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UK, US statements in UN Security Council debate on Iraq

[JURIST] Excerpts from statements by Coalition partners Britain and the United States made in today's continued UN Security Council open meeting on Iraq:

JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) said that many speakers had referred to the 12-year period in which the peaceful disarmament of Iraq was again and again attempted by the Council. No one had worked than the British Government to try to bring about that objective. No one had worked harder in recent weeks than the British Government to try to unite the Council around a position that would have maintained the vigorous lines adopted unanimously in resolution 1441. He was aware that Member States, perhaps without exception, found the current situation deeply disappointing and distasteful. But, they could not set aside the clear evidence that Iraq was repeatedly defying the United Nations in refusing complete disarmament of its weapons of mass destruction under the terms of successive resolutions.

Coalition action was, therefore, now under way to enforce Council decision on complete Iraqi disarmament, he said. That action was being undertaken in a manner that was directed only at the regime responsible for the failure to respect the United Nations. Everything was being done to minimize the effect on civilians, to leave the infrastructure intact, and to ensure that the necessary humanitarian assistance reached the Iraqi people as quickly as possible. The United Kingdom accepted, in full, its obligation under international humanitarian law....

The action which the United Kingdom was now taking with its coalition partners to uphold United Nations resolutions was both legitimate and multilateral, he said. The use of force was authorized in the current circumstances under Security Council resolutions 678, 687 and 1441. A broad coalition of well over 40 States was supporting the action materially or politically. The United Kingdom deeply regretted the differences within the Council that had marked the past few months of discussion on the subject. Now was the time to unite to ensure that the United Nations and the international community could act quickly to meet the needs of the Iraqi people, during and after military action.

JOHN NEGROPONTE (United States) shared many of the concerns expressed by speakers, as well as welcomed the expressions of support. He disagreed with those who still avoided the central issue. The responsibility for the current situation lay with the Iraqi regime, which had for 12 years refused to give up its weapons of mass destruction. Iraq had repeatedly refused to respond to peaceful means to bring about its compliance with relevant resolutions and disarm. The response of the United States and the coalition forces was entirely appropriate. It was not a war against the people of Iraq, but against the regime that had denied the will of the international community for more than 12 years.

It was regrettable, he noted, that Iraq had not taken the final opportunity afforded to it in resolution 1441. The response of the coalition was not illegitimate. It had long been recognized that the material breach of obligations removed the basis of the ceasefire and authorized the use of force. Resolution 1441 had found Iraq in continued material breach. The use of force was authorized under resolution 678. As President Bush had stated, the United States was acting to compel Iraq’s compliance with resolutions because the risk of inaction was too great to tolerate....

As the coalition acted to enforce relevant Council resolutions and the international community joined together to meet the humanitarian needs of Iraq, much thought had been given to the future of Iraq, he said. It was necessary to first demonstrate to the Iraqi people that the United States sought to liberate, not to occupy. Second, Iraq must be disarmed from all nuclear, chemical and biological weapons production capacity. Third, its terrorist infrastructures must be destroyed. Also, Iraq’s territorial integrity and sovereignty must be preserved. The United States and the coalition would provide security to prevent chaos and retribution. It was necessary to begin the process of economic and political reconstruction to put the Iraqi people on a path to prosperity and freedom. Reconstruction would be a challenging task and success would only be possible by working with Iraq’s neighbours and the international community. United States forces would stay as long as necessary to restore the sovereignty of Iraq to the Iraqi people, and not one day more.
Watch recorded video of the UK and US statements. A full summary of Thursday's statements is now available from the UN.

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