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Air Strike Against Iraq

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Media Statement

18 February 2001


Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff has expressed concern that air strikes against Iraq may undermine the prospect of international action against the Iraqi regime and help rather than damage Saddam Hussein.

"The New Zealand Government utterly condemns the repressive nature of Saddam's government. Time and again he has shown the brutal nature of his regime through repression of human rights, attacks on Iraq's own Kurdish and Shiite populations, aggression against Kuwait and the development and use of weapons of mass destruction.

"However, as with the wide-ranging sanctions against Iraq, Saddam seems likely to use the United States and British air strike to win greater sympathy both at home and internationally.

""We were not forewarned of the air strikes nor are we a party to evidence as to why they were considered necessary.

"The problem posed by the strikes is that they seem likely to result in a further splintering of the coalition of nations which participated in the war against Iraq in the early 1990s.

"Concern has been expressed not only by the moderate Arab nations which participated in the war against Iraq but also a number of the NATO states, such as France and Turkey, which fought in Desert Storm against Saddam.

"For measures to succeed against the Iraqi regime, they need to draw broad international support. New Zealand endorses actions through the United Nations to impose smart sanctions against Iraq, rather than measures which impact most heavily on the civilian population. It also supports the return of UN inspectors to monitor Iraq and prevent the development of weapons of mass destruction.

"Where actions are taken which divide international resolve against the Iraqi government, the only beneficiary will be Saddam himself," Mr Goff said.


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