Explanation of Vote on Resolution 1441


Statement by Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock of the UK

November 8, 2002

I start by thanking the Secretary-General for his presence, his powerful statement and for his wisdom in advising the Council over these past weeks.

Mr President,

I said at the Council's open debate on Iraq on 17 October that no shadow of a doubt remained that Iraq has defied the United Nations - not any particular Member State, the United Nations - over the last eleven years. I itemised on that occasion the ways in which Iraq has sought to frustrate and hinder inspections since 1991.

With the adoption of this Resolution, the Security Council has clearly stated that the United Nations will no longer tolerate this defiance. As Operational Paragraph 2 makes crystal clear, Iraq is being given a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations; a final opportunity to remedy its material breach of Security Counil Resolution 687 set out in Operational Paragraph 1. The regime in Baghdad now faces an unequivocal choice: between complete disarmament and the serious consequences indicated in Operational Paragraph 13.

The fact, Mr President, that this Resolution has the unanimous support of Council members sends, as the Secretary-General has just said, the most powerful signal to Iraq that this is the only choice, that it can no longer evade its obligations under UN resolutions. Because of the strength of this signal, there is at last a chance that Iraq will finally comply with its obligations and that military action can be averted.

A key part of the Resolution we have adopted today is the provisions giving inspectors the penetrating strength needed to ensure the successful disarmament of Iraq. I am glad that the Council has recognised that we could not afford a return to the ambiguous modalities and Memoranda of Understanding of the past; that we could not afford exceptions to unconditional, unrestricted, and immediate access; that we could not afford to have inspectors again standing by helplessly while crucial documents are burnt or while convoys leave from the back doors as inspectors arrive in the front; and that we could not afford interviews compromised by intimidating minders. The provisions we have agreed, including making legally binding the practical arrangements set out by the inspectors themselves, will significantly strengthen the hand of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission and the International Atomic Energy Agency. This will reinforce international confidence in the inspectors. It will also, I hope, lead Iraq away from a fatal decision to conceal weapons of mass destruction (MWD). If Iraq is genuinely committed to full WMD disarmament, it can ensure inspections get off to a flying start by providing the complete and accurate declaration required under Operational Paragraph 3. The UK has full confidence in Dr Blix and Dr El-Baradei and their teams, and full respect for their integrity and independence, as they embark on a crucial and difficult task.

We heard loud and clear during the negotiations the concerns about "automaticity" and "hidden triggers" – the concern that on a decision so crucial we should not rush into military action; that on a decision so crucial any Iraqi violations should be discussed by the Council. 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 as required in Operational Paragraph 12. We would expect the Security Council then to meet its responsibilities.

Ultimately, Mr President, the choice lies with Iraq as to whether to take the peaceful route to disarmament. The UK hopes that Iraq will fully co-operate with the United Nations, meet its obligations, and take the path back to the lifting of sanctions laid out in Resolutions 1284 and 687. The disarmament of Iraq in the area of WMD 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 in Operational Paragraph 2, the UK – together, we trust, with other Members of the Security Council – will ensure that the task of disarmament required by the Resolutions is completed.

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