Skip to main content

In BBC address, Annan says Iraq must fully comply with disarmament obligations

In BBC address, Annan says Iraq must fully comply with disarmament obligations

In a direct appeal to the people of Iraq to be broadcast by the BBC, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today called on Baghdad to fully disarm in order to avoid war.

Delivering a lecture on the 70th anniversary of the British Broadcasting Corporation's World Service, Mr. Annan spoke to "you who are listening in Iraq, under the threat of new hostilities." He emphasized that a peaceful resolution is possible "if your Government complies fully with its obligations under Security Council resolutions."

"It is essential, if Iraq is to be put back on the path to peace and prosperity, that this work of disarmament be done thoroughly and completely," the Secretary-General said. "You cannot hope to see the sanctions lifted so long as your Government retains weapons of mass destruction. I would be deceiving you if I were to suggest otherwise."

In an address which covered a range of topics, from regional hotspots to pressing global problems, Mr. Annan said, "When I think of victims of conflict today, I think first of my fellow Africans." He voiced "anger and outrage at the suffering of our continent's people, and the plunder of its natural resources, at a time when we also have to face the onslaught of famine and HIV/AIDS." Urging Africans not to lose hope, he noted progress towards peace in many parts of the continent, such as Angola, Sudan, Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi.

"Africans are taking control of their own problems and destinies," he observed. "That should embolden all of us to shed, once and for all, the image of a continent in perpetual crisis."

Addressing listeners in the Middle East, the Secretary-General said the mutually destructive cycle of hatred and mistrust among Israelis and Palestinians "not only spells misery for the two peoples themselves, but blights the whole region's prospects."

"Yet the solution is clear, and widely agreed on: land for peace, and two States living side by side," he said, adding that the UN was working with the United States, European Union and Russian Federation to foster a peaceful settlement.

On global problems, he stressed the importance of the targets set in the Millennium Declaration adopted by world leaders at a UN summit in 2000, and praised the BBC World Service Trust for its plans to produce a series called Millennium Milestones. The programme "will show what is being done to implement the Millennium Goals, and what difference it is making in the lives of real, individual people around the world," he said in his address.

During a subsequent question-and-answer period that involved BBC listeners from around the world, the Secretary-General was asked to comment on the Security Council’s decision to withhold copies of Iraq’s arms declaration from non-permanent Council members.

Mr. Annan said the decision to give complete copies only to the five permanent members “was fine, but the approach and the style and the form was wrong” because the Council had decided last Friday that nobody would get it. “Some would have preferred that the Council got into another meeting to discuss it before this decision was taken,” he said.

The lecture is scheduled to be broadcast tomorrow on BBC World Service at 1805 GMT.