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Straw Parl. Statement: Combating global terrorism

Straw: Combating global terrorism

In a statement to the House of Commons, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said that the two greatest threats facing Britain in the next decade were terrorists and rogue states with Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Mr Straw was briefing MPs on the Ministerial meeting of the UN Security Council held on Monday. At the meeting the UN agreed measures to combat global terrorism.

The Council meeting focused on the work of its Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC), established by UN Security Council Resolution 1373. The Resolution was passed post-September 11, imposing a legal obligation on all countries to end 'safe-havens' for terrorists and their financing.

The UN Security Council agreed a new Resolution on fighting global terrorism. The key elements of the Resolution are:

the adoption of new measures to improve and reinforce the work of the CTC;
a recognition that the fight against terrorism has to be linked to international action against the proliferation of conventional arms and WMD;
third, agreement that the struggle against terrorism is not biased against any religion - including Islam.
Mr Straw then went on to talk of the threat of terrorism and rogue states. He said:

"It is the leaders of such rogue states who set a deadly example, and through their illegal programmes to develop chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, provide a tempting arsenal for terrorists."

There was evidence to suggest, added the Foreign Secretary, that Al Qa'ida was trying to acquire and develop lethal substances. Mr Straw said that the global trade in WMD technologies had 'never been more dangerous'.

On Iraq, Mr Staw said the international community had to maintain pressure on Saddam Hussein. He concluded:

"Saddam still has a choice to comply. I hope he does. But if he does not, then those who are serious about a commitment to a global community based on the rule of law and the UN cannot afford to shrink from the challenge of Iraq".


FULL STATEMENT

GLOBAL TERRORISM/IRAQ (21/01/03)


STATEMENT BY THE FOREIGN SECRETARY, JACK STRAW, HOUSE OF COMMONS, TUESDAY 21 JANUARY


With permission, Mr Speaker, I should like to make a statement on yesterday’s Ministerial meeting of the UN Security Council which had been called to discuss the international community’s response to global terrorism. I have placed a copy of my speech to the Security Council in the library of the House. After the formal meeting Security Council members discussed Iraq and North Korea in informal session.


MINISTERIAL MEETING OF THE UN SECURITY COUNCIL


The focus of the Council’s meeting was the work of its Counter‑Terrorism Committee, established by UNSCR 1373. This Resolution was passed in the wake of the 11 September atrocity and for the first time imposed a legal obligation on all countries to end safe havens for terrorists and to stop terrorist financing. The Committee has been chaired by our own Ambassador to the UN, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, who yesterday received many tributes for his work. I know the House will want to endorse these tributes.


Under the Committee’s programme, each country’s progress in countering terrorism is actively being scrutinised. Where necessary, the Committee is helping countries to improve their capacity to deal with terrorism.


As we heard yesterday, the vast majority of governments – about 180 – are complying with the new obligations on them. But two – Liberia and, for very different reasons, East Timor – have failed to respond at all and 13 are months behind. A deadline of 31 March has been set for compliance.


Yesterday’s meeting then discussed and unanimously agreed a new Resolution on terrorism.


The key elements include:


the adoption of new measures to improve and reinforce the work of the CTC;
a recognition that the fight against terrorism has to be linked to international action against the proliferation of conventional arms and WMD;
third, agreement that our struggle against terrorism is not biased against any religion - including Islam. People of all faiths and cultures have been the innocent victims of terrorist attacks; and people of every faith have a common interest in countering the global threat.
TERRORISM AND ROGUE STATES


In adopting the Resolution, the Security Council recognised the dangerous connection between the terrorists who respect no rules and rogue states who know no rules either. It is the leaders of such rogue states who set a deadly example, and through their illegal programmes to develop chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, provide a tempting arsenal for terrorists.


Eight years ago, the world woke up to the nexus between terrorism and WMD when a sarin gas attack inflicted thousands of casualties in Tokyo. Since then, there has been abundant evidence that Al Qa’ida is trying to acquire and develop substances just as lethal, if not more so. There can be no doubt they would use them, if they could.


There are some who argue that the issue of proliferation is an unwelcome distraction from the campaign against terrorism. This view is misplaced. The global trade in WMD technologies has never been more dangerous. North Korean missile exports undermine security in the Middle East. Illegal Iraqi imports of weapons-related technology flout UN sanctions, and are re-arming a regime which has previously shown no restraint in using mustard gas and nerve agent to murder thousands of their own. It would be wildly irresponsible to assume that we can turn a blind eye to this trade on the presumption that lethal materials will not ultimately fall into the hands of terrorists. In today’s climate, no responsible government could take such a risk with their citizens’ lives.


The two greatest threats facing Britain in the next decade are terrorists and rogue states with WMD. The most dangerous terrorist organisation is Al Qa’ida. The most aggressive rogue state is Iraq.


IRAQ


Since the adoption of UNSCR 1441 last November, the choice for the Iraqi regime has been clear: resolve the 12-year stand-off with the UN peacefully through full co-operation with weapons inspectors; or face disarmament by force.


Typically, Saddam Hussein’s response so far has been characterised much more by deceit and delay than any interest in a peaceful outcome. The initial Iraqi declaration of WMD holdings submitted to the UN on 7 December contained stark omissions, not least the failure to explain what has happened to the large quantities of chemical and biological weapons materiel unaccounted for by UN inspectors in 1998.


Last week UN inspectors discovered 12 chemical warheads, and a large quantity of hidden documents relating to a possible nuclear weapons programme. Neither of these finds had been declared. Dr Hans Blix and Dr Mohammed El-Baradei used their visit to Baghdad last weekend to set out their concerns about the lack of Iraqi co-operation, and to remind the regime of the ‘serious consequences’ of failure to abide by the terms of UNSCR 1441.


Next Monday Dr Blix and Dr El Baradei will submit their progress report on the inspection process to the Security Council.


I plainly cannot anticipate that report. But two things are clear. One, the international community must maintain the pressure on Saddam Hussein to end his games of hide and seek. Two, Iraq must provide full, active, positive compliance with all its obligations. As my RHF the Defence Secretary reminded the House yesterday in announcing further troop deployments to the Gulf, the lesson of the past four months is that diplomatic pressure will have no effect without the visible and credible threat of force.


CONCLUSION


The terrorist threat to British citizens is real. My RHF the Home Secretary is co-ordinating the most comprehensive security response our country has seen for many years.


Our country can never become an island of security in the face of the global dangers of terrorism and rogue states. So just as we should redouble our efforts to enforce the law at home, so our interests demand that we are at the forefront of enforcing the law overseas.


For too long, Iraq has flouted international legal obligations to disarm and laughed in the face of the UN. But Saddam still has a choice to comply. I hope he does. But if he does not, then those who are serious about a commitment to a global community based on the rule of law and the UN cannot afford to shrink from the challenge of Iraq.

ENDS

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