Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says Iraq faces a choice of either confessing to having weapons of mass destruction, or continuing to deceive the international community.
Mr. Rumsfeld has indicated his preferred option for a resolution of the latest confrontation between the international community and Iraq's leaders. It is for Saddam Hussein to abandon his grip on power and go into exile, peacefully.
"They could decide that the game is up, and Saddam Hussein and his family could leave the country, which would be a nice outcome," he said.
But, speaking at the Pentagon, Mr. Rumsfeld also suggested [Thursday] the door is still open for the Iraqi leader to remain in power, if he decides to cooperate with the United Nations weapons inspectors now looking for chemical, biological and nuclear weapons inside Iraq.
"He could decide the game is up, and open up the country, and say, here are our weapons of mass destruction, here is where they are located, here are the people who made them, here are the people who were working on them, and we've decided we would rather stay in power and become responsible members of the world community," he said.
Mr. Rumsfeld said Iraq could also continue what he said was its past pattern of deception and denial, in an effort to prevent the weapons inspectors from carrying out their work.
If that is the case, the defense secretary said, the next choice will be one that the United Nations has to make, not the United States alone.
"Then they have to face the reality that for the United Nations to be a relevant institution, they simply cannot allow one more resolution to be ignored by the Iraqi regime," he said.
Mr. Rumsfeld's comment came in an exchange with reporters at the Pentagon, following talks with South Korea's visiting defense minister.