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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

United Nations Press Conference on Iraq

Aired September 17, 2002 - 12:15   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: We are now going to take you live to the U.N., where Kofi Annan is addressing reporters, of course, on what is happening there, and that is the conditions surrounding Iraq. Inspectors say they are ready to go, but the U.S. still wants a formal U.N. ultimatum that Iraq will comply with a host of commands and conditions. That's what we're talking about today.
Let's listen in.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

KOFI ANNAN, U.N. SECY. GENERAL: ... unimpeded and with the full cooperation of Iraq. And I think they would want Iraq to understand that this is not going to be business as usual or a repeat of what happened in the past.

COLIN POWELL, U.S. SECY. OF STATE: And the only way to make sure that it is not business as usual and to make sure that it is not a repeat of the past, it seems to me anyway, is to put it in the form of a new U.N. resolution.

Let's reflect on what we saw yesterday with this letter from Iraq. We didn't see Iraq suddenly acknowledging the error of its ways of the past 12 years or suddenly realizing that they had been in the wrong. What we saw was Iraq responding to what happened last week when the president of the United States came before the international community and laid out the indictment clearly and the entire international community came together and said this is unacceptable and enormous pressure was put on Iraq as a result and Iraq responded to that pressure. But we cannot just take a 1-1/4 page letter signed by the foreign minister as the end of this matter. We have seen this game before.

And so in order for us to keep the pressure on, and in order to make sure if we start down this road it is a new road, a different road than what we have seen in the past, with tough conditions, tough standards, anytime, anyplace, any person, to make sure that we satisfy the need for disarmament -- remember, the issue is not inspectors, the issue is in the first instance disarmament, and then there are many other issues at stake here, having to do with the treatment of minorities in the country, having to do with terrorism, having to do with a number of other issues, to include the return of prisoners, that have to be dealt with before the will of the United Nations is satisfied.

And so we note the letter. It's a letter that perhaps should have been written many years ago. But we note the letter, and now we will go back into consultation with our colleagues in the Security Council to see what appropriate action is now before us.

And as far as the United States is concerned, the position we have taken over the last several days since the president's speech is that the Security Council should speak again, in light of the strong presentation that President Bush made last week and what we have seen in the way of change in the political environment, and not essentially say, "All things are right now because we have seen this one short letter from the Iraqi foreign minister."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does Mr. Ivanov want to respond.

IGOR IVANOV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Over recent years the Security Council of the United Nations and the international community have constantly sought...

(CROSSTALK)

IVANOV (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): In recent years the Security Council of the United Nations and the international community have sought to bring about the return of international inspectors to Iraq. They left the country in December '98.

Why the return of international inspectors? Well, because we are all concerned, and we're still concerned about whether Iraq has programs for production of weapons of mass destruction. That's the central problem around which -- about which there are appropriate resolutions, and we need to have an answer to this question.

And the answer to this question is whether they have weapons of mass destruction, whether there are programs to produce them. That answer can only be produced by international inspectors. That's why we're so active in seeking an answer to this.

And we welcome the fact that, thanks to efforts, the coordinated efforts of the international community, now we have got to the situation where Iraq has given its consent, without any preconditions -- and I stress that point -- to the return of the inspectors without any preconditions.

Of course there could be many views of this, whether we can believe this, trust this letter or not. I think only facts alone should...

PHILLIPS: The Russian Foreign Minister Ivan Ivanov right now adressing reporters. Next to him you see U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, also Secretary of State Colin Powell, talking about Iraq's new offer through a letter to readmit U.N. weapons inspectors with no strings attached, obviously a number of concerns.

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