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Marc Grossman Interview by BBC 'Today' Radio

Interview by BBC 'Today' Radio

Marc Grossman, Under Secretary for Political Affairs

Brussels, Belgium February 27, 2003

QUESTION: Well one of George Bush s senior Government representatives Marc Grossman is in Europe trying to win over the sceptics, he s one of the most senior diplomats in the Administration. I asked him if he s worried about the damage that would do (indistinct) would be done to the United Nations if America does prosecute this war without the UN having agreed on a second resolution.

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: It s worth stepping back I think first to remember that we are not interested in going to war. We re interested in disarming Saddam and our view is that the logic of UN Security Council Resolution 1441 was that if the international community would stay united and follow up the return of inspectors with a real military option that Saddam would disarm. Unfortunately others have fallen off that logic and I would say, Sir, that the real threat to the United Nations is exactly the opposite, which is if the United Nations continues to do nothing then that is the real danger to the system of international security that we ve relied on now for fifty years.

QUESTION: But if it s the will of the United Nations that there should be a second resolution and if the United Nations says, when it comes to the vote, we will not support this second resolution the United States is effectively saying we are the, not only the great, greatest super power in the world but we are the only authority in the world.

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: We re very far from alone in this, Sir. There is a coalition in this world ready to carry out the Security Council s requirements in Security Council Resolution 1441 and the sixteen resolutions before that.

QUESTION: But you know and I know that the United States is not going to march back down the hill those two hundred thousand odd men with all the equipment that they have in The Gulf. And we both know and everybody in the world knows that this war is going to happen with or without the United Nations, that s the bottom line isn t it?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: I don t think so. With respect, again I believe the logic of Security Council Resolution 1441, which after all passed fifteen to nothing, was that a united Security Council got inspectors back into Iraq. And the purpose of inspections was not for people to go around and be detectives, they were really to be disarmament teams. And we felt that the logic then of a military build up is what would convince Saddam Hussein that it was time to disarm. This is his responsibility to disarm; it s not the responsibility of inspectors to kind of hunt and peck all over Iraq.

QUESTION: That argument hasn t persuaded many people in the world, it hasn t persuaded a very large section of the MPs in the British Parliament. How sympathetic are you to the plight that Tony Blair is now facing with a hundred and twenty-two of his backbenchers having voted against him?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Well obviously it wouldn t be for me to talk about British politics. We ve certainly appreciated all of the support that Prime Minister Blair and the British Government have given to us but I think maybe this is a place where more information and more argument really would be very effective. I was looking at your website this morning, the BBC News website, and you ve got there a list of the outstanding questions and it seems to me that if people look at those questions and we need to return to the logic of 1441, which was that a military build up would be what was required to get Saddam to disarm.

QUESTION: But you do appreciate that Tony Blair has a problem?

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Every democratic, every leader in every democratic country has to convince people that it s time to move forward. President Bush gave a speech last night to the American people trying to do the same thing. We live in democracies, that s what makes us so powerful.

QUESTION: But you re going to do it anyway.

UNDER SECRETARY GROSSMAN: Well I don t think so Sir, I think that s a, that s really an unfair way to put it.

QUESTION: Marc Grossman many thanks. [End]

Released on February 27, 2003

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