[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book II)]
[October 31, 1998]
[Pages 1938-1939]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Statement on Signing the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998
October 31, 1998

    Today I am signing into law H.R. 4655, the ``Iraq Liberation Act of 
1998.'' This Act makes clear that it is the sense of the Congress that 
the United States should support those elements of the Iraqi opposition 
that advocate a very different future for Iraq than the bitter reality 
of internal repression and external aggression that the current regime 
in Baghdad now offers.
    Let me be clear on what the U.S. objectives are:
    The United States wants Iraq to rejoin the family of nations as a 
freedom-loving and law-abiding member. This is in our interest and that 
of our allies within the region.
    The United States favors an Iraq that offers its people freedom at 
home. I categorically reject arguments that this is unattainable due to 
Iraq's history or its ethnic or sectarian make-up. Iraqis deserve and 
desire freedom like everyone else.
    The United States looks forward to a democratically supported regime 
that would permit us to enter into a dialogue leading to the 
reintegration of Iraq into normal international life.
    My Administration has pursued, and will continue to pursue, these 
objectives through active application of all relevant United Nations 
Security Council resolutions. The evidence is overwhelming that such 
changes will not happen under the current Iraq leadership.
    In the meantime, while the United States continues to look to the 
Security Council's efforts to keep the current regime's behavior in 
check, we look forward to new leadership in Iraq that has the support of 
the Iraqi people. The United States is providing support to opposition 
groups from all sectors of the Iraqi community that could lead to a 
popularly supported government.
    On October 21, 1998, I signed into law the Omnibus Consolidated and 
Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act, 1999, which made $8 million 
available for assistance to the Iraqi democratic opposition. This 
assistance is intended to help the democratic opposition unify, work 
together more effectively, and articulate the aspirations of the Iraqi 
people for a pluralistic, participatory political system that will 
include all of Iraq's diverse ethnic and religious

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groups. As required by the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for 
FY 1998 (Public Law 105-174), the Department of State submitted a report 
to the Congress on plans to establish a program to support the 
democratic opposition. My Administration, as required by that statute, 
has also begun to implement a program to compile information regarding 
allegations of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes by 
Iraq's current leaders as a step towards bringing to justice those 
directly responsible for such acts.
    The Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 provides additional, discretionary 
authorities under which my Administration can act to further the 
objectives I outlined above. There are, of course, other important 
elements of U.S. policy. These include the maintenance of U.N. Security 
Council support efforts to eliminate Iraq's prohibited weapons and 
missile programs and economic sanctions that continue to deny the regime 
the means to reconstitute those threats to international peace and 
security. United States support for the Iraqi opposition will be carried 
out consistent with those policy objectives as well. Similarly, U.S. 
support must be attuned to what the opposition can effectively make use 
of as it develops over time. With those observations, I sign H.R. 4655 
into law.

                                                      William J. Clinton

The White House,

October 31, 1998.

Note: H.R. 4655, approved October 31, was assigned Public Law No. 105-
338. H.R. 4328, the Omnibus Consolidated and Emergency Supplemental 
Appropriations Act, 1999, was assigned Public Law No. 105-277.