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FW: 000802 Welch and Scheffer Briefing on the Tenth Anniversary of the Iraqi Invasion of Kuwait

-----Original Message-----
From: U.S. State Department [mailto:stategov@UIC.EDU] 
Sent: 04 August 2000 23:48
Subject: 000802 Welch and Scheffer Briefing on the Tenth Anniversary of
the Iraqi Invasion of Kuwait

C. David Welch, Assistant Secretary for International
Organization Affairs and David Scheffer, Ambassador-at-Large for
War Crimes Issues
On-the-Record Briefing on the Tenth Anniversary of the Iraqi
Invasion of Kuwait
Released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
Washington, DC, August 2, 2000

MR. REEKER: Good morning, and welcome to the State Department to
our briefing room today. As you know, today, August 2nd, 2000,
marks the tenth anniversary of the brutal invasion of Kuwait by
the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein. Ten years ago, the world
watched as Iraq carried out unprovoked aggression against a
neighboring Arab nation.

To brief you today on the tenth anniversary of the Iraqi invasion
of Kuwait we have Assistant Secretary for International
Organization Affairs C. David Welch and Ambassador-at-Large for
War Crimes Issues David Scheffer. We will have comments by both
gentlemen briefly and then we'll take your questions. Thank you.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY WELCH: Thanks for coming. I'll start with a
statement and then David has a couple things to say too, and then
we'll entertain questions.

Ten years ago today, Saddam Hussein made an extraordinary
decision. He decided to use military force to invade, occupy and
absorb the neighboring state of Kuwait. In turn, the
international community undertook an extraordinary response: a
coalition of nations led by the United States liberated Kuwait
and compelled Saddam to abandon his dream of conquest.

A decade has now lapsed with Saddam unable to invade a neighbor.
That fact alone marks an important success for the international
community. Through the measures it has taken to constrain the
aggressive intentions of the Baghdad regime, the United Nations
Security Council has effectively fulfilled the obligation to
uphold international peace and security.

But this story which began ten years ago is far from over. It's
not over because Iraq has not given up its weapons of mass
destruction. It's not over for some 600 Kuwaiti missing persons
and POWs seized by Iraqi forces in Kuwait. Nor is it over for the
people of Iraq who continue to suffer the brutal misrule of the
Saddam Hussein regime.

Following the liberation of Kuwait, the UN Security Council set
clear, reasonable and attainable conditions for the lifting of
sanctions. Above all, the Council demanded that Iraq relinquish
weapons of mass destruction. As much as Iraq seeks to deny it,
every authoritative investigation has concluded that Iraq has not
complied with these conditions.

In refusing to give up prohibited weapons, Saddam Hussein
consciously and intentionally chose to subject the Iraqi people
to unnecessary hardship. In recent years, he has increasingly
sought to manipulate that hardship in an attempt to induce the UN
to lift sanctions without compliance.

This cynical tactic has failed. Instead, the UN has created the
Oil-for-Food Program, the largest humanitarian assistance program
in the United Nations' history. Oil-for-Food works and is capable
of meeting the needs of the Iraqi people.

Where the UN is able to operate with minimal interference from
Saddam's regime, as in the north, humanitarian needs are being
met. In fact, in important ways, people are better off than they
were ten years ago. In other parts of the country, more subject
to regime obstructionism, conditions are worse, but improving.

We share with the international community the commitment to
making Oil-for-Food work better for the benefit of Iraqi
civilians. Our expedited contract review process and release of
more than a billion dollars in contract holds since March are
evidence of that commitment. Acting as trustee for the Iraqi
people, the international community is obligated to work for full
Iraqi compliance with all UN Security Council resolutions.

Were Saddam to repeat his past misdeeds and crimes, the
experience of recent years indicates that the international
community would respond even more energetically than it did ten
years ago. The tide of history is flowing against Saddam Hussein
and others like him. The United States is convinced that a change
of regime in Baghdad is the best solution in the long run, and we
will continue to work with those Iraqis who seek to foster more
responsible government in their country.

A story which began in Kuwait ten years ago today is not over.
But we're patient, steadfast in our view that the extraordinary
response of the international community will ultimately lead to a
secure and prosperous future for all the peoples of the region.

Thanks. David will have some things to say.

AMBASSADOR SCHEFFER: Thank you, David, and thanks for everyone
appearing here today.

Permit me to remind everyone of what happened in Kuwait 10 years
ago. Terms such as brutal, aggression and war crimes barely begin
to describe the reality of what Saddam Hussein's forces did
during six and a half months of occupation of Kuwait. We need to
remember that reality to understand why the international
community, and not just the United States, should hold
accountable those who gave the orders for these crimes to be

After the liberation, US Army war crimes investigators and
lawyers conducted a comprehensive assessment of Iraqi war crimes.
Kuwaiti authorities have since conducted even more comprehensive
investigations. Between August 2nd, 1990, and the liberation of
Kuwait, we now know that Iraqi forces killed approximately 1,000
civilians. Investigators documented at least two dozen torture
sites in Kuwait City. Photographic evidence confirms torture by
amputation or injury to various body parts, including eyes, ears,
tongues, noses, lips and genitals. Electric shocks were applied
to every sensitive body part. Electric drills were used to
penetrate chests, legs or arms of victims. Some victims were
killed in acid baths. Women were sexually assaulted. Members of
families were sometimes forced to watch as other family members
were dragged from their homes and shot dead by Iraqi forces.

In addition, as Saddam Hussein's forces were forced to flee
Kuwait in February 1991, he ordered his forces to destroy or
release into the Gulf what turned out to be between 7 and 9
million barrels of oil; 590 oil well heads were damaged or
destroyed, 508 were set on fire, and 82 were damaged so that oil
and gas flowed freely from them. If ever there was a case of a
gross violation of military necessity and wanton destruction, the
oil fields of Kuwait was such a case.

There is also clear evidence that Iraqi forces engaged in
systematic looting, which is a war crime. The orders to loot
Kuwait are so clear and widespread that it seems as though Saddam
Hussein's son Uday must have thought Kuwait was his personal used
car lot. Equipment from universities and hospitals were
systematically looted and sent to Iraq.

In addition to the crimes against Kuwait and the Kuwaiti people,
Iraqi forces took thousands of hostages and used many of them as
human shields, which is a violation of the Geneva Conventions. A
number of third-country nationals were murdered or sexually
assaulted by Iraqi soldiers. All but 2 of the 21 US soldiers who
were taken prisoner during the Gulf War were mistreated, in
violation of the Geneva Conventions. More than 600 Kuwaitis
remain unaccounted for to this day. The fact that Iraq continued
to hold Iranian prisoners of war more than ten years after the
end of the Iran-Iraq War gives us hope to this day that these
Kuwaitis are alive.

Today, we have access to the evidence of crimes that have been
committed against the Kuwaiti people and their environment. The
Kuwaitis have done an outstanding job in gathering the evidence
of the atrocities committed against them. Block by block, they
have documented Saddam's campaign against the Kuwaiti people.
Through translations of thousands of documents captured by
Kuwaiti forces during the liberation, the Center for Research and
Studies on Kuwait and other Kuwaiti universities and research
centers have compiled an extensive record of the crimes committed
on the orders of Saddam Hussein.

For our part, the United States is doing a lot to assist in the
documentation of the crimes committed by Saddam Hussein's forces
in Kuwait. For example, I am announcing today that we have begun
to declassify and make available through the nongovernmental
organization The Iraq Foundation the first of many documents
captured by American forces during the liberation of Kuwait.

These first few documents give a sampling of what is in these
thousands of documents. They describe hostage-taking, looting,
wanton destruction of property not justified by military
necessity, and orders for the destruction of Kuwaiti oil wells.
These documents are being made available through The Iraq
Foundation's website, which is

By collecting and examining the evidence we are working hard to
bring Saddam Hussein to justice. We believe the evidence
justifies an international tribunal like what exists now for the
former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. In addition, where other countries
have laws that permit prosecution under international treaties
like the Torture Convention, we encourage them to apply those

By collecting and examining the evidence, we are working to hold
Saddam Hussein and his top henchmen accountable for two decades
of crimes against the peoples of Iraq, Iran and Kuwait. Thank

MR. REEKER: Questions?

QUESTION: David One, could you tell us about where the effort to
help the Iraqi opposition stands and perhaps bring us up to date

ASSISTANT SECRETARY WELCH: Sure. Beginning with the Iraqi
opposition, as you know we have an extensive dialogue with
elements of the Iraqi opposition, both inside and outside of
Iraq. We believe it's important to heighten international
attention to their role so that the people of Iraq who have the
ability to speak independently, whether they're inside or in
those parts of Iraq that are not subject to the government's
control, can get a voice.

Most Iraqis, I would bet you, are members of the Iraqi
opposition. The problem is is that most Iraqis can't speak for
themselves. We have taken advantage of some of the authorities
given to us by Congress and our own means to give support to
those elements internationally who can promote their cause
better. And my colleagues from NEA can give you some details on
exactly how that's being done.

The principle here is pretty simple. There's a large number of
Iraqis who really see a very different future for their country,
who realize that they've been shackled with one of the most
odious regimes in modern Arab history, let alone world history,
and seek to do something about it. And we'd like to help them.
We'd like to help them in a way that's responsible, however, and
doesn't raise undue risk to them, either inside or outside.

On UNMOVIC, as you know -- for those of you who are not as
familiar with Resolution 1284 -- it created UNMOVIC as a
successor to the former special commission UNSCOM. That
organization now has a new executive chairman, picked this
Spring, who has set about organizing itself and staffing up to
meet its responsibilities.

I think, based on our own contacts with Mr. Blix, who is an
experienced, credible international civil servant with a long
record in the area of nonproliferation, that he will have his
organization ready to run in the next month or so. He has spent
most of his time hiring experts, beginning training courses and,
coincident with that, reviewing the body of evidence that's been
accumulated over the years, especially by UNSCOM but also by
others, with respect to Iraq's WMD activities.

QUESTION: Yes. You said that the evidence, the war crimes
evidence, justifies an international tribunal on the model of the
Rwandan and former Yugoslavia ones. Could you say what you plan
to do to promote the establishment of such a tribunal? Is there
some -- do you have some kind of plan to get this through the
Security Council?

AMBASSADOR SCHEFFER: For quite some time, we have been discussing
this proposal with key governments. And we believe that as those
discussions evolve in the coming months, and as more and more of
this compelling evidence makes its way into the public domain,
which is what we think is absolutely critical, the compelling
character of the evidence against Saddam Hussein will simply not
permit a pass on his accountability. Some way, the international
community has to face up to more than 20 years of some of the
most egregious criminal conduct of the 20th century that Saddam
Hussein is responsible for.

So our hope is that as this evidence becomes more and more
compelling, as it is clearly available, translated, and
unavoidable, that it simply will make the compelling case that
one way or another there has to be a court of law before which
these individuals are investigated, indicted, and someday brought
to justice.

QUESTION: Do you have a time table, any kind of time frame for
that? Is this something you would like to do within a year or so?

AMBASSADOR SCHEFFER: We would like to see this accomplished in
terms of an actual initiative with respect to the launching of
official investigations that would lead to indictments. We hope
that that can truly be accomplished within the next half year or

QUESTION: This is a two-part question. The Iraqi opposition has
complained in the past about the slow pace of military aid under
the Iraqi Liberation Act. Can you give us any update on that
specifically? And, also, can you talk a little bit more about an
idea to give humanitarian aid to the Iraqi people through either
NGOs or the resistance? How serious -- where is that?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY WELCH: Well, let me start with the second
part first because I think there is probably a common belief that
NGOs operate freely in Iraq and so one is able to provide
humanitarian or other assistance through them. That's really not
the case at all. Iraq is one of the most closed societies in the
world and has been that way for some time. If there is any place
in Iraq that the NGOs are able to operate, it's in the north. And
there, for the last decade, we've been providing both through the
Oil-for-Food Program when it's been in operation and through our
own bilateral resources support and assistance of various kinds.

On aid to the Iraqi opposition, we are providing assistance to
them in terms of staffing themselves up, being able to provide a
larger public diplomacy voice, getting some training going. But
we're also doing that conscious of the need to be prudent about
what sort of assistance is provided and the risks that they might
run in using it.

The Iraqi opposition has a number of different parts and some of
those who have made the remarks that you suggest are mostly
outside. I'd like to point out that there is a big Iraqi
opposition inside, and it has no shortage of military resources.
But compared to what is still, even after a decade of sanctions
and two wars, one of the largest armies in the Middle East, even
the armed Iraqi opposition inside has a hard time. They are quite
conscious of these risks and aware that they face a mighty
military machine if they're not careful.

With that said, there are no shortage of resources for them if
they want to use them and they are using them every day because -

QUESTION: Military?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY WELCH: That's right. I've been to northern
Iraq several times myself, and I can guarantee you anybody who
can walk can carry a gun there if they want. And they're
determined to protect their own homes against this regime. And I
would guess that's the same in the south, but I've not been able
to go there yet.

QUESTION: What groups are you referring to inside Iraq?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY WELCH: The Kurdish groups, the Shi'a
opposition, and there are tribal components as well.

QUESTION: I would like to follow up on the question of the
opposition. There have been a lot of criticism that they're not
very organized. Do you see them coming together a little bit more
unified than a few years ago? And do you see them planning for an
actual overthrow of the Saddam regime or actually planning for
what happens in the event that he would die or that he would no
longer be there?

And I'd also like to follow up on UNMOVIC. Is there any
indication that the Iraqis are going to actually let the
inspectors in? I know there's been a lot of planning and a lot of
hiring and a kind of outline of what such an agency would do, but
there hasn't really been any indication from the Iraqis that
they're willing to adhere to this new regime.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY WELCH: Well, I'm not sure what more I can add
on the opposition. I just think these are dedicated people. You
know, with or without our help they're going to oppose this
regime, and we'd like to help them. There are plenty of them out
there. Most of our attention here, of course, gets focused on the
groups that are outside. Again, there are lots inside and those
people listen to what the international community is saying. They
listen to radio, they watch satellite TV. They focus on whether
or not we're paying attention to their cause. And I think that,
in that respect, they deserve our support.

In terms of whether the Iraqis will let UNMOVIC in, well, you
know, that decision, to the extent that they're talking about it,
Baghdad is saying that they are not going to cooperate with
Resolution 1284. They have, however, cooperated with its
humanitarian component. I think they're a little more uncertain
about what about to do about the Special Coordinator that's been
appointed for the Kuwaiti missing and POWs, a very senior former
Russian diplomat named Vorontsov. They haven't admitted him to
Iraq yet, and it's a puzzling thing because one would expect
that, you know, they would want to try and cooperate with this
element. But they've been less certain about how to handle that.

On the disarmament components of 1284, they've not signaled any
intention to cooperate so far. They've simply said that they want
sanctions lifted, and then they're going to talk. Well, no member
of the Security Council is prepared to enter into that kind of

QUESTION: All right. So what is all the planning and all the
money spent on this new inspection agency if eventually Iraq
isn't going to let them in? Are there any diplomatic channels
through other -- obviously not through the United States -- but
other members of the Security Council?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY WELCH: Yes, I think, there are voices being
raised saying, Iraq, you ought to do this because the only path
to having sanctions adjusted in any way is to cooperate with the
United Nations. And people are saying that, and I would expect
that they're using their diplomatic means to convey that position
to Baghdad. What you asked me about is what is the Iraqi
response. I can only tell you what it is so far.

You say a lot of money being spent on UNMOVIC. Let's recall. This
isn't really a big organization here. It never was really big,
even in UNSCOM's days. It's a bargain for the price, frankly. It
doesn't take that much, even at the height of its activity, to
run it. I wouldn't expect it would take that much if it were
restored to activity in Iraq. And the beauty of this deal is that
Iraq pays for it. It has to pay for it from revenues earned from
its oil exports.

QUESTION: For Ambassador Scheffer. You spoke about the need for a
war-crimes tribunal for Iraq. Wouldn't this be a good use for a
general international criminal court, if one was allowed to be

AMBASSADOR SCHEFFER: Obviously, if one was established during the
time frame in which these crimes were committed, then there would
be great utility in using a permanent international criminal
court. The one that is currently being signed and ratified by
various governments around the world in which we've been involved
with will have very little, if any, relevance whatsoever to do
with Iraq, and certainly none with the crimes committed by the
Iraqi regime up to the present day and until the day on which the
court is established because the court only has prospective

But I think your question is suggesting another point, which is
something that we always need to make very clear. The United
States has consistently supported the establishment of an
appropriate permanent international criminal court and, in fact,
we are deeply engaged in all of the follow-on negotiations since
Rome with that court. We joined consensus on the important
documents that were concluded on June 30th up in New York at the
UN relating to that court.

But it's interesting -- during the -- and we're working now to
try to work out our remaining fundamental concern about the court
in the supplemental negotiations. And I remain optimistic.

But your question, Norm, reminds me that during the negotiations
leading up to the Rome Treaty, the common mantra of the strongest
supporters of the permanent court was, "No more Saddam Husseins,
no more Saddam Husseins." And, in fact, there was even a chant to
this effect in the large negotiating theater at one point in

And I would strongly suggest that it is the policy of the United
States to make good on that, and we want to make good on the
existing Saddam Hussein. He must be brought to account for his
crimes, and we would think that the strongest supporters of the
permanent court would join with us and maintain the consistency
of their point of view on this issue by looking for a means to
indeed investigate, indict, and ultimately bring the existing
Saddam Hussein to justice.

QUESTION: On that court, Ambassador Scheffer, I wonder -- and on
the material that you were planning to release, can you give a
better sense of just what you've released -- you know, the
quality and the quantity that has now come out? And also what
you're planning in the next six months.

Secondly, there was one issue at the time of the occupation of
Kuwait that was very controversial, and there were a lot of
reports in the media about a phony reported war crime. It had to
do, I think, with the maternity ward in a hospital in Kuwait
City. And I just wondered, what is the outcome of that? I mean,
because in a sense, if you want your documents to be accepted and
taken seriously, you have to deal with some of these issues where
there's a claim of inflated or hyped or maybe even wrong facts.

AMBASSADOR SCHEFFER: Thanks, Roy. On your first question, we'll
be very frank that the documents that have just been released on
The Iraq Foundation website are only the tip of a very, very
large iceberg. You're not going to see much there when you go in.
And the reason is that there are various stages in bringing this
information together and then making it available. One is simply
to collect it and get it organized. Second is to bring the labor
to bear that is required for translation of these documents, and
then synthesizing them in a way that makes them readable and
digestible by the public. That is a very, very labor-intensive
exercise. War crimes, in general, is very labor-intensive. You
can go so far with technology but, at the end of the day, it's
judgment, prosecutors' intelligence, and labor that's required on
these documents and on war crimes in general.

And therefore what I would confirm to you, Roy, is that there's a
lot more to come; it's being systemically dealt with in terms of
getting it translated; we always have phases where we need to
make sure we've got the appropriate amount of labor involved in
doing so. And we go through valleys and peaks in terms of the
availability of labor, whether it's within the US Government or
in nongovernmental organizations or in the Kuwaiti government.
But there's a lot more to come.

Now what we're trying to give a great deal of focus to right now
in this very labor-intensive exercise is the documents that
relate to the actual invasion and occupation of Kuwait during the
Gulf War, the documents that were seized during the Gulf War. We
already have translated -- I don't know if it's tens of thousands
or hundreds of thousands of pages of documents from the Anfal
campaign, and that's now very available on 176 CD-ROMs. So the
Anfal campaign of the late 1990s we have basically socked away as
a body of evidence ready to go any time a prosecutor is prepared
to run with it.

The Gulf War is going to take a longer period of time, but we are
also -- and I did this last year and we continue to do this --
collecting overhead imagery of what is occurring in the southern
marshes with respect to the Shi'a. I displayed some of this last
year in October in New York, and that process continues.

So there is a lot more to go in this process. What was your
second question, Roy?

QUESTION: It was about the Kuwait hospital maternity ward.

AMBASSADOR SCHEFFER: Oh, yes. I don't have any specific
information for you on that, but I think we'll look into it and
get back to you, okay? Because I've seen different things on that
and I want to be careful.

QUESTION: Thank you. On the larger policy, are you comfortable
with the notion that all the US did the last -- during the last
ten years is creating a very, very weak nation with very, very
strong leadership? And how does that affect what you describe as
the internal opposition inside Iraq?

And, secondly, do you still believe that the civilian casualties
of this policy are still morally acceptable regardless of who is
to blame for it?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY WELCH: Well, no, I don't. With respect to the
latter part of your question, it's my belief that there is no
acceptable civilian casualty any place, and that's not a price
that we want to pay. But, I mean, look at the situation here. The
question is, you know, who is responsible. In the case of Iraq --
and we've documented sufficiently what the nature of this regime
is, that should go without question. The issue is: Can the
international community do some more and could the Iraqis, if
they wanted to, the regime itself, address the humanitarian
situation there?

The answer is, for our part, we have done a number of things.
And, frankly, I wish you and the press would pay a little bit
more attention to this humanitarian issue and its details,
because it's important. For example, Iraq is going to export more
oil this year than it ever has, in value terms. And all that
money will be controlled for the purposes of the humanitarian
program, making it the largest humanitarian effort ever in the
United Nations' history.

It only reached that scale in the Fall of last year. There are
already considerable improvements in conditions inside Iraq for
the average person, and those will continue unless the regime is
given -- you know, is allowed to continue abusing the situation.
You know, if they wanted to change things, for example in
education, all they have to do is write it into the distribution
plan and it gets funded by the UN. They make those decisions, not

We've streamlined the contract approval process, yet I read in
the press continually the United States is holding up all these
contracts. Since March alone we've approved more contracts on
whole in value than the first six months of the Oil-for-Food
Program. So we're making a lot of progress in this regard. We've
increased the number of things that the Oil-for-Food can be spent

But at the end of the day we're not going to be able to do
everything. The Iraqi regime is itself responsible. They won't
let anybody in to scrutinize the humanitarian situation. They
won't let NGOs operate. They won't let the UN personnel circulate
freely. They deny visas to UN teams who come in to want to do
special kinds of projects. Only recently they finally let Benan
Sevan in to do a wholesale examination of the program. And
wherever possible, they put obstacles in the way.

And the reason is, if you were trying to get sanctions lifted
without having to comply and retaining your weapons of mass
destruction too, that's exactly what you would do as well. And
they don't care whether it's on the back of the people.

QUESTION: We've had reports here periodically about spikes in oil
smuggling, and I wanted to know what the status of that is right
now with new imagery and the pictures we've seen here at the
State Department. And applying to that, if you say you believe
the international community would be more behind or is more
firmly behind the efforts now, do you think that the countries
along these routes are doing everything they can to stop

ASSISTANT SECRETARY WELCH: No, I don't. Oil smuggling is a real

QUESTION: So how do you back up that statement that everybody is
behind it and they're turning a blind eye to the smuggling?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY WELCH: Well, first of all, it's not everybody
who is smuggling. It's a few isolated cases. And it has been a
significant problem. It goes back some time. And with the
increase in the price of oil, the value of that smuggling has
gone up commensurately. It's a serious issue because that is
totally unregulated trade; that is, the revenues that come out of
that go right into the hands of the regime and they can spend
them on whatever they want.

Most of the smuggling that is occurring now is going through
Iranian territorial waters, and we think it's incumbent on the
government in Tehran to implement international law and do
something about that. They are a main source of the problem.
We've had discussions with some of our allies who have
representation in Tehran about bringing that case to them. The UN
Sanctions Committee has made representations to the Iranian
Government. And from time to time, they do act against it. I
don't know whether all elements inside Iran are controlled in
this respect or whether this reflects different intentions on the
part of the government. It is my belief, however, that if they
wanted to they could control it, and they should.

QUESTION: Can I follow up on that? Some of the ships, at least a
couple of them that I remember, were traced back to Russia. What
have we done perhaps bilaterally to check this out?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY WELCH: There have been vessels interdicted
from a lot of nations, including Russia. However, I think that's
the activity of private companies and not the government. The
Russian Government has been responsible in trying to deal with
this. We've had a lot of discussions with them. I personally have
worked on this problem both in Moscow and here with the Russian
Embassy. They are investigating the cases that have occurred and
they have pledged to try and instruct their companies in such a
way that they're clear about what the law is so it's avoided in
the future.

But I think it's not fair just to single out the Russians. Let's
be honest here. There are many countries that are involved in
this trade and most of the vessels are small and cheap so you get
a lot of fly-by-night operators who do it.

QUESTION: There is a general perception in the Arab world that
keeping the sanctions against Iraq means the suffering of the
Iraqi people. Somehow, the Iraqi president escaped that equation.
What have you done recently besides releasing multimedia
materials on what Saddam did ten years ago? What have you done,
first, to reassure the international community that you are
serious in bringing down the Iraqi regime and, second, to reverse
that trend in the Arab world?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY WELCH: Well, which trend is it you're talking

QUESTION: The general perception in the Arab world, even among
main allies of Washington.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY WELCH: Well, I think generally there is a
concern about sanctions, and that's not restricted, I don't
believe, to the Arab world. Internationally there is more
attention to how do you make sanctions more targeted and focused.

I believe in the case of Iraq you have unique sanctions, both in
their breadth and in their focus. And because Iraq does have a
large oil capacity, there is also a unique ability to take
advantage of that so you can address some of the humanitarian
impact of sanctions. But as I said in response to an earlier
question, I'm convinced that because of the control that the
government has and its inattention to the situation of its own
people, you can't do that 100 percent. They have the
responsibility at the end of the day, and it's up to them to take
care of their own, too.

Whether I can correct the public impression of that is another
question entirely. I can only tell you what we've done and I can
re-list it again for you. And I would ask you again to try and
pay attention to those things that the international community
and the United States specifically has done: lifted the cap on
oil sales, streamlined the contract approval process, focused on
new sectors for the operation of the Oil-for-Food Program, given
the ability to the UN to use some of the revenues for cash
purchases and local operations inside Iraq. These are just a
number of the things.

And I can tell you what Iraqis say about it. I mean, the people
of northern Iraq consider that they have never had it so good.
They would never expect such a thing from the regime of Saddam
Hussein because they know better.

What was the other part of your question, sir?

QUESTION: Yes. If you can list some of the steps that you have
taken recently directly to target the Iraqi regime and to speed
up the process of bringing down the Iraqi president.

AMBASSADOR SCHEFFER: Perhaps while David is just looking, from a
war crimes perspective I can certainly answer your question.
We're doing a lot. A lot of what we do on war crimes we do
diplomatically, so we're not out here announcing it every day and
sort of publicizing it because a lot of what we do is in the
diplomatic realm of talking with other governments and working
with other governments with respect to the collection of
evidence, as well as the cultivation of the political will to
actually get this job done of bringing him to account before a
court of law.

And I suppose what I can say to you is that as the diplomat who
goes out there and does this stuff, yeah, there's a reaction.
There is some, I think ten years later as memories fade about
particularly the criminal conduct of the Gulf War, sometimes you
experience annoyance; sometimes you experience reactions as to
why now, isn't it too late, shouldn't we move on, et cetera. And
what I can confirm to you is that the United States Government
has a very firm position. Yeah, we're going to move on. We're
going to move on towards accountability. That's the direction
we're moving towards, and the evidence is overwhelming with that

Let me just also say that one of the most recent tactics that
Saddam Hussein is using to try to thwart these efforts is
blackmail in the form of torture and sexual assault against the
relatives of opposition leaders and military officers to try to
control and terrorize his opponents. And some of you may know
from what has been in the press in recent days from Iraqi General
Najib al-Salihi is the first person to go public with the
victimization that he has suffered and his relatives through this

So sometimes we can see this in a public way. But I must say if
you're ever interested in understanding the totality of the
crimes that have been committed and the points that we're making
with other governments about the totality of that criminal
record, we can certainly easily answer that question and confirm
to you that that is a point that is being made very consistently
with other governments.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY WELCH: I was searching for some specific
information on how we have used American financial assistance
with respect to the opposition. And, I'm sorry, I didn't bring
that information down with me, but we can make it available to
you because we do have -- we have spent some money in support of
their cause.

But if I can just say something, which I think is actually more
important than did we spend $1 million here on something or not.
And that is the following: there may be some internationally who
speak with ease and comfort about the possibility of living with
the Saddam Hussein regime, even of rehabilitating Saddam. The
United States is not and will not be part of that. The President
of the United States is on record standing up and calling for a
change of regime. There is no more powerful statement of our
intentions with respect to what should happen in Iraq.

Recently, members of the Iraqi opposition were here in Washington
for conversations with the administration. They met with the Vice
President; they met with Acting Secretary Pickering, and with a
number of the rest of us. This is something we do regularly. We
saw them last year at the United Nations General Assembly as
well. And we'll continue that dialogue because we think it's
important, as I said earlier, to give visibility to these folks
because otherwise, they're going to assume there is no Iraqi
opposition when, in truth, as I said, almost Iraqi citizen is a
member of the opposition.

QUESTION: Since the liberation in 1991 and to date, the top
concern for the Kuwaiti government and people is the 600 people
still detained by Saddam Hussein, and the main focus of the West
and the international community has been arms and humanitarian
help for the Iraqi people, and in shedding the light on these
issues, and shedding less light on the issue of detainees.

And being a Kuwaiti, I know for sure that most Kuwaitis now, they
have the impression that the international community is no longer
-- or is less interested in this issue at the expense of other
issues. And today, a lot of people are saying the West, and
particularly the US, is -- what is the US doing about this? I
mean, ten years after Kuwait's liberation, that's fine, but those
innocent people, including Kuwaitis and other Kuwaitis, are still
being detained by Saddam Hussein. And today, Saddam Hussein is
bragging about this. He's denying that he's holding those people,
yet we know that he's holding those people. We have records, we
have documents, and -

MR. REEKER: Do you have a question?

QUESTION: Yes. What is the US doing -- what is the US telling the
Kuwaiti people?

AMBASSADOR SCHEFFER: Well, you know, obviously if we had these
people in our control, we would release them. We're not the ones
who took them away. So let's be very clear about that.

You know, the United States helped to draft Resolution 1284
which, for the first time, elevates the issue of the Kuwaiti
missing POWs -- and property too, but the missing people are the
main humanitarian concern -- elevates that to exactly the same
level as the humanitarian concern, and as the arms control
concern. That resolution has three parts. Now, granted, the other
two parts are physically longer than the other, but the intention
is equally clear. And, you know, I don't know of a dissenting
voice in the Security Council on this issue. Even those who are
most apologetic about the Iraqi regime are confounded by their
resistance on this point.

A Russian diplomat of some stature, Mr. Vorontsov, was appointed
to lead this effort by the Secretary General. Now, how can the
Iraqi regime object to talking to him? And I agree with you
completely; these are well-documented cases. And the Iraqi side
raises continual series of falsehoods about that situation.

For example, they say that there are many Iraqis are missing and
unaccounted-for, too. I bet most of those people voted with their
feet and have no intention of going back to Iraq. I don't think
the same is the situation with respect to the 600-or-so missing
Kuwaiti POWs. That's a humanitarian tragedy of great dimensions.
If that happened in a population of our size, that's a quarter of
a million people.

Now, I understand what you say, but I think it's a little unfair
to single us out as not paying adequate attention to it. We've
paid as much attention to it as you have.

QUESTION: Back to indictment. The delay in indicting any of the
Iraqi leaders is leading many people in the region to doubt the
sincerity of the efforts to pursue the Iraqi leadership for war
crimes. You talk about documentation, you talk about collecting
evidence, translating this stuff. I mean, you know from the Anfal
campaign of the late 1980s that the Iraqis have been extremely
meticulous in documenting every action they took against their
own people.

One could argue, and human rights organizations have argued
before, that we have enough evidence to indict some of these
leaders before the occupation of Kuwait. The Anfal, the attacks
on the Iranians, before what happened in Kuwait and after. Ten
years. It's been ten years. What can you tell the average Arab,
let's say, or Iraqi, who doubts these efforts, in layman's terms,
and not in any legalese, what is preventing the issuing of these

AMBASSADOR SCHEFFER: There's nothing per se preventing it. It's a
questions of the political will of the Security Council to
address the issue and create a court of this character. And,
frankly, the responsibility of Arab governments and of others to
put their case on the table and say, we need this, we need this,
would be very helpful and persuasive.

But in addition to that, or as an alternative to that, looking at
various national courts around the world that might be able to
exercise such jurisdiction, is not only a complex exercise, but
it's also again one of whether or not there is political will
with respect to the individual national government to take this

Now, we're very prepared to assist anyone out there to pursue
this issue. We have now, or we're now providing financial
assistance to six nongovernmental organizations, including INDICT
in London, to not only bring this information together, but also
to be available and to themselves inquire with governments as to
whether or not the political will exists, and also just the
capability within various national courts to take this on.

We have a particular problem in the United States, which is
unfortunate, but in this particular situation, we have a statute
of limitations that has already run. So it makes trying to build
this within the United States courts a very, very, very difficult
proposition at this time.

But that is not the case in many other jurisdictions. But the
easiest way to do this, and the most effective way and the most
compelling way, would be an international tribunal very focused
on the leadership of the Iraqi regime that could proceed very

QUESTION: Don't you have enough evidence now to present to the
European states, for instance, to prevent the senior Iraqi
officials from visiting Europe? I mean, a situation similar to
what happened to Pinochet in England.

AMBASSADOR SCHEFFER: There's a tremendous amount of evidence. The
question is: How do you synthesize it so that it's truly
available and useable by a prosecutor in any particular
jurisdiction? You can't just take millions of pages of documents
in boxes and dump them, because no prosecutor has the ability or
the staffing or anything anywhere in the world to actually take
that on and run with it. You have to have a more systematic
approach, and that's what we're trying to accomplish with this.

QUESTION: I have two questions, in fact. In recent weeks, there
were reports saying that Saddam Hussein is getting prepared to
attack northern Iraq, taking Sulaimaniya as the center of the
area, which is under the authority of the UK. Do you have any
concerns such that, or again in 1996 during the American
presidential elections, he attempted to do so, and this year
again it's American presidential elections? Do you have any
concerns that Saddam Hussein could try to use violence again?

And the second question is, again in recent weeks there were
reports claiming that he is heavily sick, cancer, and he has six
more months to go. Although God knows who will go when, do you
have anything to say on his health condition?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY WELCH: Well, I'll look more closely at the
medicine lists on the Oil-for-Food now. With respect to what he
may or may not be planning against his own people, I think it's
unfortunately the case that probably even as we speak the regime
is in some way doing something against its own people. In the
north, that's more observable because there's an international
presence there and the two Kurdish parties who control most of
that area have good contacts with the international community and
can let them know of their fears or of any information they have
about what might be happening.

We watched that very, very closely. We've gone on the record
before saying that if the Iraqi regime were to attempt to do
something like that and come uninvited into the north, that we
would take an appropriate response. It may not be exactly as they
expect; it may not be in the same place as they think, but we
have the will and the means to do so.

In the South, and in Baghdad where there are actions by the
regime against its opponents, it's a little harder to monitor how
that is developing. But I know that these things are going on
because we also hear from members of the Shi'a opposition about
the situation, and particularly in the areas around Basra and
Nasiriya and events that are happening there. You know, this is a
risk that is omnipresent, and I don't think is necessarily tied
to our political calendar. And if Saddam does anything like that
on a large scale again, he runs a huge risk internationally of
being held up for the kind of scrutiny that he's tried to avoid
by all this secrecy and repression at home.

QUESTION: Yes, Mr. Scheffer, I'd like to get back to the
prospective international criminal court for a minute. I know
you've been working on some reservations that the United States
has as to how the court would affect its own people, Americans.
And my question is, if this were worked out to Washington's
satisfaction, what would those safeguards look like?

AMBASSADOR SCHEFFER: Our fundamental concern has been articulated
to other governments and narrowed to one point, which is the
exposure of American service members and government officials to
surrender to this court during that period of time that we are a
non-party to the treaty. That's the only issue on the table now.
We don't believe it's justifiable to subject our service members
to the jurisdiction of this court while we are a non-party to the
treaty. And it is only realistic to assume that for a number of
years, at least, we will be a non-party. We have to act
responsibly to address that reality, that we will be a non-party
for a number of years to this court.

So all we're trying to do at this point in these negotiations is
to ensure that if there is an attempt to request the surrender of
an American service member or government official to the
international criminal court, while we are a non-party to the
court, that we have the right to either consent or object and
thus prevent that actual surrender to the court. If that can be
resolved, and I think there's reason to resolve it because I
think that will strike the right balance at this moment in time,
at this time in history, between our obligations for
international peace and security and involvement in humanitarian
missions, and the pursuit of international justice, then we'll be
in a position to be able to cooperate with the court even as a

And there's great advantage to be gained from that for this
court. The supporters of this court should be looking for ways to
strengthen the capability of this court to effectively operate,
and one way is to ensure the cooperation of the United States
with this court. That cooperation can be obtained if we can
resolve this one issue regarding our exposure as a non-party.

QUESTION: I understand, but -

MR. REEKER: Can we do Iraq questions? Because we're really
running out of time, and we'd be happy to focus on some of those
issues, but this was a briefing on Iraq. Can we just go with the
last two questions, please, Elise and Roy.

QUESTION: You spoke about, both of you, a variety of ways to
bring down the Saddam Hussein regime. But do you see him as
weakened, or do you see him as just as strong, if not stronger,
over the last ten years? I mean, when we look at someone like
Milosevic, there's a lot of talk from the United States about how
he's in a weakened state and his demise is coming. But is working
with this opposition, even while admitting that they're facing
heavy force, or working with other countries who may not be able
to affect his demise, do you really see it as realistic that
he'll be overthrown before maybe he even dies?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY WELCH: Well, you asked two different kinds of
questions. One is the nature of the threat from Iraq, and the
other is what about the fact that the guy's still there after ten
years. With respect to the latter, I don't think his continued
presence is necessarily a sign of his continued strength. Let's
recall what Iraq was like on August 1, 1990. It had the fourth
largest army in the world; it had just fought a significant war
against Iran; it was a major regional threat. It had, though we
didn't know it, extensive weapons of mass destruction

Ten years later, its threat in that regard has been significantly
reduced. I'm not here to tell you it's absent; it remains a grave
potential threat in any number of respects. But a lot has been
done to erode its capability. And the containment regime has
worked. It would be very hard for Saddam to repeat some of the
things that he did August 2, 1990.

Yet he's still there, and I think one of the lessons is -- and
the Iraqi people would tell you this, if they were able to say it
-- is that they feel in some respects that he's more on their
necks than ever before. And, in a sense, his greatest threat is
to his own people right now. And that's something that we have to
deal with and we're committed to dealing with. In fact, we're
leading internationally in that effort. And to say that, well, it
doesn't succeed every day means you should stop it would be the
wrong lesson. That's kind of like saying, well, you know, he's
not gone, so lift sanctions. That would be exactly the wrong
response, in my view. That would only reassert him as a major
threat to the region.

QUESTION: Yes. My colleague here was asking about demonstrations
of the seriousness of the United States in bringing about these
indictments. And I have two very specific questions which might
illuminate his question better.

One is, in the case of an American indictment, David, you said
that the statute of limitations has run out. But is there a
statute -- does that apply to war crimes, crimes against
humanity, and specifically genocide? I mean, many leading
scholars at least regard the Anfal campaign as an example of
genocide. And so I don't see quite how the statute applies there.

And the second question was -- why don't we go with the first

AMBASSADOR SCHEFFER: Well, on that question, without -- maybe we
can do this somewhat afterwards, Roy, because it does get into
detailed explanations. But in each of those categories of crimes
that you've described -- genocide, war crimes, and crimes against
humanity -- US domestic law has its own basis for prosecuting
those crimes. And if you look at each of those categories of
crimes and stack them up against who were the victims in the Gulf
War, where are the individuals who perpetrated the crimes, of
what nationality are those individuals, et cetera, you'll find as
you go through each category that it's not a simple process under
US law whatsoever.

Even under the Genocide Convention, we're limited as to whom we
can prosecute under the Genocide Convention in United States
courts. We can't prosecute anyone in the world who committed
genocide in US courts. There are limitations as to whom we can
precisely prosecute for genocide in US courts.

So, as you go through each category, there are problems that are
confronted. I'm not saying that it's absolutely impossible, but I
am saying that I think a much stronger base for prosecution can
probably be found closer to the region, and also among countries
whose own nationals form much more of the base of victims of
Saddam Hussein's crimes than does the United States.

QUESTION:  The second brief question is, when did you actually
decide to have this declassification operation begun? Or when was
the -- when did you kick that off?

AMBASSADOR SCHEFFER: Let's be precise. The declassification of --

QUESTION:  -- of the documents relating to war crimes that are
now being posted and that you're planning to release more of them
in the next six months.

AMBASSADOR SCHEFFER: Well, it's just been a process that's been
going on for at least a year or more. I'd have to get back to
you. I don't know the exact time frame.

Tom, do you have a quick answer to that?

TOM WARRICK: (Inaudible) -- about right.

AMBASSADOR SCHEFFER: About a year or so. Yes.

MR. REEKER: Thank you to both our briefers, and thank you all for

(The briefing was concluded at 11:15 A.M.)

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