Adjournment Debate, 6 November 2002: Minister Cowen's Statement on Iraq
The draft Resolution under consideration in the Security Council is the latest in a series of Resolutions to address the situation arising from Iraq's occupation of Kuwait in 1990, followed by its refusal to meet its disarmament obligations.
Ireland strongly supports the system of collective international security enshrined in the UN Charter. The UN is the central forum for discussion and action on issues of global importance.
The Security Council has primary responsibility under the UN Charter for the maintenance of international peace and security. It is for the Council to determine whether there exists a threat to the peace, and then to decide what is to be done to remove that threat.
Ireland shares in the growing international consensus that the Iraqi regime poses a potential threat to regional security. Iraq has so far consistently failed to meet its obligations under international law and the relevant Security Council Resolutions.
Nevertheless, we continue to believe that diplomatic means offer the best hope of resolving the crisis. We and other like-minded countries on the Security Council are concerned to ensure that there will be no recourse to force, provided that Iraq complies with its obligations under the Charter. In our view, every possible effort should be made to avoid the use of military force, which should remain a matter of last resort. All our efforts at the Security Council and in other contacts are aimed at a peaceful solution.
It is clear, however, that a time is approaching when continuing Iraqi defiance, if Baghdad should unwisely persist with its present course, will compel the Security Council to examine all the options available to it under the Charter. We hope that this can be avoided. We believe that the present Resolution, as it is shaping up now, offers the best possibility of securing Iraqi compliance with its disarmament obligations and avoiding the use of force.
The draft Resolution before the Council, and I stress that it is still a draft resolution, is the result of almost two months of painstaking negotiations within the Council. It recalls the Council's previous Resolutions and Iraq's record of noncompliance. It recognises the threat which Iraq's weapons of mass destruction pose to international peace and security. It states the Council's determination to secure full compliance with its decisions.
In the early operative paragraphs, the Council decides, not for the first time, that Iraq is in material breach of its obligations, but decides to give Iraq a final opportunity to comply, and sets up an enhanced inspection regime. It requires Iraq to make a complete declaration of all aspects of its weapons programmes within 30 days and decides that false statements or omissions and failure to comply and cooperate shall constitute a further material breach of Iraq's obligations.
This breach would be reported to the Council for assessment. It is important to note that it is the Council which will carry out the assessment.
The Resolution provides that Iraq will give UNMOVIC and the IAEA unconditional access to all weapons sites, including Presidential sites. The Resolution goes on to strengthen the arms inspectors' mandate.
Three key paragraphs set out what will happen if Iraq interferes with inspection activities or fails to comply with its disarmament obligations. In this case, the heads of UNMOVIC and the IAEA will report immediately to the Council. Upon receipt of such a report, the Council will convene immediately in order to consider the situation and the need for full compliance with all of the relevant Council resolutions in order to restore international peace and security. The Resolution recalls that the Council has repeatedly warned Iraq that it will face serious consequences as a result of its continued violations of its obligations.
What these paragraphs mean is that there is no automatic trigger for military action. Instead, there will be a two-stage process in which, first, a material breach or failure to comply and cooperate would be reported to the Council. In a second stage, the Council would consider the situation and any further steps to be taken. This could include the use of force, as is made clear by the paragraph warning of serious consequences. However, the purpose of the Resolution, which I emphasise to Deputy Mitchell, is to bring about Iraqi cooperation with arms inspections and not to mandate a war.
Ireland and other like-minded countries on the Security Council are concerned to ensure that there will be no recourse to force, provided that Iraq complies with its obligations under the Charter. This is all that Iraq has to do to bring both this crisis and economic sanctions to an end. Ireland does not agree with the view that war is inevitable. On the contrary, we believe that military action can be averted by means of a strong Security Council Resolution adopted with the widest possible consensus, which will send the arms inspectors back into Iraq with a reinforced mandate to complete their work. Our hope must be that Iraq will at last end its defiance of the international community and cooperate fully in the interest of securing peace and security. Top