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The Disarmament of Saddam Hussein's WMDs

'The disarmament of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction'

In an radio interview, the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw has made clear on Iraq 'that the United States does not want a war if it can possibly be avoided and they're in the same position as is the United Kingdom Government'.

On the role of the United Nations, Mr Straw said:

"The preferable outcome is for the United Nations to agree to a new tough resolution or resolutions which gives new powers to the inspectors so that they can do a proper job of inspecting and then removing the weapons of mass destruction which we know that Saddam Hussein has. And to back that by credible use of force."

He was also questioned about relations with France and about the actions of the Russian Government during the Moscow siege.

Mr Straw said:

"What we recognise and the Prime Minister made that clear in his statement in the House on Monday, is the incredible difficulty of decisions faced by President Putin and his advice, in, in the situation."

"Yes we will be discussing these matters in private with the Russian authorities and for certain we'll be seeking an explanation from them as to why they believe it is necessary in their national interests to keep this information secret."

Mr Straw stressed that the Russian authorities had been 'posed with the most difficult choices that any Head of Government can be posed with'.

On relations with France, the Foreign Secretary said:

"...one of the truths about the European Union is that it is a union of sovereign nation states who come together first and foremost to argue for their own national interest. President Chirac was doing his job, arguing for his national interest. We were doing ours."

On discussions on the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, Mr Straw said:

"What also happened is that we ensured something which was not in France's interest, but we believed was in the interests of the whole of the European Union, that commitment to interim reform in the Common Agricultural Policy continued, number one because it is in the interests of the European Union."

INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT


'THE DISARMAMENT OF SADDAM HUSSEIN'S WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION' (30/10/02)


EDITED TRANSCRIPT OF AN INTERVIEW GIVEN BY THE FOREIGN SECRETARY, JACK STRAW, BBC RADIO FOUR, WEDNESDAY 30 OCTOBER 2002
INTERVIEWER
Do you agree that the time has come to, effectively, push the United Nations to one side?

MR STRAW
No, I don’t agree with that. The preferable outcome is for the United Nations to agree to a new tough resolution or resolutions which gives new powers to the inspectors so that they can do a proper job of inspecting and then removing the weapons of mass destruction which we know that Saddam Hussein has. And to back that by credible use of force.

And I know that the progress has been slow for sure, but it has genuinely been constructive and I think, I can’t be certain about this, you never can at this stage of a negotiations, I think that the final outcome will be a good one of the discussions and when the history of these last eight weeks comes to be written we will see that by intensive discussion and negotiation, particularly amongst the key five members, the permanent members of the Security Council, there has genuinely been a meeting of minds.

And if you, if you look back to see where we were at the beginning of the year, there were people who were saying around the world well actually it didn’t really matter what was going on in Iraq. They probably did have weapons of mass destruction, but it wasn’t a threat. There is now a widespread recognition, particularly across the Security Council, that there is unfinished business with Iraq. They did throw out the weapons’ inspectors totally unreasonably.

INTERVIEWER
Well they didn’t actually throw them out. They did withdraw, their lives were made difficult while they were there and so they withdrew.

MR STRAW
If you left your employment in those circumstances you would be able to sue for constructive dismissal and you would win. So that’s where we are and as I say we want a good United Nations Security Council resolution. Can I just pick you up on one point in your introduction where you said that France and Russia did not want a war with the implication that the United States and United Kingdom did. We don’t want war.

INTERVIEWER
What I’m really trying to establish in this interview is whether we want it as much as the United States want it. Because the United States is quite clear, we want regime change. We want to get rid of Saddam Hussein and that’s that.

MR STRAW
I am quite clear that the United States does not want a war if it can possibly be avoided and they’re in the same position as is the United Kingdom Government. And President Bush and Secretary Powell would not have devoted as much time and attention as they have through the agency of the United Nations had they thought otherwise.

INTERVIEWER
Because they want us to support them and without a united resolution it is a bit more difficult for us to support them isn’t it?

MR STRAW
What they want, what we want, first and foremost is the disarmament of Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction and it’s my genuine belief that if that happens and happens peacefully there will as a result of that not have been regime change per se, but certainly a profound change in the nature of that regime and other things may then happen.

Now of course there are many people, including myself and I dare say even you, who in a preference would like to see the back of one of the most vicious dictators history has ever seen, Saddam Hussein. Is that, however, the focus of the draft resolutions which are discussed in the Security Council? No. It’s the disarmament of Iraq.

INTERVIEWER
If you do not get the resolution that you want through the United Nations and America goes it alone will we go with them?

MR STRAW
We don’t rule this out is the answer. What I’ve made clear time and again is that decisions which we take in the United Kingdom will be consistent with our obligations in international law, but the point here is this. It is the United Nations as a whole whose will and law has been defied by Iraq and it is the United Nations therefore which has a responsibility to deal with that. If they fail in that responsibility then others may have to pick up those responsibilities in their place.

INTERVIEWER
Let me turn to our relations with France which are at a pretty low ebb. You were at that meeting of course between Tony Blair and Mr Chirac.

MR STRAW
What happened was you’ve got fifteen proud nation states round the table and one of the truths about the European Union is that it is a union of sovereign nation states who come together first and foremost to argue for their own national interest. President Chirac was doing his job, arguing for his national interest. We were doing ours. As it happens, in the course of this discussion there was a debate about whether what is called the medium term review, that is something which is taking place at the moment before 2006. Whether the legal base of the medium term review was or was not conclusions decided at a Summit in Berlin three and a half years ago. And we made our point and this is normal traffic. What also happened is that we ensured something which was not in France’s interest, but we believed was in the interests of the whole of the European Union, that commitment to interim reform in the Common Agricultural Policy continued, number one because it is in the interests of the European Union. Number two because all members of the European Union had given commitments at Doha on liberalisation of world trade not least access by poorer countries to our markets.

We and France are neighbours, we have shared history, we have huge shared interest. In a sense because we’re neighbours and almost part of the same family sometimes arguments of the kind of intensity that happens inside families break up and I have to tell you that we greatly welcome the constructive approach which the French Government have shown in respect for example of the resolution of Sangatte of beef, things which have happened since the change of Government in France. I have continued throughout this period through the Brussels Summit and for the last six days in intense and good humoured negotiations with my French counterpart Dominique de Villepin.

INTERVIEWER
But we put off the Summit that we were going to have with them.

MR STRAW
Well we regret the fact the Summit has been delayed. What we now have to do is to use the opportunity, all be it enforced opportunity of the delay, to ensure that there is a good agenda with properly worked out proposals when we meet. Both France and we know very well that we have to work together. There’s huge affection, as I say shared history and also sometimes conflicts of interest. Well that is life.

INTERVIEWER A final thought if I may and that is on what’s happened in Moscow. The dreadful siege and the, and the gas. Is it not disgraceful that the Russians will still not say what gas was used? There were after all British people gassed as well as many Russians and other nationalities

MR STRAW
I wouldn’t make that criticism. First of all we are in any event having traces of the gas on the Lowe family who were happily released from the siege after their terrible experience, but are alive, having samples from their clothing tested at the Porton Down Laboratory. What we recognise and the Prime Minister made that clear in his statement in the House on Monday, is the incredible difficulty of decisions faced by President Putin and his advice, in, in the situation. Yes we will be discussing these matters in private with the Russian authorities and for certain we’ll be seeking an explanation from them as to why they believe it is necessary in their national interests to keep this information secret. But am I going to criticise them in the way you suggest? No because they were posed with the most difficult choices that any Head of Government can be posed with.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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