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Noticeable improvement in Iraqi cooperation

Fischer: Noticeable improvement in Iraqi cooperation

In a statement made at the UN Security Council meeting held on March 7 Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer responded to the progress reports given by chief weapons inspectors Blix and ElBaradei by noting that there had been noticeable improvement in Iraqi cooperation with the inspectors. He said this was a positive development, making it all the less comprehensible why this effort should now be abandoned. Speaking after the meeting Fischer indicated that in his view there would not be a majority in the Security Council for a new resolution containing an ultimatum for Iraq.

In a comment made after the UN Security Council meeting held in New York on Friday, March 7, Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said the reports presented by the UN weapons inspectors filled him with hope that the instruments of peaceful disarmament are working. He noted that in his view there will not be a majority in the Security Council for a new resolution containing a short-term ultimatum for Iraq, adding that French Foreign Minister Villepin had made a very clear statement in this regard.

Instruments of peaceful disarmament working

In an interview with ZDF television after the meeting Fischer noted that "we should base our position on what the progress reports by the chief inspectors have shown." He said he saw room for compromise here, observing that setting a March 1 deadline for beginning with the destruction of the Al Samoud missiles had worked and that this method should be used for all other unresolved questions contained in the cluster report compiled by Hans Blix.

"We are working on the peaceful implementation of resolution 1441 based on the inspection reports," Fischer noted. "The instruments of peaceful disarmament are working." He said considerable progress had been made, although there is no doubt that Iraq needs to do more. Breaking off this process now would involve considerable risk, Fischer warned, adding that many innocent people would die in a war and that there was also a need to consider regional stability and the fight against terrorism which Fischer referred to as the greatest danger. He said it was a matter of political convictions for him to do everything he can to give peace a chance and to avert war. He indicated that Germany is undertaking every possible effort in this direction in cooperation with its political partners, adding that now where the situation seems to be coming to a head there is a particular need to see to it that no mechanism is approved that would automatically lead to war and that political options remain viable.

Noticeable improvement in Iraqi cooperation with the UN

In a statement made during the Security Council meeting Fischer responded to the reports presented by the UN weapons inspectors. He said the aim of the international community remains the complete disarmament - and only the disarmament - of Iraq so as to definitively eliminate the international threat posed by Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, as laid down in all the relevant Security Council Resolutions. He noted that what is at stake now is the unity of the International Community. "We have taken a forceful stance in our common fight against international terrorism. We fight together against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. We stand united in our condemnation of the Iraqi regime. Where we have different views is our strategy on how to achieve effective and total disarmament of Iraq. The Security Council must not spare any effort to find a joint approach to attain our common goal."

Fischer went on to say: "The briefing by Dr Blix and Dr El Baradei has made clear once more: Iraq's cooperation with UNMOVIC and the IAEA does not yet fully meet UN demands. Baghdad could have taken many of the recent steps earlier and more willingly. In recent days, cooperation has nevertheless notably improved. This is a positive development which makes all the less comprehensible why this development should now be abandoned. There is real progress to be noted on the implementation of the relevant Security Council Resolutions in all fields."

Fischer said there had been clear progress in the sphere of missile technology, noting that Iraq had informed the inspectors of its Al Samoud missiles. After inspection by UNMOVIC it was determined that their range was too long. Hans Blix set a deadline for their destruction and the regime in Baghdad began to destroy the missiles within the prescribed timeframe, something Fischer described as "important progress". He said this shows that peaceful disarmament is possible and that there is a real alternative to war. "This positive development also shows that Hans Blix' approach of giving the regime in Baghdad concrete timeframes is successful. This method also ought to be used for other unresolved problems."

Program for further disarmament of Iraq

Fischer noted that France, Russia and Germany had presented a memorandum to the Security Council on February 24th proposing a tough regime of intensive inspections. He said the inspections should be stepped up and accelerated on the basis of these proposals, noting that for this to happen each remaining problem would have to be specified and priorities set and that a timeframe should be prescribed for every single problem.

He said Blix and ElBaradei should submit to the Security Council a detailed and comprehensive working program that clarifies how they and their teams intend to tackle the complete disarmament of Iraq as called for by the UN. He noted that it is of great importance that this working program be presented to the Security Council without delay, adding: "We would like to hear today a statement by the inspectors on what are the remaining key disarmament issues in the cluster report that has been drawn up."

Fischer went on to say that the inspections could not go on forever and that the aim of disarming Iraq needed to be pursued energetically and systematically. He said the Iraqi government must cooperate fully with the inspectors, adding that given the current situation and the ongoing progress he saw no need for a second resolution. Fischer asked: "Why should we leave the path we have embarked on now that the inspections on the basis of Resolution 1441 are showing viable results?." He concluded his statement by saying resolutions 1441 and 1284 pointed a clear way forward for the Security Council, adding that they must continue to be the basis of its action. He noted that the progress of the past few days had shown that there are effective alternatives to war in Iraq. "By taking this path we will strengthen the relevance of the United Nations and the Security Council," Fischer said.

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