SECURITY COUNCIL HEARS FROM 53 SPEAKERS IN TWO DAYS ON IRAQ’S DISARMAMENT; SOME STRESS IRAQ HAS NOT COOPERATED, MOST SAY INSPECTORS NEED MORE TIME

12 March 2003
SC/7687

SECURITY COUNCIL HEARS FROM 53 SPEAKERS IN TWO DAYS ON IRAQ’S DISARMAMENT; SOME STRESS IRAQ HAS NOT COOPERATED, MOST SAY INSPECTORS NEED MORE TIME

12/03/2003
Press ReleaseSC/7687

Security Council

4717th Meeting (Resumed) (PM)

SECURITY COUNCIL HEARS FROM 53 SPEAKERS IN TWO DAYS ON IRAQ’S DISARMAMENT;

SOME STRESS IRAQ HAS NOT COOPERATED, MOST SAY INSPECTORS NEED MORE TIME

In a two-day debate, that began yesterday and concluded this afternoon, the Security Council heard from 51 Member States and two regional organizations on the crisis surrounding Iraq’s disarmament.  The request to hear non-Council members in open debate was made by the 116-member Non-Aligned Movement, as closed consultations continued on the draft resolution co-sponsored by the United Kingdom, United States, and Spain that would set a clear deadline for Iraq to comply with its obligations or face military action.

Today, several speakers, among them the representatives of Japan, Latvia, Georgia and the Dominican Republic, voiced support for the draft resolution.  Japan’s representative said that even though some progress had been observed recently, Iraqi cooperation was still insufficient and limited.  The proposed draft resolution was truly a “final effort” to place the consolidated pressure of the international community on Iraq, and to lead it to disarm voluntarily.  If it was not adopted and the international community was divided, not only would that benefit Iraq, but it would also raise grave doubts about the authority and effectiveness of the United Nations. 

Speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, and echoing the view of many speakers, the representative of Greece said war was not inevitable and force should be used only as a last resort.  Inspectors must be given the time and resources that the Council believed they needed.  However, inspections were not an endless process and could not continue indefinitely in the absence of full Iraqi cooperation.  Iraq had to comply with the demands of the Council and seize this last opportunity afforded to it.  Baghdad alone would be responsible for the consequences if it continued to flout the will of the international community and did not take this last chance. 

Addressing the consequences of an armed conflict in Iraq, the representative of Malawi, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said war would impact negatively on poverty reduction and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.  Africa would witness an almost total collapse of its nascent industrial base and economic development for lack of capacity to accommodate the pressures resulting from war.  The peaceful disarmament of Iraq was possible with a little measure of extended patience and perseverance.  Resolution 1441 (2002) was not necessarily a blueprint for war.

The African position, he continued, did not endorse war at the present stage.  The international community, through the inspectors, must subject the sincerity of Iraq’s promise of full cooperation and compliance with relevant resolutions to some rigorous test.  Any war against Iraq would have to be sanctioned by a resolution from the Council.

Many speakers expressed their concern about current divisions in the Council.  Bolivia’s representative said that division undermined the United Nations’ capacity to defend international peace and security.  Now, more than ever, the Council must shoulder its responsibility and act firmly, so that its decisions could be duly implemented.

In a closing statement, Iraq’s representative said he understood why some States had joined the United States and the United Kingdom, as he knew the magnitude of the pressure brought to bear by them on all, without exception.  Some speakers were able to raise law, peace and the Charter, while others had included parts of the draft resolution in their statements, in order to pacify those two countries.  Others were being occupied by United States or United Kingdom troops, and some were even being paid.  He reiterated that Iraq had destroyed its weapons of mass destruction unilaterally.

He warned that those who joined the caravan of war would regret it.  Referring to the development by the United States of the “mother of all bombs”, he said that he wished the Council would stand up to new weapons of mass destruction, which would be launched against Iraq, in exercising its responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.  He hoped the Council would not stand by in the face of such a clear and present danger.

The representatives of the Sudan, Thailand, Philippines, Nigeria, Argentina, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Zimbabwe, Tunisia, Zambia, Morocco, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Venezuela, Senegal, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Colombia and Ethiopia also spoke.

Today’s meeting started at 3:21 p.m. and was adjourned at 6:05 p.m.

Background

The Security Council met this afternoon to hear the remaining non-Council members debate the situation on Iraq.  The meeting, which began yesterday, was convened at the request made by the Malaysian delegation, as Chair of the Non-Aligned Movement.  The letter expressed the Movement’s interest in assisting the Council in responding to the briefing by the chief United Nations weapons inspectors last Friday, and to anticipated action later this week on a further draft resolution, submitted by the United States, the United Kingdom and Spain.

Statements

KOICHI HARAGUCHI (Japan) said that, even though some progress had been observed recently, the reports of the chief weapons inspectors indicated Iraqi cooperation was still insufficient and limited, despite the ever-stronger pressure from the international community.  That was a common recognition, in that regard, in the international community, including among Council members.  The hoped for peaceful solution hinged on whether or not Iraq changed its attitude “drastically” and took the final opportunity it had been given.  The special envoy of Japan’s Prime Minister was recently dispatched to Iraq, where he urged that Government to take the final opportunity and disarm, but the Iraqi response was insufficient, and there had been no fundamental change in Iraq’s attitude since then.

He said the international community should clearly demonstrate its determined attitude and apply further pressure on Iraq to cooperate with the inspections immediately, fully, unconditionally and proactively.  The revised draft resolution proposed by Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States on

7 March was a truly “final effort” to maintain international solidarity, and place the consolidated pressure of the international community on Iraq.  He, therefore, supported the text.  If it was not adopted and the international community was divided, not only would that benefit Iraq, but it would also raise grave doubts about the authority and effectiveness of the United Nations.  He hoped the Council would be united, demonstrate clear and resolute judgement, and fulfil its responsibility for international peace and security.

ELFAITH MOHAMED AHMED ERWA (Sudan) said that he was convinced of the effectiveness of the inspection process, which was the best approach to put an end to the current crisis.  He paid tribute to the cooperation by Iraq thus far, including the destruction of the Al-Samoud missiles.  He highlighted the outcomes of various recent conferences, including the Arab Summit and the non-aligned summit, which called for the implementation of all resolutions relating to Iraq.  Iraq’s continued full cooperation with inspectors must be the basis for the peaceful settlement of the crisis and the subsequent lifting of sanctions. 

He supported the use of political means to settle disputes.  There was no justification for the adoption of a second resolution.  Rather, the inspectors should be given additional time to complete their work.  The declaration of war was an admission of failure.  The unilateral approach was a denial of the legacy of giving precedence to the peaceful settlement of disputes.  The Charter had clearly indicated the instances in which force might be used.  It prohibited war except in the case of self-defence or unless authorized under Chapter VII.  He affirmed his commitment to the letter and spirit of the Charter and called for giving precedence to the peaceful settlement of crises. 

CHUCHAI KASEMSARN (Thailand) welcomed Iraq’s further cooperation with the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), enabling them to make progress in their inspections.  However, as Mr. Blix had said, what they had done could not  be said to constitute immediate cooperation, and did not cover all areas of relevance.  As time was running short for the implementation of the demands of resolution 1441 (2002), he urged Iraq to immediately fulfil those demands by providing complete and unconditional cooperation to UNMOVIC and the IAEA.

The United Nations, which embodied the hope of humankind for a world free of war and want, stood at a critical juncture in its history.  What was being done now would mean either the gradual disintegration of that hope or its renewal.  He called on all Members to exert their utmost collective effort to ensure that the will of the United Nations as expressed in resolution 1441 (2002) was fully respected and implemented, so as to preserve the viability and sanctity of that universal institution.

ENRIQUE A. MANALO (Philippines) supported every effort to resolve the issue of Iraq in a peaceful way, but diplomatic and political pressure to disarm must be applied on the Iraqi leadership.  That was a difficult balance -- calling for peace, while, at the same time, making sure that the Iraqi leadership did not misinterpret the desire for peace as a refusal to resort to all means allowed by the United Nations Charter and international law.

He wanted a stable and secure Middle East, for a stable and secure Middle East was a safer Middle East for everyone, particularly the one and a half million Filipinos in the region.  The unresolved issue of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction placed the stability of the Middle East in peril and could be a direct threat to all the people there, including the Filipinos.  Resolution 1441 (2002) had found Iraq to be in material breach of its obligations under relevant resolutions.  Full and verifiable compliance had not been achieved.  He shared everyone’s hope for peace, “but we must always be ready to take decisive action to preserve and maintain meaningful peace”, he said.

ADAMANTIOS TH. VASSILAKIS (Greece), speaking on behalf of the European Union, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey, said that the Union’s objective remained the full and effective disarmament of Iraq and it wanted to achieve that disarmament peacefully.  That was what the people of Europe wanted, as well.  War was not inevitable.  Force should be used only as a last resort.  He reiterated its full support for the ongoing work of the inspectors.  They must be given the time and resources that the Council believed they needed.  Inspections were not an endless process, however, and could not continue indefinitely in the absence of full Iraqi cooperation. 

Baghdad should have no illusions, he stated.  Iraq had to comply with the demands of the Council and seize the last opportunity afforded to it.  It had to immediately, fully, actively and unconditionally cooperate with the inspectors, including providing them with all the additional and specific information on the issues that had been raised in the inspectors’ reports.  Baghdad alone would be responsible for the consequences if it continued to flout the will of the international community and did not take this last chance.

The Union recognized, he said, that the unity and firmness of the international community, as expressed in the unanimous adoption of resolution 1441 and the military build-up, had been essential in obtaining the return of the inspectors and the work done so far.  Those factors would remain essential to achieve the full cooperation that was sought.

ARTHUR C.I. MBANEFO (Nigeria) said his country was deeply concerned about the consequences that the escalating situation could have on international peace and security, and in particular its adverse effect on Africa.  As the least developed region of the world, Africa would suffer most from a possible war with Iraq.  The present harsh socio-economic realities on the continent, resulting from poverty, hunger, drought, HIV/AIDS and other communicable diseases, would be exacerbated in an international environment engaged in war.  The prospects for multilateral assistance for Africa’s development programmes would also suffer the negative impact of war.  Iraq should continue to cooperate actively with the international inspectors and fulfil its disarmament obligations, transparently and without conditions. 

He said he was encouraged by the latest report citing Iraq’s increased level of cooperation with the inspectors, whose deployment, only three months ago, had set the disarmament process in motion.  It was in the interest of world peace not to exert undue pressure on them, or take any action that could undermine their activities.  As practical disarmament was the main objective of resolution 1441 (2002), the Council should take “every necessary step” to ensure the continuation of the inspection process until Iraq fully disarmed.  Any new decision of the Council should follow consideration of the inspection team’s final report.  He stressed the importance of maximizing the opportunities offered by the inspectors’ new mandate, which had clearly paved the way for success in the peaceful disarmament of Iraq.

Nigeria, he continued, shared the universal desire to exhaust all peaceful means for resolving the Iraqi problem and agreed with the view expressed by the Secretary-General that no amount of bombs could destroy the number of weapons of mass destruction that inspectors could identify and dismantle or destroy.  In line with the declaration issued by the African Union on 3 February, he urged all parties to make sustained efforts to avoid the use of force, while ensuring effective implementation of resolution 1441 (2002).  Military confrontation against Iraq on the basis of a unilateral decision would have serious implications for world peace and potentially destabilize the entire Middle East region and beyond.  Multilateral cooperation was the only option.  He called for restraint, including against any unilateral action without the Council’s authority.

ARNOLD LISTRE (Argentina) said it was clear that Iraq had not fully complied with resolution 1441 (2002).  Iraq’s partial and unsatisfactory compliance demonstrated that pressure must be applied constantly.  It was evident that the Iraqi regime only cooperated when it had no other alternative and responded only to diplomatic and military pressure.  In spite of Iraq’s attitude, there was still time to reach a peaceful solution to the crisis.  He appealed once more to the Council to stand united and give Iraq one last chance to cooperate fully and in good faith to achieve disarmament.

He said that cooperation must be carried out in a concrete and verifiable manner, measured against, for example, clearly defined tests which could be objectively assessed by the Council in light of reports from UNMOVIC and IAEA inspectors in a reasonable period of time.  The Council, the sole organ that could authorize the legitimate use of force, must be up to the grave responsibility of ensuring that a peaceful solution to the crisis was reached. That was particularly necessary at a time when other serious threats to peace and security –- such as terrorism and nuclear arms proliferation, as well as regional conflicts such as the Middle East –- required that the Council preserve all its authority and prestige.

PEDRO PADILLA TONOS (Dominican Republic) said that the Iraqi Government’s continued failure to comply with Council resolutions had driven the situation to a critical stage, and divided the international community, particularly the members of the Council.  The ideal thing would be to arrive at a concerted decision for the complete, effective and peaceful disarmament of Iraq.  The Council had before it a draft resolution, which would reassert the need for the complete implementation of 1441 (2002), appeal to Iraq to take the decisions necessary in the interest of its people and the region, and establish a deadline by which Iraq must prove its complete and full compliance of relevant resolutions.

He endorsed the draft resolution because it contained valid elements, which, once subjected to thorough analysis and negotiation in the Council, would make it possible for the Council to adopt a consensus decision and assure a peaceful solution to the crisis.  It was necessary to send the Iraqi Government a united and definitive message calling on it to comply immediately with its obligations, thus, avoiding events fraught with grave consequences.  His country was a small and profoundly peace-loving country and its views might not be decisive.  However, he invited the Council, particularly the permanent members, to consider the following.  Peace embodied one of the most deep-rooted aspirations of human beings in all parts of the world.  In times of war, people yearned for peace, and in times of peace, people feared losing it and felt the need to defend it.  Genuine peace must be based in truth, justice, solidarity and freedom.  The absence of war was not in itself peace.

GINTS JEGERMANIS (Latvia), aligning himself with Greece’s statement on behalf of the European Union, said even taking into account such recent steps by Baghdad as the destruction of Al-Samoud 2 missiles, Iraq had not taken the strategic decision to disarm and to cooperate fully with the United Nations. Unfortunately, Iraq had continued its policy of deception.  Neither enhancement  of inspections nor extension of inspections’ time frame could substitute for active cooperation.  The limited progress achieved so far was a result of strong diplomatic pressure, backed by military force.  It fell short of satisfying the demands of the international community.

He said if peaceful disarmament of Iraq was to be achieved, the diplomatic pressure on Saddam Hussein had to be increased.  He, therefore, supported adoption of the draft resolution co-sponsored by the United Kingdom, the United States and Spain that would set a clear deadline for Iraq to comply with its obligations.  A unanimous adoption of that draft would ensure the continued credibility of the United Nations and would send a clear and unequivocal message to Saddam Hussein that the time for taking the last opportunity to comply was limited and that, in case of Iraq’s failure to comply, serious consequences would apply.

VICTOR MANUEL LAGOS PIZZATI (El Salvador) said it was in the context of restoring the territorial integrity of Kuwait that a key decision had been taken to disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction.  Regrettably, that objective was still unfulfilled, and the Government of Iraq had not complied with its international obligations, thereby defying the will of the international community and the binding decisions adopted by the Security Council to maintain peace or prevent acts that might undermine it.  Today, the situation had not changed substantially when it came to the fundamental disarmament obligations.  The protracted suffering of the Iraqi people was a direct result of the negligence of the Iraqi leadership and its non-compliance with resolution 687 (1991), among others.

He said he was profoundly concerned about the crisis, which had arisen out of Iraq’s failure to comply fully with its obligations, leading to the “impending possibility” of an armed conflict and its consequences for peace, security and stability.  Countless political and diplomatic efforts had been made to convince the Iraqi Government to comply with its international disarmament obligations, but Iraq had scorned the authority of the Council, as embodied in its unanimously adopted resolutions on the subject.  Thus, the Council must face up to its lofty responsibility and give effect to its decisions.  No delegation had asserted that Iraq had fully complied.

Indeed, he said, the situation had arrived at a stage where it was necessary for the Security Council members to take a decision, with the greatest sense of urgency.  The utmost effort must be made to retain the unity that had been a feature of the Council on the Iraqi issue.  Inspections could not be indefinite and Iraq could not continue to delay compliance.  It needed to take advantage of what remained of that “last chance” to resolve the crisis peacefully, and it should do so with the conviction that that would be to the benefit of the peoples of Iraq, the region and the world.

GOCHA LORDKIPANIDZE (Georgia) said everyone now had to make critical choices.  Despite some recent progress on cooperation by Iraq, it continued to fail to meet the requirements of resolution 1441(2002), namely, to offer a full, accurate and complete declaration of its holdings, and engage in voluntary, unconditional and active cooperation with UNMOVIC and the IAEA.  Iraq had already been found to be in material breach of 16 previous resolutions over 12 years.  He believed, therefore, that Iraq’s continued possession of mass destruction weapons was a direct and active threat to international peace and security.

He called on Iraq to disarm “immediately and unconditionally” and to meet in full its obligations.  Introduction of the time frame for implementation of resolution 1441 (2002) was justified.  He joined those delegations that had voiced support for the draft resolution sponsored by Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.  That text offered a sound basis for the Council to meet its responsibilities and take all necessary and effective action to compel immediate Iraqi compliance.  No one should be allowed to breach its obligations under Council resolutions, especially when international peace and security was at stake.  Otherwise, serious consequences were imminent.

EDUARDO JOSÉ SEVILLA SOMOZA (Nicaragua) said that multilateralism was being severely tested.  The collective response taken would determine the credibility of the system that the international community had built up.  Nicaragua had considered the latest reports provided by Mr. Blix and Mr. ElBaradei.  The former had stated that Iraq’s initiatives could not be regarded as active or proactive, nor that they constituted immediate cooperation or covered all areas. It was clear from the reports that the Iraqi regime continued to omit important information on compliance with relevant resolutions.

No one, he continued, had been able to find reliable proof that Iraq was cooperating fully under the relevant resolutions.  World security hinged on full compliance with the resolutions of the Council.  What was needed was rigorous compliance with multilateral mandates.  It was not a question of the process of inspections or inspectors for an indefinite period of time, but a question of disarmament.  The Council should immediately demand compliance with its various resolutions to achieve the disarmament of Iraq, as required by the international community, which had placed its faith in the United Nations to maintain international peace and security.

ERWIN ORTIZ GANDARILLAS (Bolivia) said he was concerned about the unforeseeable consequences in terms of human, political, economical and social costs an armed conflict could entail.  He was, however, also concerned about the danger the Iraqi regime presented to international peace and security through its weapons of mass destruction, which it might put to use or might fall into the hands of extremist or terrorist groups.  In that light, the Council had for

12 years demanded the total disarmament of Iraq’s war arsenal.  Regrettably, the situation now stemmed from Iraq’s determination to arm itself, which was a defiance of resolution 1441 (2002).  It was the responsibility of the Iraqi regime to demonstrate effectively and reliably that it possessed no weapons of mass destruction.

He was also concerned about the division in the Council, which undermined the United Nations capacity to defend international peace and security.  Now, more than ever, the Council must shoulder its responsibility and act firmly, so that its decisions could be duly implemented.  The message of the United Nations must be clear and unequivocal.  The Government of Iraq must disarm promptly in order to spare the international community greater conflicts.

B.G. CHIDYAUSIKU (Zimbabwe), quoting the African Union, said that unilateral military action against Iraq would not only be accompanied by disastrous consequences, but would negate Africa’s stability and development.  For that reason, Africa was against a military solution to the Iraq crisis.  That observation was also expressed in the Non-Aligned Movement Kuala Lumpur Declaration, reaffirming one of the Movement’s cardinal principles -– the settlement of all international disputes by peaceful means.

The Council had before it a road map for the peaceful disarmament of Iraq, which was clearly laid out by resolution 1441 (2002).  It was the duty of the Council to support the inspectors, whose mandate was not fault-finding, but verifying Iraq’s disarmament. UNMOVIC and IAEA status reports had failed to find Iraq in material breach of resolution 1441.  With both Mr. Blix and Mr. Elbaradei in agreement that Baghdad was proactively supporting the inspectors by encouraging its scientists to accept private interviews, allowing reconnaissance flights and destroying the Al-Samoud 2 missiles, it was mind-boggling that some States had the audacity to request the Council to abandon the tried and tested diplomatic road map for war.

Resolution 1441 was about disarmament, not regime change, he said.  There were other serious threats to international peaces, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the HIV/AIDS pandemic, which was killing 3,000 people each week in southern Africa.  Was it not disturbing that, while the coffers of the global AIDS fund were dry, some Member States could spend billions of dollars deploying 300,000 troops?

ALI HACHANI (Tunisia) said that, from the start, the Arab States had tried to defuse the crisis by redoubling efforts to exhaust all possible means to achieve a peaceful solution.  Those efforts had borne fruit.  Iraq had accepted the inspectors’ return and had been cooperating with them, in order to implement the relevant resolutions of the Council.  The latest Arab summit had reaffirmed Iraq’s desire and that of the Arab States to continue along that path.  The initiatives of the Arab nations reflected the international community’s desire to stave off the horror of war.  That was also in keeping with the majority public opinion.  All international partners agreed on the need to give the inspectors more time, so that they could continue to realize the implementation of resolution 1441 (2002).  Their job had so far produced concrete results, as affirmed by the chief weapons inspectors.

He said his country firmly believed in the need to continue to try to resolve the Iraqi question through political and peaceful means, thereby avoiding military action, especially since Iraq was clearly seeking to comply with the Council.  He hoped there would be a peaceful solution in the near future, so that Iraq’s unity, territorial integrity and sovereignty could be preserved.  That would pave the way for the lifting of sanctions, and it would stave off instability and tensions in the Middle East and around the world.  The peaceful option would also have a positive impact on the prestige of the United Nations and the Security Council, as the guarantor of collective global security.  It would reinforce the Organization’s role in seeking effective solutions to various matters, particularly that of the Palestinian people, who were suffering under Israeli occupation.

MWELWA C. MUSAMBACHIME (Zambia) said during six briefings to the Council, the weapons inspectors had reported progress in their work.  Mr. Blix had stated that there was still work to be done and that UNMOVIC could fulfil the remaining tasks within months.  Mr. ElBaradei had stated that after three months of intrusive inspections, the IAEA had found no evidence of the revival of a nuclear weapons programme.  He believed war was not the best approach to resolve the issue and urged for continued peaceful measures provided for in resolution 1441 (2002).

He appealed to all Council members to maintain their unity.  Any military action would spell disaster for the least developed countries, he said, and Africa and other developing regions would suffer the most.  The world today should strive to maintain peace and promote economic development for the benefit of the entire mankind.  Resources spent on armaments should be channelled to where it was needed for human survival.

MOHAMED BENNOUNA (Morocco) said that he had listened closely to the updates given last Friday by Mr. Blix and Mr. ElBaradei.  He had taken note of the progress made within the inspection regime and the tasks not yet completed, to ensure that Iraq was free of weapons of mass destruction.  No one disputed the fact that the way in which the Council addressed the Iraqi crisis would have crucial repercussions on the future of the States in the Middle East, the global system of checks and balances and the United Nations system.  The recent Non-Aligned summit, the Arab summit and the extraordinary meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference had affirmed the need to assert all possible efforts to resolve the crisis peacefully, in a way that would maintain the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq.  They had also affirmed that Iraq should complete implementation of resolution 1441 (2002) and that the inspection teams be given adequate time to complete their mandates.

His country had, two weeks ago, expressed the need to address the crisis peacefully on the basis of the implementation of United Nations resolutions, and save the Iraqi people, along with people of the region, the tragic consequences of a new war.  At the same time, that required Iraq to maintain proactive cooperation with the United Nations inspectors and with the IAEA.  He remained committed to dialogue and to the need to exhaust all possible avenues under the Charter to resolve all disputes by peaceful means.  He also remained hopeful that major partners in the United Nations, especially in the Council, would avail themselves of the next few days to find a peaceful exit to the current dilemma in a way that would preserve the credibility of the Council. 

DIMCE NIKOLOV (The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) said that the international community was facing very complex decisions that not only related to the disarmament of Iraq, but to the future of the collective system of security of the United Nations, which was founded on Council unity.  Thus, Council members should seek the broadest possible consensus for achieving the objective of the immediate, full and unconditional disarmament of Iraq.  Despite some recent progress, the Iraqi regime continued to delay and obstruct the inspections.  Clearly, it had been unwilling to respect the international community’s demands, aimed at resolving the matter peacefully.  It had now become clear, however, that the threat remained and that Iraq was in “continuing material breach” of the Council’s resolutions.

He said that the Council must act in an even firmer matter now.  The inspection process could not go on indefinitely.  Political pressure and the real threat of the use of force had proven to be the right mechanisms for intensifying Iraqi cooperation, but the international community should not tolerate any more deceptions by the Iraqi regime.  Iraq had done everything to prevent or avoid implementation of resolution 1441 (2002).  Therefore, the further draft resolution before the Council was an effective means to increase pressure on Iraq to comply with the relevant resolutions.  He supported the proposals contained therein for setting clear deadlines and concrete disarmament demands.  Iraq must implement those immediately, actively, fully and unconditionally or face serious consequences, including the use of force as a last resort. 

ISAAC C. LAMBA (Malawi), speaking on behalf of the African Group, said that the inspectors’ reports on 7 March had reduced the original anxieties about possible total non-compliance by Iraq.  The Group was pleased to note the progress so far, as announced by the inspectors, on process and substance.  The peaceful disarmament of Iraq, in line with resolution 1441 (2002), was possible with a little measure of extended patience and perseverance spent on the search for peace through the United Nations.  Peace must be given a chance even at the eleventh hour.  Resolution 1441 was not necessarily a blueprint for war and that explained the reluctance of some countries to go for a second resolution, which diminished further the chances for peaceful disarmament.

In the present situation, the heavy consequences of war in Iraq would be felt very acutely, even in Africa, he said.  The overspill of the war would conceivably create a regional conflagration, as the conflict transcended the borders of Iraq.  The economic consequences of the war would also impact negatively on poverty reduction and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.  Africa would witness an almost total collapse of its nascent industrial base and economic development for lack of capacity to accommodate the pressures resulting from war.

The African position, he said, did not endorse war at the present stage.  The inspections required more time than the deadline of 17 March suggested in the draft resolution on which the Council would vote.  The inspections could not continue indefinitely, but a realistic time frame would enhance the credibility of the Council’s intentions.  The international community, through the inspectors, must subject the sincerity of Iraq’s promise of full cooperation and compliance with relevant resolutions to some rigorous test.  Any war against Iraq would have to be sanctioned by a resolution from the Council.

MILOS ALCALAY (Venezuela), associating himself with the position of the Non-Aligned Movement, which reflected the feelings of the developing world, said he was deeply concerned about the current situation in Iraq, and expressed his country’s firm commitment to the strict compliance with international law.  He also underlined its respect for the decisions of the Council, which implied not only the full compliance with all resolutions adopted in regard to Iraq, but also to support the next decision to be adopted by the Council.

He aligned himself with the statement of the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Chile on 7 March, when she expressed the hope of reaching a unanimous support in response to the expectations of all the peoples of the world, in the same way consensus had been achieved on resolution 1441 (2002).  He said efforts must be aimed at the search for a solution through diplomatic means.

PAPA LOUIS FALL (Senegal) said that Iraq must be urged to abide by Council resolutions.  It was imperative for its leaders to scrupulously implement all Council texts, dating back to 1991.  The chief weapons inspectors had said that, after many twists and turns and delays, Iraq had finally started proactively increasing its initiatives.  The world was still not seeing the immediate cooperation demanded by the Security Council, although there was no cogent evidence of Iraq’s pursuit of a weapons of mass destruction programme.  Hence, the widespread view was that the limited, hard-won progress had not yet reversed the general negative impression about the lack of cooperation.  He, therefore, appealed to Iraq to show greater cooperation, and to the Council to give the inspectors time to conclude their mandate.

He said he appreciated the untiring willingness of UNMOVIC and the IAEA to pursue the mandate anchored in the relevant resolutions and to complete it in a matter of months, or weeks.  Meanwhile, if the wrenching sanctions imposed on Baghdad were not soon lifted, and if the Iraqi people continued to pay a heavy price, the basic responsibility lay with the Iraqi leaders and their refusal, until recently, to comply with United Nations’ decisions.  Iraq should take the “umpteenth” chance to provide tangible proof that it no longer possessed weapons of mass destruction, or, if it did, that it was prepared to publicly list them, in order that they might be destroyed.  He urged Baghdad to honour its obligations in full in that final phase.  It should release the Kuwaiti war prisoners, return its property and archives, and resolve the question of third-State nationals.

Disarmament was not instantaneous, nor could the inspections continue indefinitely, he said.  As the representative of Cameroon had stated, members together should seek a credible alternative and explore even the slightest opportunities for peace, including previously unexplored avenues, based on international law.  Also, multilateralism must be preserved within the United Nations, as that was the best way to offset any threats to international peace and security.  Finally, any use of force against Iraq must be pursued under the authority of the United Nations, through the Security Council, whose members needed to act together to stave off a clash of civilizations and offset  tyrannical chaos.

ROBERT AISI (Papua New Guinea) said that, when all was said and done, the effects of the Council’s final decision on the matter would have far-reaching global consequences.  All countries, large and small, would be affected in one way or another.  The matter did not only affect the Middle East and the immediate region, but the whole world.  Already, its consequences were being manifested at many global levels.  The Council’s resolutions could not be left in abeyance.  Any further delays would only compound an already simmering, volatile situation.  While the inspectors had achieved much so far, their efforts could be far easier, quicker and more effective if there was greater willingness by Iraq to comply with the provisions of resolution 1441 (2002).

Undoubtedly, he said, Iraq could do more to comply with the relevant resolutions and defuse the extremely tense situation.  As many had advocated, however, war should be the last resort.  Many nations had seen the aftermath of the consequences of war.  While the degree of destruction might vary, the common denominator was ultimately human suffering by all sides of a conflict.  War should be avoided at all costs, and sustainable peace with extreme vigilance should be the imperative.  But, if war was to be resorted to now, then the Council and the United Nations must be the final arbiter of such a decision.  Today’s question was perhaps the most challenging issue in United Nations’ history.  The world had called upon it to decide the matter, and it must be allowed to do so.  Either way, the Council’s decision would herald the birth of a new international order, whose far-reaching consequences would affect us all.

OSWALDO DE RIVERO (Peru) said the Government of Iraq must understand once and for all that the only possibility of normalizing its relations with the international community lay in immediate disarmament and unconditional, active and complete implementation of Council resolutions.  Only those actions could be considered by the international community as verifiable guarantees that Iraq did not possess weapons of mass destruction.  Only in that way would it be possible to prevent the authority and legitimacy of the Council from being undermined.

He said the current crisis must be resolved within the normative framework of the United Nations, in particular, in the context of Council decisions.  It was essential to first exhaust the possibilities of a peaceful solution.  That depended on a complete disarmament of Iraq according to resolution 1441 (2002). The inspectors’ reports had indicated that that obligation for disarmament had not been fulfilled.  Full implementation of resolution 1441 (2002) should involve a binding deadline.  One should not allow the time to be used to strip the Council resolutions of their content and leave them without effect.

LUIS GUILLERMO GIRALDO (Colombia) said that only the threat of the use of force and the approval of resolution 1441 (2002), which gave Iraq its last chance to cooperate unconditionally, immediately and actively with the inspections, had made it possible for some headway to be made in that cooperation.  At the same time, that cooperation was still far from being unconditional, immediate and proactive.  Iraq continued to be in non-compliance and had opened the possibility for application of the “serious consequences” mentioned in resolution 1441.  He urged the members of the Council to engage in a final and decisive effort to maintain unity in the Council and agree on a new resolution that settled a specific deadline with clear benchmarks, so that the Iraqi Government would finally comply with their disarmament obligations.

The international community, however, faced a high and probable need to use force, he said.  His country, having lived with internal conflict, could understand the situation.  It had thought that it could convince armed groups about the goodness of the use of peaceful means, but now acknowledged that that only allowed them to buy time, arm more and more, and enlarge their capacity to harm.  Their offerings of dialogue, peace, disarmament, and a peaceful solution to the conflict had been mere rhetoric to hide their worst intentions. 

TERUNEH ZENNA (Ethiopia) said it was clear from the chief weapons inspectors’ latest report that some progress had been achieved, but much remained to be done.  Iraq should demonstrate, without delay, that it was complying with its disarmament obligations.  It was imperative that the focus now be on the need to secure Iraq’s disarmament, without resorting to the use of force, as much as possible.  That required full, active and immediate compliance by Iraq with resolution 1441 (2002) and other relevant Council texts.  A strong unity on the part of the Council was indispensable.

Progress achieved thus far had been, to a great extent, the result of a credible military presence in the region, he said.  He was conscious of the incalculable human and material cost that would be unleashed in the region and beyond.  Thus, he called on Iraq to comply with the resolutions.  Force should be a very last option.  Countries, such as his own, that had voted for the first resolution on the Iraq-Kuwait crisis remained convinced that it was only immediate Iraqi compliance that stood between war and peace. 

MOHAMMED A. ALDOURI (Iraq) expressed his gratitude to all those States that had spoken during the last two days, especially to those States which had expressed to his country their support for a political solution to the Iraqi question.  A clear majority of states had paid tribute to Iraq’s cooperation, as they had to the work of the IAEA and the positive results achieved on the ground since the resumption of inspections. 

He wanted to remind those States that had associated themselves with the United Kingdom and the United States that war was not in their interest.  The war would bring an incalculable catastrophe to the world.  Those States had been compelled to take that position, and he respected their decisions and views.  He

knew the magnitude of the pressure brought to bear by the United States and the United Kingdom on all, without exception.  Some were able to opt for law, peace and the Charter, while others had included parts of the United States/United Kingdom resolution in their statements, in order to pacify those two countries.  Others were being occupied by United States and United Kingdom troops, and some were even being paid.

He reassured the Council and all those States that, as expressed by Saddam Hussein last year, Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction.  “It has no desire to join such a club now or in the future.”  The inspectors had searched every corner in Iraq and had left no stone unturned.  Through reinforced inspections, they had stated, a few days ago, that they had not been able to find any nuclear weapons.  Iraq had destroyed its weapons of mass destruction unilaterally in 1991.  What was being asked now was how many weapons had been destroyed and how.  It was a 13-year-old question.  Only time was needed for Iraq to provide proof to the international community that it had no weapons of mass destruction.  The question was not one of the presence of weapons of mass destruction or lack thereof.

He warned that those who joined the caravan of war would regret it.  Referring to the development by the United States of the “mother of all bombs”, he said that he wished the Council would stand up to new weapons of mass destruction, which would be launched against Iraq, in exercising its responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.  He hoped the Council would not stand by in the face of such a clear and present danger.

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For information media. Not an official record.