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Iraq on the Brink?

Susan E. Rice

Allison Keyes, host: From NPR in Los Angeles, I’m Allison Keyes, in for Tavis Smiley.

(Soundbite of news conference) Secretary Colin Powell (US State Department): The United States, the United Nations and the world waited for this declaration from Iraq, but Iraq’s response is a catalog of recycled information and flagrant omissions. It should be obvious that the pattern of systematic holes and gaps in Iraq’s declaration is not the result of accidents or editing oversights or technical mistakes. These are material omissions that in our view constitute another material breach.

Keyes: That was Secretary of State Colin Powell yesterday speaking about what the administration says is an incomplete account of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. The White House has said all along that it doubted that Saddam Hussein’s government would be forthcoming about its military capabilities. But its declaration before the United Nations yesterday that Iraq remained in material breach of UN resolutions may bring America one step closer to a military strike.

With us now to discuss it is Loren Thompson. He’s a defense analyst at the Lexington Institute, a public policy think tank in Virginia. Also with us is Susan Rice, a former adviser to President Clinton, now a senior fellow of foreign policy at The Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank.

Keyes: Hi. Susan, we’ll start with you. Were you surprised by the administration’s statement?

Ms. Rice: No. I think that they had signaled for quite a while that there was good reason to be highly skeptical of the Iraqi declaration, and the UN had made that clear as well. I think the interesting thing was the use of the term ‘material breach,’ but the clear statement that they were, in fact, really laying a predicate for a longer-term case against Saddam Hussein and not at this point pulling the trigger for immediate resort to war….

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