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Friday, 27 September, 2002, 18:56 GMT 19:56 UK
Iraqi weapons inspection offer: What happens now?
Click here to watch this edition of Talking Point.
Iraq has said it would ignore any new resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council and accused the US of trying to push a "new, bad" resolution.
President Bush previously dismissed Iraq's offer to allow UN weapons inspectors back into the country as a "ploy", saying the US and the international community will not fall for what he calls Saddam Hussein's "rhetoric".
US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told a House of Representatives Committee on Wednesday that "no terrorist state poses a greater and more immediate threat to the security of our people and the stability of the world than the regime of Saddam Hussein".
Do you think Iraq's offer to accept the unconditional return of UN arms inspectors is genuine? Can weapons inspectors resolve the crisis? Can Saddam Hussein be trusted? Tell us what you think.
We discussed Iraq in our phone-in programme, Talking Point, on Sunday 22 September, presented by Robin Lustig. Our guest was Tim Trevan, a former UNSCOM weapons inspector.
This Talking Point is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
I feel bad for the Iraqi people. Being led by a dictator that was originally backed by the US and now being led by a dictator that wants to be killed by the US. They have been tortured, starved, put through war, and constant bombings. Whatever happens, I hope they are remembered as fellow human beings that need the world's help and not just something to go through to get at Saddam.
I'm amazed how many people are either ignorant or in denial about the Hussein regime.
Don't we remember the horrible images if gassed Iranian soldiers arriving in Europe for medical treatment? Can we remember the images of whole Kurdish villages slaughtered by gas attacks? Have we done any in-depth reading about the Iraqi nuclear program?
Do we need to see mushroom clouds before we acknowledge there may be a problem?
Sorry the US is the bad guy" by preventing the "enlightened" from continuing their extended cruise down the River Denial.
The U.S. stand on Iraq:
"Damned if you do, and damned if you don't."
Basically, Bush is on the warpath and nothing, it seems, nothing is going from stop him from doing it. Why, after four long years since the termination of U.N. weapons inspections, and almost two years after Bush became President? Reason, it seems, is that the US economy is in the doldrums, Osama is still missing, the White House still has many questions to answer about Sep 11, Bush/Cheney still have questions to answer about their personal business ethics and elections are just round the corner. So Saddam Hussein provides the perfect weapon for Bush - the weapon of Mass Distraction - distracting the American public from his/the White House's failures.
It was with US administration's consent that Saddam used western technology to develop chemical weapons and used them against the Kurds and Iran. When the victims of Saddam's chemical weapons were sent to hospitals in London and other western capitals for treatment, where was Mr. Bush senior, then vice president, to condemn or demand action against Saddam? People in the Middle East can see the double standard adopted by successive US administrations.
If Saddam decided to trudge along the
right path, after ten years,give him the chance to correct his steps. We look forward to the Inspectors role in bringing Iraqi leadership in line with the world.
Nothing reminds me more about the old Soviet times than reading so many zombie-like comments about the threat Iraq poses to the world (Glory to Mr. Bush for our happy childhood!). Bush needs to take off his Superman's cape and take some lessons on etiquette and respect of the opinion of the rest of the world as well as restrain himself from instilling public ignorance.
To the people on this page who say military action against Iraq is in a moral action to protect peace; NATO had the same arguments about Kosovo; human tragedy, regional stability, loose-cannon dictator etc. But, the US refused to risk casualties. They only allowed high-altitude bombing. Civilian deaths were high, progress was very slow and Milosevic's gangs had free reign to do as they wanted. It will be the same in Iraq. Washington will not risk a single US soldier's life and the result will be thousands and thousands of Iraqi deaths. Where is the morality in such action? To remove Hussein properly will involve fighting on the ground and will mean heavy losses. You can't rebuild a nation from 30,000 feet.
What I would like to know is whether the US is willing to answer the critical question - would all sanctions be removed from Iraq, if indeed it is discovered that there are no weapons of mass destruction present. This would indicate how sincere the US is in its intentions.
I doubt the sincerity of both countries. Saddam is obviously a dictator, no doubt about it. But the way Bush presents his case, it looks more like him wanting to finish his father's job. I wouldn't be surprised if this is about Iraqi oil and not about bringing democracy to a battered country.
Weapons inspectors won't resolve the crisis because Mr Bush doesn't want the crisis to be resolved. There is nothing Iraq, the United Nations or Britain can do to stop an American attack.
Vic, Ontario, Canada
Has anyone noticed that Bush's strategy for fomenting war with Iraq could be used to justify a pre-emptive attack on virtually any regime?
Saddam is playing his usual chess game, which he has honed to a fine skill. We have been down this road before.
Frank Wright, Grand Junction, USA
Yet again, Iraq will decide to play games with the United States and the world community. Europe needs to wake up and realise this before we pay the price.
Survival of the fittest is clearly the application in this situation. America has shown us not only that it's a superpower but also one of hypocritical bully.
Inspectors won't make a difference; America has already decided what it wants. If inspectors had to search American secret sites, I'm sure there would be many obstructions. America - stop playing bully! UK - sort your own country out before wrecking somebody else's! Good luck to everyone trying to stop this poor excuse for a war.
The big problem, which no-one in this Talking Point has tackled, is consistency: Bush cannot claim to be defending the civilised ideals of democracy and the rule of law if he bypasses the UN and launches a war on his own initiative. You cannot claim to defend democracy and spit in its face at the same time.
I'm a officer in the USAF and if/when our President decides to go to war, it won't be a long drawn out conflict. Some of you here are complaining about the sanctions. Trust me, Saddam isn't a poor man. If he stopped building statues made out of gold and start giving his billions to his own people, there wouldn't be any starvation. I can't believe how some of you think. Especially the Canadians. All you have done is criticise the US while your standing army couldn't defend a zoo. Everyone hates you when you're on top.
Erik Petersen, Cambridge, USA
Before Blair is allowed to send any British serviceman to his death in Iraq there should be a referendum to allow the British public the chance to have their say.
Just give Iraq a break, and see where we go from there. There is no reason to be emotional.
Vincent E Ciliberti, Malta
Many suggest we should mind our own business and let things pan out as they will. Shall we let evil minds be free to use the world's resources to carry out their plans? Some have called the US hypocritical in that we alone have used nuclear weaponry. Yes, once we did, as a response to an attack on our nation. It ended the war and saved countless lives which would have been lost had the war continued on. Should we all close our eyes? Rest assured, evil will keep one eye open.
Steve, Los Angeles, USA
Saddam is no saint. But it appears that this military adventure has more to do with bolstering public opinion in the run up to the US midterm elections in November than with any real or immediate threat. It won't surprise me if Bush finds the flimsiest of excuses to "cry havoc and let loose the dogs of war".
Mohammad Naveed, USA, Folsom
Iraq has to comply with all the UN resolutions, not just the ones on weapons of mass destruction. There are others related to repression and human rights. Personally, I think UN involvement was a mistake by Bush because now Saddam can get back to his old tricks. Those who wanted the UN to get involved should now press for all resolutions to be enforced.
Raghu, Madras, India
Mr Bush was quite right when he announced that Saddam must go because he has already proved during past decades that he is a serious threat to the security of the region. Using military forces could create the best result as it did in Afghanistan against the Taleban. I have serious doubts if weapons inspectors can resolve the crisis. Such methods may be useful for some regimes but not for Saddam.
Odds are that this is another Hussein delaying tactic. Get the UN inspectors in, as soon as they are delayed get them out and follow up with UN sanctioned military action. For evil to prosper, good men do nothing.
Weapons inspectors can't resolve the crisis in the given timeframe. Inspections will take a long time. How many inspectors will be working in Iraq? Ten, twenty? How long will this realistically take to inspect 100% of Iraq territory including civilian towns in where the weapons of mass destruction are now hosted?
OK let the inspectors go in, but when it turns into the usual farce then the UN must back any resolutions to use force. I don't agree with force but Bush and his puppet Blair are hell bent on invading Iraq! Do it with UN support.
Nick, Newcastle, UK
I wonder how many of the people celebrating Iraq's apparent change of heart on inspection realize that Iraq is only letting inspectors search military bases and not any place where they would be likely to hide anything to do with WMD. And hats off to Nick in London; from reading these posts, I thought everyone in the UK had forgotten Chamberlain's 1938 Munich folly.
It is interesting to note how superpowers throw their weight around. History shows that man has not changed, right from the days of the mighty Roman Empire to today's American empire building. But history also has shown that these empires vanished when they could not take their own weight anymore.
The inspectors need to go in right away. The first time Saddam prohibits them from going where they feel they need to, as he will, they need to move out and let the air strikes begin. Then he can be dealt with once and for all, albeit 10 years too late.
John, Johannesburg, RSA
Unconditional inspections are clearly the more diplomatic and civilised means to defuse this situation. An allied inspection team, coupled with a sleek squadron of Apache helicopters at bay should do the trick. Violence should be our last resort.
Just look at the double standards of the West. On the one hand they are condemning a country like Iraq for possibly possessing nuclear and biological weapons, and on the other, America praises its best friend, Pakistan, which the world knows has nuclear weapons, and people crazy enough to use them. If Musharraf won't use them today, the next coup will bring about someone who will.
Khalid, London, UK
I think I'm missing something. The US already has weapons of mass destruction (and so far is the only country that has ever used them). What gives them the right to determine who is and is not allowed to conduct weapons research? These are the actions of a government reeking of hypocrisy.
James, UK: Good, now we just need to work on the repression of the Iraqi people, Iraq's support of international terrorism, Gulf war prisoners, stolen property, and that little assassination attempt on a former US president. Collectively, this is still justification to go to war, but it remains to be seen whether or not President Bush will hold back the dogs.
Every peace-loving person should welcome Iraq's offer to readmit weapons inspectors. It is the first step towards avoiding further warfare in the Middle East. Only those hell-bent on deposing Saddam or those who are more concerned with oil can possibly object.
How many times can Iraq fool the international community? I hope that this time they are telling the truth and war may be averted, but I am unfortunately not that naive. Some of the criticism out there is quite bizarre. Someone mentioned Bush's popularity is sinking and he wants to help the economy. This is ludicrous, Bush's approval rating is holding between 60-70%, and after the Gulf War, the US slipped into a recession.
What this issue has highlighted more than anything is the complete disarray of Western powers on what the objective of the issues at stake is. If it is only the readmission of weapons inspectors then for heavens sake lift the sanctions so that at least the suffering of the common people can end. If the issue is maintaining sanctions until it is confirmed that Iraq is completely disarmed then this is obviously an impossibility and will never be achieved. For no sovereign state can be expected to appear so vulnerable and completely powerless, least of all if it exists in the most volatile region on Earth.
Saddam is just buying time. We now need to get used to a world with Iraq as a nuclear power.
Kim Nguyen, Wayland, USA
The fall out from any military action against Saddam, pales into insignificance when compared with the fallout from the nuclear weapon that he WILL use when he gets one. Democracy offers the luxury of openly discussing and arguing whether to take action, this must not be allowed to turn into prevarication and appeasement. The inspection teams should go in rapidly but at the very first hint of hindrance they should withdraw as quickly as possible and Saddam should then be dealt with dealt with.
How can we be sure that Iraq will show us the full extent of their arms?
Rick, Norway, USA
I recall a declaration made by Neville Chamberlain in 1938, 'Peace in our time'. Look what happened a year later. Appeasement does not work. Hussein is just adopting delaying tactics.
Richard H, UK
I fear that the UN will be making the same mistake that the Commonwealth made over Zimbabwe. They will simply give time to the perpetrator to thwart punishment while delighting in the perpetration of his inhumanity. Mugabe has done it, is doing it and Saddam will do it. And we, the United Nations will be laughing stock again.
Steve, UK, Liverpool
It's really a question of whether the Iraqi authorities will genuinely cooperate with the inspectors this time. I think lifting some of the sanctions against Iraq in the interim will go a long way towards easing resentment to the inspections, and offer a real incentive to Iraq to play ball.
Saddam's regime can afford this token gesture as they've had time to dismantle the equipment and hide the stockpiles of chemical weapons. He can now rely on his overt supporters and apologists in the West to brow beat the US into inaction, allowing the Islamic terrorists to regroup and retrain.
Bill Thomson, Hong Kong
I do hope that Iraq will abide by the resolutions that are required of them. Averting war must be the priority of all nations, but I do not agree with the constant US bashing that accompanies these types of situations. At least they are willing to take a stand and sacrifice their own sons for our safety. Shame on the people who blindly criticize from the apparent safety of their own countries.
Darryl McCormack, I think you forgot to add that they are also willing to sacrifice ordinary Iraqis and their sons for your safety. Thousands of lives will be lost from both sides.
I think Bush is already hell-bent on starting his own little war somewhere, and Iraq is just another target for him. I don't think that the weapons inspectors will be able to stop him from picking a fight with Iraq if he wants to.
Saddam is a born survivor, he will do just enough to prevent a US strike.
If this is yet another bluff by Iraq, hopefully this time the UN won't let them get away with it. Other than that, Bush would have to be an idiot to attack Iraq now. (But why doesn't that sentence reassure me that much?)
This offer should be accepted at this stage. The
Iraqis have stated their intentions to allow
the inspectors back in and this should now be
used as a final warning.
If the inspectors are again hindered then action
may be required, but not at this stage. Mr Bush
is taking a dangerous path, and one that
I hope the UK will not follow.
I doubt very much that Iraq is really sincere, but we have to hold them to their word, while continuing the military build-up and the diplomatic pressure. The UN must pass a new resolution to authorise action if Iraq fails to live up to its word.
24 Oct 02 | Middle East
11 Sep 02 | Americas
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