue to be deceived so long?

If it becomes necessary to use military force, we know he will stop at nothing to deceive the world by spreading lies.

We are taking extraordinary measures to prevent innocent casualties.

Hussein, by contrast, will seek to maximise civilian deaths and create the false impression that coalition forces target innocent Iraqis, which of course is not the case.

US soldier training in Texas
The US may go to war without its closest ally
Before any conflict begins, we should look back and recall his history of deception: What he said and what he did during the Gulf War conflict.

During that war, the Iraqi regime went to great lengths to convince the world that coalition forces had targeted innocent civilians and Muslim holy sites.

For example, on 13 February, 1991, coalition forces fired precision guided bombs at the Amiriyah bunker in Baghdad.

The bunker had originally been constructed as an air raid shelter during the Iran-Iraq war.

Command centre

But when - the latter was converted into a military command and control centre.

Unbeknownst to coalition forces, the Iraqi regime had told civilians that it was an air raid shelter, and admitted them to the top floors in the evening.

Right beneath them was a military command and control centre that was being used by senior Iraqi officials for military communications.

We later learned that Saddam Hussein had decreed that all Iraqi military bunkers would also house civilians...

There are many other examples. But the point is this: He does not tell the truth, he lied during the Gulf war, and if there is to be another war, he will lie again. Indeed, he already is...

Fake US uniforms

We know from recent intelligence that he has ordered uniforms that are virtually identical to those of US and British forces for his Fedayeen Saddam troops, who would theoretically wear them while committing atrocities against innocent Iraqis.

UK troops
The UK is gearing up for war

His regime may be planning to use weapons of mass destruction against its own citizens, and then blame coalition forces.

When his regime begins claiming once again that coalition forces have targeted innocent Iraqi civilians, if that's to be the case, we need to keep his record in mind."

Question: Would the United States go to war without Great Britain?

Mr Rumsfeld: "This is a matter that most of the senior officials in the government discuss with the UK on a daily or every-other-day basis. And I had a good visit with the Minister of Defence of the UK about an hour ago.

Their situation is distinctive to their country, and they have a government that deals with a parliament in their way, a distinctive way.

And what will ultimately be decided is unclear as to their role; that is to say, their role in the event that a decision is made to use force.

There's the second issue of their role in a post-Saddam Hussein reconstruction process or stabilisation process, which would be a different matter.

And I think until we know what the resolution is, we won't know the answer as to what their role will be and to the extent they're able to participate in the event the president decides to use force, that would obviously be welcomed.

To the extent they're not, there are workarounds and they would not be involved, at least in that phase of it."

Question: We would consider going to war without our closest ally, then?

Mr Rumsfeld: "That is an issue that the president will be addressing in the days ahead, one would assume."

Later statement issued by the Pentagon

"I have no doubt of the full support of the United Kingdom for the international community's efforts to disarm Iraq.

In my press briefing today, I was simply pointing out that obtaining a second United Nations Security Council Resolution is important to the United Kingdom and that we are working to achieve it. In the event that a decision to use force is made, we have every reason to believe there will be a significant military contribution from the United Kingdom."

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