Statement by H.E. Gints Jegermanis
Permanent Representative of the Republic of Latvia to the United Nations
at the Security Council February 19, 2003
Latvia has aligned itself with the European Council Conclusions of 17 February, however, we still feel it is necessary to express our views on this critical issue.
Latvia would like to thank Dr. Blix and Dr. El Baradei for their reports and to express our appreciation to their inspection teams for the work they are doing in Iraq.
Latvia has repeatedly stressed that Iraq must fully comply with its international obligations and immediately rid itself of its weapons of mass destruction, which present a clear threat to world peace and security.
Over the past twelve years the UN Security Council has repeatedly demanded Iraq-s disarmament through seventeen Security Council resolutions on Iraq, which have failed to discourage Iraq from developing its weapons of mass destruction. UN SC resolution 1441 has offered Iraq the last chance to fulfill its previous commitments and disarm. Iraq still remains in material breach of its commitments under Resolution 1441.
It is the responsibility of Iraq to prove that this disarmament is taking place. The inspectors- task is not to play "hide and seek" with Iraqi authorities, the inspectors are there to register the disarmament. Latvia urges Iraq to take advantage of this last opportunity presented by the UN SC resolution 1441. The responsibility of maintaining peace rests squarely on Iraq-s shoulders.
As the European Council Conclusions affirm, the united stance of the international community, backed by military force has slowly moved Iraq in the direction of more co-operation. Both of these elements will continue to be essential tools to resolve the crisis.
Latvia regards the use of force as the last resort. Nevertheless, it is for the Iraqi regime to end this crisis by complying with the demands of the Security Council. This requires an immediate change of attitude on the part of Iraqi authorities. If this is not the case, only Iraq will be responsible for the serious consequences that may follow.
Latvia will stand together with our allies in the international community as it deals effectively with the threat posed by Iraq to world peace and security.
The credibility of the UN and the Security Council, in particular, is at stake here, and Latvia calls upon the U.N. Security Council to take the necessary and appropriate action in response to Iraq-s continuing threat to international peace and security. Let us not forget that only Saddam Hussein benefits from discord within the Security Council.
I thank you, Mr. President.