Iraq and Domestic Agenda with Congressional Leaders
The Oval Office
The White House
September 18, 2002
8:03 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Listen, I want to thank the Vice President and the leadership
of the Congress for coming down for breakfast today. We had a really good discussion
about our common concerns. The leadership is committed to moving important legislation
forward, legislation that will help expand our job base. We talked about the
energy bill; we talked about terrorism insurance; we talked about the defense
appropriations; we talked about the appropriations process.
We also talked about Iraq. We talked about the fact that Saddam Hussein has
stiffed the United Nations for 11 long years, and that, once again, he said
-- made some kind of statement, trying to take the pressure off of himself.
This statement about unconditional inspections was something he's made in the
past. He deceives, he delays, he denies. And the United States, and I'm convinced,
the world community, aren't going to fall for that kind of rhetoric on -- by
We talked about a resolution out of Congress and how it was important for us
to work with Congress to pass a strong resolution. I told the members that within
the next couple of days this administration will develop language as -- that
we think is necessary. And we look forward to working with both Republicans
and Democrats to get a resolution passed.
I want to thank the leadership for its commitment to get a resolution done before
members go home for the election break. I think it's an important signal. It's
an important signal for the country, but as importantly, it's an important signal
for the world to see that this country is united in our resolve to deal with
threats that we face.
And so, thank you all for coming. I'll take a couple of questions. Fournier,
QUESTION: Like it or not, is it accurate to say that Saddam playing his move
has made the allies go --
THE PRESIDENT: Do what now?
QUESTION: Has Saddam's latest move helped make the allies go wobbly on it?
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, all they've got to do is look at the record. It's his latest
ploy, his latest attempt not to be held accountable for defying the United Nations.
He's not going to fool anybody. I mean, he is -- we've seen him before. And
we'll remind the world that by defying the United Nations he is becoming more
and more threat to world peace. And I'm convinced that the world understands
the ploy. And one of the jobs the United States has is to remind people about
not only the threat, but the fact that his defiance has weakened the United
Nations. And the United Nations, in order for the world to be a more peaceful
place, must rise up and deal with this threat and hold him to account. And that's
what we expect out of the Security Council.
QUESTION: Mr. President, a follow on Ron's question. Do you think that you'll
be able to persuade France and Russia to go along with us on whatever it is
you and the Congress decide to do? And frankly, sir, is that necessary? Are
you prepared to go it alone?
THE PRESIDENT: Listen, we're speculating about what nations are going to do.
I'm convinced that when we continue to make the case about his defiance, his
deception, his -- the fact that time and time again, dozens of times, he has
told the world, oh, I will comply, and he never does -- that the nations which
long for peace and care about the validity of the United Nations will join us.
And so we're going to work hard to continue to make the case. I think reasonable
people understand this man is unreasonable. And reasonable people understand
that this is just a ploy, this is a tactic, this is a way to try to say to the
world, oh, I'm a wonderful, peaceful fellow, when, in fact, he not only kills
his own people, he's terrorized his neighborhood and he's developing weapons
of mass destruction. We must deal with him.