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Attack On Iraq Sets Back World Peace Initiatives

18 February 2001

Yesterday's bombing of Baghdad by the United States and Great Britain is a setback for world peace initiatives and the moves to lift the sanctions against Iraq, says Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control Matt Robson.

"It is clear the United States wants a climate in which it is easier to push through its controversial 'Star Wars' project, the National Missile Defence System," he says.

"It also wants to undermine growing world opinion that the sanctions against Iraq should be lifted. Those sanctions have not harmed Saddam Hussein and his elite. All they do is serve as an excuse for Saddam to maintain his repressive regime, causing terrible suffering and misery to the people.

"It should not go unnoticed that this attack comes at a time when both countries are under siege for the use of depleted uranium munitions, both against Iraq and in the Balkans."

"In every sense it is an arrogant use of power. This conflict has continued since the Gulf war in 1991. It is important that the UN takes up this issue immediately to prevent any further steps that jeopardise a solution.

"With heightened tensions in Israel, the last thing the world needs is an intensification of conflict in the Gulf," says Mr Robson.

Mr Robson will put the issue before cabinet on Monday so New Zealand diplomats are given a clear set of instructions.

Ends

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