The Security Council this evening condemned in the strongest possible terms the Iraqi Government's decision to expel the American personnel of the United Nations Special Commission and demanded its immediate and unequivocal revocation, warning of serious consequences if Iraq failed to comply with its obligations under Council resolutions.
In a statement read out by its President, Qin Huasun (China), the Council said that the Iraqi action contravened Council resolutions and prevented the Special Commission from discharging its responsibilities.
The Council expressed its support for the Special Commission, which was established in 1991 to monitor destruction of Iraq's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and long-range ballistic missiles, and for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). It stressed that the Government of Iraq had full responsibility for ensuring the safety and security of the personnel and equipment of the Special Commission and the IAEA.
The Council today received a letter from the Special Commission's Executive Chairman, Richard Butler (document S/1997/883). Mr. Butler transmitted a letter received by the Special Commission from the Iraqi Foreign Ministry calling for American personnel attached to the Special Commission's Baghdad Monitoring and Verification Centre to leave Iraq immediately via the Baghdad-Aman highway. In response, Mr. Butler informed the Iraqi Foreign Ministry that he would remove from Iraq all UNSCOM personnel, with the exception of a small office staff.
The Secretary-General also informed the Council by letter (document S/1997/888) that the Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq, Tariq Aziz, had told him this morning of the Iraqi decision to expel United States individuals of UNSCOM. However, Iraq's decision had been and remained that UNSCOM could continue its normal work with other officials. If UNSCOM wished to send other personnel, they would be welcome. If not, and the monitors were withdrawn, the Chairman of UNSCOM would bear the responsibility.
Security Council - 2 - Press Release SC/6442 3832nd Meeting (PM) 13 November 1997
The Secretary-General says that Mr. Aziz had given assurances that he did not want a confrontation with the Security Council or with UNSCOM. If UNSCOM did not want to escalate the present situation, he hoped that it would conduct its work until a solution could be found to the problem through diplomatic means and channels. Iraq hoped to avoid a military confrontation and the activities of the U2 aircraft should stop. Mr. Aziz reiterated that Iraq wished to continue contacts and continue a dialogue to find a suitable solution to the situation.
The meeting convened at 11:51 p.m. and adjourned at 11:55 p.m.
The full text of the presidential statement, which will be issued as S/PRST/1997/51, reads as follows:
"The Security Council condemns in the strongest terms the unacceptable decision of the Government of Iraq in expelling personnel of the Special Commission of a specified nationality and thereby imposing conditions on the Special Commission in contravention of relevant Security Council resolutions which constitute the governing standard of Iraqi compliance.
"The Security Council demands the immediate and unequivocal revocation of this action, which has prevented the Special Commission from discharging its responsibilities under the relevant resolutions. The Council recalls the statement of its President of 29 October 1997 in which the Council warned of the serious consequences of Iraq's failure to comply immediately and fully and without conditions or restrictions with it obligations under the relevant resolutions. The Council further demands, in accordance with its resolution 1137 (1997), that Iraq comply immediately and fully with its obligations under the relevant resolutions.
"The Security Council expresses its support for the Special Commission and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and stresses the importance of their ensuring the implementation of all aspects of their mandates, including their vital work in monitoring and verification in Iraq, in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the Council.
"The Security Council stresses that the Government of Iraq has full responsibility for ensuring the safety and security of the personnel and equipment of the Special Commission and the IAEA and their inspection teams."
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