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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Showdown Iraq: Interview With Jeremy Greenstock

Aired November 7, 2002 - 12:05   ET

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

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Joining us now is a man who has been privy to all of the inside debate in the U.N. Security Council, Sir Jeremy Greenstock. He's the British ambassador to the United Nations.
Mr. Ambassador, thanks so much for joining us.

Where does it stand right now, the possibility of a vote tomorrow as the Bush administration and your government would very much like to see?

SIR JEREMY GREENSTOCK, BRITISH AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: Yes, we both agreed on that tomorrow would be an ideal day for a vote, and we think we're moving steadily in that direction.

BLITZER: Can you tell us, for sure, that there will be a vote tomorrow?

GREENSTOCK: No, I can never tell you for sure, because we have to bring, we hope, all members of the Council on board. But the Council is, at this moment, in discussion of the final parts of the text that need resolution to get everybody on board. And I think we're making progress.

BLITZER: We've heard that France, the government of France, is now pretty much on board. Is that true?

GREENSTOCK: We need to hear that finally from Paris. President Chirac is, I believe, reading every word of this resolution. But, yes, we think that they're very close to that point.

BLITZER: What about the Russian government? As you know, the president of the United States spoke with Russian President Putin earlier today. Could you imagine -- could you possibly imagine the Russians using their veto to block this resolution?

GREENSTOCK: The Russians have that power, so you should be able to imagine it. And my Russian colleague has, just now in the Council, made a number of points that he would still like to see resolved. But I think that we can resolve them, and I hope to see the Russians with all of the members of the Council voting for this resolution.

BLITZER: When you say "resolve" these differences, does that mean tinkering with the language, changing the language in this last draft that the British and U.S. governments put forward?

GREENSTOCK: The Russians have made a number of requests. We can't move very much further. The co-sponsors are clear about that. But senior people in both London and Washington are looking at this right now, and they may be able to offer one or two points of comfort.

BLITZER: The fifth member, as you know, of the Security Council that has veto power is China. As far as you know, where does the Chinese government stand?

GREENSTOCK: The Chinese are listening very carefully to the points that the Russians and the French are putting. And I think I would put them in the same area as those two countries, but I do not believe that China will want to stand out on its own.

BLITZER: Normally, under these circumstances, the Chinese very often abstain. So, you wouldn't be surprised to see them abstain?

GREENSTOCK: I would like to see them vote for this resolution, and that has been their body language up to now.

BLITZER: A lot of us who have watched this resolution come and go, various drafts, it's been, what, two months since President Bush addressed the United Nations General Assembly. What's taking so long?

GREENSTOCK: In 1999, when we had a long resolution on Iraq, it took eight months. What takes so long is the resolution of differences between the permanent members of the Security Council. I believe that the United States administration has been working extremely hard. I pay tribute to Secretary of State Powell for his leadership in this. But it does take time to get around some serious differences on the approach to Iraq. I don't think two months is too much to expend on what should be a very good conclusion.

BLITZER: Is there any daylight whatsoever in the position of the British government and the U.S. government as far as Iraq is concerned on this specific issue: regime change in Baghdad?

GREENSTOCK: This resolution is about disarmament. It is not about regime change, and there are no differences between the United States and the United Kingdom on this resolution.

BLITZER: As far as the 1998 agreement that was worked out between the U.N. secretary general, Kofi Annan, and the Iraqi government, that when those inspectors visit presidential palaces, so- called sensitive sites, the Iraqis get advance word of that. This new resolution would negate that and throw that away, wouldn't it?

GREENSTOCK: It's not throwing anything away; it's building on previous agreements. It's just producing a greater degree of clarification and forcefulness for the inspectors than before, because before did not work. This one is going to work.

BLITZER: If it doesn't work, though -- if the inspectors go back in and the Iraqis do not comply, do not fully cooperate and hinder the inspections, presumably the inspectors would leave. Under this new resolution, what would then be the process as far as a second U.N. Security Council meeting and the need, if necessary, for another resolution? GREENSTOCK: This is now clearly expressed in the draft resolution. At that point, the inspectors there, their chiefs will come back to New York, they will come to the Security Council, and the Security Council will immediately meet and discuss their report, and how to follow it up. And that is a firm commitment by all members of the Security Council.

So long as the Security Council is completing the disarmament of Iraq, it will remain in charge. And if there is a report that there is noncompliance, the Security Council will take that matter up first. And it's then up to the Security Council to make sure that Iraq completes this disarmament by one means or another.

BLITZER: But the United States and Britain would not necessarily be bound by the need for a second Security Council resolution to strike out militarily at Iraq if there is no such compliance, would it?

GREENSTOCK: As I've said, it's up to the Security Council to make sure that it completes the disarmament of Iraq. Our priority -- the U.S. and the U.K. -- is to see the completion of Iraq's disarmament of WMD, come what may.

BLITZER: All right. That sounds like a very strong statement from the British ambassador to the United Nations, Sir Jeremy Greenstock. Thanks so much for spending a few moments with us. good luck to you at the United Nations in these final rounds, crunch time, of the deliberations on this new resolution.

GREENSTOCK: Thank you.

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