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News Review Special Edition

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International Developments, October 1 - November 15, 2002

'Last Chance' for Peace as Inspectors Return to Iraq


On November 8, the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 1441, offering Iraq "a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations". The text, the third version of a US-UK draft, was the fruit of nearly eight weeks of tortuous negotiations, described by White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer (speaking on October 23) as "probably the most deliberative debate...in the history of the United Nations". The resolution - endorsed by the Council's five permanent members (China, France, Russia, UK, US), plus Bulgaria, Cameroon, Colombia, Guinea, Ireland, Mauritius, Mexico, Norway, Singapore, and Syria - mandates the establishment of "an enhanced inspection regime with the aim of bringing to full and verified completion the disarmament process established by resolution 687 (1991) and subsequent resolutions of the Council".

Noting that "Iraq has been and remains in material breach of its obligations under relevant resolutions", the resolution gives Baghdad 30 days (no later than December 8) to provide the Council, the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) with "a currently accurate, full, and complete declaration of all aspects of its programmes to develop chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, and other delivery systems such as unmanned aerial vehicles and dispersal systems designed for use on aircraft, including any holdings and precise locations of such weapons, components, sub-components, stocks of agents, and related material and equipment, the locations and work of its research, development and production facilities, as well as all other chemical, biological, and nuclear programmes, including any which it claims are for purposes not related to weapon production or material". Any "false statements or omissions in the declarations submitted by Iraq pursuant to this resolution and failure by Iraq at any time to comply with, and cooperate fully in the implementation of, this resolution shall constitute a further material breach of Iraq's obligations and will be reported to the Council for assessment". In the event of such problems being reported by UNMOVIC Executive Chair Hans Blix or IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei, the Council would "convene immediately" to "consider the situation", bearing in mind "that the Council has repeatedly warned Iraq that it will face serious consequences as a result of its continued violations of its obligations". Assuming Iraqi acceptance of the resolution within seven days of its adoption, and full cooperation and compliance with its terms, the text requires inspections to resume within 45 days (no later than December 23), with an "update" to be provided to the Council 60 days thereafter (no later than February 21).

At the time of writing - early December - the implementation of the resolution was proceeding according to this broad plan. Iraq signalled its reluctant, even bitter, but apparently full acceptance of the text on November 13. On November 18-19, Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei held two days of talks in Baghdad to finalise practical arrangements for the new regime - the first visit by UN weapons inspectors since the December 1998 US-UK bombardment of Iraqi facilities, an attack dividing the Security Council and effectively terminating the work, often frustrated by Baghdad, of UNMOVIC's predecessor organisation, the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM). Inspections resumed ahead of schedule, on November 27, with full cooperation reported despite the unprecedented degree of freedom stipulated in the resolution for inspectors to demand "immediate, unimpeded, unconditional, and unrestricted access to any and all, including underground, areas, facilities, buildings, equipment, records, and means of transport which they wish to inspect". Further degrees of freedom contained in the resolution had yet, however, to be exercised, most importantly the right to "immediate, unimpeded, unrestricted, and private access to all officials and other persons whom UNMOVIC or the IAEA wish to interview in the mode or location of UNMOVIC's or the IAEA's choice pursuant to any aspect of their mandates", backed by provision for the inspectors, "at their discretion", to "conduct interviews inside or outside of Iraq...without the presence of observers from the Iraqi Government". And perhaps the most crucial test of all - the Iraqi declaration of all details and aspects of its weapons of mass destruction programmes - had yet to be reached. (See the next issue of Disarmament Diplomacy, and our website feature Disarmament Documentation, for extensive coverage and comment on the declaration, totalling some 12,000 pages, delivered to UN officials in Baghdad on December 7.) Tension was also rising over continuing incidents - Iraqi anti-aircraft fire and US-UK air attacks - in the controversial 'no-fly zones' in the north and south of Iraq. A number of US officials, particularly from the Defense Department, portrayed the anti-aircraft fire as tantamount to a fresh "material breach" of resolution 1441. This interpretation was generally dismissed by other Security Council members, many of whom - notably China, France and Russia - regard the zones as illegitimate and even illegal.

The key interpretative controversy, however, may come to revolve around the role of the Council in determining its response in the event of reported Iraqi non-compliance. As we will see below, the US and UK regard the right to inflict "serious consequences" on Iraq - up to and including an invasion of the country in pursuit of 'regime change' - as having already been granted by 1441; thus, if the Council were to find itself divided on the nature of those consequences, or the seriousness of the difficulties experienced by the inspectors, war would still be a legitimate, effectively authorised action on the part of any coalition deciding to take matters into its own hands. Other Council members, perhaps the majority, regard authorisation for any war as withheld by 1441 pending further deliberations, possibly taking the form of another resolution.

Overall, however, the unanimous adoption of 1441 has been widely seen as rooted in international recognition of Washington's determination to take military action if necessary, with or without UN approval; a determination crucially reinforced on October 11 by a strongly-worded Congressional resolution (see last issue) to 'Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq'. The administration's bellicose stance received the indirect but emphatic endorsement of the US electorate in mid-term Congressional elections on November 5, in which the Republican Party recaptured the Senate and consolidated control of the House of Representatives.

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October 16: President George W. Bush signs the October 11 Congressional resolution into law. Thanking both Houses for "a thorough debate and an overwhelming statement of support", the President observes: "Like the members of Congress here today, I've carefully weighed the human cost of every option before us. If we go into battle, as a last resort, we will confront an enemy capable of irrational miscalculations, capable of terrible deeds. As the Commander-in-Chief, I know the risks to our country. ... Yet those risks only increase with time. And the costs could be immeasurably higher in years to come. To shrink from this threat would bring a false sense of temporary peace, leading to a future in which millions live or die at the discretion of a brutal dictator. That's not true peace, and we won't accept it."

October 16-17: the UN Security Council holds a debate - open to all member states - to discuss the crisis. The debate was requested by the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) out of frustration at the perceived preoccupation of the permanent members of the Council with discussions among themselves. Russia uses the occasion to argue against any new resolution. According to Ambassador Sergei Lavrov (October 17), following Iraq's September 16 decision to readmit weapons inspectors on the basis of previous Security Council resolutions, "we see no reasons to delay the deployment of UNMOVIC and IAEA structures in Iraq... No new decisions, either formally or legally, are needed by the Security Council for the start of inspections." According to US Ambassador John Negroponte (October 17), however, there "can be no more 'business-as-usual' or toothless resolutions that Iraq will continue to ignore. Our intent is that the Council meet the challenge, and stand firm, resolute and united in adopting a resolution that holds Iraq to its commitments, that lays out clearly what Iraq must do to comply, and which states that there will be consequences if Iraq refuses to comply." Attempting to steer between these positions, a statement from UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, delivered by Deputy Secretary-General Louise Frechette on October 16, notes: "The inspectors must have unfettered access and this Council will expect nothing less. It may well choose to pass a new resolution strengthening the inspectors' hands, so that there are no weaknesses or ambiguities. I consider that such a step would be appropriate." The statement concludes: "The new measures must be firm, effective, credible and reasonable. If Iraq fails to make use of this last chance, and defiance continues, the Council will have to face its responsibilities. In my experience, it always does so best and most effectively when its members work in unison. ... If you allow yourselves to be divided, the authority and credibility of this Organization will undoubtedly suffer." More than sixty states make statements over the two days of the debate, the great majority opposed to any military action not authorised by the Council.

October 23: after six weeks of discussions, the US and UK table a revised draft resolution at the Security Council. The text retains the threat of "serious consequences" in the event of Iraqi non-compliance, without specifying any requirement for Council authorisation of any war. Together with the stringent terms and conditions related to the inspections regime itself, this possible automatic trigger for conflict is cited by Russian Ambassador Sergei Lavrov as the main ground for dissatisfaction with the revision. Lavrov tells reporters: "Unfortunately, we have not seen changes in the text which would take into account these concerns, and they are shared by France and China."

(Note: it is interesting to compare the section of the October 23 draft dealing with the Council's response to reported Iraqi non-compliance - unacceptable to many Council members - with the same section in the final resolution. Operative paragraph 12 of the October 23 draft notes that the Council "decides to convene immediately upon receipt of a report in accordance with paragraph 11 above, in order to consider the situation and the need for full compliance with all the relevant Security Council resolutions in order to restore international peace and security". Operative paragraph 12 of the November 8 is identical with the exception of "in accordance with paragraphs 4 and 11 above". Paragraph 11 is identical in both texts, directing Blix and ElBaradei "to report immediately to the Council any interference by Iraq with inspection activities, as well as any failure by Iraq to comply with its disarmament obligations, including its obligations regarding inspections under this resolution". Paragraph 4 of the October 25 version states that the Council "decides that false statements or omissions in the declarations submitted by Iraq pursuant to this resolution and failure by Iraq at any time to comply, and cooperate fully in the implementation of, this resolution shall constitute a further material breach of Iraq's obligations". The same wording in adopted exactly in 1441, with the following addition, inserted after 'obligations': "and will be reported to the Council for assessment in accordance with paragraphs 11 and 12 below". This addition clearly lends clarity to the substance of the Council's deliberations should it have to reconvene, but it does not seem, prima facie, to alter the non-authoritative status of such deliberations.)

October 24: Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Yuri Fedotov describes the new draft from Washington and London as "impossible to implement", and still designed to trigger conflict: "Russia is...concerned about some provisions in the revised draft which, albeit camouflaged, could also be used to justify the use of force against Iraq." Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri claims that "this draft resolution presented by the United States, which it amended for the worse, is an insult to the United Nations and the international community". Sabri added: "This draft resolution is a flagrant violation of the United Nations [Charter] and akin to war against the United Nations. For when the will and decisions of the United Nations are twisted...what is meant is an attack on the venerability of the UN..."

October 25: France and Russia circulate, without formally introducing, separate alternative draft texts to Council members. The Russian version is reportedly incompatible with the US revision, while the French version attempts an ambitious bridging project between the Kremlin and the White House. Britain's Ambassador, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, tells reporters politely: "I think it shows that they're genuinely trying to conduct a negotiation. But I think they need to realise that the United States and the United Kingdom are pretty firm about what they want to see in the text."

October 28: campaigning for the mid-term elections, President Bush tells a Republican rally in Denver - "If the United Nations doesn't have the will or the courage to disarm Saddam Hussein, and if Saddam Hussein will not disarm, for the sake of peace, for the sake of freedom, the United States will lead a coalition to disarm Saddam Hussein..." An unnamed US official tells reporters: "You could argue that the best way to get the UN to act decisively is to convince everyone that the President will do the same thing with a resolution or without one..." White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer argues: "The time has come for people [at the UN] to raise their hands and cast their vote, and either announce that they will return to the ways of the '90s, with a weak, ineffective system of inspection, or recognise that Saddam Hussein has taken advantage of weakness and that the world needs to do something different."

November 1: US officials announce that the administration is prepared to offer a final revision of the resolution. Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov tells reporters in Moscow: "In the last few days we have succeeded in bringing the five permanent members of the UN Security Council...closer. We have converged on a whole series of positions."

November 4: faced with the growing probability of a new Security Council resolution, President Saddam Hussein is quoted on Iraqi television as telling visiting far-right Austrian politician Joerg Haider: "If a resolution is issued which respects the UN Charter, international law and Iraq's sovereignty, security and independence, we will view it in a way that makes us deal with it..." Earlier in the day, Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan tells Reuters: "The Security Council is baffled on how to deal with the American madness... I don't see any flexibility in the US position. There is [an] increased foolishness and determination to force the Security Council to adopt a new resolution on Iraq. ... The United States has for years raised hell for the return of the inspectors - and delayed their return once Iraq reached an agreement with the United Nations allowing them back..." Iraqi Culture Minister Hamed Yousif Hummadi tells reporters: "Whether there is a resolution at the Security Council or not, Bush is determined to launch aggression on Iraq". Meanwhile, Mexican Foreign Minister Jorge Castaneda, whose government had joined in the general criticism of aspects of the October 23 draft, expresses optimism that the final US-UK version of the resolution about to be introduced would clearly establish that the "Council must be the one to determine what will happen if weapons of mass destruction are found or if Iraq blocks the work of the inspectors."

November 6: the US and UK table a final draft of their proposed Security Council resolution, urging a vote within days. At the White House, Fleischer comments: "Under this draft, and as always at the United Nations, it is the prerogative and the right of any member of the Security Council to convene...a meeting as they judge wise and see fit... Nothing in this resolution handcuffs the President..." France's Ambassador to the UN, Jean-David Levitte, immediately describes as "very important progress" the draft's inclusion of "the two-stage approach", requiring a reconvening of the Council to consider the response to reported Iraqi non-compliance.

November 8: the Security Council unanimously adopts resolution 1441, summarised above, seemingly destined to prove a bridge to either war or a peaceful breakthrough in UN-Iraq relations. The momentousness of the decision was well captured in remarks to the Council by UN Secretary-General Annan: "Iraq now has a new opportunity to comply with all the relevant resolutions of the Security Council. I urge the Iraqi leadership - for the sake of its own people, and for the sake of world security and world order - to seize this opportunity, and thereby begin to end the isolation and suffering of the Iraqi people. If Iraq's defiance continues, however, the Security Council must face its responsibilities. This resolution is based on law, collective effort, and the unique legitimacy of the United Nations. It represents an example of multilateral diplomacy serving the cause of peace and security. It reflects a renewed commitment to preventing the development and spread of weapons of mass destruction, and the universal wish to see this goal obtained by peaceful means. ... This is a time of trial - for Iraq, for the United Nations and for the world. The goal is to ensure the peaceful disarmament of Iraq in compliance with Security Council resolutions and a better, more secure future for its people. How this crisis is resolved will affect greatly the course of peace and security in the coming years in the region, and the world."

A divergence of interpretation, however, lies behind the unity. A joint statement issued by China, France and Russia argues that the resolution "excludes any automaticity in the use of force", adding: "In case of failure by Iraq to comply with its obligations, the provisions of paragraphs 4, 11 and 12 will apply. Such failure will be reported to the Security Council by the Executive Chairman of UNMOVIC or by the Director General of the IAEA. It will be then for the Council to take a position on the basis of that report. Therefore this resolution fully respects the competences of the Security Council in the maintenance of international peace and security, in conformity with the charter of the United Nations." According to John Negroponte, US Ambassador to the UN, the resolution does indeed exclude "automaticity" with regard to the use of force in the event of Iraqi non-compliance, but also deprives the Council of any veto over such a course of action. Addressing the Council, Negroponte maintains: "As we have said on numerous occasions to Council members, this resolution contains no 'hidden triggers' and no 'automaticity' with respect to the use of force. If there is a further Iraqi breach, reported to the Council by UNMOVIC, the IAEA, or a member state, the matter will return to the Council for discussions as required in paragraph 12. The resolution makes clear that any Iraqi failure to comply is unacceptable and that Iraq must be disarmed. And one way or another...Iraq will be disarmed. If the Security Council fails to act decisively in the event of a further Iraqi violation, this resolution does not constrain any member state from acting to defend itself against the threat posed by Iraq, or to enforce relevant UN resolutions and protect world peace and security." Negroponte is echoed by Britain's Ambassador Greenstock: "We heard loud and clear during the negotiations the concerns about 'automaticity' and 'hidden triggers'... Let me be equally clear in response, as a co-sponsor with the United States of the text we have adopted. There is no 'automaticity' in this resolution. If there is a further Iraqi breach of its disarmament obligations, the matter will return to the Council for discussion.... We would expect the Security Council then to meet its responsibilities. ... The disarmament of Iraq in the area of WMD [weapons of mass destruction] by peaceful means remains the UK's firm preference. But if Iraq chooses defiance and concealment, rejecting the final opportunity it has been given by the Council, the UK - together, we trust, with other Members of the Security Council - will ensure that the task of disarmament required by the resolution is completed."

Among the ten non-permanent Council members, Colombia, Mexico and Syria explicitly articulate the China-France-Russia view. Colombian Ambassador Alfonso Valdivieso states simply that "this resolution is not, nor could it be, a resolution authorising the use of force." Mexican Ambassador Adolfo Aguillar Zinser comments that any recourse to military action will now require "the prior, explicit authorisation of the Security Council". Syria, according to Ambassador Fayssal Mekdada, decided to support the text "having received assurances" that it "would not be used as a pretext to strike Iraq". Other non-permanent members likewise express the view (see 'Selected Comment', below) that the resolution makes war less likely, while emphasising the responsibility of Iraq, rather than the Council, in determining the violent or peaceful nature of the drama's final act.

November 10: interviewed on CNN, US Secretary of State Colin Powell reflects on the long negotiating process culminating in 1441. Asked by Wolf Blitzer if there were "any concessions, quid pro quos, offered to Russia, France, China, Syria, in exchange for their affirmative vote?", Powell responds: "No. What we did was go in with a very hard position initially, a tough negotiating position...that, if we had asked anyone to vote for [it], we would not have gotten any votes for it other than our own. Then we listened to other nations. There are 15 nations on the Security Council. They are all sovereign, they all have principles, and they all have their own red lines. We listened to them and we tried to accommodate them in every way that we could in order to get consensus. But we did it in a way that did not violate any of our principles or any of our red lines, and we succeeded. ... We gave nothing away with respect to principles or under-the-table deals. It was good, tough negotiating among nations that have respect for one another."

November 12: in a show of defiance, and appearance of democracy, the Iraqi Parliament unanimously recommended rejection of resolution 1441. Speaking alongside Secretary-General Annan in Washington, Secretary of State Powell predicts that the "expression made by their National Assembly today is not to be taken seriously. This isn't a real Parliament. The only power that exists exists in the hands of Saddam Hussein, and we'll wait to see what he says."

November 13: Iraq accepts resolution 1441. In an angry 9-page letter to the UN Secretary-General, Foreign Minister Naji Sabri writes: "We hereby inform you that we will deal with resolution 1441, despite its bad contents... [T]he important thing in this is trying to spare our people from any harm. But we will not forget, nor should others do, that safeguarding our people's dignity, security, independence, and protecting our country, its sovereignty and sublime values, is as a sacred duty ... Therefore...we are prepared to receive the inspectors, so that they can carry out their duties, and make sure that Iraq had not developed weapons of mass destruction during their absence since 1998. We hereby ask you to inform the Security Council that we are prepared to receive the inspectors within the assigned timetable." The letter continues: "Dealing with the inspectors, the government of Iraq will, also, take into consideration their way of conduct, the intentions of those who are ill-intentioned amongst them, and their improper approach in showing respect to the people's national dignity, their independence and security, and their country's security, independence, and sovereignty. We are eager to see them perform their duties in accordance with international law as soon as possible. If they do so, professionally and lawfully, without any premeditated intentions, the liars' lies will be exposed to public opinion, and the declared objective of the Security Council will be achieved. It will then become the lawful duty of the Security Council to lift the blockade and all the other unjust sanctions on Iraq ... Therefore, through you, we reiterate the same words to the Security Council: Send your inspectors to Iraq to make sure of this, and everyone will be sure, if their way of conduct is supervised so that it becomes legal and professional, that Iraq has not developed weapons of mass destruction, whether nuclear, chemical, or biological, as claimed by evil people. The lies and manipulations of the American administration and British government will be exposed, while the world will see how truthful and adequate are the Iraqis in what they say and do."

Speaking to reporters after meeting President Bush in Washington, Kofi Annan is asked: "Mr. Secretary-General, the language in the letter is, as you know, quite bombastic. ... It includes a paragraph at the end in which Naji Sabri says that he will outline to you in a further letter what he believes are illegalities in resolution 1441. Does that give you some sort of indication that they are going to start playing games?" Annan replies: "I will wait to see whether it is an indication that they are going to play games, or is a message they are sending to their own people. I really don't know. What is important is that the resolution is mandatory. The resolution went into force the moment it was adopted..."

Elsewhere, a Russian Foreign Ministry statement warmly "welcomes the decision", "regards positively the far-sightedness shown by the Iraqi leadership", and expresses the belief "that the implementation of resolution 1441 will open the way for a comprehensive politico-diplomatic settlement of the situation...including the lifting of sanctions". The statement continues, referring obliquely to allegations of US prejudice, and even espionage, against Iraq during the UNSCOM era: "It is also important to ensure the unbiased and highly professional character of the international inspectors' work, and the strict accountability and controllability of UNMOVIC and [the] IAEA to the UN Security Council."

November 18: Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei arrive in Iraq for two days of talks to prepare for the initial round of inspections, due to commence on November 27. Blix tells reporters: "We have come here for one single reason and that is because the world wants to have assurances that there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The situation is tense at the moment, but there is a new opportunity and we are here to provide inspection which is credible". In Sarajevo, UN Secretary-General Annan issues a statement noting: "The chief United Nations weapons inspectors...arrive in Baghdad today to begin a crucial new phase of disarmament. Security Council resolution 1441 (2002) states clearly what the government of Iraq must do. Acting in unison, Council members demanded that Iraq grant prompt and unfettered access to all and any sites. I urge President Saddam Hussein to comply fully with the Council's demands, for the sake of his people, regional stability and world order." The arrival of the UNMOVIC and IAEA officials is overshadowed in part by attacks by US and UK aircraft in the northern 'no-fly zone' in response, according to US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, to Iraqi anti-aircraft fire. Rumsfeld stresses, however, that while "I do find it unacceptable that Iraq fires", it is "for the President of the United States and the UN Security Council to make judgments about their view of Iraq's behaviour over a period of time. ... It is the only place on the face of the earth where our forces are getting fired on - and the response is measured."

November 19: responding to continuing incidents in the 'no-fly zones', a Russian Foreign Ministry statement notes sharply: "The attitude of the Russia side to these zones is well-known - they were set up unilaterally and in circumvention of the United Nations Security Council, not one of whose decisions provides for the imposition of such measures. In this connection, the claims that have appeared that Iraq's actions in the 'no-fly zones' can be regarded as a violation of UNSC resolution 1441 have no international legal foundation. This resolution contains a warning to Baghdad not to carry out hostile actions against states taking measures in accordance with the relevant Security Council resolutions."

November 20: at a press conference in Cyprus, Blix describes the Baghdad discussions as "constructive", "professional" and "businesslike", adding: "We hope their words and commitments will translate on the ground into real, full cooperation."

November 21: NATO leaders issue a brief but emphatic declaration on the crisis: "We, the 19 Heads of State and Government of NATO, meeting in Prague, have expressed our serious concern about terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Concerning Iraq, we pledge our full support for the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1441 and call on Iraq to comply fully and immediately with this and all relevant UN Security Council resolutions. We deplore Iraq's failure to comply fully with its obligations which were imposed as a necessary step to restore international peace and security and we recall that the Security Council has decided in its resolution to afford Iraq a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations under relevant resolutions of the Council. NATO Allies stand united in their commitment to take effective action to assist and support the efforts of the UN to ensure full and immediate compliance by Iraq, without conditions or restrictions, with UNSCR 1441. We recall that the Security Council in this resolution has warned Iraq that it will face serious consequences as a result of its continued violation of its obligations." Briefing reporters after the release of the declaration, US National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice expressed pessimism over the chances of peacefully resolving the crisis: "I don't think...we've tried to make a secret of the fact that we're deeply sceptical that this regime is ever going to fully live up to the UN Security Council resolutions which it signed. ... We haven't seen anything yet which suggests that Iraq...is a leopard that's changing its spots. But I want to be very clear: if Iraq tries to shift the burden of proof on to the inspectors, that would be a great mistake, because the burden of proof is not on the inspectors, the burden of proof is on Saddam Hussein to show the world that he is not possessing programmes for weapons of mass destruction, that he's destroyed everything that we know that he has had and pursued, and that he doesn't ever intend to pursue them again. That's a pretty tall order."

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Selected Comment, I: Iraq

President Saddam Hussein, interview published in the Egyptian Al-Osboa magazine, November 3: "Time is in our favour, and we have to buy more time hoping that the US-British alliance might disintegrate because of...the pressure of public opinion on American and British streets... The demonstrations in the Arab and western world include hundreds of thousands of peace-loving people who are protesting [against] the war and aggression on Iraq... [If America gets its way,] Arab oil will be under US control and the region, especially where oil flows, will be under full American hegemony. All this serves Israel's interest with the aim of turning it to a vast empire in the region... The United States wants to destroy the centres of power in all the Arab homeland, whether these are in Cairo, Damascus, or Baghdad... We will never make it a picnic for the American and British soldiers..."

Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz, interview on the British Independent Television Network, November 17: "To be honest, I don't know if dealing with this resolution...[is] going to prevent this war. I have to be objective and honest in saying that we in Iraq do not feel that the possibility of American aggression on Iraq has been totally removed... We don't have any [prohibited] military programmes... Since the departure of the inspectors we did not resume any military activity in the field of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. Those areas which are not military areas are legal, are not prohibited, so if we had any activities in those areas, we would declare them..."

Tariq Aziz, November 16: "We are going to expose the truth. The Americans are worried because the truth is going to be exposed and their lies are going to be exposed... The Americans are always suspicious because they have [other] goals when they speak about weapons of mass destruction."

UN Ambassador Mohammed Al-Douri, commenting on resolution 1441, November 11: "This is a very humiliating resolution which affects all our dignity, sovereignty and independence. This is a cover for war."

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Selected Comment, II: United States

President George W. Bush, November 12: "It's over, we're through with negotiations, there's no more time. The man must disarm. He said he would disarm, he now must disarm. ... There's a zero tolerance policy now. The last 11 years have been a time when this guy tried to deceive the world and we're through with it. It's as simple as that."

President Bush, commenting on resolution 1441, November 8: "The world has now come together to say that the outlaw regime in Iraq will not be permitted to build or possess chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. That is the judgment of the United States Congress, that is the judgment of the United Nations Security Council. Now the world must insist that that judgment be enforced. ... The resolution approved today presents the Iraqi regime with a test - a final test. ... Any act of delay or defiance will be an additional breach of Iraq's international obligations, and a clear signal that the Iraqi regime has once again abandoned the path of voluntary compliance. With the passage of this resolution, the world must not lapse into unproductive debates over whether specific instances of Iraqi non-compliance are serious. Any Iraqi non-compliance is serious, because such bad faith will show that Iraq has no intention of disarming. If we're to avert war, all nations must continue to pressure Saddam Hussein to accept this resolution and to comply with its obligations and his obligations. America will be making only one determination: is Iraq meeting the terms of the Security Council resolution or not? The United States has agreed to discuss any material breach with the Security Council, but without jeopardizing our freedom of action to defend our country. If Iraq fails to fully comply, the United States and other nations will disarm Saddam Hussein. ... Americans recognize what is at stake. In fighting a war on terror, we are determined to oppose every source of catastrophic harm that threatens our country, our friends, and our allies. We are actively pursuing dangerous terror networks across the world. And we oppose a uniquely dangerous regime... In confronting this threat, America seeks the support of the world. If action becomes necessary, we will act in the interests of the world. ... Members of the Council acted with courage and took a principled stand. The United Nations has shown the kind of international leadership promised by its charter and required by our times. Now comes the hard part. The Security Council must maintain its unity and sense of purpose so that the Iraq regime cannot revert to the strategies of obstruction and deception it used so successfully in the past. The outcome of the current crisis is already determined: the full disarmament of weapons of mass destruction by Iraq will occur. The only question for the Iraqi regime is to decide how."

President Bush, November 3: "We know the implications of him [Saddam Hussein] having a nuclear weapon. We know he's had contacts with terrorists' networks like al Qaeda... [He] would like nothing more than to use an al Qaeda-type network, if not al Qaeda itself, to be the advance army to utilise his training and his arsenal of weapons of mass destruction on his most hated enemy, the American people."

Secretary of State Colin Powell, article in The Washington Post, November 12: "We do not seek a war with Iraq, we seek its peaceful disarmament. But we will not shrink from war if that is the only way to rid Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction. The Security Council has confronted Saddam Hussein and his regime with a moment of truth. If they meet it with more lies, they will not escape the consequences."

Secretary Powell, October 29: "We would certainly prefer to see the UN act in a multilateral way."

Secretary Powell, October 20: "Remember where [the policy of] regime change came from, it came from the previous administration... If Saddam disarmed entirely and satisfied the international community, that would be a change in attitude, a change in the way the regime is looking at its situation in the world."

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, November 14: "In the event that it [war] becomes necessary, the United States would do it in a manner that would be respectful of human life on all sides, but [we] would be determined to do the job and to finish it fast... The Gulf War lasted five days. I can't tell you if the use of force would last five days, or five weeks, or five months. But it certainly isn't going to last any longer than that..."

Secretary Rumsfeld, commenting on resolution 1441, November 8: "Until President Bush spoke out on this subject, the world was drifting along and Iraq was hard at work on developing weapons of mass destruction, having thrown out the UN inspectors. The president took his case to the Congress first, and the American people, and the Congress responded. He then took his case to the United Nations, and the Security Council has now responded. The world's attention is now turning to Baghdad. The Iraqi regime has a choice to make. He can give up his weapons of mass destruction or, as the president has said, he will lose power. The burden of proof is not on the United States or the United Nations to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and destroy them. The burden of proof is on Saddam Hussein to prove to the world that he is in fact disarming, as he agreed to do a decade ago and as is now required by some 17 UN resolutions. ... The task the international community now faces is to determine what choice Saddam Hussein will make. Has he accepted, finally, that he has no choice left but to disarm, or as before, has he simply made a tactical retreat in the hope of keeping his weapons of mass destruction aspirations alive? ... They're reversing course in this period only when they began to realize they had little choice. And the minute that Saddam Hussein and his small ruling clique sense that they're out of danger, I suspect that they'll have no further incentive to cooperate, and any UN inspection and disarmament efforts could then fail. There will be a number of opportunities in the coming weeks to discover their intentions. Needless to say, Iraq ought not to take or threaten hostile action against inspectors or coalition aircraft upholding UN inspections. ... During this period, the United States will continue to patrol the skies over Iraq. We'll continue working with our friends and allies to keep the pressure on them to respond favourably to the UN resolution, and we'll continue working with the Iraqi opposition to prepare in the event that they fail to cooperate."

Senior administration official, White House briefing on resolution 1441, November 8: "[O]ne of the principles embedded in all our negotiations...was that the President ultimately retains his authority to act in the interest of the American people. And the compromise we came up with was that, in the face of new violations, these violations will be referred to the Security Council for their consideration as to what they want to do with respect to the seriousness and how to cause Iraq to come into compliance. And we are obliged to participate in that debate and to forward such violations to the Security Council. But there is no doubt that in that deliberation within the Security Council the President has given up none of his ability, his authority to act to implement these resolutions... And there is a precedent for this kind of operation. It was a Kosovo precedent I can make reference to, where you didn't get a Security Council resolution, but like-minded nations came together."

John Bolton, US Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, November 2: "In terms of support for terrorism, we have established that Iraq has allowed al Qaeda to operate within its territory".

State Department spokesperson Richard Boucher, commenting on the December 8 deadline for an Iraqi weapons-programme declaration, November 13: "That is a moment where Iraq needs to account for a lot. They need to account for the programmes that they still had when the inspectors left in 1998. They need to account for the procurements that they've made and the new developments that we know have been ongoing, and they need to provide lists of all their holdings and, I think, if I remember correctly, the personnel involved and the organisations involved as well, so that's a moment when Iraq really has to come forward and, I think, as the Security Council mentioned one time, fess up."

Former US President Jimmy Carter, November 18: "I'm grateful that our administration has changed its position and we are going to the United Nations..."

Former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter, November 1: "The US will be doing whatever it can to provoke a confrontation... There is a big group of people in the United States that want war. ... Iraq is merely the case study for implementation of what they call in the United States unilateralism, but I think what they call in the rest of the world imperialism. ... There is great concern, at least in my heart, that Hans Blix may not be up to the task of standing up to the United States. I'm afraid Hans Blix is like his predecessor Richard Butler in becoming a tool of American foreign policy."

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Selected Comment, III: International

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, speaking before a meeting with President Bush, Washington, November 13: "We need to be patient and give the inspectors time and space to do their work. We should not be seen as rushing the process and impatiently moving on to the next phase. ... The US does seem...to have a lower threshold than others may have [in order to justify military action]... One has to maintain the pressure. Quite frankly, for four years we were not able to get them [the Iraqis] to agree that we return to Iraq, but four days after the President's [September 12] speech to the General Assembly [they agreed]... [If] we decide to use military action to go to war, the circumstances must be seen as reasonable and credible, and not contrived or stretched... And, if we do that, there will be general acceptance and people will understand. ... Most member states would prefer to see the US not go it alone...[although it may be that] some in Washington find that prospect [of multilateral action] restraining and confining. ... My sense at this stage on the disarmament issue is that everyone is together. The issue is disarmament. Regime change is not on the agenda..."

UNMOVIC Executive Chair Hans Blix, November 15: "Certainly, cat-and-mouse is something that I'm sure will not be tolerated in the future... We are not instructed to carry out provocative inspections. We perceive our task as carrying out effective inspections. Otherwise, they will not be credible, and that will be of no use to Iraq or to anybody else. ... We are now getting back to a declaration which, in the Security Council's view, offers Iraq a last opportunity to declare what it has. Iraq's declaration is a very important document, and we hope that they take it very seriously... [If the declaration claims Iraq has no weapons of mass destruction,] it will be the moment for those who claim they have evidence to consider whether they put that evidence on the table. ... We do not judge whether something constitutes a material breach [of 1441]... [The choice of war or peace] lies in the hands of, on the one hand, the Iraqis - what do they do; what do they declare; how open are they; how much transparency will there be? - and, on the other hand, the Security Council... We are in between."

Hans Blix, November 11: "The goal is not inspection per se... The goal is disarmament. In the longer run, I think we want a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, not just Iraq."

IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei, article in The Washington Post, October 21: "After four years, the door to inspections has finally reopened, and we should be taking advantage of that opportunity. The success of inspections in Iraq - in eliminating not only nuclear weapons, but also biological and chemical ones - will depend on five interrelated prerequisites: 1) Full and explicit authority for inspection, which means immediate and unfettered access to any location in Iraq - including presidential sites - and practical working arrangements for communication, transportation and other logistics to ensure that inspectors can operate safely and effectively; 2) Ready access to all sources of information, including the freedom to interview relevant Iraqi personnel without intimidation or threat of retribution to those individuals, and access to information from other states as well as information gained through aerial monitoring and other inspection activity; 3) Unified and robust support from the UN Security Council, with the affirmed resolve to deal promptly and energetically with any non-compliance or lack of cooperation on the part of Iraq...; 4) Preservation of integrity and objectivity in the inspection process. There must be a fair and impartial inspection regime, free of outside interference, to ensure that our conclusions are accepted as credible by all parties; 5) Active cooperation by Iraq, including a sustained demonstration by the government of its stated willingness to be transparent and to allow inspectors full access to carry out their mission. This effort could be further facilitated (and the inspection process shortened) if Iraq were to take the initiative - not only with passive compliance, but also with active cooperation - by, for example, coming forward with a full and 'final' declaration of its weapons-related equipment and activities."

Martin Belinga-Eboutou, Ambassador of Cameroon to the UN, addressing the Security Council in support of resolution 1441, November 8: "[Resolution 1441 represents a] positive and constructive compromise text... Now the ball is in Iraq's camp... [By coming into full compliance,] Iraq can be made true to itself once again - a land of water and life."

Zhang Yishan, Ambassador of China to the UN, addressing the Security Council in support of resolution 1441, November 8: "I think it's [resolution 1441] a message of peace, a message of goodwill, a message of hope. Now the ball is in the hands of the Iraqi government, and we hope that Iraq will comply fully and unconditionally with the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions."

Alfonso Valdivieso, Ambassador of Colombia to the UN, addressing the Security Council in support of resolution 1441, November 8: "This resolution is not, nor could [it] be, a resolution authorising the use of force. The resolution provides a final opportunity to Iraq."

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, commenting on resolution 1441, November 16: "We are still demanding the application of the same [kind of] measures on Israel...[which] should get rid of its capabilities in the field of weapons of mass destruction."

European Union foreign policy representative Javier Solana, commenting on resolution 1441, November 8: "The views of the European Union are fully reflected in the text, particularly the key objective of the EU, namely vigorously to address the disarmament of Iraq and to do so within the framework of the UN Security Council. Today's message to Baghdad is very clear: the UN Security Council resolution expresses the unity and determination of the entire international community to assume its collective responsibility."

French President Jacques Chirac, November 8: "The message of the international community is clear - it has united to tell Iraq that it is now time to cooperate fully with the United Nations. The unanimous vote by the Security Council...offers Iraq a chance to disarm in peace. That was the meaning of France's initiative since the start."

Jean-David Levitte, Ambassador of France to the UN, addressing the Security Council in support of resolution 1441, November 8: "France welcomes the elimination from the resolution of all...automaticity [with regard to the use of force]... If Iraq wishes to avoid confrontation, it must understand that the opportunity it has been given is the last."

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, meeting with Secretary Powell in Washington, October 30: "There is disagreement [between Germany and the US] about possible military action, but nonetheless we are fully supportive of the implementation of the Security Council resolution and the beginning of the job of Blix and his team."

German Defence Minister Peter Struck, commenting in Washington on resolution 1441, November 8: "[T]he Security Council has lived up to its responsibility for international peace and security. And I'd like to add explicitly, with today's decision in New York, the line and the approach of President Bush to...go through the United Nations, to choose the way of multilateral approach, has proven to be correct. ... Now we do have a real chance that we can urge Iraq to really disarm in accordance with international law and the UN Charter."

Mamady Traore, Ambassador of Guinea to the UN, addressing the Security Council in support of resolution 1441, November 8: "This important phase now makes it possible to achieve the peaceful resolution of the Iraqi crisis and reaffirms the unity and core role of the Security Council as the guarantor of international peace and security."

Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, November 19: "We hope no more war takes place in Iraq. All issues should be sorted out through discussions under the auspices of the United Nations. No one should try to enforce its will on others."

(Note: on November 15, Iraq's Ambassador to India, Salah al-Mukhtar, told reporters in New Delhi - "We think India can play a larger role in influencing the international community to encourage the United States and Britain not to see the...resolution as a cover for war".)

Richard Ryan, Ambassador of Ireland to the UN, addressing the Security Council in support of resolution 1441, November 8: "This is a resolution about disarmament, not war. It is about removing all threat of war. ... [Iraq can have] no doubt that it must now cooperate fully with arms inspectors and reassure the world, finally, that it has divested itself of weapons of mass destruction and the means of delivering them - or face serious consequences."

Bijayeduth Gokool, Ambassador of Mauritius to the UN, addressing the Security Council in support of resolution 1441, November 8: "We are pleased to see the clear and unambiguous role of the Security Council in the maintenance and promotion of international peace and security through peaceful means."

Mexican President Vicente Fox, November 14: "Mexico is convinced the action of one or more countries, without the backing of the international community, would badly damage the credibility of the United Nations and restrict its capacity for action... Any potential action against Iraq for failing to respect the resolutions of the Security Council must be founded on the reports presented by the inspectors to the Secretary-General, and through him to the Security Council."

Adolfo Aguilar Zinser, Ambassador of Mexico to the UN, addressing the Security Council in support of resolution 1441, November 8: "The decision of the Security Council confers the legitimacy, the effectiveness, and the relevance of this body. It strengthens the Security Council, the United Nations, multilateralism and the construction of an international system of rules and principles."

Ole Peter Kolby, Ambassador of Norway to the UN, addressing the Security Council in support of resolution 1441, November 8: "The Council had enhanced the system of inspections and committed itself to using that body to resolve a serious crisis and, thus, signal its determination to uphold the authority of the Organisation and respect for international law. ... [Norway wants] the conflict with Iraq to be resolved peacefully. ... In case of Iraq non-compliance, the resolution sets out a procedure where the Council would convene immediately in order to secure international peace and security."

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, interview on the Rossia Television Channel, November 17: "Our principal task now is to achieve compliance by all the parties with United Nations Security Council resolution 1441. ... But, of course, in parallel we must figure out different variants...[including] a disruption of the inspectors' work or, which can't be ruled out either, a force-based scenario in Iraq. Therefore we are also studying all of these variants because we must not be taken unawares in any situation. ... As far as a military scenario is concerned, I want to once again note that we always explore different variants, including extreme and undesirable ones - undesirable [in this case] in the sense that any military action against Iraq may have very serious consequences which will extend far beyond Iraq itself. This theme cannot be reduced to Iraq alone, or to the economic problem alone, for example the price of oil. This is a significantly more serious problem which can affect the situation in the Persian Gulf and in the Middle East and encompass many questions of concern to us all; among other things, it may stimulate radicalisation within the Islamic world."

Sergey Lavrov, Ambassador of Russia to the UN, addressing the Security Council in support of resolution 1441, November 8: "[The resolution] does not contain any provisions about automatic use of force. ... The wording in the resolution is not the ideal, and the sponsors themselves acknowledge this, but this just reflects the very complicated nature of the compromise that was arrived at. ... [The resolution] deflects the direct threat of war, and opens up the road to further work in the interests of a political, diplomatic settlement."

Russian Foreign Ministry Statement on resolution 1441, November 8: "As is known, after Iraq's unconditional consent to the resumption of international inspections without any conditions, Russia favoured the immediate deployment in Iraq of the work of the United Nations Inspection Commission and IAEA, proceeding from the assumption that all the necessary legal basis for their activity was already provided by previous UNSC resolutions. Yet, mindful of the disposition of most Council members as well as of the leaders of UNMOVIC and IAEA, we agreed to join in the work on the new draft resolution. In so doing Russia firmly outlined its basic approaches. The new resolution must contain no provisions allowing for an automatic unilateral use of force, nor any obviously unfeasible demands on Iraq. It must fit in with the searches for a comprehensive settlement of the Iraq problem and not lead to an undermining of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of this state. As a result of the intensive work by Russia, France and China, with the support from other UN Security Council members, it had been possible to achieve a substantial alteration of the original draft and to exclude from it unacceptable formulations for us. In the adopted resolution there is no automatism in the sanctioning of the use of force. It envisages that should problems arise the UN Security Council will convene to examine the situation that has evolved and to work out further actions. Thus, a final decision remains to be made by this principal body in the sphere of international peace and security. This is of fundamental importance for the strengthening of the present-day world order on the basis of the Charter of the United Nations. ... The formulations of the resolution were the product of the most complicated work in the UN Security Council and reflect the compromise achieved. The most important thing is that the resolution wards off the real threat of war and opens up the way for further work in the interest of a politico-diplomatic settlement of the situation around Iraq."

Saudi Arabian Interior Minister Prince Nayef, welcoming Iraq's acceptance of resolution 1441, November 14: "Thank God... We hope Iraq will [now] cooperate with the United Nations' envoys... We pray that the Iraqi people will live in peace and that this apprehension that has gripped us all will be eliminated..."

Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa, speaking to reporters at a meeting of Arab League Foreign ministers in Cairo, November 11: "This resolution [1441] stopped an immediate strike against Iraq, but only an immediate strike. Now America cannot strike Iraq under UN auspices, although of course the United States can strike Iraq unilaterally outside international law. If this happens, the world will not be with the Americans. It will have to deal with all those demonstrations from Los Angeles to the Far East and the Arab countries."

(Note: in a November 18 interview with four Middle Eastern media organisations (the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation, the Middle East Broadcasting Corporation, Radio Sawa and Abu Dhabi Television), US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage noted - "I think President Asad made a very enlightened decision when he allowed Syria to vote with the other members of the Security Council to make it very clear that none of us want war, and the way to avoid war is for Saddam Hussein to disarm, as he has pledged in the past to do. So it was a very enlightened position. As far as the impact on relations with the United States, it is, of course, seen as a positive gesture, and we appreciate it.")

Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, October 24: "Turkey hopes that the problem in our neighbour Iraq will come to a peaceful solution... The possibility of a forceful intervention in this problem entails many threats for the stability and prosperity of the region..."

UK Prime Minister Blair, interview with the Arabic service of Monte Carlo radio, November 15: "The idea that this is about oil for us is absurd. If all we wanted was greater oil supplies we could probably do a deal with Iraq or any other country on that basis."

Prime Minister Blair, commenting on resolution 1441, November 8: "I may find this regime [in Iraq] abhorrent - any normal person would - but the survival of it is in his [Saddam Hussein's] hands. Conflict is not inevitable, but disarmament is... [E]veryone now accepts that if there is a default by Saddam, the international community must act to enforce its will."

UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, interview on BBC Radio 4, November 10:

"Question: 'But how can we ever believe that the weapons inspectors under Dr. Hans Blix will ever satisfactorily ensure that the conditions set down by the UN are met?'

Mr. Straw: 'Well, we will come to a judgment about that. I understand what you're saying - how can you prove that there are no weapons of mass destruction in a country the size of Iraq with all the inherent difficulties of inspecting what amounts to hostile terrain? That's a problem inherent in the nature of weapons inspections, but the previous inspections which took place in the early 1990s did, over time, prove effective as long as the international community was behind the weapons inspectors. It was as a result of the work of the predecessor inspection teams that a huge amount of these weapons were identified and then destroyed. And that process only fell apart when the international community's resolve started to dissolve."

Dr. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, article in The Daily Telegraph, November 5: "The new word for those who have expressed misgivings about military action against Iraq seems to be 'appeasers'. The ghosts of the 1930s are raised: we have been here before, and we are rightly ashamed about what happened in 1938. ... [But] initiating military action against Iraq is not a simple matter of honouring clear treaty obligations (as in 1939; the case can be made, though with some awkwardness, for the first Gulf conflict), nor of rebutting direct aggression, territorial or economic or whatever, against ourselves. It is a pre-emptive containment of a regime that is manifestly brutal and violent, at home and with its neighbours, and that is the enemy of some of our friends and the friend of some of our enemies (although the al Qaeda link obstinately eludes intelligence gathering). ... In 1939, we acted for the sake of those helpless before a military colossus, for the sake of Germany's neighbours. To suggest that we should approach military action in the present context is to try to honour those who would be most helpless in a regional conflagration in the Middle East - minorities, refugees, ultimately the ordinary citizens of many states. We need, God knows, ways of pressurising Iraq towards justice for its own citizens, but the military option could be appallingly costly for them, too. Talk of 'appeasement' is facile point-scoring."

Rolf Ekeus (Sweden), Executive Chair of UNSCOM (1993-1997), commenting on resolution 1441, November 12: "[This resolution] is one of the most wonderful documents I've seen in my entire career. It's one that everyone likes, or almost likes. My guess is that Iraq will very carefully design the [December 8] declaration...[and] will report what is difficult to hide... I believe [Iraq] has been working hard on all of these [WMD] programmes. That's a political, psychological assessment on my part - I have no intelligence assessment... Saddam is interested in power, not money. If he has [these] weapons, Europe will be very polite to him; so will Japan; so will China. ... He's a serious problem with the weapons. Without the weapons, he's diminished to a local thug...quite insignificant."

Hans von Sponeck (Netherlands), former head of the UN humanitarian relief programme in Iraq, October 25: "The public in Europe and the United States need to look at all the facts... But this is an enormous task, given the huge quantity of deliberately false information that's in circulation... The picture the United States is presenting is full of guesswork aiming to back up their policy..."

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