RETURN OF UNITED NATIONS INSPECTORS, WITHOUT CONDITIONS, IS KEY TO SOLVING ARMS IMPASSE WITH IRAQ, SECURITY COUNCIL IS TOLD
RETURN OF UNITED NATIONS INSPECTORS, WITHOUT CONDITIONS, IS KEY TO SOLVING ARMS IMPASSE WITH IRAQ, SECURITY COUNCIL IS TOLD
4625th Meeting (AM & PM)
RETURN OF UNITED NATIONS INSPECTORS, WITHOUT CONDITIONS, IS KEY
TO SOLVING ARMS IMPASSE WITH IRAQ, SECURITY COUNCIL IS TOLD
‘Grave Consequences’ of Military Action Foreshadowed in Day-long Debate;
Iraq, Denying Weapons Charges, Says United States Seeks Control of Oil Resources
The Non-Aligned Movement today urged the Security Council to allow arms inspectors to return to Iraq as soon as possible in order to begin the peaceful resolution of the impasse there, as the Security Council held the first day of an open debate on the situation between Iraq and Kuwait.
The meeting was requested by the Non-Aligned Movement. The representative of South Africa, speaking as chairman of its coordinating bureau, said it would be tragic if the Council were to prejudge the work of the inspectors before they set foot in Iraq. He said he was concerned that elected members of the Council were being excluded from consultations on a possible resolution on Iraq, being negotiated among permanent members.
The situation between Iraq and Kuwait, he said, must be addressed comprehensively by the United Nations, with clear benchmarks for compliance so as to allow the Council to lift sanctions, which had brought endless suffering to the ordinary people. For that to happen, of course, Iraq must also comply with all relevant Council resolutions. But the Non-Aligned Movement firmly rejected any type of unilateral action against any Member State of the United Nations.
Opening today’s debate, Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in a statement read on his behalf by Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette, applauded the holding of an open debate on Iraq. The Secretary-General said that Iraq’s failure to comply fully with the resolutions of the Council posed a great challenge to the Council, but it also presented an opportunity to strengthen international cooperation, the rule of law, and the Organization itself.
The Secretary-General said that Iraq's decision to readmit inspectors without conditions was an important first step, but only a first step. A new resolution strengthening the inspectors’ hand, eliminating any weaknesses or ambiguities, would be appropriate if the Council deemed it necessary.
Iraq’s representative said such action was unnecessary, because no nuclear, chemical or biological weapons of mass destruction were in Iraq. He said his country had implemented the requirements for disarmament of Security Council resolution 687 (1991). In order to end the impasse over the question, however,
Iraq had taken the initiative of opening a dialogue with the Secretary-General with the aim of the implementation of Council resolutions in a balanced manner. However, the United States had prevented the Council from participating in finding a comprehensive resolution of the situation. The American Administration, he said, had declared “unabashedly” its intentions to invade Iraq and put its hands on the oil resources. It wanted the Council to give them a blank cheque to occupy Iraq, as a first step in imposing American colonialism on the region and American hegemony on the world.
The representative of Kuwait welcomed the steps taken by Iraq to readmit weapons inspectors. It strongly supported international joint action within the United Nations framework, without which it would not have been liberated from Iraqi occupation in 1991. He hoped the current international momentum would be maintained, to ensure Iraq’s compliance with the full implementation of Security Council resolutions, especially those related to Kuwaiti and third-country detainees held in Iraq. Any use of force against Iraq must be a last resort and only within the United Nations framework.
Most of today’s speakers joined the Non-Aligned Movement in urging the early return of inspectors to Iraq, as a first step in compliance with its obligations, leading to a lifting of sanctions. Many also warned of the grave consequences of any military action in the region.
The representative of the League of Arab States said the Arab League completely rejected the waging of war on any Arab country. It called for a Middle East region free of weapons of mass destruction, and welcomed resumed inspections in Iraq. He asked why the Security Council did not pressure Israel in the same way or, for that matter, make it abide by the numerous resolutions addressed to it.
While agreeing with the importance of resumed inspections, the representative of Australia warned that an Iraqi Government, which had shown no compunction about using weapons of mass destruction in the past, might soon be able to threaten its neighbours and the world with a full suite of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. The said the Council should pass a “new and robust” resolution that provided the strongest possible basis for unconditional and unfettered inspections.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Yemen, Algeria, Egypt, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Japan, Tunisia, Iran, Ukraine, Libya, Thailand, Chile, Indonesia, Denmark (for the European Union), Turkey, New Zealand, Argentina, Oman, Nigeria, Canada, Cuba, Sudan and Senegal.
Today's meeting began at 10:10 a.m., was suspended at 1:05 p.m., resumed at 3:09 p.m., and was suspended for the evening at 6:05 p.m. It is set to resume at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 17 October.
As the Security Council met this morning to consider the situation between Iraq and Kuwait, it had before it a letter dated 10 October from the Permanent Representative of South Africa, on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement (document S/2002/1132), addressed to the President of the Security Council requesting the Council to convene an emergency open debate on the situation in Iraq, noting that consultations are currently under way on a possible new resolution on Iraq.
The representative of South Africa writes that the proposed elements of such a resolution include issues that are of importance to the entire membership of the United Nations and the future role of the Organization in the maintenance of international peace and security.
In that letter, the representative of South Africa, on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, refers to his letter of 3 October (document S/2002/1108), in which he noted the agreement reached in Vienna on 1 October between the Government of Iraq and the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and the International Atomic Agency (IAEA) on the practical arrangements necessary for the immediate resumption of inspections in Iraq. He wrote that assurances given by the Government of Iraq that unrestricted access would be granted to the United Nations inspectors, as well as the submission of the outstanding semi-annual monitoring declarations, were welcomed by the Non-Aligned Movement as further steps towards full compliance by Iraq with the relevant Council resolutions.
He wrote further that the timetable that had been presented to the Council by Hans Blix, Executive Chairman of UNMOVIC, on 29 September was welcome, and that the Movement supported the Council’s efforts to explore all peaceful means to resolve the situation in Iraq and to avoid a war that would cause further suffering to the people of Iraq and the region.
In a letter dated 16 September to the President of the Council (document S/2002/1034), the Secretary-General informed the Council that the Foreign Minister of Iraq, Naji Sabri, had indicated in a letter to him that Iraq's Government had decided to allow the return of United Nations weapons inspectors to Iraq without conditions, and was ready to discuss the practical arrangements necessary for the immediate resumption of inspections.
The Secretary-General wrote that that decision was the indispensable first step towards an assurance that Iraq no longer possesses weapons of mass destruction and, equally important, towards a comprehensive solution that includes the suspension and eventual ending of the sanctions that are causing such hardship for the Iraqi people and the timely implementation of other provisions of the relevant Council resolutions.
Background on UNMOVIC
The UNMOVIC was created through the adoption of Council resolution 1284 (1999) to replace the former United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) (see below) and continue with the latter’s mandate to disarm Iraq of its chemical and biological weapons and missiles with a range of more than 150 kilometres, and to operate a system of ongoing monitoring and verification to check Iraq's obligations not to reacquire the same weapons, as prohibited to it by the Council.
Hans Blix (Sweden) was appointed by the Secretary-General as the Executive Chairman. The Secretary-General also appointed 16 individuals to serve on UNMOVIC’s College of Commissioners, which provides advice and guidance to the Chairman. The Commission’s staff are selected on the basis of securing the highest standard of efficiency, competence and integrity, taking into consideration the importance of recruiting staff on as wide a geographical basis as possible. The staff include weapons specialists, analysts, scientists, engineers and operational planners.
The Commission is financed from a small portion of the monies raised from the export of oil from Iraq (the "oil-for-food" programme, see below). Unlike its predecessor, UNMOVIC staff are United Nations employees. In addition to the Office of the Chairman with executive, legal and liaison functions, UNMOVIC comprises four divisions (Planning and Operations, Analysis and Assessment, Information, Technical Support and Training), as well as an administrative service. The organization plan and structure chart of the Commission are available in document S/2000/292. The Executive Chairman is required to report to the Council on the activities of UNMOVIC every three months after consulting with the College of Commissioners.
Background on UNSCOM
The UNSCOM was established by Council resolution 687 of 3 April 1991, section C, of which it decided that Iraq should unconditionally accept, under international supervision, the destruction, removal or rendering harmless of its weapons of mass destruction, ballistic missiles with a range over 150 kilometres, and related production facilities and equipment. It also provided for a system of ongoing monitoring and verification of Iraq’s compliance with the ban on those weapons and missiles. On 6 April that year, Iraq accepted the resolution.
Council resolution 699 (1991) confirmed that UNSCOM and the IAEA had a continuing authority to conduct activities under resolution 687 (1991). Council resolution 715 (1991) approved the plans for ongoing monitoring and verification submitted by the Secretary-General and the Director General of the IAEA. The Commission’s plan also established that Iraq should "accept unconditionally the inspectors and all other personnel designated by the Special Commission".
On 5 August 1998, the Revolutionary Command Council and the Ba'ath Party Command decided to halt cooperation with UNSCOM and the IAEA, pending Council agreement to lift the oil embargo, reorganize the Commission and move it to either Geneva or Vienna. Council resolution 1194 (1998) unanimously condemned Iraq’s decision to suspend cooperation with UNSCOM. On 31 October 1998, Iraq announced that it would cease all forms of interaction with UNSCOM and its Chairman and halt all UNSCOM's activities inside Iraq, including monitoring. On 16 December 1998, the Special Commission withdrew its staff from Iraq. On 17 December 1999, the Council, by its resolution 1284, replaced UNSCOM by UNMOVIC.
IAEA Iraq Action Team
The IAEA Iraq Action Team carries out nuclear inspections in Iraq pursuant to Council resolutions, and maintains an Ongoing Monitoring and Verification (OMV) system. It conducts its work with the assistance and cooperation of UNMOVIC.
The Office of the Iraq Programme was established in October 1997 to implement the “oil-for-food” programme for Iraq established by Council resolution 986 (1995) and subsequent resolutions. In August 1990, the Council had imposed comprehensive sanctions on Iraq by its resolution 661 (1990).
Concerned about the extended suffering of the civilian population as a result of those sanctions, the Council adopted resolution 986 in April 1995 with an oil-for-food formula as "a temporary measure to provide for the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people". In May 1996, after extended negotiations with the United Nations Secretariat, Iraq signed a memorandum of understanding setting out arrangements for the resolution’s implementation.
On 14 May 2002, the Council modified the sanctions on Iraq through the adoption of resolution 1409 (2002), which contained a revised Goods Review List and procedures for its application.
Council resolution 689 (1991) established the United Nations Iraq-Kuwait Observation Mission (UNIKOM) to monitor the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between Iraq and Kuwait, as well as the Khawr'Abd Allah waterway, in order to deter violations of the boundary and to observe any hostile action mounted from the territory of one State against the other. According to the resolution’s mandate, UNIKOM does not have the authority or the capacity to take physical action to prevent the entry of military personnel or equipment into the DMZ. Responsibility for the maintenance of law and order in the DMZ rests with the Governments of Iraq and Kuwait, which maintain police posts in their respective parts of the zone.
By resolution 806 (1993), UNIKOM’s mandate was extended to include the capacity to take physical action to prevent or redress: small-scale violations of the DMZ, violations of the boundary between Iraq and Kuwait; and problems that might arise from the presence of Iraqi installations and Iraqi citizens in the DMZ on the Kuwaiti side of the boundary.
The overall situation in the DMZ has remained generally calm, although there were periods of tension in November 1993 and October 1994. Otherwise, there were only a limited number of incidents and violations of the DMZ, involving mainly overflights by military aircraft and the carrying or firing of weapons other than side arms. The UNIKOM has received the cooperation of the Iraqi and Kuwaiti authorities.
Opening the Council’s debate, Deputy Secretary-General LOUISE FRECHETTE -- speaking on behalf of KOFI ANNAN, who is this week fulfilling a commitment to visit a number of Member States in Asia -- welcomed the holding of an open discussion on Iraq. She noted that the Secretary-General had said that Iraq’s failure to comply fully with the resolutions of the Security Council since 1991 posed a great challenge to the Council. It also presented an opportunity to strengthen international cooperation, the rule of law, and the Organization itself.
She said the Secretary-General’s views on the matter, delivered on
12 September before the General Assembly, were that efforts to obtain Iraq’s compliance with the Council must continue. He had appealed to all who might have influence with Iraq’s leaders to impress on them the importance of accepting weapons inspections. And he urged Iraq to comply with its obligations -- for the sake of its own people and for the sake of world order.
Since then, she said, on behalf of the Secretary-General, Iraq’s decision to readmit inspectors without conditions was an important first step, but only a first step. Iraq must comply fully, implementing the disarmament programme required by Council resolutions. Inspectors must have unfettered access. If the Council passed a new resolution strengthening the inspectors’ hand, eliminating any weaknesses or ambiguities would be appropriate. If Iraq continued its defiance, the Council would have to face its responsibilities, which it did best when working in unison. The objective must be a comprehensive solution, which included the suspension and eventual ending of the sanctions that were causing hardship for the Iraqi people, as well as timely implementation of other provisions of the Council’s resolutions.
DUMISANI S. KUMALO (South Africa), speaking also as Chairman of the Coordinating Bureau of the Non-Aligned Movement, said the situation between Iraq and Kuwait must be addressed comprehensively by the United Nations, so as to allow the Council to lift sanctions against Iraq.
Iraq should comply with relevant Council resolutions. He welcomed the announcement by the Government of Iraq that it would allow the United Nations weapons inspectors to return without any conditions. He said he believed that offered the prospect for a peaceful resolution of the matter. He urged the Council to allow inspectors to return to Iraq as soon as possible. It would be tragic if the Council were to prejudge the work of the inspectors before they set foot in Iraq. He said Ministers of the Non-Aligned Movement had reiterated firm rejection of any type of unilateral actions against any Member State.
On a possible resolution on Iraq, he said significant consultations were limited to the permanent members of the Council. He was concerned that elected members were excluded from consultations on the most pressing issues before the Council, which could only lead to erosion of the Council’s authority and legitimacy. He said the Council should ensure that there was consistency in the way it acted to enforce its own decisions and avoid subjectivity and vagueness in its resolutions. The Council should also set clear implementable benchmarks for compliance. In Iraq, 11 years of sanction had brought endless suffering to the ordinary people. He hoped the Council would dispatch inspectors to Iraq as soon as possible, to allow the people of Iraq to focus their attention on rebuilding their country.
MOHAMMED A. ALDOURI (Iraq) said the United States administration had declared “unabashedly” its intentions to invade Iraq and put its hands on the oil resources. The United States wanted the Council to give them a blank cheque to occupy Iraq and violate the region as part of a plan to subject the entire world to American hegemony.
He said no nuclear, chemical or biological weapons of mass destruction were in Iraq, and his country had implemented the requirements for disarmament of Security Council resolution 687 (1991). That had been recognized by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which had declared it no longer had pending matters in Iraq, as well by the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM), which had declared that Iraq had implemented 95 per cent of its obligations in 1993.
In 1998, he went on, the inspectors had not left because Iraq had asked them to, but at the request of the United States, which had started a bombing campaign the day after the inspectors departed.
He said the embargo since 1991 continued to be a blatant violation of numerous provisions of the United Nations Charter, including Article 24 and paragraph 2 of Article 1. There were also matters of human rights violations involved. The sanctions had caused a humanitarian catastrophe, a crime that could be considered a genocide. Parallel to the embargo, the United States and the United Kingdom had also declared two no-fly zones in Iraq, in blatant violation of the Charter, and established rules of international law, as well as of the resolution that had established the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of Iraq.
In order to end the impasse, he said, Iraq had taken the initiative of opening a dialogue with the Secretary-General with the aim of implementing Council resolutions in a balanced manner. However, the United States had prevented the Council from participating in finding a comprehensive resolution of the situation between the United Nations and Iraq. Iraq had, on 1 October, held talks with UNMOVIC and the IAEA on practical arrangements for return of inspectors. Yet, the United States tried to hamper such agreements, calling for the imposition of unfair conditions on Iraq, which were an insult to the United Nations and international law.
He called upon the international community to express its objection to the aggressive purposes of the United States against Iraq. There would be many victims if the United States hegemonistic tendency was not stopped. The attempt by the United States to make the Council adopt a new resolution establishing conditions which were impossible to comply with was aimed at establishing a pretext to start aggression on Iraq, which would be a first step to impose American colonialism in the region.
MOHAMMAD A. ABULHASAN (Kuwait) said that his country strongly supported international joint action within the United Nations framework. Without such a framework, Kuwait would not have been liberated from Iraqi occupation in 1991. He hoped the current international momentum would be maintained, in order to ensure Iraq’s compliance with the full implementation of all Security Council resolutions. He welcomed steps taken by Iraq to readmit weapons inspectors. An effective inspection process within the requirements set by UNMOVIC was the only yardstick for evaluating its seriousness in that matter.
To avoid further suffering by the people of Iraq, any use of force must be a last resort and only within the United Nations framework. The Secretary-General’s concept of diplomacy supported by force should now be revalidated. But Iraq must fulfil all its obligations, and the Council must also focus its attention on those related to Kuwaiti and third-country detainees held in Iraq. He demanded that Iraq cooperate with the Tripartite Commission in a business-like manner; it must cast aside its worn-out justifications for not doing so.
ABDULLAH ALSAIDI (Yemen) said a discussion of the parameters of military action was not a fruitful approach for the region, which hoped to end of outside intervention which was represented by Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories. He said Iraq’s agreement to allow inspectors back was welcome, and showed that many peaceful ways to resolve the situation could be found if the option of war were renounced. Pre-emptive strikes would open a very dangerous door and Yemen rejected such an option. He urged all parties to demonstrate cooperation and allow the United Nations weapons inspectors to begin their work, along with the simultaneous fulfilment of all other obligations of relevant Security Council resolutions.
ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria) supported the steps advocated by the Secretary-General in resolving the matter at hand. He said that in agreeing to the unconditional return of United Nations inspectors, Iraq had shown realism, wisdom and responsibility. He hoped that it would lead to closure in the matter and a lifting of the sanctions on the Iraqi people. Unfortunately, the positive developments had not lessened the threat of armed conflict, which would have grave consequences on the people of Iraq and for the region, as well as on the Middle East peace process, which was sorely tested by Israeli intransigence. In the face of that intransigence, the Security Council must be firm, consistent and fair in seeking compliance with all of its resolutions. Only if it were certain that UNMOVIC inspectors had been prevented from doing their job should the Council pass a resolution to deal with that eventuality.
AHMED ABOUL GHEIT (Egypt) said that while his country urged Iraq to work seriously towards full implementation of all Security Council resolutions, it also stressed the need for integrity and professionalism in future inspection activities to be undertaken by UNMOVIC. It was essential that UNMOVIC activities were geared towards prompt fulfilment of the tasks entrusted to it, in an atmosphere of constructive cooperation, to ensure the destruction of prohibited weapons of mass destruction, if their existence was ascertained.
In that context, he said, the Security Council had to remain fully aware that the efforts to destroy and render harmless the proscribed capabilities of Iraq constituted the broader objective of the establishment in the Middle East of a zone free from weapons of mass destruction and missiles for their delivery. Such efforts, he went on, had to be undertaken within the framework of a comprehensive approach by the Council that would lead to progress towards lifting the sanctions, while ensuring full respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of Iraq.
MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said the implementation of Security Council resolutions was essential to United Nations credibility. Pakistan urged Iraq to cooperate with the Council and with concerned countries and international agencies in the implementation of Council resolutions. Those resolutions, however, should be implemented through measures that were consistent with the provisions of the United Nations Charter and international law. Most of the resolutions regarding Iraq had been adopted under Chapter VII of the Charter and, therefore, contained the implication that enforcement action could be taken to secure compliance with United Nations resolutions. Enforcement action, however, must remain an option of last resort and not be a policy of first choice. Article 42 of the Charter did not provide authority to one or more Member States to resort to force unilaterally.
Challenged to secure the enforcement of its own resolutions, he said, the Security Council was faced with a grave responsibility. It must make sure that all possibilities for the peaceful resolution of the problem had been visibly exhausted. Note should be taken of Iraq's declaration to comply with its obligations under Council resolutions. While Pakistan supported the full implementation of Council resolutions, he went on, it also had several concerns, including that international and regional peace and security be strengthened and not destabilized; that Iraq's sovereignty, territorial integrity and unity be respected; and that the suffering of the Iraqi people be ameliorated and not exacerbated, including through the early lifting of United Nations sanctions.
While Pakistan was confident that the United Nations would successfully respond to the challenge to establish its relevance and credibility, that was essential not only in the case of Iraq but also in other instances where Council resolutions were not implemented. Global order could be preserved only if the great Powers possessed the wisdom to respect international law and United Nations principles.
ABDULAZIZ BIN NASSER AL SHAMSI (United Arab Emirates) said he was deeply concerned about the danger of escalation leading to a third war in the region, and called upon the international community to promote a preventive diplomatic policy to avoid that occurring. The Security Council should urgently and unconditionally respond to the positive initiative of Iraq to allow inspectors to visit. Iraq’s concerns about repetition of UNSCOM’s mistakes should be taken into consideration, as a first step towards Iraq’s full commitment to its legal obligations. He said there was need, among other things, to ensure implementation of all Council resolutions, which called for the respect of sovereignty of Iraq and its territorial security and integrity. All forms of escalation and confrontation that would lead to a military strike against Iraq must be avoided.
He said the Iraqi Government should urgently implement its obligations under Council resolutions and the resolutions from Arab League summit meetings. There must also be a positive response to calls for lifting of sanctions, and to ensure that article 14 of resolution 687 (1991) applied to all countries of the region. That would require the international community to call upon the Government of Israel to destroy its arsenal of nuclear weapons, and other weapons of mass destruction, and to subject all its nuclear facilities to the safeguards of the IAEA.
ZEID RA’AD ZEID AL-HUSSEIN (Jordan) said it was the Council’s responsibility to use all possible and reasonable means to resolve the Iraq issue, and to settle it through continuous negotiations. Implementation of Council resolutions was an obligation on all States, whether they were adopted on Iraq or on the occupied Palestinian territories. A peaceful exit of the current crisis required Iraq to fully implement relevant Council resolutions. He hoped the resumption of inspections would be the right step towards a comprehensive solution towards such implementation, including those related to Kuwaiti and non-Kuwaiti prisoners of war and missing persons. That, in turn, must lead to an end of the long-lasting suffering of the Iraqi people. He appealed to all States to adhere to its obligations to act within the framework of the Council, its relevant resolutions and international law.
KOICHI HARAGUCHI (Japan) said that it was most important that immediate, unconditional and unrestricted inspections be actually conducted in Iraq; that Iraq comply with all relevant Security Council resolutions, and that there be no doubt whatsoever about the elimination of its weapons of mass destruction. For that to happen, the international community must be unified and resolute, putting maximum pressure on the Iraqi Government.
Member States should pursue ways to address the issue through the United Nations and, in turn, the Organization must function effectively. He supported strengthening the inspection regimes under the steady approach of Hans Blix, and would continue to cooperate with the activities of UNMOVIC under his leadership.
He stressed the importance of paying attention to the stability of the region. With all that in mind, he hoped the Security Council would adopt a resolution that was both necessary and appropriate.
NOUREDDINE MEJDOUB (Tunisia) said war against Iraq was useless because the motives were not well founded. The United Nations inspectors had been expected in Baghdad since 17 September. A formal agreement had been signed between Hans Blix, the IAEA and an Iraqi delegation at an October meeting in Vienna. It was unacceptable to recommend automatic military recourse in anticipation of the outcome of inspections, especially when it had not been established that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction.
A war in Iraq would not be useful from an Arab perspective; the Beirut summit in March had unanimously and firmly opposed all military action against Iraq, demanding respect for Iraq's sovereignty, and considering any threat to the security and integrity of one Arab State as a threat to the national security of them all. War, he said, would unleash a chain of reactions and counter-reactions in Iraq and the region, giving extremists a pretext for expanding it even further. It would risk undermining the fight against terrorism and would be an affront to the Arab world.
He said the “warmongering hysteria” must stop. Multilateralism must be rebuilt and trust placed in common sense. The belligerent dimension of a unilateral approach to settling international disputes should be avoided. An act of force could defeat the United Nations Charter principles. The Council must remain vigilant against offering a "legal cover" for unilateral tendencies that could set dangerous precedents if transposed to other tense conflicts. All diplomatic channels must be exhausted in the search for a peaceful solution on Iraq.
When the Council resumed its debate this afternoon, JAVAD ZARIF (Iran) said any arbitrary, unilateral action outside international law against Iraq would be short-sighted and could endanger the fragile international security system, setting a destructive precedent with far-reaching consequences. He said the concept of regime change ran counter to the Iraqi people's right to self-determination and the notion of pre-emptive strike distorted the conventional understanding of self-defence. Any consideration given to unilateral action could arouse suspicion of a hidden agenda beyond disarming Iraq, further exacerbating and complicating the tense situation in the Middle East.
He said Iran favoured the complete elimination of weapons of mass destruction in the region. Iraq's decision to allow the return of United Nations weapons inspectors was a step in the right direction. He favoured diplomacy over military action to further persuade Iraq to fully implement all Security Council resolutions, calling for complete disarmament, the release of prisoners of war, and an end to the practice of harbouring terrorists. Attacking Iraq, with enormous suffering to the Iraqi people, would fuel further resentment everywhere and sow seeds of new hatred that would feed instability for years to come
The Security Council, he said, was in a position to adopt new and realistic procedures to ensure smooth and full implementation of the disarmament process. A unified Council was vital for reaching a viable and lasting solution. He called for weapons inspectors to be able to enter Iraq "hassle-free", and to begin work as soon as possible. The final, peaceful resolution of this crisis would strengthen the international rule of law and demonstrate the ability of the United Nations and multilateral diplomacy to defuse disputes and crises.
VALERIY KUCHINSKY (Ukraine) said the agreement reached between Iraq, UNMOVIC and the IAEA on practical arrangements for the resumption of international inspections, and Iraq’s assurances that unrestricted access to all sites would be granted, was the next step towards full compliance by Iraq with relevant Council resolutions. He called upon the inspectors to return to Iraq as a matter of urgency, and on Iraq to provide all necessary conditions for their work.
The results of the inspections should play the definitive role in elaborating further steps of the United Nations, he said. He called on Iraq to strictly adhere to its commitments under all Council resolutions, especially regarding disarmament obligations. He said he favoured continuing efforts in exploring all peaceful means to resolve the situation and to avoid a war that would cause further suffering, first of all to the people of Iraq.
ABUZED OMAR DORDA (Libya) said the matter under consideration was not between Iraq and Kuwait, but between the United States and Iraq -- indeed, between the United States and the region as a whole. Iraq had informed the Secretariat that it was open for inspections. However, those who were calling for the resumption of the inspectors were the ones trying to prevent them from resuming their work. Those responsible for maintenance of peace and security were calling for war, and those accused of threatening peace and security were calling for dialogue.
He said the solution lay in the prompt resumption of the inspectors’ works. Weapons of mass destruction must be destroyed, not only in Iraq, but everywhere. The permanent members of the Council had a draft resolution that was not a cause for optimism. He called upon the Council not to adopt any resolution that would demean the dignity of the Iraqi people or violate their human rights nor should a resolution include anything imposed by political or economic pressure. There was no need for a further resolution. The Council should call for the prompt return of inspectors and not look for a pretext to attack Iraq.
YAHYA MAHMASSANI, Permanent Observer for the League of Arab States, said that following Iraq’s statements and agreements for the return of inspectors, Iraq had declared it was free of all weapons of mass destruction and had agreed to the return of inspectors. There was no reason to delay that return or to prejudge the results.
He said that in March, in Beirut, the Arab League had completely rejected the waging of war on any Arab country. It also requested that the entire Middle East region be free of nuclear weapons, or any other weapons of mass destruction. He asked why the Security Council did not pressure Israel to disarm in that way or, for that matter, to abide by the numerous resolutions related to it. With the anger resulting from that double standard, a new war in the Middle East would begin a conflagration that would be very difficult to control, annulling the current world order along with the United Nations charter.
CHUCHAI KASEMSARN (Thailand) said multilateralism and multilateral institutions remained humankind’s best hope for the maintenance of international peace and security. The United Nations remained the most appropriate framework for the peaceful resolution of crises through diplomatic means. To prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and to pave the way for their elimination, the multilateral regime must be upheld by all. He strongly urged Iraq to comply with all relevant Council resolutions unconditionally, including immediate, unconditional and unrestricted access for United Nations inspectors. The present escalation of tensions, if allowed to continue, could only do more harm than good and would have dire consequences on the global economy. Furthermore, one of the dreadful consequences of military action was its devastating impact on innocent people and children.
JOHN DAUTH (Australia) said his country was convinced that Iraq’s ambition to acquire weapons of mass destruction remained undiminished, and it had made continuing attempts to procure equipment, material and technologies for its programme for such weapons. The Security Council had a profound responsibility to ensure that the international community’s recent pressure on Iraq did not go to waste. He urged the Council to pass a “new and robust” resolution which provided the strongest possible basis for unconditional and unfettered inspections in Iraq. It was only through such inspections that the international community could be completely satisfied that Iraq no longer posed a threat to international security, and this almost 12-year-long saga could be brought to an end.
He said the United Nations had been patient and had worked hard to satisfy Iraq’s concerns over the previous inspection body, the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM), by designing a new and more streamlined inspection body, the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC). The risks presented by inaction were real, he said. One such risk was that an Iraqi Government, which had shown no compunction about using weapons of mass destruction in the past, would once again be able to threaten its neighbours and the world, but this time with a full suite of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.
JUAN GABRIEL VALDES (Chile) said the main reasons for the Security Council’s debate were, first, the repeated and contemptuous disregard for the Council’s resolutions by Iraq over its development of weapons of mass destruction, and, second, was for the Council to determine the implementation of Iraq’s disarmament. Blatant disregard for the United Nations decisions, he noted, led not to its irrelevancy of the Organization but to international chaos. For that reason, Chile had welcomed the decision of the United States to deal with the crisis within the framework of the United Nations.
Additionally, it also welcomed Iraq’s decision to permit the return of United Nations weapons inspectors without conditions. But in order to achieve compliance with the resolutions of the Council, UNMOVIC had to operate without obstruction of any kind, he said. For it to work effectively, the Council must focus its attention on adopting another resolution as early as possible, specifying UNMOVIC’s functions and duties in greater detail.
MOCHAMAD S. HIDAYAT (Indonesia) called on the Council to continue to seek a peaceful resolution, urging it to deploy its considerable influence to persuade all parties that the road to peace, not the route to war, was in the best interest of all. War must be employed only as a last resort, not as the next item on the agenda. Indonesia had consistently appealed to the Iraqi leadership to comply with relevant resolutions, including those relating to the destruction and renunciation of weapons of mass destruction. His Government had welcomed Iraq’s decision to allow the return of United Nations inspectors to their country without conditions. Since Iraq had indicated its readiness to implement previous Council resolutions and commitments, that critical situation could be resolved peacefully.
He said that Iraq had suffered long enough; it would be unfortunate for it to have to face another war that would further set back its economy and its people. Now that Iraq had agreed to allow the return of inspectors, the door has been reopened to peace. Despite the sabre rattling, there was a "very good" chance to avoid military action and win back both regional and global peace. The situation in Iraq should not be viewed in isolation. It was crucial to see the bigger picture of the Middle East, with particular attention to the situation in Palestine, as well as in the context of the challenge of terrorism.
ELLEN MARGRETHE LØJ (Denmark), for the European Union and associated countries, said that she respected the political integrity of Iraq. Its new-found willingness to readmit weapons inspectors should now be put to the test, and complete disarmament of weapons of mass destruction, achieved. She reiterated the Union’s demand that Iraq adhere fully to all relevant resolutions of the Security Council, and supported a new Security Council resolution strengthening the inspection regime.
Iraq, she said, must fully accommodate those inspectors in carrying out their mandate, or be held accountable for its failure to do so. The Union emphasized the crucial role of the Security Council in all matters of peace and security. In accordance with the United Nations Charter, its Members should take a speedy decision, with the widest possible support, that maintained strong pressure on Iraq.
UMIT PAMIR (Turkey), aligning himself with the statement made by Denmark on behalf of the European Union, said that for 12 years the Iraqi people had suffered the debilitating and unintended effects of measures taken under Chapter VII of the Charter. Throughout those years, Turkey had received “a raw deal”. From northern Iraq, a safe haven for terrorists, operations had been conducted against his country, and its trading routes had been disrupted. Now that Iraq had decided to allow the return of inspectors unconditionally, he hoped the international community would choose to test the veracity of that position. The Iraqi Government should adhere fully to all relevant resolutions without trying to set forth any preconditions. A new draft resolution should help it to do precisely that.
He said the ongoing quest for a new resolution stemmed from the need to show the world that the means at the disposal of the Council for the pacific disposal of the matter were truly exhausted. He hoped such a text would empower the inspectors with an effective mandate and incorporate clear provisions for cases of both compliance and non-compliance. He said no military action had brought a lasting and viable solution in the Middle East. The destiny of the Iraqi people lay solely in the hands of the Iraqis as a whole. In that context, the single, most important principle was to maintain Iraq’s territorial integrity and national unity.
DON MACKAY (New Zealand) said Iraq had consistently ignored Council demands for inspection of weapons of mass destruction. It had used chemical weapons against its neighbours and against its own people, and it had possessed biological weapons. There were "strong grounds" to suspect that it had sought the capability to produce nuclear weapons. Iraq had been in breach of international disarmament treaties to which it was a party. Without inspection, the Council could not be sure that Iraq did not possess those weapons and had no intention to develop them. When the Iraqi Government signed the Gulf War ceasefire agreement in 1991, it unconditionally accepted the terms of Council resolution 687 (1991) requiring the "destruction and removal, under international supervision", of all its mass destruction weapons. Since then, Iraq had consistently violated those commitments.
He said that if Iraq failed to fulfil its obligations, he expected the Council to take firm action. As a first step, it was essential that weapons inspectors were immediately readmitted so that the Council could effectively assess the state, nature and extent of Iraq’s weapons programme. That required full cooperation and unrestricted access by Iraq, with clear rules governing compliance. Should Iraq not comply with its obligations, any further action should come back to the Council for consideration, which must remain the arbiter of Iraq’s compliance. In the event of non-compliance, "the use of force is clearly not beyond the Council’s contemplation". Attendant risks, including instability in the region and beyond, might be alleviated if the Council provided a united front, so that any action was clearly seen to be taken on behalf of the international community.
ARNOLDO M. LISTRE (Argentina) said the Government of Iraq must fully comply with the obligations of Council resolution 687 (1991). The situation where Iraq had not complied with Council resolutions for the last 11 years was unacceptable. It was essential that inspectors enjoy immediate, unconditional and unrestricted access to all sites, including “sensitive” and “presidential” sites. The Council must adopt new measures strengthening the inspectors’ mandate and establishing consequences in the case of a new failure to comply. He hoped a peaceful solution was still possible. He also hoped that full compliance by Iraq with its obligations would allow for the eventual and gradual lifting of sanctions. If all negotiating mechanisms were exhausted, force must be exercised with caution and moderation. The use of force, a last resort, must be legitimate and authorized by the Council.
FUAD MUBARAK AL-HINAI (Oman) said Iraq’s decision to allow international inspectors to return had been a result of concerted regional and international efforts to spare Iraq and the region of war. He hoped the Council would approve the immediate return of UNMOVIC. There was no need to adopt a resolution approving automatically a military strike. He called on Iraq to resume its cooperation with the Tripartite Committee and to close the humanitarian file relating to Kuwaiti prisoners of war and third-country missing persons, and the return of Kuwaiti property. He also called on the Council to end the suffering of the Iraqi people, to protect their sovereignty and territorial integrity, and to explore every peaceful and diplomatic means to achieve implementation of all relevant Council resolutions.
ARTHUR C.I. MBANEFO (Nigeria) said the United Nations had made tremendous progress over the years in disarming Iraq and destroying most of its weapons programmes. Iraq must comply with all of its obligations under the relevant resolutions, in order for the sanctions to be lifted. Meanwhile, Nigeria had always supported relief measures such as the “oil-for-food” programme, in order to cushion the effects of the sanctions.
Today, the international community was at the threshold of another crucial decision on Iraq. The way it addressed that situation would have far-reaching implications for multilateralism and the ability of the United Nations to promote world peace, security and development of the whole world, and not just part of it. He said disarmament was "unfinished business" in Iraq, which had not fulfilled all of its obligations. Its continued breach of Council resolutions undermined the legitimacy of the Organization. Iraq must seize the moment to demonstrate its peaceful intentions and its respect for the United Nations Charter and international law.
In the regrettable event that Iraq failed to comply, it would be legitimate, and indeed justifiable, for the Council to review the situation and take the necessary steps to ensure compliance. The international community had previously demonstrated its ability to act with resolve through the Council. He was confident it would rise to the occasion in the case of Iraq. All Member States should work to protect the credibility and integrity of the Organization lest, by default, actions were set in motion that could weaken it and deter it from its critical role of maintaining international peace and security.
PAUL HEINBECKER (Canada) said that a long series of resolutions dealing with the international and legal obligations of Iraq had been adopted in this Chamber. It was, and remained, the responsibility of the Iraqi Government to fulfil its obligations, as determined by the Council in the interest of maintaining international peace and security. Many governments, including his own, had already delivered directly to the Iraqi authorities the clear message that they must accept the immediate return of inspectors and work with UNMOVIC and the IAEA openly and unconditionally. That meant full cooperation and prompt and unfettered access to all sites that those decided to see, including sensitive and presidential sites. Canada, therefore, welcomed Iraq’s decision to accept the inspectors’ return.
He said it was an essential first step, but as the ceasefire provisions had made clear, the return of weapons inspections was not the end, but the means. The end, as set out by the Council, was the destruction of all Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles, and the end of all Iraqi programmes to develop them. Regrettably, given the record of the past 11 years, world opinion had become sceptical of Iraqi assurances. It had seen too much evasion, obstruction and misinformation to rely on anything other than the judgements of the weapons inspectors. That was why Canada fully supported current efforts to seek a new and unambiguous message to Iraq, which should spell out in clear and unequivocal terms what was required of Iraq. Equally, it must leave no doubt that Iraq would face serious consequences if it failed, once again, to fully comply.
BRUNO RODRIGUE PARRILLA (CUBA) said that, despite the widespread opposition to war against Iraq, a draft resolution that would make such a war unavoidable was being promoted in the Security Council. What was needed, however, was that inspectors restart their work without further delay, thus, implementing existing resolutions towards a comprehensive peace and stability for the region, including the lifting of sanctions that caused so much suffering for the Iraqi people.
He said the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of Iraq, Kuwait and all the countries of the region should be respected. General disarmament was the only possible way to peace.
In recent weeks, secret meetings had been taking place among some members of the Council. Non-permanent members were being excluded. Cuba, however, hoped that inclusive dialogue and negotiation would prevail and that the Security Council would act in accordance with its responsibilities. Otherwise, the damage to the international order and collective security would be irreparable.
ELFATIH MOHAMED AHMED ERWA (Sudan) said the Council should broaden the scope of ongoing consultations to include all members beyond the permanent five, with full respect for the Charter and for transparency. The Sudan had welcomed the decision of Iraq to readmit inspectors, hoping it would begin the resolution of all outstanding issues on the problem, in accordance with international law. The Security Council had not been able to enforce such law in relation to Israel, which also had been developing weapons of mass destruction that threatened the region.
He said a peaceful resolution of all conflicts was necessary, and time must be allowed for the inspectors to fulfil their mandates in Iraq. The present situation did not call for any new resolutions, and the Sudan did not expect the Security Council, under any circumstances, to “unleash the dogs of war”.
PAPA LOUIS FALL (Senegal) emphasized Iraq’s obligation to comply unconditionally with all relevant Council resolutions and the need for concerted international action, legitimized by the Council, in case of Iraq’s non-compliance. He said the exclusive responsibility for the fact that sanctions had not been lifted lay with Iraq’s non-compliance with relevant Council resolutions.
He emphasized the need for Iraq to respond to requests to free Kuwaiti prisoners of war and third-country persons, and to return Kuwaiti property and archives. Iraq must comply scrupulously with the conditions of the agreements reached regarding the return of inspectors, he said. Council resolutions were binding on all Member States, including those who had defied Council resolutions for 35 years and had an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. Ways must be found to find a peaceful diplomatic resolution based on the rule of international law and Council resolutions.
* *** *