Iraq's Full Disarmament Necessary to Avoid War

Canadian Speeches, March-April 2003 | Go to article overview

Iraq's Full Disarmament Necessary to Avoid War


A month before the shooting started, Britain's prime minister warned that if Saddam Hussein failed to disarm, there would be no alternative to war to rid Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction. If he were left with these weapons, history dictates that he would have used them. Tony Blair's speech to the U.K. House of Commons, February 25, 2003.

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Let me again briefly recap the history of the Iraqi crisis. In 1991 at the conclusion of the Gulf War, the true extent of Saddam's WMD program became clear. We knew he had used these weapons against his own people, and against a foreign country, Iran, but we had not known that in addition to chemical weapons, he bad biological weapons which he had denied completely and was trying to construct a nuclear weapons program.

So on 3 April 1991, the UN passed the first UN Resolution on Saddam and WMD, giving him 15 days to give an open account of all his weapons and cooperate fully with the UN inspectors in destroying them. 15 days later he submitted a flawed and incomplete declaration denying he had biological weapons and giving little information on chemical weapons. It was only four years later after the defection of Saddam's son-in-law to Jordan, that the offensive biological weapons and the full extent of the nuclear program were discovered. In all, 17 UN Resolutions were passed. None was obeyed. At no stage did he cooperate. At no stage did he tell the full truth.

Finally in December 1998 when he had begun to obstruct and harass the UN inspectors, they withdrew. When they left they said there were still large amounts of WMD unaccounted for. Since then the international community has relied on sanctions and the No Fly Zones policed by United States and United Kingdom pilots to contain Saddam. But the first is not proof against Saddam's deception and the second is limited in its impact.

In 2001 the sanctions were made more targeted. But around $3 billion a year is illicitly taken by Saddam, much of it for his and his family's personal use. The intelligence is clear: he continues to believe his WMD program is essential both for internal repression and for external aggression. It is essential to his regional power. Prior to the inspectors coming back in he was engaged in a systematic exercise in concealment of the weapons.

That is the history. Finally last November UN Resolution 1441 declared Saddam in material breach and gave him a "final opportunity" to comply fully immediately and unconditionally with the UN's instruction to disarm voluntarily. The first step was to give an open, honest declaration of what WMD he had, where it was and how it would be destroyed. On 8 December he submitted the declaration denying he had any WMD, a statement not a single member of the international community seriously believes. There have been two UN inspectors reports. Both have reported some co-operation on process. Both have denied progress on substance.

So: how to proceed? There are two paths before the UN. Yesterday the United Kingdom along with the United States and Spain introduced a new Resolution declaring that "Iraq has failed to take the final opportunity afforded to it in Resolution 1441".

But we will not put it to a vote immediately. Instead we will delay it to give Saddam one further final chance to disarm voluntarily. The UN inspectors are continuing their work. They have a further report to make in March. But this time Saddam must understand. Now is the time for him to decide. Passive rather than active co-operation will not do. Co-operation on process not substance will not do. Refusal to declare properly and fully what has happened to the unaccounted for WMD will not do. Resolution 1441 called for full, unconditional and immediate compliance. Not 10%, not 20%, not even 50%, but 100% compliance. Anything less will not do. That is all we ask; that what we said in Resolution 1441 we mean; and that what it demands, Saddam does. …

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