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(from FCO website):


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. 

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