U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's remarks to the presentation of Hans Blix and Mohamed Elbaradei to the U.N. Security Council

02.12.2014. 19:09

12:17PM

Thank you very much, Mr. President.

Mr. President, Mr. Secretary General, distinguished members of the council, it's a great pleasure to be here with you again to consider this very important matter, and I'm very pleased to be here as the secretary of state of a relatively new country on the face of the Earth.

But I think I can take some credit sitting here as being the representative of the oldest democracy that is assembled here around this table. Proud of that. A democracy that believes in peace, a nation that has tried in the course of its history to show how people can live in peace with one another, but a democracy that has not been afraid to meet its responsibilities on the world stage when it has been challenged; more importantly, when others in the world have been challenged, or when the international order has been challenged, or when the international institutions of which we are a part have been challenged.

That's why we have joined and been active members of institutions such as the United Nations and a number of other institutions that have come together for the purpose of peace and for the purpose of mutual security and for the purpose of letting other nations which pursue a path of destruction, which pursue paths of developing weapons of mass destruction which threaten their neighbors, to let them know that we will stand tall, we will stand together to meet these kinds of challenges.

I want to express my appreciation to Dr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei for their presentation this morning. They took up a difficult challenge when they went back into Iraq last fall in pursuit of disarmament as required by Resolution 1441. And I listened very attentively to all they said this morning, and I am pleased that there have been improvements with respect to process. I'm pleased that there have been improvements with respect to not having five minders with each inspector down to something less than five minders with each inspector.

But I think they still are being minded, they are still being watched, they are still being bugged, they still do not have the freedom of access around Iraq that they need to do their job well.

I'm pleased that a few people have come forward for interviews, but not all the people who should be coming forward for interviews, and with the freedom to interview them in a manner that their safety can be protected and the safety of their families can be protected as required by U.N. Resolution 1441.

I am glad that access has been relatively good. But that is all process, it is not substance.

I am pleased to hear that decrees have now been issued that should have been issued years and years ago, but does anybody really think a decree from Saddam Hussein--directed to whom--is going to fundamentally change the situation? And it comes out on a morning when we are moving forward down the path laid out by Resolution 1441. These are all process issues. These are all tricks that are being played on us.

And to say that new commissions are being formed that will go find materials that they claim are not there in the first place--can anybody honestly believe that either one of these two new commissions will actively seek out information that they have been actively trying to deny to the world community, to the inspectors for the last 11-plus years?

I commend the inspectors. I thank they for what they are doing. But at the same time, I have to keep coming back to the point that the inspectors have repeatedly made, and they've made it again here this morning, they've been making it for the last 11-plus years: What we need is not more inspections, what we need is not more immediate access, what we need is immediate, active, unconditional, full cooperation on the part of Iraq. What we need is for Iraq to disarm.

Resolution 1441 was not about inspections. Let me say that again. Resolution 1441 was not about inspections. Resolution 1441 was about the disarmament of Iraq.

But the questions, notwithstanding all of the level of letter, the questions remain, and some of my colleagues have talked about them. We haven't accounted for the anthrax, we haven't accounted for the botulinum, VX, both biological agents, growth media, 30,000 chemical and biological munitions.

These are not trivial matters one can just ignore and walk away from and say, "Well, maybe the inspectors will find them, maybe they won't.''

We have not had a complete, accurate declaration.

We have seen the reconstitution of casting chambers for missiles. Why? Because they are still trying to develop these weapons. We have seen the kind of cooperation that was anticipated, expected and demanded of this body.

And we must continue to demand it. We must continue to put pressure on Iraq, put force upon Iraq to make sure that the threat of force is not removed, because 1441 was all about compliance, not inspections. The inspections were put in as a way, of course, to assist Iraq in coming forward and complying, in order to verify, in order to monitor, as the chief inspector noted.

But we so got an incomplete answer from Iraq, we are facing a difficult situation. More inspectors, sorry, not the answer. What we need is immediate cooperation. Time? How much time does it take to say, ``I understand the will of the international community, and I and my regime are laying it all out for you and not playing guess--not forming commissions, not issuing decrees, not getting laws that should've been passed years ago suddenly passed on the day when we are meeting''?

These are not responsible actions on the part of Iraq. These are contingent efforts to deceive, to deny, to divert, to throw us off the trail, to throw us off the path.

The resolution anticipated this kind of response from Iraq. And that's why in all our discussions about that resolution we said they're in material breach. If they come into new material breach with a false declaration or not a willingness to cooperate and comply, as OP4 (ph) says, then the matter has to be referred to the Council for serious consequences.

I submit to you that, notwithstanding the improvements in process that we have noted and I welcome--and I thank the inspectors for their hard work--these improvements in process do not move us away from the central problem that we continue to have. And more inspections and a longer inspection period will not move us away from the central issue, the central problem we are facing. And that central problem is that Iraq has failed to comply with 1441.

The threat of force must remain. Force should always be a last resort. I have preached this for most of my professional life as a soldier and as a diplomat. But it must be a resort.

We cannot allow this process to be endlessly strung out, as Iraq is trying to do right now: "String it out long enough, and the world will start looking in other directions, the Security Council will move on, we'll get away with it again.'' My friends, they cannot be allowed to get away with it again.

We now are in a situation where Iraq's continued noncompliance and failure to cooperate, it seems to me, in the clearest terms requires this Council to begin to think through the consequences of walking away from this problem, or the reality that we have to face this problem, and that in the very near future, we will have to consider whether or not we've reached this Council, as distasteful as it may be, as reluctant as we may be, as many as--there are so many of you who would rather not to face this issue, but it's an issue that must be faced, and that is whether or not it is time to consider serious consequences of the kind intended by 1441.

The reason we must not look away from it is because these are terrible weapons. We are talking about weapons that will kill not a few people, not a hundred people, not a thousand people, but could kill tens of thousands of people, if these weapons got into the wrong hands.

And the security of the region, the hopes for the people of Iraq themselves, and our security rests upon us meeting our responsibilities and, if it comes to it, invoking the serious consequences called for in 1441.

1441 is about disarmament and compliance, and not merely a process of inspections that goes on forever without ever resolving the basic problem.

Thank you.