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Security Council speakers agree Iraq must comply with demands, differ on enforcement

Security Council speakers agree Iraq must comply with demands, differ on enforcement

Iraqi Ambassador Aldouri addressing Security Council
During a wide-ranging Security Council debate on Iraq today, States from across the globe agreed on the need for Baghdad to comply with United Nations resolutions on disarming the country but offered divergent views on the best way to enforce the measures.

During a wide-ranging Security Council debate on Iraq today, States from across the globe agreed on the need for Baghdad to comply with United Nations resolutions on disarming the country but offered divergent views on the best way to enforce the measures.

Speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), which requested the meeting, the Permanent Representative of South Africa, Dumisani S. Kumalo, stressed that Iraq must abide by its obligations under all Security Council resolutions, and welcomed Baghdad's announcement that it would allow the unconditional return of weapons inspectors. "We believe this offers the prospect for a peaceful resolution of this matter," he said in leading off the Council's debate.

At the same time, he reiterated the NAM's "firm rejection of any type of unilateral action against any Member State of the United Nations" and voiced hope that the Council members shared the Movement's confidence in the abilities of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspections Commission (UNMOVIC) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). "We would urge that the Security Council allow the UN inspectors to return to Iraq to resume their important work without delay." The Council must not prejudge the work of the inspectors, he stressed, expressing hope that their return would pave the way for lifting the sanctions, which "have brought endless suffering to the ordinary people."

Iraq's Ambassador, Mohammed A. Aldouri, said the United States was unabashedly declaring its plans for a military invasion and occupation of Iraq, and even for "changing the map of the region by force and putting their hands on the sources of energy therein." The US wanted a "blank cheque" from the Council to occupy Iraq as part of its plan to subject the entire world to American hegemony. Using its "tremendous" propaganda mechanism, the US was disseminating "one lie after the other" about Iraq's supposed ownership of weapons of mass destruction. Baghdad, which possessed no such weapons, had implemented all disarmament requirements contained in the Council's resolutions, he asserted.

Iraq's decision to re-admit inspectors would prove that the country no longer owns weapons of mass destruction, and would foster a comprehensive solution, including an end to the sanctions which had caused such suffering for the Iraqi people, he said. In talks earlier this month, Iraq, UNMOVIC and the IAEA had agreed on practical arrangements for the return of inspectors, and had chosen 19 October as the date when the first team would arrive, but the US had tried to hamper the agreement, increasing its threats. The US was calling for the imposition on Iraq of "unfair and impossible" conditions that were "an insult to the international community, the UN and international law." This position must be rejected, he stressed, adding that there was "absolutely no need" for a new Security Council resolution on the matter.

Also taking part in the debate, which saw the participation of several dozen speakers, Kuwaiti Ambassador Mohammad A. Abulhasan spoke out against unilateral action. "Kuwait feels especially strong about the importance of action within the UN framework simply because without such a framework, Kuwait would probably not have been liberated from Iraqi occupation." He expressed hope that the current international momentum would be maintained to ensure Iraqi compliance with Security Council resolutions and said Baghdad's decision to re-admit weapons inspectors was a positive development.

Kuwait opposed military force against Iraq "out of fears of the serious negative implications that would exacerbate the suffering of the brotherly people of Iraq," he said. The Baghdad Government must save the Iraqi people by fully implementing all Security Council resolutions, "without a la carte selectivity or procrastination, and by putting the welfare of the population ahead of all narrow interests." Any use of force must be employed as a last resort, within the UN framework and only after all other available means have been exhausted. In the effort to secure Iraqi compliance, special attention should be paid to the question of Kuwaiti and third-country detainees held in Iraq, he said, adding that the issue must be a "key element" in any new Council resolution on Iraq.

Speaking for the League of Arab States, Yahya Mahmassani said Iraq had agreed to the return of inspectors, and they must go back as soon as possible in order to fulfil their tasks so that the Council could lift the sanctions. “There is no reason for the delay in the work of the Council and there is no reason to prejudge the results of the inspections.” The League of Arab States completely rejected any strikes against Iraq. Council resolution 687 [known as the ‘ceasefire resolution’ because it set the terms for ending the Persian Gulf war] stipulated that the Middle East become a nuclear-weapon-free zone – a goal which Israel rejected. “Why doesn’t the Security Council adopt a resolution to force Israel to dismantle its weapons of mass destruction?” he asked. Israel had violated scores of Council resolutions and should be forced to comply.

“The imposition of a new military conflict on the Middle East would be a grave mistake,” Mr. Mahmassani said, warning that war against Iraq would open a Pandora’s box. “Violence and civil wars would sweep the entire country, and the entire Arab region would be undermined.” War against Iraq would go against the UN Charter and international law, exposing States to the danger of attacks under the pretext of preventive measures. “Upholding the Charter, international legitimacy and the solidarity and unity of the international community is the only means to face up to the crises of the 21st century, to maintain international peace and security, and ‘to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war,’” he said.

Ellen Margrethe Loj, the representative of Demark, speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said Secretary-General Kofi Annan had worked to persuade the Iraqi regime to re-admit weapons inspectors, and under strong international pressure, Baghdad had agreed. UNMOVIC and the IAEA should resume inspections as soon as possible on the basis of a reinforced mandate. The existing Security Council resolutions, agreements reached between UNMOVIC and the IAEA with Iraq, as well as “any new rules the Security Council may deem necessary” should constitute the new governing standard for inspections. “The Government of Iraq should make no mistake about the fact that non-compliance with this inspection regime would have serious consequences,” she warned.

“The European Union supports a new Security Council resolution strengthening the rights of inspectors to ensure that they can, as effectively as possible, carry out the disarmament required by the relevant resolutions,” she said. The European Union stressed “the vital importance of safeguarding and respecting the crucial role of the Security Council – present and future – in maintaining international peace and security in accordance with the UN Charter in any solution of an international conflict.” She encouraged Council members to maintain strong pressure on Iraq based on the widest possible support.