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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 67, October - November 2002

News Review

Iraq Agrees to Readmit Inspectors as US, Britain Insist on War Option

See also:

Summary: the Path to the Brink

In the early hours of October 11, as the culmination of a mighty national debate, the US Senate approved, by 77 votes to 23, a resolution 'To Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq'. The House of Representatives, by a margin of 296 votes to 133, had adopted an identical resolution the previous afternoon. The text, although amended significantly from the initial White House draft in order to secure Democratic support, effectively gives US President George W. Bush the green light to launch an invasion of Iraq designed to rid the country of any weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and WMD-delivery systems it may possess - without necessarily garnering the additional support of the international community in its highest recognised form, a United Nations Security Council resolution. Although the Congressional resolution does not use the term, the Bush administration has made clear that it regards the goal of WMD-disarmament in Iraq as an objective inseparable from the broader political goal of 'regime change': the elimination of the government, and if need be the personnel, of President Saddam Hussein.

Congress made its move nearly four weeks after Iraq announced (September 16) it was prepared to readmit UN weapons inspectors for the first time since widespread air attacks of key Iraq facilities by the US and UK - launched without Security Council approval and in protest at Iraqi obstruction of the inspections process - in December 1998. In response, three of the Permanent Members of the Security Council - China, France, and Russia - expressed the view that the priority task was now to act on the Iraqi commitment and send inspectors back into the country as soon as practicable. In the opinion of the remaining Permanent Members, America and Britain, such a step first required the adoption of a new Council resolution laying down tough new conditions designed to ensure the unrestricted operation of the inspections to be carried out by the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). In addition, in the view of Washington and London, such a resolution should spell out the consequences - up to and including military conflict - of any Iraqi delay or opposition. While Baghdad reacted with predictable anger to the US-UK stance, France led efforts to secure a 'two-step' approach: a first resolution setting out the Council's expectations of full Iraqi compliance, with the option of a second resolution warning of dire consequences if such compliance was not forthcoming.

By mid-October - the end of the extended period under review - the Council was continuing to wrestle with the issue, perhaps one of the most momentous to have confronted the international community since World War II. The following chronology and compilation of comment cannot hope to do justice to either the pace of developments or range of opinion generated by the crisis since early August. Our aim, instead, is to reflect the dominant issues involved with regard to the credibility of the international non-proliferation regime, the impact of any war on the Middle East and beyond, the nature of the litmus test evidently now facing the UN, and the often complex relationship between these sets of concerns and priorities.

Chronology of Developments

August 16: Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri writes to the UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, offering continuing discussions on practical arrangements for the return of weapons inspectors in the context of broader discussions of an overall political settlement to the Iraq-UN crisis. Sabri was replying to an August 5 letter from Annan urging Iraq to agree to the return of inspectors without condition or delay (see last issue for details). The exchange of letters followed three rounds of discussions between senior UN and Iraqi officials, including Annan and Sabri, in New York and Vienna between March and July. UN officials quickly make clear that the latest Iraqi response is not acceptable, and that only talks on the practicalities of resumed inspections will be countenanced.

September 3: comments by Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz, made after discussions with the UN Secretary-General at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, strongly suggest Iraq remains unprepared to discuss the inspections issue in isolation - "As I told the Secretary-General, if anybody can have a magic solution so that all these issues are being dealt with together, equitably and reasonably, we are ready to find such a solution and we are ready to cooperate with the United Nations. ... Let us solve all the problems comprehensively. There is no crisis between Iraq and the United Nations. The problem is with the Americans."

September 9: a study into Iraq's alleged WMD programmes by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) claims that, upon receipt of sufficient fissile material, Iraq has the capacity to build a nuclear device within a few months. Introducing the report, IISS Director Dr. John Chipman warns: "War, sanctions and inspections have reversed and retarded but not eliminated Iraq's nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and long-range missile capacity, nor removed Baghdad's enduring interest in developing these capabilities. ... The retention of weapons-of-mass-destruction capacities by Iraq is self-evidently the core objective of the regime, for it has sacrificed all other domestic and foreign policy goals to this singular aim. Sooner or later, it seems that the current Iraqi regime will eventually achieve its aims." US State Department spokesperson Richard Boucher welcomed the report, noting (September 9) that it drew "conclusions very similar to those that we have had".

September 12: President Bush addresses the UN General Assembly on the crisis, warning - "Delegates to the General Assembly, we have been more than patient. We've tried sanctions. We've tried the carrot of oil for food, and the stick of coalition military strikes. But Saddam Hussein has defied all these efforts and continues to develop weapons of mass destruction. The first time we may be completely certain he has a nuclear weapon is when, God forbid, he uses one. We owe it to all our citizens to do everything in our power to prevent that day from coming. The conduct of the Iraqi regime is a threat to the authority of the United Nations, and a threat to peace. Iraq has answered a decade of UN demands with a decade of defiance. All the world now faces a test, and the United Nations a difficult and defining moment. Are Security Council resolutions to be honoured and enforced, or cast aside without consequence? Will the United Nations serve the purpose of its founding, or will it be irrelevant? The United States helped found the United Nations. We want the United Nations to be effective, and respected, and successful. We want the resolutions of the world's most important multilateral body to be enforced." The same day, Secretary-General Annan issues a similarly strong appeal for unconditional Iraqi compliance. He also cautions: "[F]or any one state, large or small, choosing to follow or reject the multilateral path must not be a simple matter of political convenience. It has consequences far beyond the immediate context. ... Any state, if attacked, retains the inherent right of self-defence under Article 51 of the Charter. But beyond that, when states decide to use force to deal with broader threats to international peace and security, there is no substitute for the unique legitimacy provided by the United Nations." President Bush's speech wins general, bipartisan applause in Congress, including from powerful Democratic members of the Senate. Joseph Biden, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, describes the address as "a powerful indictment, by the United Nations' own standards, of Saddam Hussein's contempt for the world."

September 16: in a letter to the UN Secretary-General, Foreign Minister Sabri declares Iraq's readiness to "allow the return of United Nations weapons inspectors to Iraq without conditions". The letter states: "The Government...of Iraq has responded, by this decision, to your appeal, to the appeal of the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, as well as to the appeals of Arab, Islamic and other friendly countries." Forwarding the letter to the Security Council, Secretary-General Annan described the Iraqi commitment as "the indispensable first step towards an assurance that Iraq no longer possesses weapons of mass destruction and, equally important, towards a comprehensive solution that includes the suspension and eventual ending of the sanctions that are causing such hardship for the Iraqi people". White House spokesperson Scott McClellan dismisses the move (September 16) as "a tactical step by Iraq" made "in hopes of avoiding strong UN Security Council action" in the form of a new resolution spelling out the requirements of compliance, and consequences of non-compliance, in unprecedented detail and clarity. "As such," McClellan predicted, "it is a tactic that will fail". UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw reacts with similar wariness (September 17) to "this apparent offer": "Iraq has a long history of playing games. People are bound to be sceptical. ... We must remain steadfast and keep up the pressure on Iraq by continuing to work on a new UN resolution." Russia, however, lead a chorus of relief, with Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov declaring (September 16): "As a result of Iraq's agreement to accept inspectors without any conditions, we have managed to deflect the threat of a military scenario and to steer the process back into a political channel." Among other positive reaction, New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark (September 17) calls the breakthrough "a triumph of diplomacy".

September 19: in his address to the UN General Assembly's annual General Debate, Iraqi Foreign Minister Sabri reads a letter from President Saddam Hussein noting - "Our country is ready to receive any scientific experts, accompanied by politicians you choose to represent any one of your countries, to tell us which places and scientific installations they would wish to see, particularly those [presidential palaces] about which the American officials have been fabricating false stories, alleging that they contain prohibited materials or activities... I hereby declare before you that Iraq is clear of all nuclear, chemical and biological weapons." White House spokesperson Ari Fleischer remarks: "The speech is an attempt to lure the world down the same dead-end road that the world has travelled before and, in that, it represents a disappointing failure by Iraq".

September 21: Baghdad's likely response to any new conditions and directives from the UN is made clear in a government statement - "American officials are trying...to issue new, bad resolutions from the Security Council... Iraq declares that it will not cooperate with any new resolution that contradicts what has been agreed with the Secretary-General".

September 24: the British government releases a 50-page dossier "detailing", in the words of Prime Minister Tony Blair to the House of Commons, "the history of Iraq's WMD programme, its breach of UN resolutions and the current attempts to rebuild the illegal programme." The dossier contained the startling claim that "Iraqi military planning allows for some of the WMD to be ready within 45 minutes of an order to use them." Blair concludes his presentation to MPs: "[T]here are many acts of this drama still to be played out. I have always said that Parliament should be kept in touch with all developments, in particular those that would lead to military action. That remains the case. To those who doubt I say: look at Kosovo and Afghanistan. We proceeded with care...and when we took military action, did so as a last resort. We shall act in the same way now. But I hope that we can do so secure in the knowledge that should Saddam continue to defy the will of the international community, this House, as it has in our history so many times before, will not shrink from doing what is necessary and what is right." Speaking in Cairo, Iraqi Foreign Minister Sabri (September 24) describes the dossier as "scaremongering, exaggeration and lies". On September 25, Russian Foreign Minister Ivanov warned that "it is not worth creating a big propaganda campaign around this paper", while German government spokesperson Uwe-Karsten Heye noted that the dossier "does not differ from what...[we] already knew." The same day, Canadian Foreign Minister Bill Graham stated that the document "shows why we have always been saying that the United Nations inspectors have to get into Iraq and get in there quickly".

September 30: a Russian Foreign Ministry statement strongly criticises the increased frequency and intensity of US and UK air strikes in the 'no-fly zones' in Iraq - "The degree of tension in the 'no-fly zones' established by the USA and Great Britain in circumvention of the UN Security Council over the northern and southern areas of Iraq remains high. Over the last few days, the Anglo-US air forces have dealt a series of strikes at the civil airport of the city of Basra, damaging, as reported by the Iraqi media, its radar surveillance system and passenger terminal. It causes regret that the flare of activity of the allied air forces comes at a time when gathered in Vienna [see below] to discuss the modalities of the resumption of UN inspections in Iraq are the representatives of that country and the experts of UNMOVIC. As [we have stated] before, Russia believes that the Anglo-US bombings in the 'no-fly zones' not only aggravate the already complicated situation around Iraq, but also create obstacles on the path of the search for a political-diplomatic settlement of the Iraqi question." American and British officials blame the higher incidence of operations as a response to increased Iraqi anti-aircraft activity.

September 30-October 1: in Vienna, UNMOVIC Executive Chair Hans Blix, IAEA Director-General Mohammed ElBaradei and Iraqi Presidential adviser General Amir Al-Saadi hold talks on the practicalities of resumed inspections. They reach agreement, conveyed in the following joint press statement (October 1): "[Talks] were held in a businesslike and focussed manner. The Iraqi representatives declared that Iraq accepts all the rights of inspection provided for in all the relevant Security Council resolutions. The Iraqi delegation handed over four CD ROMs containing the backlog of semi-annual monitoring declarations for sites and items covered by the ongoing monitoring and verification plans for the period June 1998 to July 2002. ... It has been found that many practical arrangements followed between 1991-1998 remain viable and useful and could be applied. On the question of access, it was clarified that all sites are subject to immediate, unconditional and unrestricted access. However, the Memorandum of Understanding of 1998 establishes special procedures for access to eight presidential sites." Russia again reacts with relief and enthusiasm, with Foreign Ministry spokesperson Alexander Yakovenko observing: "Moscow has received with satisfaction news of the productive conclusion of the consultations [in Vienna]... The experts succeeded in agreeing practically all technical aspects of the restoration of UN inspection and monitoring activity on the territory of Iraq. ... A real prospect thus opens for the work of inspectors which will give an answer to the questions about the state of the prohibited Iraqi programmes for creation of WMDs..."

October 2: Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz insists that Iraq's offer should simply be accepted and acted upon, noting further that his government will not abide by any fresh terms laid upon it - "This proposal of the United States [for a new Security Council resolution] is unacceptable... The standing resolutions of the Security Council concerning the inspections are valid and they are enough for the perfect performance by the inspectors of their job... Only the United States is unhappy [with the outcome of the Vienna discussions] because...[they] are afraid that when the inspectors come to Iraq, in the end they will tell the world that Iraq doesn't have any weapons of mass destruction..."

October 3: Dr. Blix briefs the Security Council on the just-concluded Vienna discussions. Speaking to reporters after his presentation, Blix, while stressing that time was of the essence, argued that any new Council resolution should logically precede the return of inspections: "it would be awkward if we were doing inspections and then a new mandate and change of directions were to arise. We hope it won't be a long delay and we are ready to go at the practical earliest opportunity". James Cunningham, America's Deputy Permanent Representative, said there was now an "understanding in the Council that...it would be desirable to have clarity prior to the return of the inspectors rather than having inspectors go in under the existing situation". Cunningham added: "Our desire and our position is that new inspections should result on the basis of new and better guidance... This stronger authority will be of assistance to both UNMOVIC and [the] IAEA and I am sure that they will welcome that... There are loose ends that need to be wrapped up. Some of those loose ends are not trivial."

October 4: the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) releases a report detailing evidence allegedly demonstrating Iraq's ongoing WMD programmes in the biological, chemical, nuclear and missiles field.

October 7: President Bush lays out the case for possible war in a nationally televised speech in Cincinnati, declaring - "There is no easy or risk-free course of action. Some have argued we should wait - and that's an option. In my view, it's the riskiest of all options, because the longer we wait, the stronger and bolder Saddam Hussein will become. We could wait and hope that Saddam does not give weapons to terrorists, or develop a nuclear weapon to blackmail the world. But I'm convinced that is a hope against all evidence. As Americans, we want peace - we work and sacrifice for peace. But there can be no peace if our security depends on the will and whims of a ruthless and aggressive dictator. I'm not willing to stake one American life on trusting Saddam Hussein. Failure to act would embolden other tyrants, allow terrorists access to new weapons and new resources, and make blackmail a permanent feature of world events. The United Nations would betray the purpose of its founding, and prove irrelevant to the problems of our time. And through its inaction, the United States would resign itself to a future of fear. That is not the America I know. That is not the America I serve. We refuse to live in fear."

October 7: US Secretary of State Colin Powell meets in Washington with Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei. Dr. Blix expresses the view that a new Security Council resolution may facilitate the task of his inspectors: "We have recently been in Vienna and discussed with the Iraqi representatives [the] practical arrangements concerning details. We know from long experience that the devil sits in the details and we have been able to clarify quite a number of them. There are still some loose ends which we will need to be settled and the Security Council resolution that is now being discussed is one that I think we would welcome. It could clarify further matters and it will also...place the Iraqis clearly before the need to give a clear declaration of what they have. So we welcome that effort."

October 9: the UN Secretary-General transmits to the Security Council the text of a letter from Hans Blix and Mohammed ElBaradei to General Al-Saadi. The letter, according to UN spokesperson Fred Eckhart, "lists of all the conclusions reached at Vienna [September 30-October 1], including agreement on immediate, unconditional and unrestricted access to sites in Iraq, including what had been termed 'sensitive sites' in the past".

October 10/11: Congress passes its historic resolution. The key passages read:

"Section 2. Support for United States Diplomatic Efforts. The Congress of the United States supports the efforts by the President to (1) strictly enforce through the United Nations Security Council all relevant Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq and encourages him in those efforts; and (2) obtain prompt and decisive action by the Security Council to ensure that Iraq abandons its strategy of delay, evasion and non-compliance and promptly and strictly complies with all relevant Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.

Section 3. Authorization for Use of United States Armed Forces.

(a) Authorization - The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to (1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and (2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.

(b) Presidential Determination - In connection with the exercise of the authority granted in subsection (a) to use force the President shall, prior to such exercise or as soon thereafter as may be feasible, but no later than 48 hours after exercising such authority, make available to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate his determination that (1) reliance by the United States on further diplomatic or other peaceful means alone either (A) will not adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq or (B) is not likely to lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq; and (2) acting pursuant to this joint resolution is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorist and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001."

After the adoption of the resolution by the Senate, President Bush issued a statement noting: "With tonight's vote in the United States Senate, America speaks with one voice. The Congress has spoken clearly to the international community and the United Nations Security Council. Saddam Hussein and his outlaw regime pose a grave threat to the region, the world, and the United States. Inaction is not an option, disarmament is a must." In a statement issued after the House adoption, the President remarked: "The House of Representatives has spoken clearly to the world and to the United Nations Security Council: the gathering threat of Iraq must be confronted fully and finally. Today's vote also sends a clear message to the Iraqi regime: it must disarm and comply with all existing UN resolutions, or it will be forced to comply. There are no other options for the Iraqi regime. There can be no negotiations. The days of Iraq acting as an outlaw state are coming to an end."

Both votes split the Democratic Party. Twenty one of the fifty Democrats in the Senate oppose the motion, including Edward Kennedy and Armed Services Committee Chair Carl Levin, along with one Republican (Lincoln Chafee), and an independent, the former Republican Jim Jeffords. In the House, 126 vote against the resolution, with only 81 in favour.

October 12: General Al-Saadi writes to Hans Blix, noting "our complete readiness once again to receive the advance team [of inspectors] of October 19 as per our preliminary agreement with you, and our readiness to resolve all issues that may block the road to our joint cooperation..."

Selected Comment, I: Iraq

Foreign Minister Naji Sabri, attending a meeting of the Arab League in Cairo, September 4: "Arab countries don't think the American demands are legitimate. They don't serve America or any other country. They only serve the Zionist entity..."

UN Ambassador Mohammed Aldouri, October 12: "War must be behind us... Ten or even twelve years is enough to judge the behaviour of governments and the kind of relationship we now have with our neighbours. We think of how we can improve relations, even with the United States."

General Hussan Mohammed Amin, likely senior official dealing with UNMOVIC in Iraq, interview with the Associated Press, October 12: "We gave commitments to cooperate, if...[the inspectors] will follow scientific and logical measures, and will not misuse them for spying..."

Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan, October 12: "The inspectors can search however and whenever they like."

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Selected Comment, II: United States

President Bush, October 3: "We'll see whether or not the United Nations will be the United Nations or the League of Nations when it comes to dealing with this man who for 11 years has thumbed his nose at resolution after resolution... The choice is up to the United Nations to show its resolve. The choice is up to Saddam Hussein to fulfil his word. And if neither of them acts, the United States, in deliberate fashion, will lead a coalition to take away the world's worst weapons from one of the world's worst leaders."

President Bush, September 17: "For the sake of liberty and justice for all, the United Nations Security Council must act; must act in a way to hold this regime to account. It must not be fooled..."

Vice President Dick Cheney, September 17: "Time is not on our side. A nuclear-armed Saddam Hussein is not a pleasant prospect for anybody."

Secretary of State Colin Powell, answering questions from the US-Russian Business Council, Washington, October 3: "If the situation with respect to the disarmament of Iraq is not done through peaceful means and it is necessary to go and destroy the regime, the United States and its partners understand the responsibility that would fall upon us to put in place a regime that is representative of the people, that would not have weapons of mass destruction, and would not violate the human rights of its people, and would not support terrorism. We are also mindful of the interest that many other nations have in a future Iraq. ... So as we develop our contingency plans, we are taking fully into account the interests of the nations in the region and the economic impact such a transition might have on them. ... We are in conversation with our Russian friends about their interests, and we are taking into account their consideration as we do this sort of contingency planning."

Secretary of State Powell, September 15: "The issue isn't so much inspectors/no inspectors, ultimatums/no ultimatums. The question is: are the Iraqis finally going to obey international law? ... If they are not, then the UN has to be prepared to act, in our judgment."

Secretary Powell, September 7: "Iraq has been in violation of these many UN resolutions for most of the last eleven years or so. So, as a first step, let's see what the inspectors find, send them back in..."

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, testifying before the House Armed Services Committee, September 18: "The issue is not inspections. The issue is disarmament. The issue is compliance... There is obviously a misunderstanding on the part of those who think that the goal is inspections. ... The last thing we want to see is a smoking gun. A gun smokes after it's been fired... Iraq is unique. No other living dictator matches Saddam Hussein's record of waging aggressive war against his neighbours; pursuing weapons of mass destruction; using WMD against his own people and other nations; launching ballistic missiles at his neighbours; brutalising and torturing his own citizens; harbouring terrorist networks; engaging in terrorist acts, including the attempted assassination of foreign officials [allegedly including former President George H. Bush]; violating his international commitments; lying, cheating and hiding his WMD programs; deceiving and defying the express will of the United Nations over and over again."

Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, September 3: "The policy of our government has been regime change. It's been regime change by the Congress [and] by the executive branch over the past two administrations."

Secretary Rumsfeld, August 5: "What they'll do is, every time they get worried about whether or not the international community is unhappy with them, they'll offer to have inspectors come in... And it will all be a sham."

National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, September 26: "There clearly are contacts between al-Qaeda and Iraq that can be documented; there clearly is testimony that some of the contacts have been important contacts and that there's a relationship here."

Condoleezza Rice, September 15: "There was a reason that the United Nations Security Council was created with teeth, with the ability to deal with tyrants. And if the United Nations is going to be incapable of dealing with the threats of the 21st Century, there is going to be no choice but for countries like the United States or others to deal with those threats without the United Nations. And so this is a chance for the United Nations to show that this can be done in a multilateral fashion."

Condoleezza Rice, September 8: "The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he [Saddam Hussein] can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."

Former Republican President George H. Bush, September 30: "Here we know a leader is now going forward trying to build weapons of mass destruction, possibly nuclear, certainly toxic... [W]e can't sit and do nothing and [just]debate about it..."

Former Democratic President Jimmy Carter, September 25: "I think it [war] would be a tragic mistake for this country, for peace in the Mideast region... We would have to go into the streets of Baghdad to capture Saddam..." (Note: on October 11, it was announced that former President Carter was to be awarded this year's Nobel Peace Prize. Gunnar Berge, Chair of the awards committee, told reporters that in view of the "position Carter has taken", the prize "can and must...be seen as a criticism of the line that the current administration has taken on Iraq".)

Former President Carter, article in the Washington Post, September 5: "While the President has reserved judgement [on whether to go to war], the American people are inundated almost daily with claims from the Vice President and other top officials that we face a devastating threat from Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, and with pledges to remove Saddam Hussein from office, with or without support from any allies. As has been emphasised vigorously by foreign allies and by responsible leaders of former administrations...there is no current danger to the United States from Baghdad. In the face of intense monitoring and overwhelming American military superiority, any belligerent move [by Iraq]...would be suicidal. But it is quite possible that such weapons would be used against Israel or our forces in response to an American attack."

Former Democratic President Bill Clinton, addressing the ruling UK Labour Party conference in Blackpool, October 2: "I believe we have to stay at this business until we get all those biological and chemical weapons out of there... If the inspections go forward, perhaps we can avoid a conflict... Until they fail, we don't have to cross bridges we would prefer not to... Saddam Hussein, as usual, is bobbing and weaving. We should call his bluff... Of course, we have to stand against weapons of mass destruction - but, if we can, we have to do it in the context of building the international institutions that in the end we will have to depend upon to guarantee the peace and security of the world and the human rights of all people."

Former President Clinton, addressing a Democratic Party fundraiser, Santa Ana. California, September 5: "Saddam Hussein is not a good man by our definition. There's no question...he has significant stocks of chemical and biological agents. I think we have to assume that if he knows we're coming...he'll do everything he can to use them... That's...an issue the President has to address..." (Note: referring to trends in US foreign policy more generally, Clinton asked: "[Do] you want to run the world of the 21st Century or do you want to lead the world? There's a big difference.")

Former Democratic Vice President Al Gore, September 23: "After September 11, we had enormous sympathy, goodwill and support around the world. We've squandered that, and in one year we've replaced that with fear, anxiety and uncertainty, not at what the terrorists are going to do but at what we are going to do. ... If we end the war in Iraq the way we ended the war in Afghanistan, we could easily be worse off than we are today...President Bush should not allow anything to distract us from the mission of avenging the murder of 3,000 Americans."

Former Republican Secretary of State James Baker, article in the International Herald Tribune, August 26: "Some will argue, as was done in 1990, that going for United Nations authority and not getting it will weaken our case. I disagree. ... We will occupy the moral high ground and put the burden of supporting an outlaw regime and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction on any countries that vote 'no'. ... And even if the administration fails in the Security Council, it is still free - citing Iraq's flouting of...resolutions and perhaps Article 51 of the UN Charter... - to weigh the costs verses the benefit of going forward alone."

Former Republican Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger, August 18: "[There are those in the current administration who are] committed to getting rid of Saddam Hussein because they think we should have done it the first time around. ... [I]'m] scared to death that they are going to convince the President that they can do this overthrow of Saddam on the cheap."

Former Republican Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, September 27: "The existence and, even more, the growth of stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq poses a threat to international peace and stability... By its defiance of the UN Security Council resolutions requiring it to give up WMD, Iraq has in effect asserted the determination to possess weapons whose very existence compounds the terrorist threat immeasurably."

Former Republican Secretary of State George Shultz, article in the Washington Post, September 10: "Self-defense is a valid basis for pre-emptive action. The evidence is clear that Hussein continues to amass weapons of mass destruction. He has also demonstrated a willingness to use them against internal as well as external targets. By now, the risks of inaction clearly outweigh the risks of action. If there is a rattlesnake in the yard, you don't wait for it to strike before you take action in self-defense."

Democratic Senator Robert C. Byrd, October 3: "Why is war being dealt with not as a last resort but as a first resort? Why is Congress being pressured to act now...33 days before a general election when a third of the...Senate and the entire House of Representatives are in the final highly-politicised weeks of campaigning... Yes, we had September 11. But we must not make the mistake of looking at the resolution before us as just another offshoot of the war on terror. We know who was behind the September 11 attacks... So where does Iraq enter into the equation? Where?"

Democratic Senator Hillary Clinton, October 11: "[Bipartisan support for the President will make UN support] more likely and, therefore, war less likely... [Voting for the authorization was] probably the hardest decision I've ever had to make."

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Thomas Daschle, October 11, speaking in support of the authorization resolution: "I believe it is important for America to speak with one voice at this critical moment. It is neither a Democratic resolution nor a Republican resolution. It is now a statement of American resolve and values." (Note: in a speech in New Jersey on September 23, at the height of consultations between the White House and Congress on the text of the authorisation resolution, President Bush declared that "the Senate is more interested in special interests in Washington and not interested in the security of the American people". Senator Daschle reacted with fury, declaring in an emotional speech in the Senate on September 25: "That is wrong. We ought not to politicise this war. Wee ought not to politicise the rhetoric about war and life and death. You tell those who fought in Vietnam and World War II [that] they are not interested in the security of the American people because they are Democrats! That is outrageous...")

Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy, October 11: "We have very little understanding about the full implications in terms of an exit strategy."

Democratic Senator Joseph Lieberman, October 2: [T]his is the last chance for Saddam Hussein, but also the best chance for the international community, to come together to prove that resolutions of the United Nations mean more and have more weight than the paper on which they are written."

House Democratic Leader Richard Gephardt, speaking after voting for the authorization resolution, October 10: "Completely bypassing the UN would set a dangerous precedent that would undoubtedly be used by other countries in the future to our and the world's detriment... [This resolution is] not an endorsement or acceptance of President Bush's new policy pf pre-emption".

Democratic Representative Jay Inslee, October 10: "It is not a victory to strike down one tyrant and breed 10,000 terrorists."

Democratic Representative John Spratt, October 10: "[Without UN backing,] this will be the United States verses Iraq, and, in some quarters, the United States verses the Arab and Muslim world."

Republican Senator Chuck Hagel, September 30: "We should not be deceived that regime change in Iraq will be an easy task...[or] that we merely thump the bad guys on the chest, they fall and go away, and the path to peace, prosperity and disarmament is clear..."

Republican Senator Jesse Helms, September 17: "The case is clear: the regime of Saddam Hussein is a threat to its own people, to its neighbours, and to world stability. Appeasement must end."

Republican Senator Richard Lugar, August 12: "The President has to make the case that...to wait for provocation [from Iraq] is to invite a very, very large disaster..."

Republican Senator John McCain, October 2: "America is at war with terrorists who murdered our people one year ago. We now contemplate carrying the battle to a new front - Iraq - where a tyrant who has the capabilities and the intentions to do us harm is plotting, biding his time until his capabilities give him the means to carry out his ambitions, perhaps through cooperation with terrorists - when confronting him will be much harder and impose a terrible cost."

Republican Senator John Warner, October 2: "[Saddam Hussein] does not need them [WMD] to retain his power in Iraq, but in all likelihood will use these terrible weapons to project that power, to intimidate other states in the region, and potentially one day for use against us as well."

House Republican Leader Richard Armey, previously a sceptic of White House policy on Iraq, October 10: "[A] strike on Saddam is an integral part, a necessary part, of the war on terrorism. If you're going to conduct a war on terrorism then you must stop that person who is most likely and most able to arm the terrorists with those things that will frighten us the most."

Republican Representative Tom DeLay, October 10: "The question we face today is not whether to go to war, for war was thrust upon us. Our only choice is between victory and defeat. Let's be clear: in the war against terror, victory cannot be secured at the bargaining table."

Former Republican Senator and Presidential candidate Bob Dole, article in the Washington Post, September 1: "Iraq is like a runaway freight train loaded with explosives barrelling towards us. We can act to derail it or wait for the crash and deal with the resulting damage."

Richard Holbrooke, UN Ambassador under President Clinton, article in the Washington Post, August 27: "[T]his administration has (rightly) called for regime change. Unfortunately, few other nations in the world, and especially in the region, will openly subscribe to such a goal. Other nations will probably seek to limit any [new Security Council] resolution to the issue of weapons of mass destruction. This is, however, less of a problem than it initially may appear. If military action against Baghdad begins, it will soon become evident that it is impossible to eliminate weapons of mass destruction without a change in regime. ... Whatever happens, once launched, the effort against Saddam Hussein cannot be stopped until its goal is achieved and the overwhelming power of the United States has prevailed. The President will have American support for the difficult decisions he will soon have to make, but it would strengthen his position greatly if he remembered the importance of using every non-military tool at his disposal to build international support - starting with the UN Security Council."

Retired Marine General Anthony Zinni, US Middle East envoy, September 8: "We have a number of issues on the table that we have to deal with. I'm fond of a phrase that says, 'always shoot the wolf on the sled first'. We've got enough wolves on the sled to shoot; let's not be popping some off in the woodline if we don't need to, unless we're absolutely sure it's necessary. ... When you commit this nation to military action, do it right. Make sure you understand the effects, not only here at home, but over there... There's a hell of a good reason why generals are cautious... Politicians make mistakes, soldiers pay for those mistakes with their blood."

Retired Army General Norman Schwartzkopf, commander of US ground forces in Operation Desert Storm in 1991, August 18: "If we invade Iraq and the regime is very close to falling, I'm very, very concerned that the Iraqis will, in fact, use weapons of mass destruction."

Former weapons inspector Scott Ritter, addressing an anti-war rally attending by at least 150,000 people, London, September 28: "If we go to war with Iraq, it represents the beginning of an era of American imperialism, which is not what my Founding Fathers' vision was for the United States of America."

Scott Ritter, touring an alleged terrorist training camp at Salman Pak in Iraq, September 9: "If there is a time and place [for my country] to go to war, I will be there... But I am not going to go to war based on a fabrication, especially from politically motivated Iraqi defectors who intend to misuse the tragedy of September 11 by saying somehow [that] those who perpetrated that crime were trained here."

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Selected Comment, III: International

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, October 12: "I think the member states want a two-stage approach. Send in the inspectors; if they get into trouble, if it fails, come back and we will pass a second resolution."

UNMOVIC Executive Chair Hans Blix, interview with the Associated Press, August 17: "If the Iraqis conclude that an invasion by someone is inevitable, then they might conclude that it is not very meaningful to have inspections... I'm not assuming at all that the Iraqis have retained weapons of mass destruction. At the same time, it would evidently be naïve of me to conclude that they don't. If inspectors are allowed in, and if they are given really unfettered access with no delays, etc., then I think this might play an important role and we would be eager to do that and to help toward a non-belligerent solution. ... Inspections cannot guarantee 100 percent that there are not underground facilities, hidden, but even the United States cannot guarantee that there is not some anthrax around somewhere in the US. You cannot give a 100 percent guarantee of that kind..."

IAEA spokesperson Melissa Fleming, September 29: "We're certainly aware of what happened [in Iraq] last time... But we uncovered Iraq's secret nuclear programme and we dismantled it. If we get unfettered access, we will be successful again."

Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa, September 4: "The dialogue between Iraq and the United Nations should be encouraged...and outstanding problems, topped by the return of inspectors, settled."

Australian Prime Minister John Howard, September 9: "There's no doubt, on the evidence of the intelligence material presented to us, that not only does Iraq possess chemical and biological weapons, but Iraq also has not abandoned her nuclear aspirations."

Australian UN Ambassador Tom Schieffer, September 9: "No American President can be comfortable with the proposition that these weapons might be developed and then distributed to those who would detonate a nuclear device in New York or Sydney harbour..."

Chinese Prime Minister Zhu Rongli, September 25: "[War without UN sanction] will lead to severe consequences... We request that Iraq comply with UN resolutions without any preconditions."

Czech President Vaclav Havel, September 19: "Probably an international coalition should be formed [against Iraq] and will be formed... I believe that NATO would be an important pillar within this coalition, including the Czech Republic..."

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark, holders of the European Union (EU) Presidency, October 1: "Europe and the United States must stand together in...preventing tyrannical and irresponsible regimes...[from] having weapons of mass destruction... Iraq is ruled by such a regime... The United Nations must live up to its responsibility to stop the spreading of the weapons of mass destruction. It will be too late when the toxic gases have...spread over one of our cities..."

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, September 26: "Iraq is not Afghanistan, neither in its geography nor in its position or in its people. The world should understand this and try to avoid plunging into a war for narrow interests. War is [likely to be] an enormous catastrophe, and it would will not only affect the region but its consequences will spread to engulf the whole world."

French President Jacques Chirac, interview with the New York Times, published September 9: "I'll be very frank with you. As I've already told President Bush, I have great reservations about this doctrine. As soon as one nation claims the right to take preventive action, other countries will naturally do the same. ... [W]hat if India decided to take preventive action against Pakistan, or vice versa? ... I am totally against unilateralism in the modern world. I believe that the modern world must be coherent and, consequently, if a military action is to be undertaken, it must be the responsibility of the international community, via a decision by the Security Council. Now, the Security Council has decided that Iraq must not have weapons of mass destruction; it did not say that a regime change was necessary there."

French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin, interview published in Le Monde, September 30: "We do not want to give carte blanche to military action... That is why we cannot accept a resolution authorising, as of now, the recourse to force without coming back to the UN Security Council..."

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, August 28: "Someone who is supposed to be disposed of with the aid of a military intervention will be hard to persuade to let inspectors into the country. The change of objective [from disarmament to regime change] was the mistake that was made."

German Justice Minister Herta Daeubler-Gmelin, quoted in the Schwaebisches Tagblatt newspaper, September 18: "Bush wants to divert attention from his domestic problems. It's a classic tactic. It's one that Hitler used." (Note: although Ms. Daeubler-Gmelin denied making the remark, the newspaper insisted on the accuracy of the quote. On September 20, Chancellor Schroeder wrote to President Bush to say "how much we regret the fact that alleged comments by the German Justice Minster have given an impression that has offended you." Following the knife-edge re-election of Schroeder's Social Democratic Party/Green Party coalition on September 22, the minister was not reappointed to the government.)

Indian Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha, August 28: "We are very clear that there should be no armed action against any country, more particularly with the avowed purpose of changing a regime..."

Statement by the Indian Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace (CNDP), September 20: "The claim that Iraq is preparing weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons, does not stand serious scrutiny and is simply the excuse to justify intervention by the US, which may now manipulate the UN into such stringent conditions for inspections as would be unacceptable to Baghdad. In any case, there can be no double standards or selectivity in such matters. India and Pakistan have acquired nuclear weapons, while it is an open secret that Israel has amassed a significant stockpile. Moreover, among all the nuclear-weapon states that together are primarily responsible for casting the global shadow of a nuclear holocaust, the US has itself been the most criminally irresponsible. It is the only country to use such weapons on civilian populations, for which it remains unapologetic. It is now aiming to nuclearise/militarise space, as well as developing new kinds of mini- and micro-nukes."

Iranian President Mohamed Khatami, September 18: "We hope the region does not witness yet another crisis as a result of a military invasion. The position of the Islamic Republic of Iran has been that Iraq must give in to international regulations, especially the UN Security Council resolutions..."

Iranian supreme spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, September 14: "The US threat against Iraq is the first step before unleashing military action against all Middle East nations in a bid to seize all vital resources in the region."

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, October 9: "We don't want to create the impression that this is an extension of the conflict between the Palestinians and ourselves... We want to continue negotiations with the Palestinians in spite of what may take place in Iraq."

Foreign Minister Peres, October 2: "The first principle is to give priority to the campaign against Iraq. We face tow threats - nuclear and terrorist. The nuclear threat is no less severe... We must give priority to the United States to carry out its policy."

Ra'anan Gissin, senior adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, August 16: "Postponing the action to a later date would only enable Saddam to accelerate his weapons programme and then he would pose a more formidable threat..."

Dore Gold, senior adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, August 15: "Israel has both the capabilities and perhaps even the freedom of action to do what is necessary to defend its population, should Iraq decide to extend its war against the international community to Israel itself." (Note: on September 26, Richard Butler, former Australian Ambassador to the UN and Executive Chair of UNMOVIC's predecessor organisation, the UN Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM), confided in a speech in Hong Kong: "My deepest fear is that if conflict occurred and the war escalated...Israel would use its nuclear weapons. If that happens, this world will have been changed beyond recognition. And I would fear, too, that if that happened the state of Israel would cease to exist - it would have lost the moral authority that supported its creation.")

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, September 9: "The international community has to be convinced, and all action justified, on a possible attack on Iraq."

Jordanian Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher, press conference in Washington, September 24: "It is a scary notion that the region can be rearranged to fit the United States. I am not sure if the United States goes into Iraq it will be able to get out for years..."

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahatir Mohamad, October 12: "[In Afghanistan] they used airplanes to bomb and rocket everything... On the ground, they got the British and the French to fight, and now they have only the British to fight. Good luck to them... We are talking about the biggest power in the world... [T]his is what you call 'might is right'... War will affect the whole world. If there's war, all costs will increase... I don't really look forward to this at all."

Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid, October 13: "This is the time for all [UN] member states to issue clear statements on their stand and initiate diplomatic efforts and negotiations to avert a war..."

Omani Foreign Minister Youssef bin Alawi bin Abdullah, September 3: "We and other countries could, in normal circumstances, achieve a lot to resolve [these] problems...if the language of using force ceased or eased... If the aim is to eliminate weapons of mass destruction, then that is the common goal of Arab countries."

Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf, August 29: "We have got too much on our hands here in this region to get involved in anything else, especially when one is conscious that this shall have very negative repercussions in the Islamic world... Muslims are feeling that they are on the receiving end everywhere so...I feel that this will lead to further alienation."

Russian President Vladimir Putin, speaking at a press conference with Prime Minister Blair, Moscow, October 11: "[Russia] has not received persuasive proof from its partners of such weapons in Iraq... We need to take account of the negative experience of the previous work of UN inspectors. In this regard, together with our partners, we are ready to seek out acceptable decisions to ensure without any doubt the proper work of inspectors in Iraq."

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, September 27: "It is the inspectors, working in conjunction with the UN Security Council, who can provide answers to all these questions. We believe it would now be an unforgivable error to delay the dispatch of international monitors to Iraq."

Foreign Minister Ivanov, September 2: "We have not found a single well-founded argument in these statements [from the US administration] demonstrating that Iraq represents a threat to US national security. These statements are political in nature."

Saudi Arabian Interior Minister Prince Nayef, September 26: "Israel, which threatens the security of the region and the world, owns and has those weapons [of mass destruction]..."

Former South African President Nelson Mandela, September 3: "We are really appalled by any country, whether a superpower or a small country, that goes outside the UN and attacks independent countries... No country should be allowed to take the law into their own hands. ... What they [the Americans] are saying is introducing chaos in international affairs, and we condemn that in the strongest terms..."

Spanish Foreign Minister Ana Palacio, September 9: "The Spanish government's stance is that we have to stretch the diplomatic pressure to the limit before deciding on a military intervention. ... It's evident that the world would be better without Saddam Hussein. We all share that opinion... There are indications that Iraq wants to make nuclear weapons and that [that] process is advancing very fast..."

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair September 6: "In the end, Britain is a sovereign nation. Britain decides its own policy and although I back America, I would never back America if I thought they were doing something wrong. If I thought that [the US was]...committing military action in a way that was wrong, I would not support it. But I have never found that, and I don't expect to find it in the future."

UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, October 12: "What we face here is a paradox: the firmer and tougher we are up-front about the fact that we will use force in Iraq...the more likely there is to be a peaceful solution."

Foreign Secretary Straw, September 25: "The objective which we seek is the disarmament of the Saddam Hussein regime. It may be that a consequence of that process will be regime change, but in terms of the objective it is disarmament."

UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, September 30: "As far as Iraq is concerned, non-proliferation, which is really the issue, the destruction of weapons of mass destruction, has been an issue that has been dear to the Labour Party for many years... [O]nly if the international community can come together as one...can you prevent the spread of biological, nuclear, chemical weapons, and I think people will want to support Tony Blair's leadership on that."

UK International Development Secretary Clare Short, September 22: "[We should avoid a] cowboys-and-indians way of looking at the world...[where] we are the good guys and you are evil and we can go around the world and bomb anyone who gets in our way... We should be ready to impose the will of the United Nations on them if they don't cooperate, but not by hurting the people of Iraq. Each one of them is as precious as the 3,000 people in the Twin Towers. We can't sacrifice them to put it right..."

UK government spokesperson, September 23: "The UN has to be a means of dealing with this issue. It is not a means of endless prevarication..."

Mo Mowlam, member of the Blair Cabinet from 1997-2001, article in The Guardian, September 5: "This whole affair has nothing to do with a threat from Iraq - there isn't one. It has nothing to do with the war against terrorism or with morality. Saddam Hussein is obviously an evil man, but when we were selling arms to him to keep the Iranians in check he was the same evil man he is today. He was a pawn then and he is a pawn now. In the same way he served western interests then, he is now the distraction for the sleight-of-hand to protect the west's supply of oil. And where does that leave the British government? Are they in on the plan or just part of the smokescreen?"

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