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Report shows Iraq in further material breach

Report shows Iraq in further
material breach

The time is up for Iraq to comply, the Foreign Secretary has said. Commenting on the report by UN weapons inspectors, Mr Straw said the chances of the issue being resolved by peaceful means are 'less than they were'.

The Iraqi regime would be making the "most profound mistake if it thought that it could go on with its game-playing any longer", the Foreign Secretary said.

Under the terms of the Security Council's resolution, Iraq is in material breach due to false statements or omissions in the declaration and failure to comply and co-operate fully.

Mr Straw said the mood has changed, and "people realise that Iraq really is now in blatant non-compliance."

While he said that war is not inevitable, and emphasised the government's wish to use the United Nations route, he also said that the chances of a peaceful resolution are less than they were "because of Iraq's unbelievable refusal properly to comply."

The European Union is saying that it is imperative that Iraq provides the authorities with all additional and complete information without delay.

At the Security Council in New York permanent representatives will propose questions for the inspectors to put to the Iraqi regime in due course. The Council will meet again on 14 February to assess the situation.



What is our position on Iraq in the light of the UN Weapons Inspectors' report?

Well, the inspectors produced their report yesterday and I would ask people who are worried about this to read the report. It's on the Internet, it's in many of the newspapers, because it really very, very disturbing indeed.

Tomorrow in the Security Council in New York there'll be a session where each of our permanent representatives, our Ambassadors, will be proposing questions for the inspectors to put in turn to the Iraqi regime and then on 14 February there'll be a further meeting of the Security Council to assess the situation.

Meanwhile there's going to be the most intensive diplomacy and that was a point made yesterday by United States Secretary of State Colin Powell. He'll be in touch with his colleagues, so will I to assess international feelings.

I can also tell you from yesterday's discussions in the European Union which actually took place before we had sight of what Drs Blix and ElBaradei were saying, that the mood has changed. People realise that Iraq really is now in blatant non-compliance, for example when there was a proposal on the table for a statement which in the end we produced for the European Foreign Affairs Council yesterday the original draft had the words give the Iraqis additional time. I proposed that this was not appropriate and it was dropped without any opposition. And what the European Union is now saying, just to quote, is that it is imperative that Iraq provides the authorities without delay with all additional and complete information on the questions raised.

In that case should we take 14 February a deadline? Is there an ultimatum against Iraq to comply by that date?

No, there isn't and ultimatum being talked about at the moment. But each of these dates is very significant indeed and Iraq would be making a profound mistake if it thought that it could go on with its game playing any longer. The time is up for Iraq to comply.

If you read the terms of 1441 passed unanimously by the Security Council on 8 November, you see that it says there under paragraph four that a further material breach arises where there are false statements or omissions in the declaration and failure by Iraq at any time to comply with and cooperate fully in the implementation of this resolution.

As of today according to the reports we've received Iraq is now in further material breach of both those limbs of operational paragraph four. So it's profoundly serious for Iraq.

Do you believe that what we now have is sufficient to justify military action and that it is not necessary to get a second United Nations resolution to authorise that?

No I've said neither of those things. The situation is very serious. I think that most people who were not familiar with the information about Iraq's malpractices will have been very shocked by what they discovered from Dr Blix's report. I mean it didn't come as any shock to me, but the evidence laid out of Iraq's non compliance is pretty terrifying. And it's quite important for example for those people you interviewed earlier who are worried about this understand what the case is. What Dr Blix lays out is for example that the Iraqi regime still has one of the most deadly nerve agents of all, VX. They've been lying about the destruction of all anthrax. And they've found mustard gas precursor at a laboratory, and missiles that have been tested beyond their legal range.


What would it take for Iraq to do between now and 14 February for them to convince you that they were serious about disarming?

They'd have to set about the full and active compliance which they have so far not done. And they'd have to realise the seriousness of this. We've said all the way along in this that the onus is on Iraq. I understand fully the concerns of people about military action and I share them. I also comprehend but I don't agree with those people who say give Iraq a lot more time. What needs to be borne in mind is that Iraq is a serial offender, they've been refusing to comply with international obligations not for just two months since this resolution was passed, but for twelve years.

You said at the beginning of this month that the chances of war were sixty forty against. How would you rate them now?

The chances of this being resolved by peaceful means are less than they were because of Iraq's unbelievable refusal properly to comply with the terms of this resolution. There is still an opportunity for Iraq to comply. But I'm sorry to say that the evidence in the past suggests that once again they will think that game playing, deception, concealment, delay are an adequate alternative to compliance. They're not. Those in the Iraqi regime who care about Iraq have got to understand how serious the situation is now.

People are going to listen to what you're saying in this interview and conclude that war is inevitable.

No, war is still not inevitable. It never has been. But we would only be at this stage with a catalogue of Iraq's non compliance laid out and the truth about the danger posed by the Iraqi regime as a result of active diplomacy through the United Nations, backed essentially by a credible threat of military action led by the United States and ourselves. And those two together have been the essentials.

In view of what was revealed yesterday, would you now be happy about going ahead alone with the United States if you can't get a second resolution through the Security Council because despite all the, the change of mood that you talk about other members of the Security Council won't support military action.

We have made it very clear all the way through that we wish to use the United Nations route. That point was reinforced by the Prime Minister yesterday and that remains our preference. On the reaction of the international community let us wait and see. I recall a number of occasions in the months leading up to the passage of 1441 in early November that it was often suggested to me that we'd never get an international consensus for a first resolution. Well we did get it unanimously and Iraq must understand the serious consequences that will flow if the further material breach continues.

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