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Burden of Proof is on Saddam Hussein, Says Bush - 2002-12-07

Just hours before Iraq handed over thousands of pages of documents about its weapons program to U.N. officials, President Bush said it will take some time to determine whether Baghdad has made full disclosure in compliance with U.N. demands. In his weekly radio address Saturday, Mr. Bush said the burden of proof is on Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

As U.N. officials prepare to analyze thousands of pages of Iraqi documents, President Bush made clear the burden is not on the United Nations to uncover suspected nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, but on Iraq to fully disclose what weapons it has. "It is not enough for Iraq to merely open doors for inspectors," said President Bush. "Compliance means bringing all requested information and evidence out into full view, to show that Iraq has abandoned the deceptions of the last decade."

Administration officials remain unconvinced Baghdad no longer has such weapons. And, the president cast fresh doubt on whether the handover of weapons documents will mark a change in Saddam Hussein's behavior. "Thus far we are not seeing the fundamental shift in practice and attitude that the world is demanding," he said.

It could take weeks for chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix and his team to read through the documents, and for members of the Security Council to analyze them as well.

Meanwhile, weapons inspections in Iraq resumed Saturday after a two day break to mark the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Now into their second week, weapons experts have not disclosed what, if anything they have found, but will have to make a final report to the United Nations by January 26.

In the meantime, the Bush administration is warning that if President Saddam Hussein does not disclose everything he has in the U.N. filing, the United States is prepared to lead a military coalition to disarm him.