SECRETARY-GENERAL’S STATEMENT TO
NEW YORK, 16 October (UN Headquarters) -- This is the text of a statement to the Security Council today by Secretary-General Kofi Annan (delivered on his behalf by Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette:
I applaud you for holding this open debate on Iraq, and much regret that I cannot be with you in person.
[Note: The Secretary-General is this week fulfilling a commitment to visit a number of Member States in Asia.]
The situation created by Iraq’s failure to comply fully with the resolutions of this Council since 1991 is indeed one of the gravest and most serious facing the international community today.
It poses a great challenge to this Organization, and in particular to the Security Council. In Article 24 of the Charter, the Member States have conferred primary responsibility on this Council for the maintenance of international peace and security.
That is a grave responsibility indeed, and it is essential that the Council face up to it.
But let me add that the situation also presents the United Nations with an opportunity. If we handle this properly, we may actually strengthen international cooperation, the rule of law, and the United Nations -- enabling it to move forward in a purposeful way, not only in this immediate crisis but in the future as well.
It is therefore entirely proper that the Council should debate its course of action, not only in private consultations but also in public, so that Member States not currently serving on the Council have the opportunity to give their views.
For myself, I have already stated my views on this matter very clearly on 12 September, when I had the honour to address the General Assembly.
You may recall that on that occasion I said that efforts to obtain Iraq’s compliance with the Council’s resolutions must continue. I appealed to all who might have influence with Iraq’s leaders to impress on them the vital importance of accepting the weapons inspections. And I myself urged Iraq to comply with its obligations -- for the sake of its own people, and for the sake of world order.
The President of the United States, in his speech in the general debate on the same day, also insisted that Iraq must comply with its obligations under this Council’s resolutions. And a large number of other States joined in that appeal.
Four days later, I received a letter from the Iraqi Foreign Minister, informing me of his Government’s decision "to allow the return of the United Nations weapons inspectors to Iraq without conditions".
Since then, Hans Blix, Executive Chairman of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), and the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohamed Elbaradei, have met with an Iraqi delegation on 30 September and 1 October, to discuss the practical arrangements for the resumption of inspections.
Iraq’s decision to readmit the inspectors without conditions is an important first step, but only a first step. Full compliance remains indispensable, and it has not yet happened.
Iraq has to comply. It must implement the disarmament programme required by your resolutions. Weapons inspectors will be returning to Iraq after a four-year absence, under a new structure and new leadership, to verify the implementation of that programme.
The inspectors must have unfettered access and this Council will expect nothing less. It may well choose to pass a new resolution strengthening the inspectors’ hands, so that there are no weaknesses or ambiguities.
I consider that such a step would be appropriate. The new measures must be firm, effective, credible and reasonable. If Iraq fails to make use of this last chance, and defiance continues, the Council will have to face its responsibilities. In my experience, it always does so best and most effectively when its members work in unison.
Let me conclude, therefore, Mr. President, by urging you and your colleagues to make every effort to retain your unity of purpose. If you allow yourselves to be divided, the authority and credibility of this Organization will undoubtedly suffer. But if you act in unison, you will have greater impact, and a better chance of achieving your objective, which must be a comprehensive solution that includes the suspension and eventual ending of the sanctions that are causing such hardship for the Iraqi people, as well as the timely implementation of other provisions of your resolutions.
If the Council succeeds in this, Mr. President, it will strengthen the United Nations, in a way that will place future generations in its debt.
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