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

02.12.2014. 19:09

Following is the transcript of the statement by Ana Palacio, the foreign minister of Spain, to the Security Council today as recorded by the Federal News Service.

Thank you, Mr. President. Mr. President, Mr. Secretary-General, distinguished ministers, ambassadors, allow me to start by joining those who have expressed their gratification at seeing Guinea, and with Guinea, Africa, presiding over the council at this crucial time for peace and security. On behalf of Spain, I wish you a very successful and effective conduct of our activities.

And I would also like to highlight the excellent work accomplished in a very complex period of time by Germany.

Mr. President, on 14 February, I began my statement by pointing out that along with millions of citizens of the world, there was one single phrase I had hoped to hear in the inspectors' report, and that was that Saddam Hussein was fully, unconditionally and actively complying with Resolution 1441. But I didn't hear it on that day. And I haven't heard it today either. Gentlemen, today, I also have the feeling that we run the risk of not seeing the forest for the trees. The concrete progress achieved by the inspectors in their commendable work, to which I pay tribute on behalf of Spain, and the gestures made by Saddam Hussein are distracting us from the objective defined by the international community 12 years ago, which was the complete disarmament of the Iraqi regime.

Gentlemen, we have been marking time for 12 years, and I have two questions to put to us that I think are fundamental for us all: Are we discharging our obligations as members of the Security Council? And, what message are we sending to the world? Because according to the charter of the United Nations, the mission of the Security Council is to maintain international peace and security; to identify when they are threatened, and to define action that must be adopted in that case.

And I can only say that the threat remains, and Saddam has still not complied with the resolutions of this council. And all of this 12 years after the adoption of Resolution 687, and four months after the adoption of 1441, which if you remember, was the final opportunity.

So 12 years later, the scenario is still the same as 1991: 12 years later, the main actor is still the same -- Saddam Hussein; 12 years later, the threat remains the same -- his weapons of mass destruction; 12 years later, his attitude is identical -- a profound contempt for international law and a clear intention to divide us; 12 years later, his strategy remains the same -- to fool us.

So how much longer? How much time does it take to take the strategic decision of fully, actively, and unconditionally cooperating? I am afraid that this is a question, the reply to which everyone knows, but many prefer to ignore.

Mr. President, instead of sending a clear-cut and cohesive message, this council runs the risk of becoming a media platform to showcase our differences and make our work even harder.

Mr. President, by means of a continuous and systematic misrepresentation of the facts, Saddam is achieving something extraordinarily dangerous. He has managed for many to identify the Security Council -- supposed to guarantee international legality -- with the role of the aggressor, while he looks as the victim. He has also divided the international community, as the Mexican minister said a moment ago. He has also managed to reverse the burden of proof, shifting a responsibility that is his alone onto our shoulders.

Now, how have we managed to arrive at a situation in which a dictator who has provoked wars, invaded countries, gassed his own population, trampled every possible human right, and flouted the law for 12 years, is now placing in jeopardy the credibility of the council?

My second question, as I said, is what is our message? Because it's impossible not to realize that only maximum pressure or credible threat of force has any type of impression on the Iraqi regime. And this is the underlying logic of Resolution 1441 and the presentation of the draft resolution sponsored by the USA, the United Kingdom and Spain, which will soon be introduced to the council.

I welcome and I appreciate the process and progress that has been achieved according to the inspectors, and in particular the destruction of the Al-Samoud missiles. But all of a sudden, as if by magic or is it the 300,000 soldiers in the area, that we find proof of existence of arms of mass destruction that we've been denied hitherto or the existence of missiles that are banned according to international law. These gestures confirm our fears. The weapons do exist. They have not been destroyed. They can be used again.

And gentlemen, as the secretary of state was saying, Mr. Powell, if he was lying before when he was hiding them, why should we now believe what he says when, after revealing their presence, he claims that he has destroyed all those that remain without our being able to note any genuine will to disarm?

What is the message that this council should send? First, that we will not tolerate any more of Saddam's games. He did not comply in 1991. He fooled UNSCOM in '95. He remained inspection-free for almost four years. And now, when Resolution 1441 points out that it's the final opportunity, he is, once again, trying to prevent it from being applied.

This council also has to say that neither through action or failure to act can we encourage any of those who possess weapons of mass destruction and feel that they can violate systematically international law with impunity. The council is very aware that the looming threat is more serious than ever and that it hinges on the intersection of the existence of weapons of mass destruction, their possible use by terrorist groups and the criminal attitude of political leaders who make use of both these weapons and to the terrorists.

This Security Council has to give a clear message that the time has come to stop playing hostage to those in seeking their own ends mistakenly interpret our aspiration to peace as a sign of weakness. The council must make it clear that it has always advocated not containing Iraq, but for Iraq to disarm, to abandon its weapons of mass destruction, in particular chemical and bacteriological weapons. And that this must be done peacefully, for which full Iraqi collaboration is indispensable. And if it is lacking, Iraq alone will be responsible for the consequences.

Finally, what must be made abundantly clear is that, we must take upon ourselves the responsibility to give a response and to solve this situation for the sake of the world.

Mr. President, disarming Iraq is not a matter of more inspectors or more time. This, to paraphrase a French thinker, is merely the strategy of impotence. Because, in terms of nuclear materials and missiles, we can contemplate a possibility of achieving results even if the regime is not willing to disarm, even if it does not proactively collaborate.

But this cannot be said about chemical and bacteriological weapons, and we know that. It is particularly in those areas of disarmament that disarmament can only be achieved if there is a political will on the part of the Iraqi regime. And the inspectors will naturally have to continue for the time that is necessary and with the means that are necessary, but it will have to be on the basis of a radical change in the Iraqi regime's willingness to disarm. And up to now Iraq has given no signs of being willing to disarm.

I have listened to those who think that the council's decisions will provoke loss of life and great damage in Iraq, and they criticize this and make us responsible for it. But no, Mr. President, it is not us. It is the Saddam Husseins, through actions, invasions, decisions. It is those like Saddam Hussein who use chemical weapons. It is those like Saddam Hussein who destroy entire families, towns, nations.

It is not the Security Council who is responsible. We are seeking international peace and security. Because, Mr. President, we all want peace, but we want a peace that is safe, that guarantees that the arms will not be used by Iraq, and that these weapons will not fall in the hands of terrorist groups that could use them to their own ends.

Otherwise, gentlemen, we are harboring false hopes. We are looking for arrangements that will only seriously impair the credibility and effectiveness of this council, and, even worse, will jeopardize the international peace and stability that we all yearn for.

Thank you.