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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

The U.N. on Iraq

Aired September 23, 2002 - 10:55   ET

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

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to watch the U.N. for a moment right now. Secretary-General Kofi Annan in a question-and- answer session with the reporters there this morning assembled for a press conference.
Let's listen in.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

KOFI ANNAN, U.N. SECY. GENERAL: ... UNMOVIC will be guided by the guidance of the council and new resolutions the council takes, and so should Iraq.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, over the weekend, there were (OFF-MIKE) from the Israeli government that it will engage in the military operation should they happen. I was wondering how worrisome is that -- against Iraq, that is, that they will not stand by should there be any need, in the name of sovereignty and taking care of their national security -- I'm wondering, how dangerous is that in your mind, given the fact that Israel is, just like Iraq, a country that has not implemented resolutions, one of which the Security Council adopted unanimously and several which are in the peace plan for an Arab- Israeli coexistence? Are we having a double standard here, and how worried are you of Israel coming in?

ANNAN: Well, I didn't want to be drawn into the question of, if Iraq attacks Israel, they would respond, because even on the question of what happens -- military operations -- in Iraq, the president maintains that no decision has been taken, so I don't want to move into speculative areas.

But let me say that the point you raised about double standards is something that has that dogged (ph) the U.N. for a long time. I don't think I have given a press conference in the Middle East or to a Middle Eastern journalists where the question of double standards has not come up.

And this is an issue that, as an organization and as a council, it's a tough one to deal with, and this question comes up often, and I hope that with the work that the quartet and the council I hope will do, we will be able to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian issue once and for all and put this issue behind us.

But it is a tough...

QUESTION: But these are different times, Mr. Secretary General. This is not business as usual. We're talking about a country that has been defying resolutions from one point of view and that may have -- may require a major military strike and another country that goes, you know, absolved and turning a blind eye to its rejection of the resolutions. These are not times as usual.

ANNAN: I'm not indicating that they are times as usual. As I have said, it's a point that has been raised many times, with me, with other U.N. officials, and it is something that the council itself is conscious about.

HARRIS: Secretary General of the U.N., Kofi Annan there, addressing the press at the end of a press conference that was set up to talk about reorganization of the U.N., and of course the Iraqi topic did come up. But the question that we specifically heard there raised was one we have heard raised from time to time and posed to the U.N., why is it that the U.N. is insisting that the Iraq adhere to the resolutions the U.N. has passed against it whereas the U.N. has not been as strict with the resolutions past against Israel? Of course, secretary general saying that is a tough one, it's an issue that's been raised many times, and one that they will try to solve many times in the future.

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