The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[casi] French Officials’ Quotes - War - Disarmament - Inspections

Note: France is Security Council permanent member and has veto power over
any potential Council resolution.
Note: France holds the Council presidency during January 2003.

French Officials on a Potential War on Iraq, Disarmament and Inspections
* French President Jacques Chirac
* French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin
* French Foreign Ministry Spokesperson


Source: Sebastian Rotella, “Chirac Backs U.N. Inspectors' Request for More
Time”, Los Angeles Times, 18 January 2003

French President Jacques Chirac

[begin] The inspectors have been given a mission...If some country or other
acts outside that framework, it would be a violation of international law.


Source: Le Figaro, interview with French President Jacques Chirac, 20
January 2003,

[begin] Q. – Iraq is still not providing the “active cooperation “ required
by the UN inspectors. Are we moving towards war?

THE PRESIDENT – France regards Iraq’s disarmament as a necessity. In this
context, she does indeed hope that Iraq, to avoid the worst, will agree to
“active cooperation” with the inspectors. She also considers that military
intervention is legitimate only if it is based on a Security Council
decision, one which can be taken only on the basis of a report by the
inspectors. We want everyone to be aware of this requirement. There is
nothing inevitable about war. It is always an acknowledgement of failure,
the worst solution. So we shall pursue our effort.
A war of this nature, in that region which really doesn’t need a further
conflict, would potentially have very serious human consequences, political
consequences which would be difficult to control, economic consequences and,
lastly, a substantial financial cost. A figure of $100 billion has been
mentioned. When you think that we are incapable of supplying, for example,
the necessary medicines in the poor countries to fight the pandemics, you
wonder whether all that is really sensible. Naturally, its avoidance demands
genuine cooperation on Iraq’s part. Today, there may be doubts about the
adequacy of this cooperation, some may wish it were more active, as I do.
But it’s for the inspectors, and not an individual country, to judge whether
they are succeeding in fulfilling their mission.
Q. – At the UN, is France finding it increasingly hard to restrain the
United States?
THE PRESIDENT – Obviously, if the United States decided to act alone we
would have to face the fact that this was not action undertaken by the
international community.
Q. – Is there a risk of that happening?
THE PRESIDENT – I don’t want to prejudge the issue. I have a lot of respect
for the American president. I am sure he will take on board all the
consequences of a gesture of that nature – in the event, of course, of the
international community not being compelled to act by Saddam Hussein’s
refusal to comply with the essential demands with respect to disarmament.
Q. – Is the British position weakening Europe?
THE PRESIDENT – It isn't strengthening it, but, at the end of the day,
everyone is his own man. Traditionally, the British have always tended to
look out across the high seas and towards the American cousin.

Q. – Are you setting a deadline for obtaining Iraq's active cooperation?

THE PRESIDENT – Saddam Hussein would be well advised to understand that the
sooner the better. [end]


Source: Security Council, 4688th meeting, S/PV.4688, provisional verbatim

French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin, statement to Security Council
meeting on “Combating Terrorism”, 20 January 2003

[begin] Let us look at things clearly. Terrorism feeds on injustice. An
equitable development model is therefore necessary to eradicate terrorism
once and for all. That is why we must work ceaselessly to resolve crises: in
Iraq, in Korea and particularly in the Middle East, the crux of the crises
in the region and in the world. We must once again put development at the
centre of our concerns, mobilizing more resources and more imagination.
Finally, we must foster dialogue among cultures, looking beyond differences.
In this area, the United Nations has an irreplaceable role. [end]

Source: French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin, press conference (UN
headquarters), unofficial translation, 20 January 2003
[begin] I’d like now to say a few words about Iraq.  The crisis in Iraq is
something of a test.  The stakes are enormous.

* enormous because you cannot separate Iraq from the other proliferation
issues.  What we do for Iraq regarding proliferation has to be valid for
every crisis.

* enormous because we must preserve international unity. Unilateral military
intervention would be perceived as a victory for the law of the strongest,
an attack on the rule of law and on international morality.

A - In Iraq, we made the choice for inspections:

* It’s a choice for legitimacy which was endorsed by the entire
international community.

* It’s also a choice for efficiency.  The inspections are taking place in
satisfactory conditions.  Already we know for a fact that Iraqi Weapons of
Mass Destruction programs have been largely blocked, even frozen. Every day,
we are stronger from the information we're getting on the ground.  So we
must do everything possible to strengthen this process.

* It’s a choice for responsibility.  If we give ourselves the means, the
inspections will be taken to their conclusion.  Once Mr. Blix and Dr.
ElBaradei present their report to the Security Council on the 27th of
January, we will have to consider all the consequences in order to make
adjustments in terms of resources and personnel.

* Lastly it’s a choice for firmness. Iraq must understand that it is time
for it to cooperate actively; to provide the international community with a
comprehensive and complete picture on its weapons programs. We will not
accept any gray areas.

B – Since we can disarm Iraq through peaceful means, we should not take the
risk of:

* endangering the lives of innocent civilians or soldiers;

* jeopardizing the stability of the region and further widening the gap
between our peoples and cultures;

* and fuelling terrorism.

The unity and consultations we have maintained since the start of the Iraqi
crisis have been exemplary.  They must be the benchmark for handling other
crises, particularly North Korea and the Middle East. [end]

Source: Glenn Kessler and Colum Lynch, “France Vows to Block Resolution on
Iraq War”, Washington Post, 21 January 2003,
French Foreign Minister Dominque de Villepin, press conference (UN
headquarters), 20 January 2003:
[begin] [the UN ought to continue] the path of cooperation. The other choice
is to move forward out of impatience over a situation in Iraq to move
towards military intervention. We believe that today nothing justifies
envisaging military action. [end]

Source: Sonni Efron and Maggie Farley, “France Says It May Veto Use of Force
in Iraq’, Los Angeles Times, 21 January 2003
French Foreign Minister Dominque de Villepin, press conference (UN
headquarters), 20 January 2003:
[begin] As long as you can make progress with the inspectors and get
cooperation, there's no point in choosing the worst possible solution –
military intervention. [end]


Source: French Foreign Affairs Minister Dominique de Villepin, interview
given to French radio stations, 20 January 2003,


Q. – Exile for Saddam Hussein, do you think this solution the Americans have
been talking about can be a solution to the Iraq crisis?

THE MINISTER – Those are scenarios which the international community hasn't
provided for. The objective set by the United Nations is the disarmament of
Iraq. We're concentrating on that objective. Regardless of whether other
ambitions are pursued – regime change, Saddam Hussein's departure, all these
are possibilities for some countries – for France, there's one objective and
one alone: the disarmament of Iraq. That's why we're actively working for
it. We want, within the framework laid down by UNSCR 1441, to get Iraq's
active cooperation, which will allow satisfaction of our own demand: Iraq's
complete fulfillment of her international obligations.

Q. - Is it a mistake to confuse the objectives?

THE MINISTER – I perfectly understand that objective being envisaged and it
being one for certain countries. For France, we are sticking to this simple
objective: the disarmament of Iraq. (...)

Q. – You had a meeting with Colin Powell, what's your assessment of the risk
of the United States acting unilaterally?

THE MINISTER – Today the international community is facing a choice. The
choice of cooperation, in accordance with the United Nations' decision, or
the choice of resorting to force. And I can understand the United States
feeling some impatience. In the current situation, I want to affirm France's
very strong determination. We are expressing, every day, the desire for more
effective cooperation, more effective inspections. And we note that progress
has been made in the past two months. It has to be stepped up, Iraq's active
cooperation must be confirmed on the ground. But we think that the
inspectors have the means, with nearly 300 inspections carried out every
month, really to achieve the objective we have set ourselves, that of
disarmament. So there's every reason to continue, to improve, to take the
action necessitated by any difficulties we may encounter. That, I believe,
is common sense. The military option would not only entail huge uncertainty,
but, above all, would not have the legitimacy of action decided by the
international community. So it would not be very effective, since it would
revive a number of divisions on the international stage, and we want to
avoid it.

Q. – The United States seems determined to back her case by explaining that
Iraq is violating UNSCR 1441 on the one hand because the weapons declaration
was incorrect and, on the other, because she isn't cooperating actively.
Hans Blix has also said this. What's your position on this? Is the way the
Iraqis are cooperating acceptable?

THE MINISTER – France's position is simple. So long as the inspectors have
the means to make progress and carry out their inspections, there's no
reason to change tack, stop the inspections. The day the inspectors tell us:
"we can no longer work in Iraq", then the Security Council will have to
reconvene and take the necessary decisions. For the moment, this isn't the
case. President Chirac talked to Messrs Blix and ElBaradei in Paris. (...)
The inspectors are going to report to the Security Council on 27 January.
That will be the time to stake stock. We feel that there is the possibility
of achieving a peaceful settlement of this crisis through the inspections.
And it's very important in a dangerous world, in a world in crisis, to show
that the united international community is capable of taking up the
challenge, capable of achieving the objectives it has set itself.


Q. – What in your view would be the consequences of unilateral US military
action on the war on terrorism?

THE MINISTER – There is obviously, in the face of global threats, the need
for a global response. This is why we requested a ministerial-level Security
Council meeting on terrorism, which was held this morning. At this meeting
we noted that the problems are linked: terrorism, proliferation, the crises.
There is a feeling of injustice, there are criminal rings which are taking
advantage of the world situation. So it's important to be mobilized on every
front, to take action, to try to be as effective as possible. And for this
we need the international community to do its utmost, display as much
imagination as possible. A lot of people could well fail to understand a
unilateral military intervention, it would risk arousing a great deal of
frustration and would have neither the legitimacy nor the effectiveness that
mobilization of international action would give such a project. [end]


Source: Reuters, “France Wants to Mobilize EU to Avert Iraq War”, 21 January

French Foreign Minister Dominque de Villepin, press encounter following
meeting with Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel, 21 January 2003

[begin] It is important that Europe speak on this issue with a single voice.
We are mobilized, we believe war can be avoided... We see no justification
today for a [military] intervention, since the inspectors are able to do
their work. We could not support unilateral action. [end]

Source: French Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, press briefing, 21 January

[begin] Q - Is France still hoping to maintain unity in the Security Council
on Iraq? We got the impression yesterday that effectiveness implied the
absence of unity.?
A - I must contradict your take on things. I’d like to use this moment to
say a few words about the agreement between UNMOVIC, the IAEA and Baghdad.
As you know, a document was signed, and the Iraqi authorities have pledged
to go in the direction the inspectors are asking, and the Security Council
expects. All this confirms that we have to continue to advance, continue to
move forward. It is essential for UNMOVIC and the AIEA to clear up the gray
areas that persist about Iraqi programs for developing weapons of mass
destruction. It is indispensable for Baghdad to cooperate actively with the
UN inspectors. France expects Iraq to quickly translate its commitments into
For example, the inspectors have to be able to interview Iraqi scientists
freely, obtain the explanations they wish about the shortcomings in the
December 7 declaration and that way move towards understanding unresolved or
not-yet resolved questions about disarmament, and have access to documents
that have so far been refused them.
A number of documents, it seems, have been handed over to UNMOVIC and the
IAEA, and it’s a first step, but the Security Council expects active,
significant and sustained cooperation.
Q - What are we supposed to understand by the word “freely”?

A - What counts is that the conditions for free interviews are met in each
individual case. It may mean interviews in the absence of representatives
from Baghdad, for example. I don’t wish to be more specific because it’s not
up to us to give instructions to Mr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei; they are the
judges of what is most effective way to obtain precise information. As the
minister has said, what’s important is that France’s position on Iraq—and
elsewhere—is guided by strong principles, the rule of law, morality,
solidarity and justice. There is only one objective, one only, and that is
Iraq’s disarmament. And to achieve it we have the means, the inspectors who
have information on the ground.

Q - Is there a difference between resolution 1441 and the contents of the
10-point document. I get the impression that the documents includes
everything in the resolution?

A - No, it’s not the same, it’s more specific. It is correct that the
inspectors did not wish some points in 1441 to be left obscure so it’s
logical to follow the démarche of this resolution but the document is not
limited to encompassing the resolution. There are definite, practical
clarifications on various points.


Q - Did yesterday’s meeting in New York really deal with the war on
terrorism or was it given over the Iraqi crisis?

A- The minister was quite clear: the purpose of the meeting was to give new
impetus to the fight against terrorism. At the meeting there were contacts
on other issues, that’s also a fact.

Q - Do you have any comment on Turkey’s proposals for a regional ministerial

A - It’s an interesting question.
We took note of the regional initiative proposed by six countries
neighboring Iraq and from the region. Everything that goes in the direction
of peace and sends a strong message to Iraq is a step in the right
direction. It is useful to step up the international efforts focusing on
Iraq’s disarmament.

Q - But Turkey’s meeting focuses more on the aspect of finding a haven for
Iraq’s president. Do you have any comment?

A - The minister has answered that so I refer you to what he said.

Our objective is Iraq’s disarmament, that is what matters to us. If one
party or another is interested in other aspects of things, so be it. But our
problem, our concern, is to stay with the scenario set out by the
international community. Now, the objective of the UN is Iraq’s disarmament,
and we are focused on that objective.

Q - The US media are calling yesterday’s meeting a sort of French ambush, a
pre-emptive strike by French diplomats. Can you comment on this and when did
France get the idea of convening everyone to talk about the fight against

A - With regard to your first point, I don’t comment on the views of
American news organs, especially when they don’t really correspond to what
the US authorities themselves –and they’ve never said any such thing.

As I’ve said before, we are confronted with international terrorism; after
September 11 it became a major challenge, and remember it’s a challenge to
France. Remember that we’ve been hit by terrorism, in Pakistan, in the
Yemen, French citizens have been killed. So we feel particularly involved
and we have a particularly important, significant reason to say that
terrorism must be fought, that it is an important objective and there must
be no let-up in the counter-terrorism. That was precisely the purpose of the
meeting in New York. The terrorists, as the minister said, are more resolved
than ever to sow destruction, terrorism threatens everyone and cannot be
fought in isolation. We have a duty to mobilize together and to demand

Much has been done at the UN, at the G8 and elsewhere, and much remains to
be done because the face of terrorism is constantly shifting and is able to
adapt to different contexts. We consider it important, essential, to
continue to work at a high level and to continue to take forward proposals
in this domain.

As for the idea of an international meeting, it grew out of the sidelines of
the UN General Assembly and took definite form at the end of last year.

Q - Recently rumors were going around that France would use its veto in the
Security Council. Can you confirm this?

A - We’re not putting ourselves either in this perspective or in this
hypothesis, we’re not at that stage. As the minister said, now is the time
for inspections, the time hasn’t come to break the thread of the
inspections. He said we should stay with them and get the most out of them.
At this time the inspectors are conducting 300 inspections a month. They
have to be able to continue to do this. This approach is consistent with the
principles which the minister repeated and to which we remain committed.

Q - Mr. de Villepin also says that what’s done regarding non-proliferation
in Iraq must apply to all the other crises. What’s the continuity in this
idea? Will it have a place on January 27 at the Security Council meeting?

A - For us, the action is continuous in all areas, and the idea may apply to
North Korea, for example.

Q - Will France request parallel action with other crises?

A - The question will probably not come up like that. In the case of Iraq,
we have a two-stage approach, stipulated in resolution 1441.

For other crises such as North Korea, the approach is slightly different.
It’s a result of the provisions and operating rules of the IAEA, the NPT and
Security Council. What counts is that these approaches are consistent, that
the démarches are coherent so that the non-proliferation action, which is
global by definition, is effective. It’s a global response that has to be
brought to the problem, not a response in one case rather than another.

The minister also said that the work the inspectors are doing in Iraq is
work that may serve as a reference and a model for other crises.

Q - If the Americans begin attacking Iraq, what will the international
community do against this unilateral decision?

A - I repeat, we’re not dealing with that hypothesis, we’re working for
multilateral action, agreed by common accord.

Q - Mr. Rumsfeld said that Iraq might be able to attack Iraq. Do you think
so, too?

A - Those remarks don’t call for any particular comment on my part. Each
country’s national defense is the domain of that country.

Q - The build-up of American and British troops in the region is growing,
does that worry you?

A - It’s an element we’re taking into account. [end]

Source: French Foreign Minister Dominique, joint press conference with
Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel, 21 January 2003,
Q. – Is Europe ready to negotiate a way out for Saddam Hussein which would
avoid a war?

THE MINISTER – Today the solution laid down in UNSCR 1441 is to move forward
with the cooperation, active cooperation of the Iraqis, and that's what
we're asking them for. We are insisting on Iraq actually being able to do
what she has to do today so as to give peace every chance. We think it's
possible. The inspectors on the ground are working. Over 300 inspections a
month are already being organized and allowing us to make headway under
satisfactory conditions. We want to do more. The next report which will be
presented to the Security Council on 27 January will be an opportunity to
take stock. It's an interim report. We shall have to take on board
everything it says, try to improve things, dig more deeply, make proposals
in order to go further.

As you know, France has asked all the members of the Security Council to
give the inspectors all the available information, together with the
requisite manpower and equipment. So we have both the manpower and
intelligence from the international community to take forward the policy of
cooperation we are pursuing today.

Q. – In addition to the cooperation, my question concerned the negotiation
of the ending of Saddam Hussein's reign...

THE MINISTER – Let's stick to the objective set by the international
community. Let's concentrate on a clear objective which is that of the whole
international community: to disarm Iraq. That's the aim of the Security
Council, that's the aim of the United Nations and we must stay clearly
focused on it.

Q. – What if the United States doesn't want to stick just to [the objectives
set by the international community]?

THE MINISTER – As we have said, we can't support unilateral action.
President Chirac has made this very plain. France's position is one which
gives its full weight to the concept of collective security. We are
supporting the Security Council's action. We can see no justification at all
today for resorting to force in the present circumstances since the
inspectors can work and the cooperation they are receiving is allowing
progress. That today is the key factor. Force can be only a last resort. The
President of the Republic, Jacques Chirac, has said this very clearly.


Q. – Can you envisage Europe adopting a common position on Iraq, for example
at the next General Affairs Council on 27/28 January?

THE MINISTER – We're working on it. We're going to combine our efforts to
move towards it. Yesterday, I talked a lot to the other EU members who
attended the Security Council meeting. This is an ongoing effort, a
sustained effort. (...) It's important for Europe to be able to speak with a
single voice on such an important conflict, it's important for Europe to be
able to agree on the principles it wants to see defended in the
international arena: our respect for the law and moral values are the
principles which unite us. We talk enough about our values, and we must be
capable of conveying them to the outside world, embodying them, mobilizing
to defend them. This is a particularly appropriate objective for Europe.
Europe has a special duty to fulfill in the international arena because of
its history, its destiny, because of our diverse heritages and our
deep-rooted common values.


Q. – What role do you think Britain has played in shifting the US position?

THE MINISTER – It's not for me to give an opinion on that. Today we are all
working together to ensure that things can move in the direction of
cooperation. We are mobilized, we want to believe that the war can be
avoided. (...)./.

Reuters, “France Wants to Mobilize EU to Avert Iraq War”, 21 January 2003,

[begin] [French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin] said he would use a
meeting of the 15 EU foreign ministers in Brussels next Monday and Tuesday
to seek a united stance on the issue. [end]


Source: Paul Carrel, France, “Germany Oppose Rush Into Iraq War”, Reuters,
22 January 2003,;jsessionid=B2QUEGVKDDPYICRBAELCFFA?type=worldNews&storyID=2091751

French President Jacques Chirac, joint press conference with German
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder encounter following Fortieth anniversary of the
Elysée Treaty, 22 January 2003

[begin] War is not inevitable..France and Germany, who are successively
chairing the Security Council, are coordinating their positions closely to
give peace every possible chance. [end]

Source: Deutsche Presse-Agentur, “France and Germany Agree that War in Iraq
Should be Avoided”, 22 January 2003
[begin] France and Germany have the same position on the Iraqi crisis...The
first is that all decisions are to be made by the (U.N.) Security Council,
and only by that body, after having heard the report of the arms
inspectors...for us, war is always a confirmation of failure. Everything
must be done to avoid war. [end]


Nathaniel Hurd
Consultant on United Nations Iraq policy
Tel. (Mobile): 917-407-3389
Fax: 718-504-4224
Residential Address:
90 7th Ave.
Apt. #6
Brooklyn, NY  11217

Protect your PC - get VirusScan Online

Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
To unsubscribe, visit
To contact the list manager, email
All postings are archived on CASI's website:

[Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]