Remarks by Britain's Foreign Minister to Security Council, March 7, 2003

02.12.2014. 19:09

Following is the transcript of the statement by Jack Straw, the foreign minister of Great Britian, to the Security Council today as recorded by the Federal News Service.

Mr. President, I'd like to begin by congratulating you on your assumption of the presidency, by wishing you well at a very important moment, and also to echo and underline the thanks which you so generously gave to Vice Chancellor Joschka Fischer and Ambassador Gunter Pleuger for the excellent way in which they chaired the Security Council during the month of February.

I would also like to thank Dr. ElBaradei and Dr. Blix for their reports, and to place on record my government's appreciation for their work and the work in very difficult circumstances of all the staff of the IAEA and of UNMOVIC.

Mr. President, I've listened with very great care to what my colleagues speaking before me have said. We are all agreed that Iraq must be fully disarmed of weapons of mass destruction, and that Iraq's failure to cooperate immediately, unconditionally, and actively with the inspectors has to be dealt with.

As we negotiated 1441, the evidence was there for all of us to see that Iraq had been and remained in material breach. And we, all 15 members, voted to give the Iraqi regime a final opportunity to comply with its obligations. And the first question, therefore, before this council is: Has Iraq taken this final opportunity to disarm?

And I've been very struck, listened with care to all the speeches, and of course people have different points of view, but nobody, not one minister before this council, in my hearing, has said that Iraq is now fully, actively and immediately in compliance with 1441. They have not so far taken this final opportunity.

If anybody in this chamber, or outside, has any doubt about that conclusion, then I do commend to members this so-called (trustees?) report, the Outstanding Issues Concerning Iraq's Proscribed Weapons Program, which as a member of the commission behind UNMOVIC, I've already had the privilege of reading, and I have read, Dr. Blix knows, all 167 pages of that report in every particular. It's a very painstaking piece of work. I thank Dr. Blix for publishing it. But it's also a chilling read about the failure of Iraq to comply with successive resolutions of this council over each day of the past 12 years.

And there's not been active cooperation in the areas which matter. UNMOVIC, because of that, have not been able to resolve any substantive issues outstanding from 1998. As we all know, a point to which I shall return shortly, Iraq refused to admit inspectors for three years after Resolution 1284 was passed, only agreeing to them under the threat of enforcement action and in an attempt to frustrate 1441. And Iraq has dragged its feet on as many elements of procedural and substantive cooperation as possible.

Could I, Mr. President, just draw attention to just one aspect, which is often overlooked? Dr. Blix referred to the fact that Iraq has recently informed us that following the adoption of a presidential decree prohibiting private individuals and mixed companies from engaging in work related to weapons of mass destruction, further legislation on this subject is to be enacted. No one should be taken in by this as a concession. Iraq was ordered -- I have the instruction here from this council -- on the 2nd of October 1991 to enact legislation which, in conformity with international law, shall do precisely what they are now saying they intend to do. And what is more, what they have so far done does not cover the operations of the state, only private individuals and mixed companies. So 12 years on, 12 years after the world saw that Iraq had developed, under the world's noses, weapons of mass destruction and delivery systems, nuclear systems, biological systems, chemical systems, Iraq is still refusing to pass a law saying that such activity by members of state government authorities is illegal. This is not something for which they needed to search. It's not something for which they needed the assistance of inspectors or ground-penetrating radar. It's something they could and should have done back in October 1991, and notwithstanding all the pressure, they are still refusing to do.

And then we come on to the issue of interviews. As Dr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei have reported, Iraq has done everything possible to prevent unrestricted, unrecorded interviews. There have now been 12 private interviews between UNSCOM (sic) and the IAEA, against -- UNMOVIC and the IAEA, against an UNSCOM list of 3,500 people previously associated with weapons of mass destruction programs.

And we know for a fact that all of these 12 and all prospective interviewees have been threatened and intimidated by the Iraqi regime beforehand and told that their exchanges were being recorded. If they weren't being recorded by bugs and tape recorders the interviewees were told to take into the meetings, they were told that they were going to be recorded in any event by bugs placed in the walls of the recording halls.

And I understand that scientists most likely to have the most incriminating evidence have been locked away by the Iraqi security services. There have been interviews in the safe havens outside Iraq; not one. And the restrictions placed on the interviewees is itself the most incriminating evidence that Saddam has something to hide.

The Al-Samoud 2 episode further confirms Iraq's familiar tactics. Iraq under-declared the number of missile engines it illegally imported. It declared 131 engines but imported 380. Iraq also falsely declared that the missile had a maximum range of 150 kilometers, when it was designed to fly -- it is not an accident -- it was designed to fly considerably in excess of that.

And we know that Iraq's agreement to the destruction process, necessary as it is, is a calculation that it can satisfy the council with a partial response in one, only, of the 29 categories of unresolved disarmament questions.

I have to say, Mr. President, and with all respect to good colleagues, that it defies experience that to continue inspections with no firm end date, as I believe has been suggested in the French, German and Russian memorandum, will achieve complete disarmament, unless -- unless -- as the memorandum acknowledges, Iraq's full and active cooperation is immediately forthcoming.

And the memorandum is not even a formula for containment, given Iraq's proven ability to exploit the existing sanctions regime to continue to develop weapons of mass destruction. We knew nothing about the missile engines, we knew nothing about the rest of this, imported under our noses in breach of the sanctions regime, until we passed 1441.

And to find a peaceful solution to the current crisis, Mr. President, the council must not retreat from the demands it set out clearly in 1441. What we need is an irreversible and strategic decision by Iraq to disarm, a strategic decision by Iraq to yield to the inspectors all of its weapons of mass destruction and all relevant information which it could and should have provided at any time in the last 12 years, a strategic decision like that taken by South Africa when it decided freely to abandon its secret nuclear program.

Mr. President, I greatly welcome the progress which the inspectors have today reported. My honest wish, and that of my government, has all along been to achieve the disarmament of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, if humanly possible, by peaceful means. But to achieve that, we have to recognize that the progress which has been reported represents only the tip of a very large iceberg of huge unfinished business required of Iraq.

And just as I welcome the progress which we have heard, I say to the council that there are very serious lessons for us from what has been reported. Let us consider what has changed. Why has there been this sudden bout of activity when there was no progress at all for weeks before that, where for months and for years before that, Saddam Hussein was rearming under our noses? Now, it isn't our policy which has changed. It's not international law which has changed. There has been, from the beginning, the clearest instructions to Saddam to disarm. No. What has changed is one thing and one thing only: the pressure on the regime.

Dr. Blix said in his opening remarks that this -- what's changed may well be due to strong outside pressure. That's absolutely right. In his remarks, Dominique de Villepin said that -- and described a lot of diplomatic pressure by the non-aligned movement, by the European Union, by the Arab League and by many others. And I greatly welcome all of that diplomatic pressure. Dominique went on to say, "and the United States and United Kingdom forces lend support to that pressure" With respect to my good friend, I think it's the other way around. (Laughter.) I really do. What has happened? All that pressure was there for every day of 12 years. In Dr. Blix's carefully chosen words, the "strong outside pressure" is -- and let us be blunt about this -- the presence of over 200,000 United States and United Kingdom young men and young women willing to put their lives on the line for the sake of this body, the United Nations.

And Dominique also said the choice before us was disarmament by peace or disarmament by war. Dominique, that's a false choice. I wish that it were that easy, because we wouldn't be having to have this discussion. We could all put up our hands for disarmament by peace and go home.

And I make this point. We are not suggesting, we're not suggesting that in a matter of days Dr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei would be able to complete all their work, they'd be able to verify the disarmament of Iraq. No one is suggesting that.

But what we are suggesting is that it is perfectly possible, perfectly possible, achievable and necessary for Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi regime to bring themselves into compliance so that instead of us all, either by our words or by our silence, as we have today admitted that Saddam is not in full compliance, that he has not taken the further opportunity and the final opportunity, we can say the reverse and we can celebrate the achievement of the fine ideals of the United Nations and of one of the central points of the work program of the U.N., that we back, if necessary, our diplomacy by the credible threat of force.

And we remain, as founding members of this United Nations and as permanent members of this Security Council, committed to exploring every reasonable option for a peaceful outcome and every prospect of a council consensus.

And in the light of that, and in the light of what I have said, I should tell the council that I'm asking on behalf of the cosponsors of our draft resolution -- the Kingdom of Spain, the government of the United States, and the government of the United Kingdom -- I'm asking the secretariat to circulate an amendment which we are tabling which will specify a further period beyond the adoption of a resolution for Iraq to take the final opportunity to disarm and to bring themselves into compliance.

But, Mr. President, the council must send Iraq the clear message that we will resolve this crisis on the United Nations' terms, the terms which the council established four months ago, when we unanimously adopted Resolution 1441.

Thank you very much indeed.