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Unanimous support for Iraq resolution at NATO

NATO: Unanimous support for Iraq resolution

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has said that NATO had reached 'a unanimous statement agreed in respect of Iraq, giving full backing to the United Nations and to resolution 1441'.

Mr Straw added:

"Everybody wants a peaceful resolution of the Iraqi situation. And everybody here also recognises that the best way of securing a peaceful resolution of the Iraqi crisis is by being determined that if Iraq does not comply fully with the United Nations resolution, then military action may have to be taken."

Asked whether a vote on military action against Iraq would be put to MPs in the UK, Mr Straw said:

"Our preference has always been for a further resolution from the Security Council and that would then be put to the House of Commons for further endorsement just as this original 1441 resolution is being put before the House for endorsement on Monday."


IV TRANSCRIPT

NATO: UNANIMOUS SUPPORT FOR IRAQ RESOLUTION (21/11/02)


EDITED TRANSCRIPT OF AN INTERVIEW GIVEN BY THE FOREIGN SECRETARY, JACK STRAW, FOR BBC 'NEWSNIGHT', THURSDAY 21 NOVEMBER 2002

INTERVIEWER:
How many of the now 26, or almost 26, members of NATO would be willing to give military support to any American operation in Iraq?

FOREIGN SECRETARY:
If there's an operation in Iraq it will be under the auspices of the United Nations. Amongst much of the history made today there was a unanimous statement agreed in respect of Iraq, giving full backing to the United Nations and to resolution 1441, highlighting in particular that part of the resolution which talks about serious consequences if there are further material breaches.

Everybody wants a peaceful resolution of the Iraqi situation. And everybody here also recognises that the best way of securing a peaceful resolution of the Iraqi crisis is by being determined that if Iraq does not comply fully with the United Nations resolution, then military action may have to be taken.

INTERVIEWER:
My question was how many of the now twenty six will support militarily an action which may follow in Iraq.

FOREIGN SECRETARY:
Everybody round the table has supported the principle that effective diplomacy has to be backed by a credible threat of military force. I can't say exactly because nobody is counting and no one is assembling a formal coalition to deal with Iraq because Iraq has been given one final opportunity to rid itself of its continued violations of its obligations under the United Nations.

It has complied with the first of the obligations under Security Council resolution 1441 which was to say that it would obey the rest of the obligations. We now wait until December the 8th to see whether they comply with the second of the obligations which is a full disclosure of their weapons of mass destruction and their means of making them.

INTERVIEWER:
If Iraq makes a declaration that it does not possess weapons of mass destruction is that a breach of the UN resolution?

FOREIGN SECRETARY:
Operational paragraph four sets out that for there to be a material breach there has to be a failure of a disclosure and the failure of other obligations under the resolution. I don't want to get involved in a detailed debate about what may or may not constitute a material breach.

Plainly a flagrant refusal to comply with the requirements of operational paragraph three, which are for this disclosure, might well be taken by members of the Security Council as a material breach.

INTERVIEWER:
If [Saddam Hussein] stands up and says he hasn't got [weapons of mass destruction] the British Government must have a position as to whether that constitutes a material breach of the UN resolution.

FOREIGN SECRETARY:
If there is a false disclosure by Saddam Hussein, if he were to say that they have no weapons of mass destruction nor any means of making them, then I believe that that will be taken by the whole of the Security Council as a violation of all the obligations laid down under 1441. Because for example under the last report of the previous weapons' inspectors, UNSCOM, in February 1999, they said that there were still unaccounted for stocks of weapons of mass destruction, mustard gas shells, VX nerve agent and so on, and the Iraqi regime has still not accounted for those, so we know what they've got to answer for.

INTERVIEWER:
Is the Iraqi firing on British and American war planes in the so called no fly zone a breach of UN resolutions or not?

FOREIGN SECRETARY:
The legal basis of our operations in the no fly zone is not United Nations Security Council resolution 1441, but UN resolution 688. So a material breach of the no fly zones causes other problems and certainly it would cause retaliation as we've always made clear, but not necessarily unless it was linked to a material breach of 1441.

What we have is a unanimously agreed resolution 1441, voted for by all 15 members of the Security Council, which lays out a pathway to a peaceful conclusion of the crisis with Iraq if only Iraq takes that opportunity. What's described by the resolution as a final opportunity.

What all of us are working towards is not military action against Iraq but the avoidance of military action against Iraq by Iraq properly and fully complying with the obligations which have been set upon it.

I'm here in NATO and delighted to be so. We've expanded the total numbers of NATO to 26 and all 26 members of NATO, every single one of them, are agreed that Iraq must comply with that resolution.

INTERVIEWER:
On the question of this UN resolution you're allowing MPs a vote on this next Monday. Will you allow the House of Commons another vote before any military action were to take place?

FOREIGN SECRETARY:
I explained that to the Parliamentary Party yesterday and I'm very happy to explain it to Parliament on Monday. If it is at all possible to provide for a vote in advance of military action taking place then we will do so.

There were circumstances that arose under the previous administration in 1991, where because sometimes military action has to be taken without giving notice to the other side we had to wait for five days after the military action took place.

The most likely course of action, if military action is required, is that we go to the Security Council which is where there will be discussion. Our preference has always been for a further resolution from the Security Council and that would then be put to the House of Commons for further endorsement just as this original 1441 resolution is being put before the House for endorsement on Monday.


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