For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
April 3, 2003
4:12 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: It's my honor to welcome Tony Blair back to the
White House. We just had a wide-ranging discussion on a lot of
issues. I appreciate my friend's commitment to peace and security. I
appreciate his vision. I appreciate his willingness to lead. Most
importantly, I appreciate his understanding that after September the
11th, 2001, the world changed; that we face a common enemy --
terrorists willing to kill innocent lives; that we now recognize that
threats which gather in remote regions of the world must be dealt with
before others lose their lives.
Tony Blair is a friend. He's a friend of the American people, he's
a friend of mine. I trust his judgment and I appreciate his wisdom.
THE PRIME MINISTER: First of all, can I say how delighted I am to
be back in the White House and to see President Bush. And as he's just
described to you, we had an excellent discussion, covering all the key
issues of the day. And I would like to praise his leadership in the
world since September the 11th, particularly, on what I think are the
two key issues that face our world today -- which are issues of
international terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. And I think
both of those issues come together because they threaten the peace and
the order and the stability of the world.
And what is essential is that in every respect, in every way that
we can we mobilize international support and the international
community, in order to make sure that these twin threats that the world
faces are dealt with. And I have no doubt at all that we can deal with
them. But we should realize those two threats -- terrorism, weapons
of mass destruction -- are not different, they're linked. And
dealing with both of them is essential for the future peace and
security and prosperity of the world.
THE PRESIDENT: Fournier. Here's what we're going to do. I will
call upon a reporter. The Prime Minister will call upon a reporter.
And we'll do this three different times. Start with you.
Q Thank you, sir. First, quickly to the Prime Minister, did you
ask President Bush to secure a second U.N. resolution and to give the
inspectors more time? And, President Bush, the U.N. says -- the
U.N. inspectors say Saddam is not complying, you say Saddam is not
complying, why wait a matter of weeks? What's -- why hold up on the
THE PRESIDENT: First of all, you violated the two-question rule
-- as usual. He's had a bad habit of this. I'll start.
Saddam Hussein is not disarming. He is a danger to the world. He
must disarm. And that's why I have constantly said and the Prime
Minister has constantly said this issue will come to a head in a matter
of weeks, not months.
THE PRIME MINISTER: The whole point about the present situation is
that when President Bush made his speech to the United Nations, when we
went down the United Nations route, we passed Resolution 1441. And I
think it really repays reading that, because we said very clearly that
Saddam had what we said was a final opportunity to disarm, and that he
had to cooperate fully in every respect with the U.N. weapons
As Dr. Blix said in his report to the Security Council earlier this
week, he's not doing that. And therefore, what is important is that
the international community comes together again and makes it
absolutely clear that this is unacceptable. And the reason why I
believe that it will do that is precisely because in the original
Resolution 1441, we made it clear that failure to disarm would lead to
So this is a test for the international community. It's not just a
test for the United States or for Britain. It's a test for the
international community, too. And the judgment has to be, at the
present time, that Saddam Hussein is not cooperating with the
inspectors, and therefore is in breach of the U.N. resolution. And
that's why time is running out.
Q A question for the President, if I may. What is the status, in
your view, of any second resolution? Is it something that you think
it's worth spending time and energy trying to assemble and, if so,
THE PRESIDENT: First, let me reiterate what I just said. This is
a matter of weeks, not months. Any attempt to drag the process on for
months will be resisted by the United States. And as I understand the
Prime Minister -- I'm loath to put words in his mouth -- but he's
also said weeks, not months.
Secondly, I want to remind you, I was the guy that went to the
United Nations in the first place. I said, why don't we come together
as a world to resolve this issue, once and for all. Why doesn't the
United Nations stand up as a body and show the world that it has got
the capacity to keep the peace.
So, first of all, in answer to one part of your question, this just
needs to be resolved quickly. Should the United Nations decide to pass
a second resolution, it would be welcomed if it is yet another signal
that we're intent upon disarming Saddam Hussein. But 1441 gives us the
authority to move without any second resolution. And Saddam Hussein
must understand that if he does not disarm, for the sake of peace, we,
along with others, will go disarm Saddam Hussein.
Q Thank you, sir. Mr. President, is Secretary Powell going to
provide the undeniable proof of Iraq's guilt that so many critics are
THE PRESIDENT: Well, all due in modesty, I thought I did a pretty
good job myself of making it clear that he's not disarming and why he
should disarm. Secretary Powell will make a strong case about the
danger of an armed Saddam Hussein. He will make it clear that Saddam
Hussein is fooling the world, or trying to fool the world. He will
make it clear that Saddam is a menace to peace in his own
neighborhood. He will also talk about al Qaeda links, links that
really do portend a danger for America and for Great Britain, anybody
else who loves freedom.
As the Prime Minister says, the war on terror is not confined to
just a shadowy terrorist network. The war on terror includes people
who are willing to train and to equip organizations such as al Qaeda.
See, the strategic view of America changed after September the
11th. We must deal with threats before they hurt the American people
again. And as I have said repeatedly, Saddam Hussein would like
nothing more than to use a terrorist network to attack and to kill and
leave no fingerprints behind. Colin Powell will continue making that
case to the American people and the world at the United Nations.
THE PRIME MINISTER: Adam.
Q One question for you both. Do you believe that there is a link
between Saddam Hussein, a direct link, and the men who attacked on
September the 11th?
THE PRESIDENT: I can't make that claim.
THE PRIME MINISTER: That answers your question. The one thing I
would say, however, is I've absolutely no doubt at all that unless we
deal with both of these threats, they will come together in a deadly
form. Because, you know, what do we know after September the 11th? We
know that these terrorists networks would use any means they can to
cause maximum death and destruction. And we know also that they will
do whatever they can to acquire the most deadly weaponry they can. And
that's why it's important to deal with these issues together.
Q Mr. President and Prime Minister, if I could, sir, the arms
inspectors made their report on Monday this week. You've both made
clear that it's a question of weeks, not months. And here we are at
the end of the week and the Iraqis are suddenly inviting the arms
inspectors back to Baghdad for further consultations. Could I ask both
of you what you make of that?
THE PRESIDENT: Let's see if I can be polite. Saddam Hussein has
had 12 years to learn how to deceive, and I would view this as more
deception on his part. He expects to be able to convince 108
inspectors that he is open-minded. The only way that he can show that
he is truly a peaceful man is to not negotiate with inspectors, is not
to string the inspectors along, but to disarm in front of inspectors.
We know what a disarmed regime looks like. We know what it means to
disarm. There's no negotiations. The idea of calling inspectors in to
negotiate is a charade. If he is going to disarm, he must start
disarming. That's the only thing he needs to talk to the inspectors
about, is, here, I'm disarming.
THE PRIME MINISTER: That's absolutely right. If you look back at
the history of this, for 12 years, he's played these games. And that's
why it's so important to realize what the U.N. inspectors were put back
in to do. The U.N. inspectors -- and this is the crucial point,
because it's on this basis that the whole issue of the U.N. authority
rests -- the U.N. inspectors did not go back into Iraq to play a game
of hide-and-seek with Saddam. They didn't go back in as a detective
agency. They went back in under an authority that said that they had
to cooperate fully, in every respect: the interview of witnesses, not
just access to sites; honest, transparent declarations in the material
they had. They're not doing that.
Now, why are they calling back the inspectors? I think it's fairly
obvious. It's because as the pressure grows, they want to play the
same games as they've been playing all the way through. That's why
it's important we hold to the path that we've set out. They have to
disarm. They have to cooperate with the inspectors. They're not doing
it. If they don't do it through the U.N. route, then they will have to
be disarmed by force.
Q Mr. President, an account of the White House after 9/11 says
that you ordered invasion plans for Iraq six days after September the
11th -- Bob Woodward's account. Isn't it the case that you have
always intended war on Iraq, and that international diplomacy is a
charade in this case?
THE PRESIDENT: Actually, prior to September the 11th, we were
discussing smart sanctions. We were trying to fashion a sanction
regime that would make it more likely to be able to contain somebody
like Saddam Hussein. After September the 11th, the doctrine of
containment just doesn't hold any water, as far as I'm concerned.
I've told you the strategic vision of our country shifted
dramatically, and it shifted dramatically because we now recognize that
oceans no longer protect us, that we're vulnerable to attack. And the
worst form of attack could come from somebody acquiring weapons of mass
destruction and using them on the American people, or the worst attack
could come when somebody uses weapons of mass destruction on our
friends in Great Britain.
Recently, Tony Blair's government routed out a poison plot. It
should say to the people of Great Britain, there is a present danger,
that weapons of mass destruction are a danger to people who love
freedom. I want to congratulate you on your fabulous job of using your
intelligence and your law enforcement to protect the people of Great
Today, Italy rounded up yet another cell of people who are willing
to use weapons of mass destruction on those of us who love freedom.
And so, no, quite the contrary. My vision shifted dramatically
after September the 11th, because I now realize the stakes. I realize
the world has changed. My most important obligation is to protect the
American people from further harm. And I will do that.
Thank you all very much.
END 4:25 P.M. EST