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(from FCO website): STATEMENT BY THE FOREIGN SECRETARY, MR ROBIN COOK, IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS, LONDON, TUESDAY 3 NOVEMBER 1998 Madam Speaker, with permission I should like to make a statement on latest developments in Iraq. Last August Iraq informed the Security Council that they were suspending cooperation with UNSCOM and the IAEA other than on monitoring activities. The effect was to prevent both agencies from carrying out surprise inspections at sites which they suspected were part of a programme for weapons of mass destruction. The work of both agencies was confined to monitoring the status of sites which they had already cleared. On Saturday Iraq notified the Security Council that it would no longer cooperate with UNSCOM, even on such monitoring. As the outgoing President of the Security Council, Britain convened an emergency session which agreed to a statement condemning the Iraqi action. It records the view of the Security Council that the Iraqi decision is a 'flagrant violation' of Security Council Resolutions and of the agreement they made with Kofi Annan on his visit to Baghdad in February. The Security Council's support for the statement was unanimous. It was fully endorsed by Russia, whose spokesman said that Russia was 'deeply concerned' about the Iraqi decision. Baghdad's attempt to close down the work of the inspectorates coincides with evidence that Saddam Hussain continues actively to pursue his ambition to maintain his capacity to produce weapons of mass destruction. Only two weeks ago a group of experts received the results of the tests carried out in French and Swiss laboratories to corroborate the US finding of traces of VX nerve gas in fragments of Iraqi missile warheads. The French laboratory found evidence consistent with the presence of nerve gas in the warheads, and both confirmed that Iraq had tried to decontaminate the warheads. For years, Saddam has maintained that Iraq had never achieved a deliverable VX weapon. These discoveries expose his denials as one more lie. The greatest anxiety relates to Iraq's programme for biological weapons. UNSCOM has concluded that Baghdad's most recent declaration of its biological weapons capacity fails to give a 'remotely credible' account of the programme. We are in close consultation with our allies to maintain a united front and to achieve the most effective pressure on Iraq. Today a resolution will be tabled in the Security Council which will demand that Iraq immediately restores cooperation with both UNSCOM and the IAEA. That strong resolution has been drafted by Britain and we will be working to achieve unity around it. We want to find a diplomatic solution, but we have always made clear that all options remain open. The latest decision by Baghdad is particularly perverse as the Security Council agreed only last Friday on the terms of a comprehensive review of Iraq's compliance with its undertakings. These terms held out the prospect of a timeframe for the completion of the work of UNSCOM and the IAEA, which could lead in turn to the lifting of sanctions on Iraq. However, any such progress can only be achieved with the full compliance of Baghdad. So long as Baghdad continues to conceal its capacity for chemical and biological warfare, and so long as it obstructs UNSCOM from revealing the truth about those programmes, there can be no progress towards the lifting of sanctions. Our dispute is with Saddam Hussain. We have no quarrel with the people of Iraq. On the contrary, we have grave concern for the suffering they are experiencing under Saddam Hussain. Only last month Max Van Der Stoel, the UN Special Rapporteur on Iraq, presented his latest report, which concluded that there has been no improvement at all in the repeated violation of human rights by Saddam Hussain, including torture, summary execution, arbitrary arrests and persecution of minorities. Britain took the lead at the United Nations in pressing for a doubling of the 'oil for food' programme. As a result Baghdad can now sell over 10 billion dollars of oil per annum to pay for food and medicine - which are anyway exempt from sanctions - and other humanitarian goods. I am pleased to report to the House that the latest information available to the UN confirms that as a result, there have been positive improvements in access to food and medicine. Madam Speaker, Saddam Hussain appears to be gambling that the world will grow weary of his constant evasion and his repeated confrontation. His calculation is that we will eventually give up and abandon the sanctions regime without requiring him to abandon his ambitions for regional supremacy through weapons of terror. We must remain ready and resolute to prove him wrong. It would be too dangerous for Iraq's neighbours in the region to leave Saddam Hussain with the capacity to produce weapons that could wipe out whole cities. And it would be too damaging for the authority of the United Nations if Saddam was allowed to break the agreement he entered into with its Secretary-General. He cannot and will not be allowed to win. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To be removed/added, email email@example.com, NOT the whole list. Archived at http://linux.clare.cam.ac.uk/~saw27/casi/discuss.html