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UNSC begins hearing from over 40 non-members

Security Council begins hearing from over 40 non-members on disarming Iraq

11 March – As United Nations Security Council members wrestled with widely differing approaches to ridding Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, the 15-nation body today gave the floor to non-members to voice their views at the request of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).

"In the name of humanity, we appeal to the members of this Council not to resort to military action against Iraq," Zainuddin Yahya, Charge d'Affaires of Malaysia, current NAM president, said, stressing that the Movement's 116 Member States represented two thirds of humanity. "There is no dishonour in responding to the appeals of the international community to prevent the use of force against Iraq."

The United States, United Kingdom and Spain have introduced a draft resolution that presents Iraq with a 17 March deadline to cooperate fully with disarmament demands, which France says it will veto. France, Germany, the Russian Federation and other Council members have voiced opposition to action at this time and seek continued and enhanced weapons inspections.

"This Council must strive for a peaceful solution to the current situation," Mr. Zainuddin said, welcoming Iraq's decision to cooperate with UN inspectors and calling on it to continue to actively comply with Security Council resolutions. "We believe this is possible without resorting to war. The Council should remain conscious of the untold misery that war will inflict on the countries and people in the region."

Speaking at the outset of the Council's debate, the Permanent Representative of Iraq to the UN, Mohammed A. Aldouri, reasserted that Iraq was cooperating with UN inspectors and said the goal of the United States and Britain was not disarmament "but rather to put their hands on our oil and control the area."

Stressing that Iraq had taken the strategic decision to rid itself of weapons of mass destruction, Mr. Aldouri said peaceful means, dialogue and cooperation were the shortest and best way to resolve the current crisis.

"My delegation calls upon the international community to prevent a catastrophe which has become imminent and calls upon the Security Council and the Secretary-General of the United Nations to shoulder the responsibilities in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and that is to thwart any aggression aiming at Iraq," he said.

For his part, Ambassador Mohammad A. Abulhasan of Kuwait said Kuwait supported the US-UK-Spanish draft resolution. He said it reflected the Council's determination with respect to Iraq's challenge to the international community and deserved full support.

Meanwhile, the Permanent Observer of the League of Arab States, Yahya A. Mahmassani, referred to reports by the UN weapons inspectors that Iraqi initiatives were now active or even proactive and that inspectors would take only months to complete their work. What present and looming threat existed to wage war at a time when the inspections were proceeding vigorously towards the verification of the elimination of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, he asked.

After hearing from representatives of 28 delegations, the Council suspended its meeting and will reconvene tomorrow to accommodate the remaining speakers.

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