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Iraq's Foreign Minister Speaks to U.N. Assembly

Aired September 19, 2002 - 12:38   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Straight to the United Nations now, where Iraq foreign minister Najee Sabri is addressing the U.N.
Let's listen in.

NAJI SABRI, IRAQI FOREIGN MINISTER: ... the danger of unilateralism and hegemony. I also wish to congratulate the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and East Timor on their membership at the United Nations.

Ladies and gentlemen, this session is held a year after the tragic events of September 11, and I would like to renew our condolences to the American people, especially the families of the victims of this tragedy, and express to them our deep sympathy.

Gives me pleasure to express my sincere gratitude to the international community, states and organizations, for the substantive position rejecting the U.S. administration's threats against Iraq and for the call they made for a comprehensive political solution to the impasse in the relationship between Iraq and the Security Council.

In response to several appeals made by the U.N. secretary general, peace-loving states and regional organizations, my government decided to allow the return of U.N. weapons inspectors without conditions as a first step towards a comprehensive solution that includes the lifting of the sanctions imposed on Iraq and the timely implementation of other provisions of relevant Security Council resolutions, including resolution 687 of 1991.

I was instructed by President of the Republic of Iraq, Mr. Saddam Hussein, to convey to you in the allotted time excerpts of a letter he addressed to the General Assembly where His Excellency tackled Iraq's position on the latest developments in the relationship between Iraq and the Security Council. Following are excerpts from the letter, and I quote:

"In his speech at the General Assembly that was preceded and accompanied by noisy propaganda and extensive preparation, the U.S. president, instead of paying attention to common issues of particular concern to humanity at large, he presented the security problems of his own country and the sacrifices it has suffered since the events of September 11. It is a good sign that the United States has resorted for the first time after the end of the Cold War to the General Assembly to put forward one of the problems, after years of disregard to the weight, effect and opinion of others.

"Nevertheless, the U.S. president revealed his basic purpose when he jumped to the issue of Iraq without any introduction or acceptable progression. He portrayed this issue as if it were the most dangerous situation, not only for the life, security and the future of the United States, but for the life, future and security of the whole world.

"Along (ph) his generalizations, which implied deliberate insinuations, he presented the utmost distortions on the so-called nuclear, biological, chemical threats so as to make American citizens believe the deliberate insinuation that Iraq was linked to the American people's tragedy of September 11.

"He seems to have assumed that the countries of the world are unaware of the American administration and its methods, nor do they know Iraq and its high sense of responsibility towards humanity, its desire for peace and stability, or the fact that the Iraqis are creative people and work for production and innovation in addition to being the head of the most ancient human civilizations.

"The U.S. president talked about the importance of applying democracy by the government of Iraq. He pretended to care for the people of Iraq, after he and other presidents before him have killed by the use of weapons, including depleted uranium, and by the blockade which is now more than 12 years old, more than 1,700,000 innocent Iraqis, out of a population of 25 million citizens.

"So after a long time of utilizing the American propaganda machine, along with official statements of lies, distortion and falsehood, the focus was deliberately turned on inciting the American public against Iraq and pushing them to believe the U.S. administration's schemes of aggression as a fait accompli, as if it were the solution of the necessary (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that would allow American citizens to live in security and stability after what they had gone through in September 11 events.

"When the U.S. administration realized that it was necessary to have an international cover for using force against Iraq and that the world did not believe the lies that it tried to propagate to link Iraq to the September events, it changed the issue and began to shed crocodile tears on international law and the necessity to comply with the resolutions of international legitimacy alleging that Iraq is not complying with Security Council resolutions, especially with regard to U.N. inspectors.

"This implied the allegation that Iraq had the intention to develop or that it had already possessing nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, and according to this allegation, it may give such weapons to terrorist organizations that pose a threat to world security.

"Now that Iraq has accepted the return of U.N. inspectors, we will all be able to see how they work. In our past experience in the period 1991-1998 with them, Iraq used to ask inspection teams to do their job in accordance with declared goals of the Security Council. But some of the inspectors went on doing intelligence and espionage work that had nothing to do with the official mandate of inspection teams. Some of those inspectors have publicly admitted this. Some, including an American, are still publicly talking about this. Even Mr. Rolf Ekeus, the former chief of the U.N. Special Commission, UNSCOM, has recently stated that the inspectors overstepped the limits of their defined duties by spying on the Iraqi leadership. And I quote, 'The United States and other powers exploited the inspection teams for their own political ends, including monitoring President Saddam Hussein's whereabouts.' He also said that the inspection teams deliberately created the problems to prepare the ground for possible military attacks."

Ladies and gentlemen, Iraq has always defended the principles and values that you have willingly put down in the U.N. Charter, and the purposes for which the Security Council was created; i.e., to preserve security and to establish peace. Therefore, by confronting evil for 12 years now, Iraq has not been only defending its own patriotism, but rather it's acted as if it were defending your own patriotism. It has been acting on your behalf without being assigned to do so. In targeting Iraq, the United States administration is acting on behalf of Zionism, which has been killing the heroic people of Palestine, destroying their property, murdering their children and seeking to impose their domination on the whole world, not only militarily, but also economically and politically.

The U.S. administration wants to destroy Iraq in order to control the Middle East oil and consequently control the politics, as well as the oil and economic policies of the whole world. If it succeeded in that, God forbid, it would dictate on you what each country needs for its economic development, what quantities of oil it is allowed to buy, and at what the price is, along with other conditions.

Ladies and gentlemen, in short, what Iraq wants is the respect of the principles of the U.N. Charter, international law, whether regarding its own interests and sovereignty or those of the other member states of the United Nations. On this basis, Iraq was and still is ready to cooperate with the Security Council and international organizations.

However, Iraq rejects any transgression (UNINTELLIGIBLE) at the expense of its rights, sovereignty, security and independence that is in contradiction with the principles of the charter and the international law.

From this and other facts, you see, ladies and gentlemen, that Iraq has not rejected the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) resolutions of Security Council, even though what relates to Iraq in them is unjust and at odds with the U.N. Charter and international law. Iraq, rather, calls on members of the Security Council and on the U.S. administration in particular to respect their own obligations under the charter and under international law and relevant Security Council resolutions.

Iraq demands that its inalienable rights, stipulated in those very resolutions, are met, including respect of its sovereignty and security. lifting the blockade imposed on it, and applying paragraph of resolution 687 of 1991 to the Zionist entity, as stipulated in the text, in the same manner as it was applied to Iraq. Ladies and gentlemen, I hereby declare before you that Iraq is totally clear of all nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. If there are anyone amongst you who might still worry that the fabrications announced by American officials about Iraq may possibly be true, our country is ready to receive any scientific experts, accompanied by politicians, you choose to represent, any one of your countries, to tell us which places and scientific and industrial instillations they would wish to see, particularly those about which the American officials have been fabricating false stories alleging that they contain prohibited materials or activities. If such experts and politicians visit Iraq, we shall provide them with all the facilities they need to achieve their objective; that is to see the true facts as they are.

As what matters for Iraq, for us basically is that our rights, sovereignty and security be respected in accordance with international law. We have accepted the return of inspection teams to Iraq, taking into consideration the arrangements that should safeguard these principles and achieve with transparency the goal of making sure that Iraq no longer possesses nuclear, biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction.

Along with this, we are waiting to see. The blockade imposed on Iraq, ladies and gentlemen, has been in place for more than 12 years now, during which time our assets and oil revenues have been frozen, and we are unable to use them except through a U.N.-run inefficient system already proven to be unfeasible. Substantial amounts of our revenues have been illegitimately seized in a manner tantamount to looting, contrary to the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter.

Therefore, we call for a discussion of the issue of the inspection teams in accordance with international law. It should be done on a comprehensive basis, with discussion of Iraq's obligations, including the issue of the inspection teams, as well as the obligations of the Security Council towards Iraq, as stated in the resolutions themselves, particularly resolution 687.

There are these reciprocal obligations of which the Security Council has presented nothing, including the obligation of respecting Iraq's sovereignty, which is being violated by America, interrupting on a daily basis through their ongoing aggression and their artificially drawn parallel latitude lines over northern and southern Iraq.

Ladies and gentlemen, you may notice how the policy of the Zionist entity, which has observed (ph) Palestine and other Arab territories since 1948 and afterwards has become now as one with the policies and capabilities of the United States. The United States administration has been making up problems with Iraq in order to derail the application of paragraph 14 of Resolution 687 of 1991 and to prevent the Security Council from lifting the blockage imposed on Iraq.

The reason lies in the fact that the council's obligations and the relevance of resolutions of the Security Council, including Resolution 687 of April 3, 1991, contain a clear paragraph demanding that the Middle East be made a zone free from weapons of mass destruction. Thus, the American administration does not want to embarrass the Zionist entity or to deprive it of its nuclear, chemical and biological weapons it actually possesses.

Moreover, it is because the United States administration is aware that Iraq has, indeed, honored all its obligations and is demanding, along with Arab countries, that paragraph 14 be applied to the Zionist entity.

Iraq has been keen to see the inspection issue discussed between Security Council and Iraq toward the United Nations secretary general and the representatives of Iraq with a view to reaching a balanced formula based on the principles of the charter and the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) resolutions of the Security Council within a comprehensive solution which should bring to an end the cyclone of American accusations and fabricated crises against Iraq. At the same time, this would assure Iraq with regard to its security, sovereignty, territorial integrity and its right to choosing its own way without interference in accordance with the rules established in the charter of the United Nations.

The U.S. president said in his speech that Iraqis are providing financial support to the Palestinian people. My comment is that this is correct. Yet we feel now the support we have extended has not been as high as we should, as we have hoped because of the circumstances which have curtailed our means. And extending this support, we act in accordance with the United Nations charter and the resolutions of this August assembly in which the national struggle of peoples against the occupation of colonialism is considered to be an inalienable national right.

But what grounds does America and its president have in supporting the Zionist entity, which has been occupying Palestine and other Arab territories and permitting its criminal policy of killing Palestinians, destroying their property and encroaching upon and destroying the sanctities of Muslims and Christians there. But the principles and what laws does the American president rely on in killing the Iraqis located in that country, destroying their property and interfering in their internal affairs?

And the court thanks you, Mr. President.


PHILLIPS: You've been listening to live remarks from Naji Sabri, Iraqi foreign minister, who was addressing the U.N. General Assembly. Our Kelly Wallace at White House also following the remarks. Kelly, of course making the point clear that Iraq is welcoming weapons inspectors back in, but then this entire speech -- I even looked at the hard copy here, nothing mentioned about unfettered access.

KELLY WALLACE, CNN ANCHOR Well, that is a key point you raise, Kyra, and you heard the Iraqi foreign minister say, let's have discussions about getting weapons inspectors back inside the country. It seems, according to U.S. officials, the Iraqis are continuing to put out conditions, even when they say that the inspectors will be allowed back without conditions. We can tell you, Ari Fleischer, the president's press secretary was going to do his briefing, but then delayed it to listen to Iraqi foreign minister. It should come up in a moment. You will likely hear the foreign minister say the U.S. is fabricating these charges about weapons of mass destruction. The administration will say it has evidence proving that Saddam Hussein has chemical, biological and is even trying to obtain nuclear weapons.

You also heard the Iraqi leader say that those inspectors must respect Baghdad security and sovereignty. Again, Fleischer likely to say Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi regime, they know what they need to do, and he's likely to hear Fleischer with more tough talk coming from this White House.

You heard President Bush earlier in this day saying there are no negotiations, no discussions here, and, Kyra. I can tell you, senior administration officials feel that more the Iraqis talk, the more these comments come out in which U.S. officials believe there are conditions, the more the likelihood U.S. officials believe that allies such as Russia and France, in the end, might ultimately support a tough new U.N. Security Council resolution.

PHILLIPS: All right. Thanks, Kelly. Kelly Wallace at the White House. Thanks, Kelly.


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