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Bush 22 Feb 01 Press Conf.: All Iraq Excerpts (Topics: "Sanctions that Work"/Air Strikes/Sending a Message to China)

Note ******* divides respective Iraq-related question and answer segments.

To listen to President G.W. Bush’s 22 February Press Conference, click:


Office of the Press Secretary 
For Immediate Release  February 22, 2001  
The James S. Brady Press Briefing Room 
2:40 P.M. EST 

Q    Sir, the Secretary of State is departing for the Middle East tomorrow.  One of the things that 
he will be discussing with Middle East leaders is the possibility of modifying sanctions on Iraq, 
and I'm wondering what message he will take from this administration to leaders in the Middle East 
in the area of sanctions that matter, sanctions that are effective on the regime, but do not carry 
with them the same level of criticism that current sanctions have had in that they affect the Iraqi 
civilian population more than they do the regime, sir. 

          THE PRESIDENT:  We're reviewing all policy in all regions of the world, and one of the 
areas we've been spending a lot of time on is the Persian Gulf and the Middle East.  The Secretary 
of State is going to go listen to our allies as to how best to effect a policy, the primary goal of 
which will be to say to Saddam Hussein, we won't tolerate you developing weapons of mass 
destruction and we expect you to leave your neighbors alone. 

          I have said that the sanction regime is like Swiss cheese.  That meant that they weren't 
very effective.  And we're going to review current sanction policy, and review options as to how to 
make the sanctions work. But the primary goal is to make it clear to Saddam that we expect him to 
be a peaceful neighbor in the region and we expect him not to develop weapons of mass destruction.  
And if we find him doing so, there will be a consequence. 

          We took action last week, and it may be on your mind as to that decision I made.  The 
mission was twofold -- one was to send him a clear message that this administration will remain 
engaged in that part of the world.  I think we accomplished that mission.  We got his attention. 

          And secondly, the mission was to degrade his capacity to harm our pilots who might be 
flying in the no-fly zone.  And we accomplished that mission, as well. 

          Q    Sir, if I could follow up -- 

          THE PRESIDENT:  Yes, John, go ahead. 

          Q    How would you characterize sanctions that work, sir? 

          THE PRESIDENT:  Sanctions that work are sanctions that when a -- the collective will of 
the region supports the policy; that we have a coalition of countries that agree with the policy 
set out by the United States.  To me, that's the most effective form of sanctions. 

          Many nations in that part of the world aren't adhering to the sanction policy that had 
been in place, and as a result, a lot of goods are heading into Iraq that were not supposed to.  
And so, good sanction policy is one where the United States is able to build a coalition around the 


          Q    Sir, on the air strikes in Iraq, the Pentagon is now saying that most of the bombs 
used in those strikes missed their targets.  Given that, what is now your assessment of how 
successful those strikes were? How much danger do the remaining installations that we missed in 
those strikes pose to our forces?  And would you hit them again if commanders in the field asked 
for authorization to do so? 

          THE PRESIDENT:  I -- we had two missions.  One was to send a clear signal to Saddam, and 
the other was to degrade the capacity of Saddam to injure our pilots.  I believe we succeeded in 
both those missions. 

          The bomb assessment damage report is ongoing, and I look forward to hear what the 
Pentagon has to say as they fully assess, completely assess the mission.  And I will continue to 
listen to the commanders in the field.  My job as Commander in Chief is to get input from the 
commanders in the field, and we will do everything needed to protect our pilots, to protect the men 
and women who wear the uniform. 


Q    Mr. President, on Iraq, what is your understanding of the Chinese presence in Iraq, especially 
with regard to constructing military facilities?  And do you see anything that you see as a 
violation of U.N. sanctions? 

          THE PRESIDENT:  We're concerned about the Chinese presence in Iraq, and we are -- my 
administration is sending the appropriate response to the Chinese.  Yes, it's troubling that they'd 
be involved in helping Iraq develop a system that will endanger our pilots. 

          Q    That is what they're doing, sir, you're convinced that is -- 

          THE PRESIDENT:  We think that may be the case.  Let me just tell you this -- it's risen 
to the level where we're going to send a message to the Chinese.


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