Security Council members say new Iraq measure contains no automatic triggers for force
Following the adoption of a landmark resolution aimed at returning United Nations weapons inspectors to Iraq, members of the Security Council today stressed that the text, which was cosponsored by the United States and the United Kingdom, contains no provisions for the automatic use of force.
Speaking after the Council unanimously adopted the resolution, US Ambassador John D. Negroponte said the text contains no "hidden triggers;" it was designed to test Iraq's intentions. "Every act of Iraqi non-compliance will be a serious matter, because it would tell us that Iraq has no intention of disarming," he said, warning that "one way or another, Iraq will be disarmed." If the Security Council failed to act decisively in the event of a further Iraqi violation, "this resolution does not constrain any Member State from acting to defend itself against the threat posed by Iraq, or to enforce relevant UN resolutions and protect world peace and security." Council Members, he added, "can rely on the United States to live up to its responsibilities if the Iraqi regime persists with its refusal to disarm."
The Ambassador of the United Kingdom, Jeremy Greenstock, agreed that the resolution has no “automaticity,” noting that in the event of a further Iraqi breach, the matter would return to the Council. While voicing hope that Baghdad would comply, he joined the US in issuing a stern warning against non-compliance. “The disarmament of Iraq of weapons of mass destruction by peaceful means remains the UK’s firm preference, but if Iraq chooses defiance and concealment, rejecting the final opportunity it has been given by the Council…the UK – together, we trust, with other members of the Security Council – will ensure that the task of disarmament required by the resolution is completed,” he said.
French Ambassador Jean-David Levitte hailed the fact that the resolution ensures that the Security Council maintains control over the future course of action, requiring a Council meeting in the event of Iraqi non-compliance. "France welcomes the elimination from the resolution of all ambiguity on this point and the elimination of all automaticity," he said. All efforts in recent weeks had been aimed at giving peace a chance; war could be only a last resort. The resolution's demands, he stressed were clear and rigorous. "They require full cooperation on the part of Iraq's leaders," he noted. "If Iraq wishes to avoid confrontation, it must understand that the opportunity it has been given is the last."
Mexico's Ambassador, Adolfo Aguilar Zinser, said in the case of Iraq's failure to comply, the Council itself would determine the existence of a threat to international peace and security. "The decision of the Security Council confers the legitimacy, the effectiveness and the relevance of this body," he said. "It strengthens the Security Council, the United Nations, multilateralism and the construction of an international system of norms and principles." Iraq was now required to fully comply with its obligations. Security Council decisions on the matter must comply with international law on the basis of objectively verifiable facts. The possibility of the use of force is only valid as a last resort, "with the prior, explicit authorization of the Security Council," he stressed.
Ambassador Richard Ryan of Ireland agreed that the unanimously adopted resolution sent a strong message to Iraq. He welcomed assurances by the sponsors that the text aims to achieve disarmament through inspections, and not to establish a basis for the use of force, which must remain a last resort. "This is a resolution about disarmament, not war," he stressed. "It is about removing all threat of war." Iraq had been offered a rigorous and fair way forward to meet its disarmament obligations, but Baghdad should have "no doubt that it must now cooperate fully with arms inspectors and reassure the world, finally, that it has divested itself of weapons of mass destruction and the means of delivering them - or face serious consequences." Ireland called on Iraq to choose the path of peace, "for the sake of its own people, that of its neighbours, and in the interests of international peace and security."
Russian Ambassador Sergey Lavrov said that as a result of intensive talks, the resolution "does not contain any provisions about automatic use of force." The sponsors had confirmed that this was their understanding, and had given assurances that the goal was to achieve disarmament through inspections. The resolution also underscored the need to respect Iraq's sovereignty and territorial integrity. "The wording in the resolution is not the ideal, and the sponsors themselves acknowledge this, but this just reflects the very complicated nature of the compromise that was arrived at," he said. The key point was that the text "deflects the direct threat of war, and opens up the road to further work in the interests of a political, diplomatic settlement." In the event of any dispute, the Council would consider the situation as it develops. Clarifying specific points in the text, he said that Iraq would probably need more than 30 days to submit information on non-military chemical and biological programmes, but such a delay would not constitute a violation. All involved must not yield to the temptation of unilateral interpretation of the resolution's provisions.
Christine Lee, Singapore's representative, said there was an international consensus that Iraq must comply with its obligations under UN resolutions. The unanimous adoption of the new text aimed to bring to completion the disarmament process. The resolution "makes clear that Iraq will be given a full and final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations." Noting that the difference between successful and unsuccessful inspections could mean the difference between peace and war, she voiced hope that "Iraq will make its decision carefully."
Colombian Ambassador Alfonso Valdivieso stressed the importance of sending a clear message that the international community does not intend to wait any longer for compliance with the Security Council's demands. Colombia had insisted on preserving the Security Council's core role in dealing with the matter. "This resolution is not, nor could [it] be, a resolution authorizing the use of force," he said. "The resolution provides a final opportunity to Iraq." Iraq must show its will to rejoin the society of nations and fully cooperate, including with the 30-day timeframe set out in the resolution.
Ambassador Martin Belinga-Eboutou of Cameroon said the resolution is a "positive and constructive compromise text" which does not constitute victory for any particular fight but rather for international peace and security. "Now the ball is in Iraq's camp," he said, appealing to Baghdad to cooperate fully with the weapons inspectors who would shortly deploy in the country. "Thereby Iraq can be true to itself once again - a land of water and life." He welcomed the fact that the sponsors had affirmed that the resolution contains no hidden triggers or automaticity, and that they would work to preserve the Council's central role in maintaining international peace and security.
Mamady Traore, Guinea's Ambassador, agreed with others that the unanimous adoption of the text sends a clear message to Iraq. "This important phase now makes it possible to achieve the peaceful resolution of the Iraqi crisis and reaffirms the unity and core role of the Security Council as the guarantor of international peace and security." He voiced hope that Iraq would fully cooperate with the inspectors in accordance with the terms of the resolution. "I would like to appeal to the Iraqi authorities to respect their commitments and comply with their international obligations, as this would be in the interests of the Iraqi people."
Bijayeduth Gokool of Mauritius said the resolution was the fruit of intensive and constructive negotiations that took on board the concerns of all Council members. "We are pleased to see the clear and unambiguous role of the Security Council in the maintenance and promotion of international peace and security through peaceful means." The unanimous vote strengthened the Council's unanimity, which was a prerequisite for its effectiveness. Voicing hope Iraq would comply with the resolution's demands, he called on all Council members to support that end.
Ambassador Zhang Yishan of China stressed the need for a peaceful solution to the question of Iraq within the framework of the UN. In seeking a comprehensive solution to the question of Iraq, the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as its legitimate concerns should be respected. Further, the Council should consider suspending and eventually lifting the sanctions against Iraq if the country meets its obligations. The purpose of the resolution is to achieve disarmament through inspections; the text has no provisions for the automatic use of force. He voiced hope that the text would serve to preserve the Council's authority, facilitate a political settlement of the question of Iraq, and enable an early return of UN inspectors. Iraq should implement the resolution in good faith, he said, appealing to all concerned to strive for a political solution.