Security Council Open Debate on Iraq: Australian Statement
We are at a historic moment for the Council and for international security.
The architecture of international peace and security, in which we have
invested so much over the past fifty years, hangs in the balance. The council's
decisions could either strengthen this architecture or gravely undermine
it. Members of this body face a weighty responsibility to ensure both the
disarmament of Iraq and the continuing relevance of the Security Council
in global affairs.
Four months after the adoption of resolution 1441, Australia does not
believe that Iraq has shown a change of heart that will lead to its full
and verifiable disarmament. In his report to this body on 7 March, Dr Blix
was unable to state that Iraq has taken the fundamental decision to disarm.
In fact, no one, including UN weapons inspectors, has been able to describe
Iraq's cooperation as immediate, unconditional and active.
We believe that Iraq has, therefore, fallen short of what UNSCR 1441 required
it to do. Its actions so far do not permit any other conclusion. The key
question for this Council, as the primary multilateral instrument of international
peace and security, is what will it do about this situation.
Will it accept the small, belated steps taken by Iraq as adequate? We
believe it should not. The commencement of the destruction of al-Samoud
II missiles is not a reason to relinquish the pressure on Iraq to disarm.
Developing missiles with a range beyond 150km is something Iraq should
never have done in the first place: it was expressly forbidden by this
Iraq's belated discoveries of the R400 bombs raise questions about why
it was suddenly able to find weapons. And other developments, such as the
handing over of some documents, are redolent of Iraq's tired tactic of
seeking to pacify the international community, rather than signalling the
beginning of true cooperation.
These reluctant offerings were only brought about through the enormous
pressure on Iraq created by the massing of military forces in the region.
Even this minimum cooperation would stop if the pressure was removed. We
have seen this pattern before, and no doubt will see it again unless the
Security Council is united and acts decisively.
The point is that the international community did not ask that Iraq should
put on a display of piecemeal cooperation. The international community
has demanded Iraq's unconditional disarmament, verified by inspectors.
Very few outstanding disarmament questions have been resolved and many
remain. We still do not know what Iraq has done with 6,500 chemical munitions,
with a potential agent content of 1000 tonnes of chemical agent; 8,500
litres of anthrax; 650 kg of bacterial growth media - which could be used
to make 5000 litres of anthrax; 360 tonnes of bulk chemical agent; 1.5
tonnes of VX and 3000 tonnes of precursor chemicals.
Without full Iraqi cooperation none of these and other questions will
be adequately resolved. The inspectors will never be able to do their job
properly. It is time that all the members of the Security Council acknowledge
this. Giving inspectors more time, or giving them additional capabilities,
will mean nothing unless Iraq genuinely cooperates.
We all have a fundamental interest in strengthening the architecture of
international security. We want to see the Security Council reinvigorated
- not sidelined - by the situation it faces. Avoiding a decision or delaying
a decision will undermine this objective.
The Security Council must recognise that threats to international security
have changed. It must deal with the borderless scourge of international
terrorism and risk of illicit traffic in prohibited and dual-use items.
The threat of terrorism is made worse by the possibility that terrorists
could get hold of chemical and biological weapons. For this reason, it
is urgent that the Security Council confront this risk by disarming nations
that build those weapons and defy international non-proliferation norms.
Failure to do so will increase both the immediate threat and set a precedent
that we will all come to regret.
Creating a more secure world and underpinning our system of non-proliferation
requires resolve. The Security Council must mean what it says and countries
must live up to their obligations. This Council expressed its resolve when
- in its 18th resolution on the issue - it decided to give Iraq one last
chance in resolution 1441. Iraq has failed to take the chance.
But even now, the best and perhaps last hope of achieving a peaceful solution
is for the Security Council to send a clear message to Iraq through a new
resolution that it must disarm fully.
In September last year the Secretary General addressed the General Assembly
urging Iraq to comply with its obligations and stressing that if its defiance
continued, the Security Council must face its responsibilities. Six months
have gone by. Iraq has not complied with its obligations. Difficult though
it is, it is time for the Council to face its responsibilities.