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Excerpts from the Press Briefing by Scott McClellan, November 15, 2002 (Full transcript)

QUESTION: Hans Blix was just talking to reporters at the U.N. and said that, as he put it, zero tolerance is a very strict word. Is there any concern that his definition of zero tolerance won't be the same as the White House definition?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, first of all, the inspectors, I would remind you, are there to report the facts back to the Security Council. They are not going in, and the inspectors have expressed this themselves, to make assessments. They will report the facts to the Security Council, and that's where it will be discussed and assessed and determined -- and the determinations will be made on what kind of consequences need to follow.

But our view remains one of zero tolerance. For too long, Saddam Hussein has played games with the international community. He has played rope-a-dope with inspectors, and that has got to come to an end. For 16 resolutions in 11 years, he has shown defiance, and no more game playing. That is our message to Saddam Hussein.

QUESTION: Scott, what is the mechanism for military action if the U.S. perceives that the Iraqis have deceived and defied? Do you go back to the U.N., or do you start assembling the coalition? And is the United States in charge of that coalition?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Sure. One, the resolution spells it out that we will go back to -- if there is a violation, then the security -- then it goes to the Security Council for discussion and assessment. But that is for discussion and assessment about serious consequences that need to be taken for those violations.

That does not preclude the United States from acting with like-minded nations if we need to in order to protect the interests -- protect the American people and protect our friends and allies. And the President retains that authority.

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