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Bush: US to Analyze Thoroughly Iraq's Weapons Documents - 2002-12-07

The White House says it will analyze the thousands of pages of documents on Iraq's weapons program handed over to the United Nations Saturday. A White House spokesman reminded Iraq of its obligations to document its weapons programs. President Bush says the burden of proof remains on Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to fully disarm.

In his weekly radio address to the nation Saturday, the president made clear it's not up to the United Nations to uncover Iraq's suspected nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, but that the burden is on Baghdad to fully disclose what weapons it has.

"It is not enough for Iraq to merely open doors for inspectors," he said. "Compliance means bringing all requested information and evidence out into full view, to show that Iraq has abandoned the deceptions of the last decade."

The administration says it has a solid basis for denying Iraq's claim that it no longer has such weapons.

A statement released by White House spokesman Ari Fleischer late Saturday, after Iraq had handed over its weapons documents, reminded Baghdad of its obligations to provide an accurate, full and complete declaration of its weapons program.

In his radio address, the president made clear anything short of full compliance will push Iraq further down the road toward war. He said, "As the new inspections process proceeds, the United States will be making only one judgment: has Saddam Hussein changed his behavior of the last 11 years and decided to cooperate willingly and comply completely, or has he not?"

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.

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