Security Council wraps up two days of debate on Iraq

17 October 2002

The United Nations Security Council today wrapped up two days of open debate on Iraq, with over 40 countries - including all 15 Council members - participating in the discussions, which began yesterday and included widespread calls for Baghdad's compliance as well as numerous pleas to avoid a violent confrontation.

The United Nations Security Council today wrapped up two days of open debate on Iraq, with over 40 countries - including all 15 Council members - participating in the discussions, which began yesterday and included widespread calls for Baghdad's compliance as well as numerous pleas to avoid a violent confrontation.

Addressing the Council today on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Mokhtar Lamani, the Permanent Observer for the group, hailed Iraq's decision to re-admit UN weapons inspectors, calling this a "first step" towards a settlement of the issue leading to a lifting of the sanctions.

He recalled that numerous speakers had stressed during the Council's meeting that there should be no double standards in term of non-compliance with UN resolutions. "The history of the United Nations testifies to the fact that some of its Member States have shown defiance of its resolutions - Israel is a clear example," he said. "However, the United Nations, including the Security Council did not resort to the use of force against these countries." Citing academic research, he said that countries other than Iraq were currently violating more than 90 Security Council resolutions, including 31 dealing with Israel.

Mr. Lamani also voiced strong support for calls for a peaceful solution to the Iraq issue - one that preserved the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as the UN's credibility. Iraq's decision to cooperate with the inspectors unconditionally, coupled with recent talks in Vienna on practical arrangements for achieving that end, were positive developments that should allow the Security Council to "play its mandated role in the maintenance of international peace and security, spare the region the catastrophes of war and destruction, and alleviate the suffering of the Iraqi people - a suffering that has endured far too long and must be ended."

Ambassador Adolfo Aguilar Zinser of Mexico, the first of the Council's 15 members to take the floor, said his country had condemned the continued non-compliance by Iraq with the international obligations imposed upon it by the Council. That country's failure to comply regarding disarmament under Chapter VII represented potential threats to peace and regional stability, he stressed, appealing to Iraq to accept the inspection activities to ensure the destruction of all chemical, biological and nuclear weapons it might have. Acceptance by Iraq of the return of inspectors without conditions and restrictions would constitute a first step towards restoring confidence of the United Nations.

The Permanent Representative of Syria, Mikhail Wehbe, said he was pleased with the assertions made by the majority of speakers of the need to resolve the Iraqi situation by peaceful means through the Security Council, as well as the need to respect the political integrity of Iraq. Negotiations should continue through the United Nations toward the resolution of the situation and the lifting of sanctions. In spite of bitter feelings toward the double standards of the Council, however, he called for Iraq to fulfil its obligations under relevant resolutions. UN weapons inspectors should resume their work without delay, and the question of Kuwaiti prisoners could also be resolved.

Sir Jeremy Greenstock stressed that while the United Kingdom's first objective is the complete disarmament of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction by peaceful means, it would be an "abdication of responsibility" to ignore Iraq's repeated defiance of Security Council decisions. The Council must now express its will and unity in a clear, strong resolution, one that gives the regime in Baghdad an unequivocal choice - complete disarmament of its weapons of mass destruction and normal membership of the international community, or refusal and the inevitable consequences. "If we fail to send that tough signal, we shall be ignoring the realities," he said. "The weaker we collectively appear, the more probable it is that military action will be the outcome."

Zhang Yishan, the Deputy Permanent Representative of China, told the Council that the question of disarmament was at the core of a solution. Iraq should destroy all weapons of mass destruction in its possession and refrain from using them. Only when inspectors returned to Iraq and conducted effective inspections, could the truth be found out. Mr. Zhang said he was pleased with the unconditional acceptance of inspectors by Iraq, and hoped that Baghdad would honour the agreed to practical arrangements of inspections. The inspectors should return to Iraq as soon as possible and then return to the Council with their results. Under such circumstances, he said, could he consider a new resolution of the question.

Ambassador John D. Negroponte of the United States said there could be no more "business-as-usual" or toothless resolutions that Iraq will continue to ignore. The Council must meet this challenge, and stand firm, resolute and united in adopting a resolution that holds Iraq to its commitments, that lays out clearly what Iraq must do to comply and which states that there will be consequences if Iraq refuses to comply. "We expect the Council to act, and when the Council adopts a resolution that sends a clear and united message to Iraq that it must fulfil its obligations, Iraq will have a choice," he said. "It will have to decide whether to take this last chance to comply. If it does not, we will seek compliance and disarmament by other means." Ambassador Negroponte said the United States believes that the best way to ensure Iraqi compliance is through one resolution that is "firm and unambiguous in its message." The US will be introducing a text that contains "clear and immediate requirements" - requirements that Iraq would voluntarily meet if it chooses to cooperate.

For his part, Ambassador Jean-David Levitte said France proposed a two-stage approach in which the Council should first adopt a resolution clearly specifying the "rules of the game" by defining the inspectors' regime and ensuring that they could fully accomplish their mission without hindrance. That resolution should also send a clear warning to Iraq that the Council would not tolerate new violations. During the second stage, if the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) observe that Iraq was refusing to cooperate fully with the inspectors, the Council should meet immediately to decide appropriate measures to take - ruling out no alternatives. That approach, which had also been proposed by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, was the only one that could offer unity, cohesion, fairness and legitimacy to the Council's work, he said. Any automatic decision on the use of force would profoundly divide the Council, and only a united front would convince Iraq not to repeat its error.

Taking note of the progress made in arranging the return of inspectors to Iraq, Mamady Traore of Guinea said that the Security Council must ensure that Iraq's commitments were fully kept to avoid the bad precedents of 1998, and there must be a precise, updated mandate given to inspectors. The objective was the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction. All other related questions must be resolved as quickly as possible, allowing inspectors to begin their work. In addition, he called on Iraq to work toward a resolution of the question of missing persons and goods confiscated from Kuwait, in conformity with relevant Council resolutions.

Norway's Permanent Representative, Ole Peter Kolby, said the message that must emerge from the meeting was full Iraqi compliance with Security Council resolutions. The Council should in the immediate future adopt a clear and unambiguous resolution and timetable for the new inspections. UN inspectors must also have free and unconditional access to all of Iraq. This meant the need to repeal the 1998 agreement between Iraq and the United Nations on special procedures for inspecting the so-called presidential sites, which include several hundred buildings, unless Iraq declares its disregard of the agreement. No building or site should be given immunity from inspections, he said, stressing there could be no loopholes in the inspection regime.

Meanwhile, Ambassador Kishore Mahbubani of Singapore said that although sanctions were imposed to punish the Government of Iraq, the highest burden had been borne by the ordinary Iraqi. The people of Iraq had suffered enough, he said, urging the Government "to make the right decision" and give UN inspectors unrestricted access to all sites, including presidential palaces. He said agreement on a new resolution might be wise before the return of the inspectors - the stakes were high and the difference between successful and unsuccessful inspections might be the difference between war and peace.

Ireland's Ambassador, Richard Ryan, said it was a matter of grave concern when any UN Member State ignored the will of the international community and continued over many years to disregard the resolutions of the Council. He urged Iraq to make it clear that the inspectors would be allowed immediate and complete access to all parts of the country, including presidential sites. Such access was necessary if the inspections were to have the necessary credibility among the international community. Meanwhile, a new Security Council resolution must insist on unfettered access for the arms inspectors and make it clear that the Council will take any necessary decision to enforce compliance, if Iraq does not cooperate as required.

Ambassador Sergey Lavrov of the Russian Federation said that the current impasse on Iraq had its roots not only in Iraqi intransigence, but also in the Council's inability to objectively assess the situation. Now, the only way of making sure that weapons of mass destruction were eliminated in Iraq was by returning UN inspectors to the country, as Iraq had agreed to. Everything was now in place for a diplomatic resolution of the crisis. No new decisions were needed by the Security Council, as the inspectors did not need new decisions but clarity. If UNMOVIC Executive Chairman Hans Blix thought that achieving such clarity required new resolutions, the Russian Federation would be prepared to work on that. However, the Security Council could not give its consent to a new resolution for the purpose of the use of force for regime change. The vast majority of the international community had been calling for the return of inspectors and a diplomatic resolution of the conflict.

Colombia's Ambassador, Alfonso Valdivieso, said it was urgent that UN weapons inspectors finish the work that UNSCOM was unable to complete, examining and verifying the information the Iraqi Government must provide in compliance with Council resolutions. "We are sure that there will be credible, serious, respectful, professional and firm inspections, for which purpose we need genuine cooperation on the part of the Iraqi authorities," he said. UNMOVIC, however, must be deployed on the ground with a renewed mandate from the Security Council, which will validate its determinations and adapt them to the new realities. The greatest challenge is striking a balance between the willingness of the Baghdad Government to fulfil its obligations and the steadfastness and determination the international community must maintain to prevent a repetition of the challenge faced by the Council during the last four years.

Stefan Tafrov, the Permanent Representative of Bulgaria, said that had Iraq conformed to relevant resolutions, there would be no sanctions against that country in effect now, and urged Baghdad to immediately comply, fully and unconditionally with the Council's decisions. Yesterday, the representative of Iraq had said that his country had no weapons of mass destruction, he said. If that was the case, nothing should stop Iraq from immediately providing access to inspectors to all cites. Given the difficult relations between the Council and Iraq, it was clear that UNMOVIC would not be able to fulfil its mandate without a clear new resolution.

Ambassador Jagdish Koonjul of Mauritius said there was a convergence of views on the need for Iraq to dispose of all its weapons of mass destruction in compliance with Security Council resolutions. He welcomed Iraq's new position to allow the return of UN arms inspectors. Full cooperation should be given to them in order to have the issue resolved and sanctions reviewed. No new resolution was needed to deal with the matter; however, if Iraq proved uncooperative, Mauritius would be willing to support a new initiative to allow the inspectors immediate and unfettered access to all sites.

The Permanent Representative of Cameroon, Martin Belinga-Eboutou, said he regretted that the Iraqi authorities had not respected the numerous resolutions of the Council either on the situation between Iraq and Kuwait or on the issue of disarmament. Iraq must show it did not have weapons of mass destruction. At the same time, the Council should reaffirm, in a new resolution, its total support for the UNMOVIC and IAEA teams before they left for Iraq. The new resolution should specify the practical modalities for the inspections to eliminate existing ambiguities. The resolution must also indicate clearly that the Council would take appropriate measures if Iraq did not comply. It must further include some provisions to suspend sanctions if Iraq complied.


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