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29 October 2014
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US Arms Control Under-Secretary says US "confident" Iraq has hidden weapons of mass destruction

John Bolton, United States Under-Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, today said the US is "confident" Iraq has hidden weapons of mass destruction, including chemical weapons, and production facilities.

Speaking as part of a special BBC World Service debate on the Iraq conflict he said: "There's a strong chance that UN weapons inspections will work.

"The US has already decided the outcome of this story - Saddam will be left with no weapons of mass destruction - but how that point is reached is up to Saddam Hussein.

"The US has supplied all the political support the UN teams need and they will also supply them with US gathered information on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction."

Bolton said: "We are confident that Saddam Hussein has hidden weapons of mass destruction and production facilities in Iraq.

"We will wait and see what the December 8th declaration says but there is no doubt that Saddam is a threat to the region and needs to be disarmed.

"Iraq is already in breach of resolution 1441 by its attacks on coalition air forces. This is not an effort to add up how many times they breach resolution 1441, the real question is whether there is a sustained effort at co-operation."

He added: "There is no doubt in our mind that Saddam Hussein has an active chemical and biological warfare effort.

"The evidence is there - the question is whether the inspectors are allowed to find it."

On the point of whether the aim of the US was regime change in Iraq, John Bolton said: "If Saddam Hussein fully disarms his country of these weapons of mass destruction that is a kind of regime change.

"But the end of the story is clear here. And if Saddam Hussein does not co-operate we have made it clear this is the last chance for him.

"We are not going to go through 10 more years of obstructionism in an effort to keep these weapons of mass destruction. But let there be no doubt that this is the central issue - a disarmed Iraq."

He added: "I think the Iraqi people would be unique in history if they didn't welcome the overthrow of this dictatorial regime.

"And Iraqi opposition leaders of a variety of positions and views are discussing now what will happen after Saddam Hussein.

"I expect that the American role actually will be fairly minimal. I think we'll have an important security role.

"I think concluding the destruction of the weapons of mass destruction themselves will be important.

"But I think fundamentally the recreation of a hopefully democratic Iraqi government - that must rest with the Iraqis.

"I think they are fully competent to do it, I think it's a difficult task given the complete absence of free political institutions in Iraq but it's fundamentally up to them."

The BBC World Service hosted a special debate on issues relating to the Iraq crisis at 11.00am today (Wednesday 19 November), repeated at 7.00pm.

Notes to Editors

Leading Iraq MP tells BBC Iraq will co-operate with weapons inspections but warns of CIA involvement

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