REVIEW: Article

Annex The Iraq Issue - The United Nations Member States Speak

The Ambassadors REVIEW presents below excerpts from the statements made before the United Nations Security Council on October 16 and 17, 2002, as recorded by The New York Times.

Security Council Members

United States of America

Ambassador John D. Negroponte

 “The five weeks since the President came to the United Nations (UN) to discuss the threat posed by Iraq have passed quickly. We have seen signs of emerging Council unity during intensive discussions here and in capitals, involving the highest levels of our respective governments. We have also seen clear signs that Iraq is reverting to form. We have seen Iraq invite inspectors to return ‘without conditions,’ and then immediately place conditions. We have seen requests for clarity from UNMOVIC [United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission] and the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] on practical arrangements met by Iraqi obfuscation and multiple answers, which in fact avoid answering at all.Not surprisingly, in the first test of the so-called ‘new Iraqi cooperation,’ Iraq has shown that they hope to return to the word games, ephemeral commitments and misdirec­tion of the past, while continuing to develop the world’s deadliest weapons…

The United States (US) believes that the best way to ensure Iraqi compliance is through one resolution that is firm and unambiguous in its message.

We are considering the reactions we have received, and will be placing before the Council in the near future a resolution with clear and immediate requirements—requirements that Iraq would voluntarily meet if it chooses to cooperate….

The US-United Kingdom (UK) approach aims at clarity—clarity with respect to what Iraq must now do to fulfill its 1991 obligations to restore peace and security in the region; clarity with respect to what inspectors must be allowed to do; and clarity with respect to our seriousness. Without such clarity, there is too high a danger that Iraq will miscalculate.  And miscalculation by Iraq will lead to precisely the military action we all hope to avoid.”


Deputy Representative Zhang Yishan

“We hope that Iraq will honor its commitment with actual deeds. We believe that the UN weapons inspectors should return to Iraq as soon as possible to conduct an independent, fair and professional inspection, and to report truthfully and [on a timely basis] to the Council the result of the inspection so that the Council can draw an objective, fair and a realistic conclusion on that basis.

Under such circumstances, it is not that we cannot consider the adoption by the Council of a new resolution on the question of inspection. However, the call of this draft resolution should be to support the work of the UNMOVIC and the IAEA. Its content should be practical and feasible in the interest of the appropriate settlement of the Iraqi question….”


Ambassador Jean-David Levitte

 “France is attached to the principle of collective security, which lies at the heart of the functioning of our organization and the international order. The Iraqi question cannot be an exception. That is why we are proposing a two-stage approach.During the first stage, the Security Council should adopt a resolution clearly specifying the ‘rules of the game.’ It would define the inspection regime and ensure that the inspectors could fully accomplish their mission without any hindrance. This resolution should also send a clear warning to Iraq that the Council will not tolerate new violations.

During the second stage, if UNMOVIC or the IAEA observe that Iraq is refusing to cooperate fully with inspectors, the Security Council will meet immediately to decide on the appropriate measures to take, without ruling out anything out of hand.

France believes that this approach, which was also the one proposed by the Secretary-General in his message to the Council, is the only one that can offer us the unity, cohesion, fairness and legitimacy so crucial to the effectiveness of our action.

The unity of the Security Council is absolutely vital. In the past, Iraq has taken advantage of divisions within the international community to renege on its obligations and defy the Council’s authority. Only a united front will convince it not to repeat this error. Only a two-stage approach will allow us to preserve our Council’s unity. Any kind of “automaticity” in the use of force will profoundly divide us.

The two-stage approach is, rather, the choice of cohesion. United in sending Iraq a message of firmness in an initial resolution, the Security Council will, we have no doubt, remain united to assume all of its responsibilities during the second stage, should Iraq violate its commitments.

The Security Council must also demonstrate fairness by showing Iraq that war is not inevitable if it fully and scrupulously fulfills its obligations.

This new behavior would open the way to the suspension and then the lifting of sanctions, in accordance with Security Council resolutions.

Finally, given the gravity of the situation, in which nothing less than peace or war is at stake, it is essential for the Security Council to remain in charge of the process every step of the way. 

This is fundamental for the legitimacy of our action and essential for maintaining unanimous support for our common objectives…”


Ambassador Sergey B. Lavrov

“The issue is not how many resolutions or do we need any resolutions. That diverts attention from the crux of the matter. We believe that the crux of the matter is the following: If we’re sincerely interested in the non-renewal of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs in Iraq, then what’s the remaining issue? What de we expect? What are we waiting for? The inspectors can travel tomorrow, as early as tomorrow. And Iraq knows that it must fully and scrupulously cooperate with the inspectors.

If we’re talking not about the deployment of the inspectors but about an attempt to use the Security Council to create a legal basis for the use of force, or even for a regime change of a UN Member State—and this goal has been constantly alluded to by several officials publicly—then we see no way [in which] the Security Council could give its consent to that.

And so I reiterate that the crux of the matter is not in the number of resolutions.

The Charter powers of the Security Council allow the Council at any time to make decisions about any measures, which could be required to eliminate real threats. The important thing now is to achieve a comprehensive settlement based on political and diplomatic methods with the central role of the Security Council and in strict compliance with Council resolutions on the norms of international law….”

United Kingdom

Ambassador Sir Jeremy Greenstock

 “We wish to see the Security Council, which Iraq has been defying for so long, expressing its will and its unity in a clear, strong resolution. That resolution must give the regime in Baghdad an unequivocal choice: complete WMD disarmament and normal membership of the international community; or refusal and the inevitable consequences.

The United Kingdom has made it clear to Iraq, privately at a senior official level, that this choice is being offered genuinely. It represents a single, final chance for Iraq. If this is understood, and if the Council keeps its nerve, then maybe there is a prospect that Iraq will finally comply with its obligations and that military action can be averted…

I have heard loud and clear the concerns of many speakers that on a decision so crucial, we should not rush into a war; that on a decision so crucial, any Iraqi violations must be discussed by the Security Council. 

Let me make totally clear that the UK government would expect there to be a detailed Security Council discussion if either Dr. Blix or Dr. El-Baradei, whose professionalism and independence are not in question, reports that Iraq is not fully cooperating with the inspections process.  We would want at that point to hear the views of all our Security Council colleagues…”

Statements Made by Other Member States


Ambassador Ellen Margrethe Loj

“The European Union supports a new Security Council resolution strengthening the rights of inspectors to ensure they can as effectively as possible carry out the disarmament required by the relevant resolutions. An efficient inspection process in Iraq is a necessary tool of securing the dismantling of all weapons of mass destruction and long-range ballistic missiles, which is our common goal. Iraq must let the inspectors in and fully cooperate in allowing them to carry out their mandate, or be held accountable for its failure to do so….”


Permanent Representative Ahmed Aboul Gheit

“The Security Council’s mandate to preserve international peace and security on behalf of all members of the international community is a responsibility that must be fulfilled with the utmost objectivity and without discrimination or double standards.

We trust that the members of the Security Council will discharge their responsibility in a sincere and objective manner, bearing in mind that convening this formal session to consider an issue that is of the utmost gravity and sensitivity is in itself an important step to avert sliding into an armed confrontation whose casualties will be innocent civilians and development efforts and expenditure.

Egypt affirms the importance of full implementation by Iraq of relevant Security Council resolutions in order to steer us all away from the path of military confrontation….”


Permanent Representative Javad Zarif

“Here, I specifically refer to concepts, such as regime change and preemptive strike, which are fully alien to, and in conflict with, international law. The former runs counter to peoples’ right to self-determination, denying in this context the Iraqis’ right to decide who should rule them. And the latter distorts, inter alia, the conventional understanding of the term ‘self-defense,’ as clearly enshrined in customary international law and codified in the UN charter….

We believe that the hassle-free entry of the weapons inspectors into Iraqi territory and the commencement of their work as soon as possible would be the next essential step, which may help quench war drumbeats. Ultimately, the final, peaceful resolution of this crisis would enhance the rule of law at the international level, and demonstrate the ability of the United Nations and multilateral diplomacy in defusing disputes and crisis situations. Undoubtedly such an outcome, coupled with a real commitment by the Iraqi government to live in peace with its neighbors, will greatly serve the cause of peace and stability in our region….”        


Ambassador Mohammed Aldouri

“The Iraqi government, on September 16, 2002, agreed to the unconditional return of the inspectors on armaments of the United Nations—unconditionally—in order to dissipate any doubts concerning Iraq’s continued ownership of weapons of mass destruction, and as a first step toward reaching a solution which would include lifting the overall embargo imposed on Iraq and implementing the other provisions of relevant Security Council resolutions…Yet the United States of America tried to hamper such agreements, increasing their threats against Iraq, and came to the Security Council in order to impose and obtain the blank check to carry out their aggression, calling for the imposition of unfair and impossible conditions—arbitrary conditions—on Iraq. The least we can say about the conditions they are asking for is that they are an insult to the international community and the United Nations, as well as to international law, and bring us back to the law of the jungle rather than international relations.The hysteria of war that seems to have hit the American administration at present is fed by hatred and the attempt to settle old accounts, and to impose their hegemony on the world, politically, militarily, and economically. They have nothing to do with implementa­tion of Security Council resolutions.”


Ambassador Yehuda Lancry

 “Israel feels compelled to take the floor in light of the numerous charges made in the course of this debate that the Security Council has adopted a double standard with regard to Israel’s compliance with Council resolutions. In fact, these statements are the strongest proof that there is indeed a double standard—one directed against Israel.

What else could explain such a deliberate blindness to the fundamental differences between Iraq’s defiance of the Council and Israel’s commitment to a peaceful settlement of conflict with its neighbors?...*

Are we to forget that just months before the Gulf War, Saddam Hussein threatened to ‘completely burn half of Israel,’ and that in the course of that war 39 Iraqi Scud missiles fell on Israeli cities without any provocation?”


Ambassador Extraordinary Mohammad A. Abulhasan

“Unity of the Security Council is essential, for without unity, the message going out from the Council will not reach Iraq with full force and will not achieve its full objective, namely: the need for full compliance with the relevant resolutions. And that compliance will bring about peace and security throughout the region and dissipate the heavy dark clouds of war…”

The Palestinians

Permanent Observer Nasser al-Kidwa

“It is very difficult for the streets of the Arab world to believe that the use of force against Iraq, were it to take place, would be a way of upholding international legality and legitimacy and of ensuring respect for the resolutions of the Security Council.  It would be difficult to believe that, when all the Arabs, nay, all the world, have seen the resolutions of the Council being violated and rejected, and the provisions of international law being totally neglected by the single state which is considered an occupying state and is considered so by the Security Council—and which, by the way, does have in an illegitimate matter, several weapons of mass destruction. I mean by that, of course, Israel, the only occupying power in the world today….”       

* Editor’s Note: According to The New York Times of November 6, 2002, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon announced on November 5 that “Israel would hold elections early next year, eight months ahead of schedule, as he reluctantly invited an intense political contest that Israeli officials said was likely to freeze any diplomacy on the Palestinian conflict for now.” Further, the November 7, 2002, edition of The New York Times reported that Benjamin Netanyahu was sworn in as Israel’s new Foreign Minister on November 6. Mr. Netanyahu agreed to join the government after Prime Minister Ariel Sharon called early elections.

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