This is CASI's copy of a statement posted on the FCO website.
IRAQ: STATEMENT BY THE BRITISH PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE, IN THE UN SECURITY COUNCIL
STATEMENT BY THE UK PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE TO THE UN, SIR JEREMY GREENSTOCK, TO THE UN SECURITY COUNCIL, NEW YORK, WEDNESDAY 27 JUNE 2001
The UK welcomes this meeting. The Council is at an important point in its consideration of this issue. It is right for us to hear the views of other members of the United Nations before we take decisions.
There are two principles which have guided us and must continue to guide us in the Council in handling Iraq. They are clearly enshrined in resolution 1352. First, it is our responsibility in the Council to prevent Iraq from posing a threat to its region and, as part of this, to ensure that Iraq is fully and verifiably disarmed of its Weapons of Mass Destruction. Until this is the case, it is the responsibility of the Council to ensure that Iraq cannot rearm and cannot once again pose a threat to its neighbours. The second principle is as important and even more immediate: to alleviate the suffering of the Iraqi people and take whatever steps we can from outside to ensure that their needs are met. We agree to this extent with the Russian Federation that the status quo is not acceptable.
These two principles are embodied in resolution 1284, which remains the comprehensive framework for the Council's approach to Iraq. This resolution instituted various steps to relieve the humanitarian suffering in Iraq. It also sets out a route forward for Iraq to the suspension and lifting of sanctions if Iraq chooses to cooperate with the UN in meeting its disarmament obligations. That route map remains the Council's policy and the only credible way forward; and the implementation of resolution 1284 is supported by all Council members because it will mean the end of sanctions. There is no good reason to back away from or to alter that framework, nor does the UK have any wish to do so.
If Iraq decided to cooperate with resolution 1284, we are all willing to work with them without any further delay. Let us be clear, resolution 1284 has not been implemented because Iraq has refused to implement it. That cannot be the basis for any kind of re-negotiation of its terms. But if Iraq indicates a willingness to move forward, the Council will undoubtedly wish to reciprocate by fleshing out in detail the precise steps that need to be taken. To move while Iraq continues to reject the Council's position will only serve Iraq's wish to divide the Council and to avoid its international obligations. I repeat: the only route to the ending of sanctions lies through the confidence of the Security Council, living up to its responsibilities, that Iraq has disarmed in accordance with the resolutions.
We now have before us a series of proposals, set out by the UK in our draft resolution, to allow Iraq to import the full range of civilian goods without restriction. Three weeks ago, the Council agreed in resolution 1352 to spend a month to examine and refine those proposals and, at the end of that month, to agree a new set of arrangements. The aim was not, I emphasise, to replace the Council's comprehensive approach in resolution 1284, but to do two things: to set in place measures to liberalise the flow of goods to Iraq and, at the same time, to examine ways to make sure that military-related items are not exported to Iraq. These are two goals supported by the whole Council and, I am sure, by the entire UN membership. Resolution 1352 represented an unusual agreement in the Council on these two aims and gave hope to the wider world that we had gathered some momentum and a sense of responsibility. In agreeing that resolution, all Council members accepted that the measures should be instituted quickly, and that a month was a reasonable target within which to agree the new proposals in detail.
That month is nearly up. There have been intensive discussions at expert level covering every aspect of our proposals. Differences remain. It would be naive to expect agreement on every point. But compromises have been worked out on many issues and there is now no good reason why a decision should not be taken to institute a set of arrangements to fulfil the dual purpose set out in resolution 1352. My delegation will continue to work as hard as it takes to meet that deadline.
Others are clearly less optimistic, or less determined. We should examine their reasoning carefully. The Council now has the chance to agree and implement changes that will make an immediate and positive difference to the flow of civilian goods to ordinary Iraqis. Iraq is opposing these changes because it wishes to freeze the work of the Council and escape from its obligations. It has calculated that time and international inertia will be on its side. The Council is being challenged.
Let me say in all frankness that none of us, on this issue in particular, can allow national economic self-interest to hold up positive measures for the Iraqi people. Having successfully negotiated the unanimous adoption of resolution 1352, we must collectively ensure that the two principles of resolution 1352 are the principles which guide us now.
The new proposals contained in the British draft resolution will make an important and significant difference to the flow of goods to Iraq. From a situation where no export is allowed unless approved by the 661 Committee, we will move to a situation where every export is allowed except for a very limited range of items which must be reviewed by the 661 Committee on criteria related to their potential military use. Even for those items, there is no presumption of denial. This change, we believe, will bring a dramatic improvement in the flow of goods, and a dramatic reduction in the level of holds. Even within that limited category of items reviewed by the Committee, we intend to allow the export of a good number if there is proper monitoring. The discussion on the GRL, contrary to claims by the Russian Federation, is a search for clarity, and not broadening and tightening. We are fully aware that in many cases sensitive items can form a key component of larger civilian projects which must be allowed to go forward if the economic infrastructure of Iraq is to be rebuilt. We want to see the ordinary civilian infrastructure reconstructed in Iraq and our attitude to individual items reviewed by the Committee will be guided by that philosophy. At the same time, we all have to continue to exercise our responsibility to ensure that items are not exported to Iraq which, unless closely supervised, will allow Iraq to rebuild its military capability. Accompanying these changes, there should be a slimming-down in the bureaucracy facing those who wish to export goods, or run projects, to and in Iraq. Procedures will be simplified. There will be no reason why Iraq cannot import the civilian goods it needs. The funds are there, and, with these proposals, Iraq will have the freedom to purchase all necessary civilian items. There is no intention in this resolution to harm the economic interests of neighbouring states or others doing legitimate business with Iraq. We expect to see an expansion of civilian trade which will benefit all. There will be no reason why Iraq cannot import a full range of civilian goods. Iraq will have no excuse to blame the UN for the suffering of the Iraqi people. The new proposals will nail that false charge once and for all.
The capacity to rebuild military potential against the rulings of the Security Council is related to the flow of money as well as to the flow of goods. Do not make the mistake of confusing Iraqi civilian economy with the activities of the Government of Iraq. We are all aware that Iraq continues to export oil outside the UN system to build up illegal revenue with which it can purchase weapons and other proscribed items. There is worrying evidence that such items continue to find their way into Iraq. This traffic has to be controlled if the resolutions of the Council are to have their intended effect. Our draft resolution would ask the Secretary-General to consult and cooperate with the neighbouring states to address these problems. There are also obligations on supplier countries. We are not laying blame, but each one of us must be vigilant to ensure that illegal flows are prevented.
The logic of those who argue that our proposed measures will damage or set aside the policy set out in resolution 1284 is precisely wrong. The aim of all of us is the ending of sanctions.
The period December 1999 to June 2001 has seen no progress towards that objective, because Iraq has preferred the continuation of sanctions, whatever the effect on the Iraqi people, to acceptance of the disarmament process set out in resolution 687 and 1284. Doing nothing now will not change that; nor will any proposal to alter the conditions of resolution 1284 change that. Adoption of our draft resolution will change the situation. There will be an immediate improvement in the lives of ordinary Iraqis, the longest-suffering victims of the situation between Iraq and Kuwait. And the course mapped out by resolution 1284 is more likely to be seen as the right one if we take steps to refocus the sanctions policy of the Council. That is our primary consideration in advocating these proposals: calculate the quickest route, in light of the realities, to the end of sanctions.
There are other steps in our draft resolution which will move the present situation forward. Iraq will be allowed to pay its UN dues from the escrow account. Aircraft frozen and held in other states will be allowed to be returned to Iraq. Steps will be taken to begin, on an independent and objective basis, to address the problem of the illegal oil surcharge levied by Iraq from purchasers of Iraqi oil. In other areas, practical work can proceed to implement decisions of the Council. For example, we have agreed, in resolution 1330, that Iraq should utilise funds from the escrow account for a so-called cash component in the oil sector. We are ready to agree to this proposal, but note with regret that Iraq continues to block the implementation of the cash component elsewhere in the Iraqi economy. This is an insupportable obstruction of a step that has been recommended by every UN agency and humanitarian non-governmental organisation in the field, a step which these bodies believe would make a considerable difference to improve the situation of ordinary Iraqis. Yet again, we question the true priorities of the Iraqi government in blocking this improvement. Nevertheless, the oil cash component should go forward, on a basis whereby funds cannot be diverted for illegal use.
The UK put forward these proposals in good faith within the overall framework of resolution 1284, in response to calls made by many in the international community to alleviate the plight of the Iraqi people. The principles of the approach were unanimously endorsed by the Security Council through resolution 1352. We would therefore find it unaccountable for the Council, or any member of the Council, not to move forward on the basis of those principles. The risk is that if we do not act now the Security Council may never be in a position to act. There is therefore every reason for the Council to put into practice now the approach set out in resolution 1352.