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Powell Says Relevance of U.N. at Stake Over Iraqi Disarmament

Powell Says Relevance of U.N. at Stake Over Iraqi Disarmament

Secretary of State Colin Powell said the world is approaching a "moment of truth" on the question of the relevance of the United Nations Security Council, as its members confront Iraq's failure to comply with the council's will over the past 12 years. Testifying February 12 before the House International Relations Committee, Powell said he hopes the United States will be able to persuade Security Council members to insist on Iraq's adherence to council Resolution 1441 requiring it to rid itself of weapons of mass destruction.. Source: The Washington File (EUR301) Office of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State Website, Washington D.C., February 12, 2003. (Excerpt).

"I hope that in the days ahead we will be able to rally the United Nations around the original resolution and what other resolution might be necessary in order to satisfy the political needs of a number of the countries," he said. "But the United States will not be deterred. Iraq must be disarmed -- peacefully or through the use of military force.

He said a moment of truth also is approaching on the question of "whether or not this matter will resolve peacefully or will be resolved by military conflict."

He said President Bush hopes Iraqi disarmament can be resolved peacefully, but the United States is prepared to lead a coalition of willing nations against Iraq, either under U.N. auspices or not.

Following is an excerpt of Powell's remarks: (begin excerpt)

U.S. Department of State, Office of the Spokesman, February 12, 2003 (As Delivered) Opening Remarks by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell Before the House International Relations Committee, February 12, 2003, Washington, D.C.

Mr. Chairman, when the international community came together after President Bush's speech to the United Nations on the 12th of September, it came together with the certain understanding that if the United Nations was going to remain relevant it had to act on this challenge that had been put before the United Nations by Saddam Hussein, the challenge that had been put before the United Nations for the previous 12 years. And through 16 resolutions, the United Nations had demanded compliance by Saddam Hussein of his obligations under those resolutions and he ignored the United Nations.

The president went to the United Nations because this was a problem, as you noted, sir, not just for the United States, but for the whole world. Saddam Hussein is a threat to his own people, he is a threat to his neighbors, and ultimately he will be a threat to the whole world with the development of weapons of mass destruction. This was not a charge dreamed up by the United States of America. It was a statement of the Security Council of the United Nations, repeated year after year after year. And what the president said to them on the 12th of September, it's time to get serious and put action to the words.

Over the next seven and a half weeks, I worked with my colleagues in the Security Council and we came up with a strong resolution, Resolution 1441, which was passed on the 8th of November. This resolution did several things, which sometimes people forget, and some of the people who voted for the resolution forget.

First and foremost, it said Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi regime are guilty. It isn't a matter of needing more evidence. They have been found guilty previously. They are guilty now. They remain in material breach of their obligations under previous resolutions. So there is no question about whether they are guilty or not. And every member voting that day understood that simple proposition.

Second, we said there is a way to resolve this to the Iraqi regime. There is a way to get out of this problem that you have put yourself in, and that way is to comply, to give up your weapons of mass destruction; to turn over the documents; to make people available to be interviewed, scientists and engineers, to bring them out of the country so they won't be intimidated; to show us where these facilities are; to bring forth all that you have been doing. And that is what the resolution called for Iraq to do. To help you, we will strengthen the inspection system and give more authority to Dr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei in order to help Iraq comply.

And then finally, to make sure that Iraq understood the seriousness of this issue, the final part of the resolution clearly said that if there are new material breaches, further material breaches, meaning Iraq has not complied as it must, then serious consequences will flow.

Every member sitting in the Council that day and all of their capitals understood that serious consequences meant if Iraq did not take this last chance, this last opportunity to come into compliance, they would face military force in order to bring them into compliance, in order to disarm them. There was no confusion in that Council that day, I can assure you, because we worked on that document for seven and a half weeks.

We now have three months of experience under that resolution, and Saddam Hussein has not complied. He sent forward a false declaration 30 days after the resolution was enacted -- one day short of 30 days. And in that declaration, he gave us a lot of smoke. We specifically put that in there as an early requirement, a 30-day requirement, in order to test, in order to test him to see whether or not he was going to seriously undertake his obligations. He failed the test. Nobody can dispute that. He has also failed to give the inspectors the kind of cooperation that is needed for the inspectors to do their work. I don't thing there is any dispute about that and we will hear more about this from Dr. [Hans] Blix and Dr. [Mohamed] ElBaradei on Friday.

So we are reaching a moment of truth with respect to this resolution and whether it meant anything or not. We are reaching a moment of truth with respect to the relevance of the United Nations Security Council to impose its will on a nation such as Iraq, which has ignored the will of the Council for the last 12 years, and we are reaching a moment of truth as to whether or not this matter will resolve peacefully or will be resolved by military conflict.

The president still hopes it can be resolved peacefully. I think everybody has that hope. I have that hope. I don't like war. I've been in war. I've sent men into war. I've seen friends die in war. Nobody wants war. But sometimes it is necessary when you need it to maintain international order. And the United States is prepared to lead a coalition, either under U.N. auspices or if the U.N. will not act, demonstrates its irrelevance, and then the United States is prepared with a coalition of the willing to act. And it will be a good coalition, a strong coalition.

There are some of my European colleagues right now who are resisting the natural, the natural flow of this resolution and what's supposed to happen. They want to have more inspectors. More inspectors aren't the issue. Dr. Blix hasn't asked for more inspectors. Dr. ElBaradei has not asked for more inspectors. It's not clear Saddam Hussein would let more inspectors in. But that's not the issue. The issue is lack of Iraqi compliance. And just to say we need more inspectors is a way of delaying -- of diverting attention from the basic proposition, Iraq is not complying, and the resolution spelled out clearly what should happen at that time.

And the United States will not shrink back from the obligations that we undertook when we worked to get that resolution passed. I hope that in the days ahead we will be able to rally the United Nations around the original resolution and what other resolution might be necessary in order to satisfy the political needs of a number of the countries. But the United States will not be deterred. Iraq must be disarmed -- peacefully or through the use of military force.

It is interesting and challenging, Mr. Chairman, to watch the politics of this unfold, especially within Europe. France and Germany are resisting. They believe that more inspections, more time -- the question I put to them is: Why more inspectors and how much more time? Or, are you just delaying for the sake of delaying in order to get Saddam Hussein off the hook and no disarmament? That is the challenge that I will put to them again this Friday and next week as the debate continues on this issue.

Nations such as the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, many of the Newly Independent States, who were once enslaved and under dictators, and who understand the consequences of not dealing with a dictator when one should deal with a dictator are solidly on our side.

We have these debates within NATO and within Europe all the time. The Financial Times made reference this morning to Charles DeGaulle back in 1956 saying the United States is a superpower that has to be brought under control. And so we've seen these kinds of expressions and hyper-power complaints previously.

I still believe that it is possible to rally the international community to discharge its obligations. All of the nations that we are now having debates with are, at the end of the day, allies and friends of ours. We have had our disagreements, we have had our fights in the past and we have always managed to find a way forward. And it is my job as Secretary of State to work with these nations and find a way forward, but never by compromising our principles and our strong beliefs, but by using the power of our principles to convince others of what we should do in a collective fashion.

One final point, Mr. Chairman. Somebody asked me yesterday, "Well, suppose there is a military conflict, infidels would be going into Iraq. Isn't that going to be terrible? Isn't just all kinds of heck going to break loose?" I said, "Yeah, well, nobody complained when infidels went into Kuwait to save the people of Kuwait from an Iraqi invasion. We were welcomed by the Muslim population of Kuwait, which had been invaded by a Muslim nation."

Nobody talked about infidels when we acted in Kosovo a few years ago. Nobody talked about infidels when we were in Afghanistan today because what the Afghan people are learning today, is what the people of Japan, and Germany, and so many other places have learned over the years -- America comes in peace. America comes as a partner. America comes to help people to put in place better systems of government that respect the rights of men and women.

America never comes as a conqueror. America comes to do the principal thing in the interest of peace and the interest of stability. And that will continue to be the philosophy by which this President runs our foreign policy.

(end excerpt)

 

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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).

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