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Rumsfeld:  Burden of Proof Falls on Iraq - 2002-12-03

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says the burden of proof is on Iraq and not on United Nations weapons inspectors, to show Iraq has eliminated its weapons of mass destruction.

With Iraq facing a Sunday deadline to disclose its weapons of mass destruction programs, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says U.N. inspectors do not have the ability or even the duty to uncover any weapons he says may be hidden.

Instead, Mr. Rumsfeld says the burden of proof falls on Baghdad itself.

"The burden of proof is on the Iraqi regime to prove that it is disarming as required under successive U.N resolutions," he said.

Mr. Rumsfeld also emphasizes that disarmament is not the only step required of Iraq. He tells reporters at the Pentagon Baghdad must also halt the repression of its own people, including members of the Kurdish and Shiite populations.

"Torture is systematic in Iraq and the most senior officials in the regime are involved," he said. "Electric shock, eye-gouging, acid baths, lengthy confinement in small metal boxes are only some of the crimes committed by this regime."

Mr. Rumsfeld calls it disturbing that such behavior is not of concern to some nations. He does not mention any countries by name.

But he calls Iraq a danger and says it must disarm voluntarily or be disarmed.

And he says the members of the United Nations will face a choice if Iraq's declaration on its weapons of mass destruction is false. He asks, will U.N members allow Iraq, as in the past, to ignore resolutions or will they hold Baghdad to its ob.ligations?

Mr. Rumsfeld declined to say what the United States will do if Iraq submits a false declaration about its chemical, biological and nuclear arms programs. But he again says the United States knows that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction.