For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
February 7, 2003
President Bush: "This is a Defining Moment for the U.N. Security Council"
Remarks by the President to the Press Pool
Outside the Treasury Building
10:48 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: I'm looking forward to the official swearing-in of
this good man. I appreciate you joining us, joining our Cabinet.
Q Sir, can you tell us what you plan to do to win over France,
Germany, China, Russia, other allies that are still skeptical about
your need to confront Saddam?
THE PRESIDENT: The Security Council unanimously passed a
resolution, called 1441, that said Saddam Hussein must completely
disarm. Saddam Hussein has not disarmed. Colin Powell made that case
very clear. And now the members of the Security Council can decide
whether or not that resolution will have any force, whether it means
anything. This is a defining moment for the U.N. Security Council.
If the Security Council were to allow a dictator to lie and
deceive, the Security Council would be weakened. I'm confident that
when the members assess their responsibilities and the responsibilities
of the U.N., that they will understand that 1441 must be upheld in the
Q They don't seem to be buying that argument quite yet.
Q Mr. President, some in Congress say you're not paying enough
attention to North Korea, due to the Iraq showdown. Are you concerned
that North Korea could carry out the preemptive strikes it has
threatening? And are you willing to use military force if you can't
resolve the crisis diplomatically?
THE PRESIDENT: All options are on the table, but I believe we can
solve this diplomatically. I spoke to Jiang Zemin today about this
very subject. And I will continue working diplomatically to convince
Kim Jong-il that he will be further isolated if he continues to develop
a nuclear program.
I talked to the President of China, reminded him that we have a
joint responsibility to uphold the goal that we talked about in
Crawford -- that goal being a nuclear weapons free Peninsula; that we
have responsibilities, joint responsibilities; that Russia has a
responsibility -- I explained that to President Putin the other day,
when I spoke to him.
We will continue -- when I spoke to Prime Minister Koizumi
recently, I talked about the North Korean issue. And we will continue
to work diplomatically to make it very clear to Kim Jong-il that should
he expect any kind of aid and help for his people, that he must comply
with the world's demand that he not develop a nuclear weapon.
Q And the threat of preemptive strike, sir?
THE PRESIDENT: No, all options are on the table, of course. But
as I said many times, and I still believe this, this will be solved
diplomatically. And we will continue to work diplomatically. As I
mentioned this morning, I did just that this morning with the President
Q Mr. President, given the facts as Secretary Powell laid them
out at the U.N. the other day, do you really see any means of disarming
Saddam other than, at this point, using military force?
THE PRESIDENT: That's up to Saddam Hussein. I mean, the record is
poor, at best. The man has been told to disarm for 12 long years.
He's ignored the demands of the free world. And then we passed another
resolution, and for 90 days he's -- the best way I can describe it
is -- played a game with the inspectors. So the U.N. Security Council
has got to make up its mind soon as to whether or not its word means
And, you know, I've never felt we needed a resolution; 1441 speaks
very clearly. It talks about serious consequences if he doesn't
disarm. However, I said yesterday that it would be helpful to have a
resolution so long as it demands compliance with 1441, confirms the
spirit of 1441. But Saddam Hussein is -- he's treated the demands of
the world as a joke up to now, and it was his choice to make. He's the
person who gets to decide war and peace.
Q Do you have any confidence in him at all, given his track
record, that he will change his ways?
THE PRESIDENT: This is a guy who was asked to declare his weapons,
said he didn't have any. This is a person who we have proven to the
world is deceiving everybody -- I mean, he's a master at it. He's a
master of deception. As I said yesterday, he'll probably try it
again. He'll probably try to lie his way out of compliance or deceive
or put out some false statement. You know, if he wanted to disarm, he
would have disarmed. We know what a disarmed regime looks like.
I heard somebody say the other day, well, how about a beefed-up
inspection regime. Well, the role of inspectors is to sit there and
verify whether or not he's disarmed, not to play hide-and-seek in a
country the size of California. If Saddam Hussein was interested in
peace and interested in complying with the U.N. Security Council
resolutions, he would have disarmed. And, yet, for 12 years, plus 90
days, he has tried to avoid disarmament by lying and deceiving.
Yes, John, last question, then we've got to go swear the man in.
Q Sir, if the Security Council doesn't go along with you, what
THE PRESIDENT: I have said that if Saddam Hussein does not disarm,
we will lead a coalition to disarm him. And I mean it.
Thank you all.
END 10:55 A.M. EST