AT REQUEST OF NON-ALIGNED COUNTRIES, SECURITY COUNCIL HEARS VIEWS OF LARGER UN MEMBERSHIP ON DISARMAMENT OF IRAQ

11 March 2003
SC/7685

AT REQUEST OF NON-ALIGNED COUNTRIES, SECURITY COUNCIL HEARS VIEWS OF LARGER UN MEMBERSHIP ON DISARMAMENT OF IRAQ

11/03/2003
Press ReleaseSC/7685

Security Council

4717th Meeting* (PM)

AT REQUEST OF NON-ALIGNED COUNTRIES, SECURITY COUNCIL HEARS VIEWS

OF LARGER UN MEMBERSHIP ON DISARMAMENT OF IRAQ

Seeking to help shape the Security Council’s response to unfolding events surrounding the disarmament of Iraq, including last Friday’s briefings by the United Nations weapons inspectors and anticipated action by the Council this week, 28 speakers today debated what many called a “rush to war”. 

At the request made last week by the Non-Aligned Movement of countries, the Council agreed to invite United Nations Member States, who are not members of the Council, to participate in an open debate.  On 7 March, the Executive Chairman of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), Hans Blix, reported that, after a period of somewhat reluctant cooperation, there had been an acceleration of initiatives by Iraq since the end of January, including acceptance that its Al-Samoud 2 missiles must be destroyed.  At the same time, such initiatives three to four months into resolution 1441 (2002) did not constitute “immediate” cooperation.

Resolution 1441 (2002) authorized the inspections, which began on

27 November.  Unanimously adopted by the Council, the text gave Iraq a final opportunity to comply with its obligations to rid itself of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, obligations that dated back to 1991, with the end of the Persian Gulf War.  A further resolution, submitted by the United States, the United Kingdom and Spain, but not yet pressed to a vote, would give the Iraqi leadership until 17 March to comply with its obligations.

The first speaker in today’s debate was the Iraqi representative, who said his country had been aware from the start that the United States and the United Kingdom would doubt any positive result of inspections, because their goal was not disarmament, which had been effectively achieved, but rather to “put their hands on our oil and control the area and redraw it in a way that ensures the vital interests for the United States for a long period of the future -– and this means a new direct colonization of the area”.  Iraq had taken the strategic decision to rid itself of mass destruction weapons, without which, there would be no cooperation with UNMOVIC.  It would continue to cooperate, leading to a lifting of the sanctions and the conclusion that no banned weapons existed in Iraq.

The representative of Kuwait said it was a sensitive time for the Gulf region, as a result of the intransigence of the Iraqi Government, which had not

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*     The 4716th meeting was closed.

lived up to its obligations.  It also bore full responsibility for the suffering of the Iraqi people during the past 12 years.  It was up to that Government to protect its people and those in the region from the negative repercussions of a war, by changing its behaviour and actively cooperating, instead of pretending to do so.  Meanwhile, the Council’s unity must be preserved; the only winner of its division on the matter was the Iraqi leadership.

On behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, the Malaysian representative said experience had shown that it was easy to start a war.  In the name of humanity, he appealed to Council members not to resort to military action against Iraq.  Indeed, the Council must strive for a peaceful solution.  The Middle East, already a flashpoint of conflict, due primarily to Israeli aggression and occupation of Palestinian and Arab lands, could not afford any more turmoil.  There was no dishonour in responding to the appeals of the international community to prevent the use of force against Iraq.

Several speakers from the region recalled the decision of the recent Arab summit that an attack against Iraq would be an attack against all Arab States, including the Permanent Observer for the League of Arab States, who asked what present and looming threat existed to wage war in Iraq at a time when the inspections were proceeding vigorously towards the verification of the elimination of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.  If it was regime change, no one should interfere in the domestic affairs of a State.  Everything should be done to avoid that “hideous and uneven” war, which would devastate, destroy and destabilize the Arab region and the entire world, he warned.

Why the rush to war, echoed the representative of Iran, at a time when the chief inspectors had asked for a relatively short period of time to complete their work.  It was true that the disarmament of Iraq should not have dragged on for

12 years and that its “fragmentary and grudging” cooperation was a main cause of the current crisis.  Iran, as a victim of wars of aggression and weapons of mass destruction, certainly understood the international community’s frustration.  But, it also knew that another war in the region should not easily or hurriedly be decided.  It would be morally and politically unacceptable to allow considerations such as hot weather, moonless nights, and troop fatigue to guide that decision.  Against the backdrop of a “real nightmare” of such a war, any chance to avoid it, however slim, should be seized.

Noting with dismay and foreboding that Iraq, even at this hour, had yet to show full, immediate, active and unconditional cooperation with the United Nations weapons inspectors, the representative of Turkey called upon Council members for cohesion, which would not only serve to legitimize any action, but would reinforce United Nations credibility and ensure that the decision reached by that body would be heard “loud and clear” around the globe.  Turkey had no concealed agenda, nor did it intend to shut out the Kurds living in northern Iraq.  Depicting Turkey as “haggling over a price tag” was a gross disservice to a county that had been a bastion of regional stability.

Highlighting a proposal by Canada that the Council set a deadline of three weeks for Iraq to demonstrate conclusively that it was implementing the required

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tasks and cooperating actively and effectively on substance, that country’s representative called on the Council to ask Dr. Blix to stipulate the urgent steps required of the Iraqi Government to implement the disarmament tasks.  If, by the deadline, Iraq was found to be cooperating fully and actively, a further deadline could be set.  Those deadlines could be repeated until the disarmament goals of resolutions 1441 (2002) and 1284 (1998) were met.  Finally, a sustained inspection and monitoring system could be put in place.

Others agreed that Iraq’s record of compliance had been insufficient.  The Australian representative, for example, did not believe Iraq had shown a change of heart that would lead to verifiable disarmament.  And, in his most recent report, Dr. Blix had been unable to state that Iraq had made the fundamental decision to disarm.  It, therefore, had fallen short of the requirements of resolution 1441.  The key question now was what the Council would do about that.  Would it accept the small, belated steps taken by Iraq as adequate?  He believed it should not.  Recent reluctant offerings had only come about as a result of the enormous pressure military forces massing in the region.  Even its minimum cooperation would stop if such pressure was removed.  That pattern would no doubt continue, unless the Council was united and acted decisively.

Similarly, the representative of Iceland said that the Iraqi Government had not actively cooperated with the inspectors and, thus, was in violation of resolution 1441.  The international community had tolerated “relentless obstruction” of inspections for 12 years now.  It was high time that the United Nations showed determination, for its credibility was at stake.  A war in Iraq was a last resort, but it was up to the Iraqi Government to avoid it by disarming “quickly and in a credible” manner, he said.

Statements were also made by the representatives of South Africa, Algeria, Egypt, India, Libya, Switzerland, Norway, Brazil, New Zealand, Cuba, Singapore, Republic of Korea, Lao People’s Republic, Indonesia, Albania, Viet Nam, Lebanon and Belarus.  The Permanent Observer for the Organization of the Islamic Conference also spoke.

Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette attended today’s meeting, which began at 3:19 p.m. and was suspended at 7 p.m. 

The Security Council will resume its open debate on the situation between Iraq and Kuwait at 3 p.m. tomorrow.

Background

The Security Council met this afternoon to hear the views of non-Council members on the situation between Iraq and Kuwait, as requested by Malaysia on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement in a letter to the President of the Council of 7 March (document S/2003/283).

According to that letter, the Non-aligned Movement firmly believes that the Council would benefit from hearing the views of the wider international community on the reports the Executive Chairman of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), Hans Blix, and the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohamed ElBaradei, presented to the Council on Friday, 7 March, and on recently introduced new proposals.

For more information on the 7 March Council meeting, see Press Release SC/7682.

During that meeting, Mr. Blix announced UNMOVIC had compiled a list of unresolved disarmament issues, the so-called “cluster document”.  That document is available on www.un.org/Depts/documents/cluster.htm.

Statements

MOHAMMED A. ALDOURI (Iraq) said, in response to the questions being pondered by many representatives after the “paper mix-up and the fake and untrue allegations” being spread by the United States and the United Kingdom regarding Iraq’s compliance, as Dr. Blix reported on Friday, Iraq was “proactively cooperating”.  As the chief weapons inspectors had reported, Iraq had opened all doors and sites even before the inspectors arrived, and there were no obstacles.  Indeed, the inspections were serious, effective and immediate; inspectors could reach any site they desired with ease and without noticeable problems.

He said that inspection activities had not found any weapons of mass destruction or programmes to produce such weapons.  Iraq was the one that declared its missiles programme, unilaterally and with UNMOVIC supervision, was now destroying Al-Samoud 2 missiles, which UNMOVIC deemed proscribed.  As to whether the United States and the United Kingdom had been able to prove the existence of proscribed weapons or programmes, the answer was no.  In fact, one of the documents alleging an attempt by Iraq to import uranium from an African country had proved to be a forgery, as stated recently by Dr. ElBaradei.  And, the latest intelligence report submitted by Britain was a student’s thesis done in 1990; it contained published information and was plagiarized, retaining even language errors from the student’s statement.

Moreover, he went on, the allegations presented by the United States Secretary of State on 5 February had been refuted by the facts obtained by the inspectors during four months of reinforced inspections.  Iraq’s acceptance of resolution 1441 (2002) had made it impossible for the United States and Britain to use it as a pretext to declare war on Iraq.  Hence, they started doubting the inspections and the inspectors’ abilities and searched for other pretexts, such as terrorism, regime change, Iraq’s threat to its neighbours and American interests, and the need to disarm the “so-called” weapons of mass destruction with force.  “This means war and that is their main goal from this game”, he said.

Mr. Blix had said that the document submitted by UNMOVIC to the Security Council on remaining disarmament issues had not provided any evidence of the possession by Iraq of proscribed weapons or programmes, he said.  Iraq had requested such a document from UNMOVIC for some time; it would be important to review the main tasks required of Iraq.  Regarding what had been called “new evidence” alleging in the past two days that Iraq was in material breach, that had concerned a “small experimental primitive aircraft without any form of production at all”.

In fact, he said the inspection teams had viewed the aircraft, its specifications and details and had ascertained that those specifications, especially concerning fuel-tank capacity and the engine, were tested “within the range of the airport”.  That experimental aircraft was radio controlled and within the sight range of a ground controller, and did not exceed eight kilometres.  Hence, that was not a mass destruction weapon or a delivery method exceeding the range set by the Security Council.  Was that a material breach of the Council’s resolutions, particularly resolution 1441? he asked.

He said his country had been aware from the start that the United States and the United Kingdom would doubt any result, because their goal was not disarmament, which had been effectively achieved, but rather to control Iraq’s oil and redrawing the region to suit the vital interests of the United States for a long period of time –- “and this means a new, direct colonization of the area”.  Iraq had taken the strategic decision to rid itself of mass destruction weapons, without which, there would be no cooperation with UNMOVIC.  Today, it reiterated its readiness for fruitful constructive cooperation leading to the decision that no such weapons existed in Iraq and to the lifting of sanctions.

MOHAMMAD A. ABULHASAN (Kuwait) said that today’s debate was being held at a sensitive time for the Gulf region, as a result of the intransigence of the Iraqi Government, which had not lived up to its obligations under previous Council resolutions.  That situation had created the acute tension which now prevailed.  The Iraqi Government bore full responsibility for the suffering of the Iraqi people during the past 12 years.  He fully supported efforts made to arrive at a peaceful settlement of Iraq’s disarmament, in keeping with international legality.  The resolutions and declarations of the Non-Aligned Movement, the League of Arab States and the Organization of the Islamic Conference had not only expressed a preference for a peaceful settlement, but had also described the path to be followed -- by asking Iraq to implement all relevant resolutions and cooperate fully with inspectors.

The draft resolution before the Council, he said, gave the Iraqi Government additional time, during which it could reveal its holdings and hand them over.  He hoped that the Iraqi Government would avail itself of that opportunity and accept the international community’s appeal.  The draft reflected the Council’s determination with respect to Iraq’s challenge to the international community and deserved full support.  While he hoped that it would not be necessary to use military force, he reaffirmed that it was up to the Iraqi Government to protect the Iraqi people and those in the region from the negative repercussions by changing its behaviour and actively cooperating, instead of pretending to do so.  Unity within the Council must be preserved.  Only common will, unity and determination would serve to effectively bring about the results hoped for.

The obligations imposed on Iraq were not confined to eliminating weapons of mass destruction, he continued.  There were also other important matters that remained unresolved since the invasion, such as prisoners of war and destruction to Kuwaiti property.  He did not find a sincere willingness by Iraq to deal with such matters.  He hoped that the Council would be able to go beyond differences of opinion and arrive at an agreement that reflected the common determination of the international community, as well as confront any political manoeuvring by the Iraqi leadership.  Division had only one winner -- the Iraqi leadership.

ZAINUDDIN YAHYA (Malaysia), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said the 116 member States of the Movement, representing two thirds of humanity, had called for the open debate so the views of the larger membership of the United Nations could be heard.  The adoption of the Kuala Lumpur Declaration during the thirteenth conference of the heads of State or government of the Movement, held on 24-25 February, reaffirmed the commitment to the pursuit of a peaceful and prosperous world order.  The summit had also adopted statements on Iraq and Palestine.

He said the Movement believed that war against Iraq would be a destabilizing factor for the region, as well as for the whole world.  The Movement was committed to the fundamental principles of the non-use of force and respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence and security of all Member States.  It welcomed the decision by Iraq to actively cooperate with the inspectors in accordance with resolution 1441 (2002).  He called on Iraq to continue active compliance with that and other relevant Council resolutions.  That would be an important step towards opening the way to a comprehensive and peaceful resolution of all pending issues between Iraq and the United Nations.  The current disarmament effort in Iraq should not be an end in itself, but should also constitute a step towards the lifting of sanctions.

The peaceful resolution of the Iraqi crisis would ensure that the Council was in a position to ensure Iraq’s sovereignty and compliance with paragraph 14 of its resolution 687 (1991) on the establishment in the Middle East of a weapons-of-mass-destruction-free zone, which included Israel.  According to reports of

7 March, there had been substantial progress in the work of the inspectors.

Mr. Blix had categorically stated that there was no evidence to support claims that Iraq was hiding biological and chemical weapons in mobile laboratories and underground shelters.  Mr. ElBaradei had alluded that allegations that Iraq had tried to purchase uranium from the Niger were based on unauthentic documents.  The submission of false reports to the United Nations on Iraq’s alleged nuclear weapons programme was a worrisome and irresponsible act.

The Movement firmly believed that the problem of Iraq could be resolved peacefully through the United Nations, he said.  The Council must strive for a peaceful solution, without resorting to war, and should remain conscious of the untold misery that war would inflict on the countries and the people in the region.  The Middle East, already a flash-point of conflict, due primarily to Israeli aggression and occupation of Palestinian and Arab lands, could not afford any more turmoil.  There was no dishonour in responding to the appeals of the international community to prevent the use of force against Iraq.

DUMISANI S. KUMALO (South Africa) believed, as millions around the world did, that war was unnecessary.  A war against Iraq would be deadly, destabilizing and have far-reaching political, socio-economic and humanitarian consequences for all countries.  For those in Africa, the impact of the pending war would indeed be crippling. 

The decision the Council was about to take would undoubtedly transcend the immediate issue of Iraq, he said.  “It would appear that we are no longer debating the situation in Iraq and that country’s full compliance with resolution 1441, but that we are currently defining a new international order that will determine how the international community addresses conflict situations in the future.”  The fundamental issue was the peaceful disarmament of Iraq.  Resolution 1441 was about disarming Iraq through inspections.  It was not a declaration of war.  Neither was the use of military force the best way to bring about democracy, or to improve human rights in any country.

He reiterated his full confidence in the work of the weapons inspectors.  The Council could strengthen the work of the inspectors by endorsing a work programme and time frame for the inspections, which Mr. Blix had already offered to present to the Council.  Any timetable developed without taking into account the programme of the inspectors could only lead to an unnecessary ultimatum for war.  Also, a deadline by the Council would be counter-productive and contradict both resolutions 1284 (1999) and 1441 (2003).  As a result, he failed to see any need for a further resolution until all the provisions of resolutions 1284 and 1441 had been exhausted.

YAHYA A. MAHMASSANI, Permanent Observer for the League of Arab States, said the Arab summit in March had considered that an attack against Iraq would be an attack against all Arab States.  The decision called on all States to support Arab efforts to avert war, which it understood had required Iraq’s full implementation of Security Council resolution 1441 (2002) and the granting of sufficient time for the inspectors to complete their mission.  The Arab summit had also recalled Iraq’s assurances to respect Kuwait’s sovereignty, the return of prisoners and detainees, and the remaining archives and properties.  The recent UNMOVIC report of 7 March had affirmed the positive accomplishments of the inspectors, in light of the responsiveness and cooperation of Iraq.  That confirmed the need to continue the inspections and close the Iraqi file.

He said that Mr. ElBaradei had said there was no indication of a revival of Iraq’s nuclear programme.  Mr. Blix has referred to increased aerial surveillance and the destruction of Al-Samoud missiles.  Indeed, lethal weapons were being destroyed.  Initiatives taken by the Iraqi side, said Mr. Blix, could now be seen as active or even proactive.  The inspectors would not take weeks or years to complete their work, but only months.  Then, why the war?  What present and looming threat existed to wage war at a time when the inspections were proceeding vigorously towards the verification of the elimination of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?

That question led to others, including whether the objective of such a war was the elimination of proscribed weapons, or concerned other schemes.  Moreover, any government change should be decided by the peoples of the region, free from any foreign intervention.  Interference in a country’s domestic affairs was offensive and unacceptable.  Everything should be done to avoid a “hideous and uneven” war, which would devastate, destroy and destabilize the Arab region and the entire world.  Today was a historic junction, which would determine the destiny of the region for generations to come.  A war against Iraq would be a prelude for other wars; principles and values would collapse and chaos would reign supreme, he warned.

ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria) said it would be improper for the Council to take a decision regarding the use of force in Iraq alone and not listen to those not sitting in the Council.  He hoped the Council would listen to them, because the Council took decisions on behalf of all.  The Council must also hear regional organizations and other groups who had spoken out in unity in past weeks, such as the European Union, the African Union and the Non-Aligned Movement.  All those groups were calling on the Council to see to it that the logic of peace prevailed over that of war.  The Council must also listen to civil society, which over the past weeks had rejected war, as had religious leaders, including the Pope.

The Council could not discard the outcry of the world and, with a simple wave of the hand, reject reports of inspection missions it had created itself, he said.  Mr. Blix and Mr. ElBaradei were asking for just a few months in order to obtain peaceful disarmament in Iraq.  The clear denials of Mr. Blix and

Mr. ElBaradei of allegations regarding Iraq left no choice but to conclude that only impartial inspections could establish the facts.  Progress had only been achieved because the international community had shown unity and determination. Was it reasonable, now that inspections were beginning to bear fruit, that inspections would be ended abruptly and hundreds of thousands of lives would be jeopardized? he asked.

He called for a peaceful settlement to the crisis and respect of all for international legality.  The Council’s credibility would be safeguarded if the Council finally endeavoured to see to it that there was respect everywhere and in all circumstances for its resolutions, including those regarding Israel, which was threatening the States in the region with weapons of mass destruction.

AHMED ABOUL GHEIT (Egypt) said that the two reports delivered by the inspectors had distinct elements.  First, inspections were making concrete progress towards genuine disarmament.  Second, the call for giving inspectors more time –- not years or weeks, but some months.  That was reaffirmed by the Arab summit, held in Sharm el-Sheikh.  Third, the IAEA had not reached the conclusion that Iraq had revived its nuclear programme in the past four years.  That, in sum, was the viewpoint of those internationally respected professionals.  He called on Iraq to complete its implementation of resolution 1441 (2002).

He did not believe that it was necessary to assert that the Council stood at a crucial juncture.  The way it dealt with the issue would have a deep impact on the way it handled issues in the decades to come.  He called on Council members to commit themselves to the Charter and the relevant resolutions to settle international disputes by peaceful means.  The Arab summit, on 1 March, had rejected a strike against Iraq and the threatening of the security of any Arab State.  He called on all States to support efforts to avoid a war, as well as sufficient time for inspectors to complete their work.

Egypt had been active in the ministerial committee created by the Arab summit, which had undertaken intensive contacts in New York, he stated.  The committee would be visiting Baghdad in the coming days to ensure cooperation by Iraq with all Council resolutions. Weapons of mass destruction must be eliminated.  Therefore, he urged the international community to give the inspection regime the opportunity to obtain security and peace in that region.  War would have grave repercussions. Humanity and international relations would suffer from war.  It was, thus, a duty for all to work seriously to avoid war.

VIJAY K. NAMBIAR (India) said reports of UNMOVIC and the IAEA had indicated progress in cooperation extended by Iraq.  As discussions entered a critical phase, it was important to underline that the focus should be on the disarmament of Iraq without resorting to armed force, as far as possible.  It required not only active and immediate compliance by Iraq of resolution 1441 (2002) and earlier resolutions, but also a strong unity of purpose on the part of the Council.   There was a need to persevere in efforts towards a collective decision of the international community, by establishing thresholds, if necessary.  If allowing more time and establishing clearer criteria could help the process of United Nations-based decision-making, it should be given a chance.

He maintained that force should be resorted to only as the very last option and when authorized by the Council.  He also called for steps to ensure that any measures taken by the Council should not adversely impact on the humanitarian situation, which was already extremely difficult.  Measures taken by the Council should ensure the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq.  If actions of the Council were to be seen as legitimate, they must come from a body that was united and acted responsibly towards ensuring:  compliance by Iraq; stability in the immediate neighbourhood; and international peace and security in the region as a whole.

AHMED OWN (Libya) said the Iraqi crisis was the most serious being faced by the world since the end of the cold war.  What was emerging now was the clear will of the international community to reject decisions imposed upon it, that ran counter to international legitimacy.  The overwhelming opposition to the war against the Iraqi people was proof of the international community’s rejection of the war or the threat of war.  The proponents of the war had not presented a convincing case.  Indeed, Iraq had shown a clear political will, at the highest level, to comply with resolution 1441 (2002) and implement it fully.  Iraq had extended effective cooperation, as borne out by the reports of the chief weapons inspectors.  They had affirmed the importance of continued inspections, for which more time was sought -– not weeks or years, but months.

Despite such positive developments, he said, some States were “still marching towards war and rushing towards it”.  They were waging a media campaign to distort the facts and justify their approach.  The proponents of the war were acting outside the scope of international law in seeking a regime change in Iraq.  Besides, resolution 1441 (2002) had not specified a time frame for the conclusion of the inspections.  The fact that the international community had stood up firmly was an historic act, in the wake of the end of the cold war.  He would not forget the brave stands of Council members, who, in the face of blackmail and threat, had refused to acquiesce to the orders of some States that had been accustomed to pursuing their economic and political interests, even at the expense of the world’s “small peoples”. 

JAVAD ZARIF (Iran) said that, at a time when the chief inspectors had recommended that they be given a relatively short period of time to complete their work, the question was why there was a “rush to war”.  It was true that the disarmament of Iraq should not have dragged on for 12 years and it was also true that the Iraqi Government should have fulfilled its obligations much earlier.  Indeed, its “fragmentary and grudging” cooperation was a main cause of the current crisis.  As “victims of one of the wars of aggression, the major victim of harbouring terrorism and the only victim of these weapons of mass destruction”, Iran certainly understood the international community’s frustration.  But, it also knew that another war in its region should not easily or hurriedly be decided.  “Two wrongs will not make it right”, he said.

He said it would be morally and politically unacceptable if considerations such as hot weather, moonless nights, troop fatigue and the like were to take precedence.  Everyone had some idea of the unparalleled disaster of such a war; the humanitarian crisis in Iraq and neighbouring countries could be catastrophic and extremism would benefit most.  There were also worrying signs that the right of the Iraqi people to self-determination would be among the casualties.  The stakes had already gone far beyond Iraq; the rush to war had already placed the international system on the line.  He fully supported the warning issued yesterday and today by the Secretary-General.  He was also gravely concerned about outright attempts to undermine the United Nations.  Against the backdrop of a “real nightmare” of such a war, any chance to avoid it, however slim, should be seized.

JOHN DAUTH (Australia) said his country did not believe Iraq had shown a change of heart that would lead to its full and verifiable disarmament.  In his report to the Council on 7 March, Hans Blix was unable to state that Iraq had taken the fundamental decision to disarm.  No one, including United Nations weapons inspectors, had been able to describe Iraq's cooperation as immediate, unconditional and active.  Iraq had, therefore, fallen short of what resolution 1441 (2002) had required it to do, and the key question for the Council was what to do about that.  Would it accept the small, belated steps taken by Iraq as adequate?  He believed it should not.  Beginning to destroy Al-Samoud 2 missiles was no reason to relinquish pressure on Iraq to disarm.  Iraq should never have developed missiles with a range beyond 150 kilometres in the first place, since the Council had expressly forbidden that.

Iraq's belated discoveries of R400 bombs raised questions about its sudden ability to find weapons, he continued.  Other developments, such as the handing over of some documents, were redolent of Iraq's tired tactic of seeking to pacify the international community.  Those reluctant offerings only came about due to the enormous pressure exerted on Iraq by the massing of military forces in the region. Even that minimum cooperation would stop if such pressure was removed.  That pattern had been seen before, and no doubt would be seen again, unless the Council was united and acted decisively.

Few outstanding disarmament questions had been resolved in Iraq, he said, and many remained.  The international community did not know what Iraq had done with 6,500 chemical munitions, with a potential agent content of 1,000 tonnes of chemical agent; 8,500 litres of anthrax; 650 kilograms of bacterial growth media, which could be used to make 5,000 litres of anthrax; 360 tonnes of bulk chemical agent; 1.5 tonnes of VX; and 3,000 tonnes of precursor chemicals.  Without full Iraqi cooperation, none of those and other questions would be adequately resolved. Giving inspectors more time, or giving them additional capabilities, would mean nothing unless Iraq genuinely cooperated.

PAUL HEINBECKER (Canada) said it was painfully obvious that the Council was profoundly divided and that that division threatened the very collective security vocation of the United Nations. The first step to regaining unity was to recognize that positions on both sides were held with deep conviction, and that both sides had valid arguments.  An open-ended inspection process would relieve the pressure on Iraq to disarm.  Disarmament had only begun because of heavy outside pressure. On the other hand, a foreshortened inspections process would create doubt about whether war was indeed the last resort.

He said on 18 February his country had suggested that the key remaining disarmament tasks be established and prioritized by the inspectors and that a deadline be established for Iraq to implement them.  Iraq’s leadership should be asked to publicly direct all levels of its Government to take all necessary disarmament decisions.  The Council should ask Mr. Blix to press forward the programme of work urgently and to stipulate the urgent and imperative steps required of the Government of Iraq to implement disarmament tasks.  It was obvious that disarmament and verification could not be instantaneous.  The Council should set a deadline of three weeks for Iraq to demonstrate conclusively that it was implementing those tasks and was cooperating actively and effectively on substance, and not only on process.

The Council should consider authorizing Member States now to eventually use all necessary means to force compliance, unless, on the basis of ongoing inspectors’ reports, it concluded that Iraq was complying.  If, by the deadline, Iraq was found to be cooperating fully and actively, a further deadline could be set.  Those deadlines could be repeated until the disarmament goals of resolutions 1441 (2002) and 1284 (1999) were met.  Finally, a sustained inspection and monitoring system would need to be put in place after verified disarmament, in order to give the international community confidence and to alert it immediately if Iraq sought to re-establish proscribed weapons programmes.

JENO C.A. STAEHELIN (Switzerland) said the United Nations’ priority must be the peaceful disarmament of Iraq, as long as weapons inspections continued to yield results.  At present, he supported initiatives to grant UNMOVIC and IAEA inspectors reasonable time to complete inspections, verification and destruction of prohibited Iraqi arms, as set forth by relevant Security Council resolutions.  He welcomed UNMOVIC’s proposal to soon submit to the Security Council a list of all outstanding questions concerning disarmament and a working programme for achieving the objectives of resolution 1441 (2002).

The potentially destructive humanitarian and social consequences of a military conflict were proof of the need to disarm Iraq through continued and strengthened weapons inspections.  Sixty per cent of the Iraqi population was dependent on food and medical supplies through the “oil-for-food” programme. Iraq’s national medical and sanitation infrastructures were rundown, creating worrisome moral and physical conditions for millions of people, particularly women, children and the elderly.  If all attempts at peaceful disarmament fail, Switzerland would ask that any Security Council decision adopted on the basis of Chapter VII of the Charter include unconditional demands on all parties to respect international humanitarian law.

ALTAY CENGIZER (Turkey) said that, while considerable progress had been registered in the inspection process since 18 February, he noted with dismay that Iraq, even now, had yet to show full, immediate, active and unconditional cooperation with the United Nations weapons inspectors.  Regrettably, the course of action Iraq had chosen to follow, disgruntled rather than cooperative, lay at the centre of the present difficulties the Council was currently faced with.  Cohesion in the Council would not only serve the legitimacy of any action that might ensue, but would reinforce the credibility of the United Nations.  Depicting Turkey as haggling over a price tag, he said, had been a gross disservice for a country and its people that had been a bastion of stability in the region.

Among the principles that guided his country’s approach to the Iraqi question was that the territorial integrity, sovereignty and political unity of Iraq should be kept intact.  Also, the future of Iraq should be decided by the Iraqi people, in their entirety and not just by some of them.  In addition, the natural riches of Iraq belonged to Iraq and its people as a whole, again, and not just to some of them.  He stated that there was no concealed agenda on Turkey’s part.  Any decision reached by the Iraqi people was acceptable to Turkey as long as it was reached democratically and with the participation of all Iraqis.

Turkey, he stated, did not intend to shut out the Kurds living in northern Iraq.  With them, Turkey enjoyed a multitude of human bonds, including kinship and history.  He wished to see Iraq start forging a future in which it would become a respected member of the international community, whose human, cultural and natural riches benefited its people and the region.

OLE PETER KOLBY (Norway) said it was a positive thing that Iraq was now cooperating more actively and that there had been some progress in the inspections.  That progress was the result of a united and firm stand by the international community.  It confirmed that the pressure on Iraq must be maintained.  He deeply regretted, however, that Iraq had not been cooperating with the inspectors as required by resolution 1441.  The Iraqi cooperation with UNMOVIC and the IAEA had not been immediate, unconditional and active.  The inspectors had not received the information necessary to draw conclusions about Iraqi possession of weapons of mass destruction.

In the current situation, he said, the inspections should continue, as long as they could produce meaningful and concrete results.  At the same time, it was important to set a time limit and clear criteria for Iraq to comply with resolution 1441.  The inspections could not go on indefinitely.  The time limit must be short and precise, but achievable.  There was still a possibility to achieve the peaceful disarmament of Iraq.  The onus was on Iraq.  “This is the last opportunity to reach a peaceful outcome.  Iraq must not miss this opportunity.”

LUIZ TUPY CALDAS DE MOURA (Brazil) said that, as many had stated, the decisions to be taken by the Council had acquired a dimension that went beyond the question of Iraq.  They could have adverse and long-standing effects on the structures of international peace and security.  Any military conflict would require the expenditure of an immense amount of resources.  It would aggravate the recession which was already victimizing economies worldwide, especially the most vulnerable of developing nations.  In humanitarian terms, a war could bring enormous desolation and suffering.  Also, the collective effort in the war against terrorism would be severely hampered by radical reactions, particularly if actions were taken without regard to the Council’s decisions.

The reports by the chief inspectors, he said, had indicated that some progress had been achieved.  Their presentations also stressed the fact that more time was needed –- not an indefinite period of time –- to properly carry out the responsibilities entrusted to them by the Council.  Some proposals had been put forward, in that regard, and should be fully explored so the inspectors could finalize their work and present their conclusions to the Council.

DON MACKAY (New Zealand) said his Government had placed considerable weight on the weapons inspection process as providing a route to Iraq’s disarmament.  As long as weapons inspectors reported genuine progress, their work should continue.  Since the Council’s 18 February meeting, the inspectors had made clear that, while many questions remained, real progress was being made.  New Zealand did not support military action against Iraq without a mandate from the Council.  The Council would not be justified in giving that mandate at the current time.  The inspection process needed months, not days.  While the Council could authorize the use of force as a last resort, in view of recent UNMOVIC and IAEA reports, it was not a time of last resort.

He said all Council members shared the same objective –- the disarmament of Iraq.  Debate had not raged over the objective, but over the timetable for and means of achieving it.  It was distressing that the debate had strained long-standing friendships between nations.  That strain would be magnified if the next steps to resolve the crisis did not have broad international support.  New Zealand urged the Council to continue to support the inspection and disarmament process in place while it was getting results.  Iraq should not mistake the strong preference for a diplomatic solution for tolerance of its failure to comply in full.  It was not the time for Iraq to practice the diplomacy of brinksmanship.  Iraq should act immediately to comply in full with all requirements laid down by the Security Council and the inspectors.

BRUNO RODRIGUEZ PARRILLA (Cuba) said a unilateral war, as the one that had been promised, would have devastating consequences worldwide and would be the end of democracy in international relations, as well as totally destabilize the Middle East.  The Council and the United Nations would be dealt a lethal blow.  It would place all States, with no exception, at risk of facing the unpredictable hazards of a universal tyranny and at the mercy of new “pre-emptive wars”.  A war against Iraq would also be unnecessary, as meticulous inspections by UNMOVIC and the IAEA had proved that there was no credible threat nor any risk to the national security of the United States.  Such a war would not be an act of legitimate defence, but a predatory war.

He said the path to the full implementation of relevant resolution was the preservation of peace and cooperation, the continuation of inspections and a comprehensive settlement of the question of Iraq, including the lifting of sanctions.  The draft resolution being discussed was a declaration of war, even if it was being dressed up with benchmarks, or if the deadline was postponed.  The opposition to war by the majority of the members of the Council was commendable. The veto, used so often in an indiscriminate and illegitimate way, would be, in that case, justified.  If the Council would not fulfil its mandate in a true and legitimate way, the General Assembly should exercise, in emergency, all the authority and power granted by the Charter for the maintenance of international peace and security.

THORSTEINN INGOLFSSON (Iceland) said that last September, in the General Assembly, his Foreign Minister had underlined that full implementation of Council resolutions was imperative.  The Iraqi Government had not actively cooperated with the inspectors and was, thus, in violation of resolution 1441 (2002).  The international community had tolerated “relentless obstruction” of inspections for 12 years now.  It was high time that the United Nations show determination; its credibility was at stake.

He reiterated his hope for a peaceful solution.  A war in Iraq was a last resort.  It was up to the Iraqi Government to avoid conflict by disarming quickly and in a credible manner.  The international community must show its resolve, and the United Nations, its strength.  The handling of that matter must leave no doubt about the authority and ability of the Organization to enforce its decisions. 

KISHORE MAHBUBANI (Singapore) said the primary responsibility lay with Iraq, not the international community, to demonstrate compliance.  It was imperative that Iraq disarm immediately and comply fully with all Council resolutions.  Resolution 1441 was not the Council’s first resolution on the issue.  Iraq had had a miserable record of complying with Council resolutions.  Resolution 1441 was the Council’s seventeenth resolution since resolution 687 of 29 November 1990, which was designed to “restore international peace and security” in the area following Iraq’s illegal invasion of Kuwait.  Regrettably, Iraq had not complied with many of the terms of resolution 687, even though almost 12 years had passed.

Resolution 1441 was specifically designed, he noted, to discourage Iraq from reverting to its past patterns of non-cooperation and evasion.  It had become increasingly clear that Iraq had only a few more days to comply with that resolution or face serious consequences.  Thus, he hoped that Iraq would comply immediately, actively, fully and unconditionally with the weapons inspectors.  Many unanswered questions remained to be addressed by the Iraqi authorities. 

He hoped the Council would act in a way that would preserve the unity achieved by 1441.  A unified position would send a clear message to Iraq from the Council that continued defiance of its obligations would not be tolerated.  It would also send the signal to the rest of the world that the development and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction posed a grave threat to international order that could not be ignored.  Indeed, the issue under discussion today was only one example in a broader problem of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

SUN JOUN-YUNG (Republic of Korea) said Iraq had so far offered some degree of cooperation with United Nations weapons inspectors, under strong pressure from the international community.  However, Iraq had not yet shown “immediate, unconditional and active” cooperation, as provided for in resolution 1441 (2002), and many proscribed weapons and items still remained unaccounted for.  The findings of the inspectors had indicated neither a full and voluntary cooperation on the part of Iraq, nor any full resolution of remaining disarmament issues.

Given Iraq’s failure to comply with successive Council resolutions for the past 12 years, he said inspections should not continue indefinitely.  There should be a clear deadline for Iraq’s disarmament.  The responsibility to disarm belonged to Iraq.  Given the absence of Iraq’s genuine will to disarm, it was essential for the Council to send a unified and resolute message to Iraq.  It was time for the Council, as the principal organ for the maintenance of international peace and security, to act on Iraq’s failure to comply fully with its disarmament obligations.

ALOUNKEO KITTIKHOUN (Lao People’s Democratic Republic) said the recent summit meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement had welcomed the decision of the Iraqi Government to authorize the unconditional return of the weapons inspectors.  Participants encouraged Iraq and the United Nations to intensify efforts, aimed at finding a global, just and lasting solution to all pending issues.  They also emphasized the urgent need to find a peaceful solution to the Iraqi question, with a view to preserving the authority and credibility of the United Nations Charter and international law, as well as peace and stability in the region and throughout the world. 

He stressed that the Iraqi issue affected peace, security and development in that crucial Middle East region.  Thus, everything possible should be done to solve that question rapidly and peacefully.  In today’s world, where peace was fragile, it was important for the international community to come out resolutely in favour of a settlement of disputes, however complex, through peaceful means.  The use of force to settle the conflict would cause material damage, a great loss of human life, and leave deep scars for a long time to come.  Everything possible should be done to avoid the outbreak of war, which could only cause even more suffering for the Iraqi people.  Due to the inspections, some positive results had been achieved.  Like the majority of Member States, his country believed the inspections had begun to bear fruit and that the peaceful disarmament of Iraq was possible.

MOCHAMAD SLAMET HIDAYAT (Indonesia) said the inspections being conducted by UNMOVIC and the IAEA had yielded good results and should be given a fair chance, measured in terms of more time, personnel and resources.  The general concern was that the inspections had not turned up evidence of violations of United Nations resolutions by Iraq.  Unfortunately, that assessment could hardly be considered conclusive since the inspectors were still working. 

In that connection, he would support a strengthened inspection regime, which was cognizant of the importance of its assignment and able to execute that assignment responsibly, fairly and quickly.  As of today, Iraq had given its cooperation to enable the inspectors to work effectively.  However, in view of the gravity and urgency of the situation, it was critically important that Iraq continue to actively and immediately cooperate, as mandated by resolution 1441. 

He believed there could be no solution to the situation in the Middle East that ignored the reality of the entire region.  The solution of the core issue of Palestine would contribute to the comprehensive settlement of all aspects of the problems in the Middle East.  “We should never concentrate so much on other issues in the region that we overlook this fact.”

AGIM NESHO (Albania) said that resolution 1441 demonstrated not only the determination of the international community to fully disarm the Iraqi regime,  but also its strong will to penalize a regime that possessed weapons of mass destruction and endangered regional peace and security.  The time to disarm Iraq was running out.  The second resolution to be presented by the United States, the United Kingdom and Spain firmly redefined the international community’s determination to preserve global peace and security.  It ensured and maintained the authority of the international community and the Security Council in their joint actions against regimes that presented a threat to common values.  Albania, therefore, supported the United States’ position and was in favour of the resolution.  Albania had been part of the international coalition for disarming Iraq, and he reaffirmed his country’s participation in the future coalition of the willing.

Peace and security could not be achieved merely through endless meetings and unproductive discussions, he said.  The extension of the disarmament process would give Iraq’s regime an opportunity to defy, once again, the international community and the United Nations.  It would, moreover, seriously bring into question the very credibility of the Organization.  The United Nations should take its responsibilities and act accordingly.  “The mere absence of war was not peace”, he said.

NGO DUC THANG (Viet Nam) said all options of a political and diplomatic solution to the question of Iraq had not been fully exhausted.  The reports from Mr. Blix and Mr. ElBaradei had indicated that the inspection process was achieving progress. The positive developments showed that a peaceful settlement was possible and that there was a real alternative to war.  Given the current situation and continuing progress, there was no need for a second resolution.  Inspections should continue as long as they could bring viable results.

However, inspections could not go on forever, he said.  Inspectors should be asked to present for the Council’s consideration a list of criteria to determine Iraq’s cooperation, or a list of specified and prioritized tasks Iraq should fulfil within a reasonable time frame.  He welcomed proposals to set benchmarks for Iraq’s cooperation and called on the Council to give more serious consideration to the proposals presented by France, Russian Federation and Germany in their memorandum to the Council of 24 February.  There was still a chance for a peaceful solution, and he appealed to the Council and all parties involved to do all they could to avoid war.

MOKHTAR LAMANI, Permanent Observer for the Organization of the Islamic Conference, said that today’s meeting was being held amid potentially grave consequences that “no one can extrapolate”.  The organization had expressed its clear and open objection to aggression against Iraq, whose disarmament must be achieved peacefully.  There was no justification for waging a military campaign against Iraq, which would affect the region and the world.  The organization also called for the need to respect Iraq’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.  Opposition to the war was enjoying unprecedented support around the world.  At an emergency conference in Doha, Qatar, on 5 March, the organization had issued a declaration rejecting a strike against Iraq, or threats to the security and sovereignty of any Islamic State.

He said the leaders at that meeting had expressed anew their solidarity with the Iraqi people and had called for a lifting of the sanctions against them.  They had also rejected all attempts aimed at a regime change, or any ignoring of the interests and just causes of the region.  The use of force against Iraq in the

current circumstances of cooperation was unjustified and represented a strike against the Pan-Arab and Islamic nations and a grave attack on the central role of the United Nations.  Such aggression was a grave threat to international relations and international solidarity, and would encourage extremism and violence, rather than eliminate terrorism.  At the same time, the declaration urged Iraq to continue to cooperate with the inspectors, by easing their mission and fully implementing the Council’s resolutions.

Meanwhile, he said, the “noise” surrounding the possibility of war in Iraq was deafening, yet the Security Council “stood with its arms folded”, unable to protect the Palestinian people from the illegal, aggressive acts perpetrated against them under Israeli occupation.  How long would those double standards continue?  Why was Iraq being threatened by destruction and annihilation, while the State of Israel was allowed to acquire all types of weapons of mass destruction, openly and in large quantities? he asked.

HOUSSAM ASAAD DIAB (Lebanon) said the unilateral use of force was a violation of the Charter, impaired the credibility of the Organization and threatened to put an end to the present world system.  The ministerial committee, created at the Arab summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, had gone to New York last week and conveyed the Arab position to the Council, which consisted of four points.  First, they reaffirmed the complete refusal of any attack on Iraq or threat to the integrity or security of any Arab State.  Second, they reaffirmed the need for respect for international legitimacy and implementation of resolution 1441, which did not authorize war against Iraq.  The third point was the need to provide enough time for the inspection teams to carry out their tasks.  Fourth, they reaffirmed support for the sovereignty, integrity and independence of Iraq.

The Council must play its part in dealing with the Iraqi issue, he stated.  The report of the inspectors demonstrated constant progress, thanks to Iraqi cooperation.  The reports, introduced on Friday, stated that Iraq had actively and proactively cooperated with the inspectors.  The military option had led the international community to discuss another resolution and had weakened the unity of the Council.  The draft resolution would authorize the automatic use of force and set an unrealistic deadline, as compared with the timeline proposed by

Dr. Blix.

ALEG IVANOU (Belarus) said he was committed to the peaceful settlement of the question of Iraq.  The consistent efforts of UNMOVIC and the IAEA had yielded concrete results which proved the correctness of resolution 1441 (2002).  Those results and the gradually increasing cooperation by Iraq could not be disregarded.

He was resolutely against any ultimatum and advocated the further intensification of inspections.  He called on Iraq for maximum cooperation with UNMOVIC and the IAEA.  Deeply concerned about increasing tensions around Iraq, he saw no alternative to that country’s peaceful disarmament.

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For information media. Not an official record.