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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Blair Responds to U.N. Resolution

Aired November 8, 2002 - 11:22   ET

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

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: We are back at 22 minutes after the hour. We are still waiting for the statement to come from Prime Minister Tony Blair of Great Britain. He's going to be coming out and speaking about the U.N. resolution this morning that passed with a unanimous vote to force Iraq to comply with weapons inspections or else.
We thought that Prime Minister Blair would be coming out with a live statement, but it appears that it is not going to be live, it is going to be on tape, and once that start being delivered -- as a matter of fact, here it is right now.

Let's listen in.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: ... to make a statement of the U.N. resolution. I have said for many months that the issue of Iraq is best addressed at the United Nations.

I'm delighted that the Security Council has risen to the challenge by unanimously adopting the Resolution 1441.

I pay tribute to all of those who have worked so hard for this resolution, in particular here to the foreign secretary, Jack Straw, our ambassador to the U.N., Sir Jeremy Greenstock, and to their teams for the central role that they've played in this achievement through patient and skillful diplomacy.

As the resolution spells out, Iraq has defied the United Nations and therefore the whole international community over the past 11 years. It has been and continues to be in material breach of a whole series of U.N. resolutions.

With the adoption of this resolution, the Security Council has made clear beyond doubt that the United Nations will tolerate no more of this. In the words of the resolution, Iraq now has a final opportunity to comply with its international and legal obligations by giving up once and for all its weapons of mass destruction, its chemical, biological, nuclear weapons programs and the means to deliver them.

If it does not, then the consequences are clear.

This resolution sets up a tough new inspection regime. I have full confidence in Dr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei and their teams and full respect for their integrity and independence as they embark on such a crucial and difficult task.

The position of the international community is now unified and certain. The weapons inspectors must return to Iraq, they must carry out their work without any restriction, condition or inhibition on their effectiveness.

The duty of Saddam Hussein is to cooperate fully and totally. That means giving access to all the sites and palaces. It means allowing key witnesses to be interviewed, free from fear. It means a full declaration of the weapons that exist and their whereabouts.

The obligation is to cooperate. It is not a game of hide and seek, where the inspectors try their best to find the weapons and Saddam does his best to conceal them.

The duty of cooperation laid down in this resolution means not just access but information. Failure to be open and honest in helping the inspectors to do their work is every bit as much a breach as failure to allow access to the main sites.

The goal is disarmament of all chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. If Saddam complies, that is the U.N. mandate fulfilled.

I may find this regime abhorrent; any normal person would. But the survival of it is in his hands. Conflict is not inevitable, but disarmament is.

In the event of Saddam refusing to cooperate or being in breach, there will be a further U.N. discussion, as we always said there would be. To those who fear this resolution is just an automatic trigger point without any further discussion, paragraph 12 of the resolution makes it clear this is not the case.

But everyone now accepts that if there is a default by Saddam, the international community must act to enforce its will. Failure to do so would mean, having stated our clear demand, we lack the will to enforce it.

So let us hope that this issue can now be resolved peacefully. From the outset, I wanted this resolved through the United Nations with the international community acting together. Now that can happen. We have made our choice: disarmament through the United Nations with force as a last resort.

Saddam must now make his choice, and my message to him is this: Disarm or you face force. There must be no more games, no more deceit, no more prevarication, obstruction or defiance. Cooperate fully and despite the terrible injustices you have often perpetrated on others, we will be just with you. But defy the United Nations' will and we will disarm you by force. Be under no doubt whatever of that.

Finally, I have a message for the Iraqi people.

We have no quarrel with the Iraqi people. We want you to be our friends and partners in welcoming Iraq back into the world community, an Iraq at peace itself and its neighbors, its people prosperous and strong.

The Iraqi people are an immensely talented people with a rich history and culture. You have much to give the region and the wider world.

Whatever happens, the territorial integrity of Iraq will be absolute. Whatever happens, we will work with you for a fairer and better future for the Iraqi people.

You have suffered from long years of war, corruption and repression. I hope that an Iraq free of weapons of mass destruction, a government unable to use those weapons to oppress its people and its neighbors is a symbol of change for you, the Iraqi people, as well as giving hope for the future of the world.

Thank you.

HARRIS: British Prime Minister Tony Blair with words of congratulations to the U.N., words of encouragement for the Iraqi people, and words of warning to Saddam Hussein.

He says that the U.N. has risen to the challenge, and has made it clear now beyond doubt that the U.N. will not tolerate any longer continued defiance of past resolutions. He also had some rather strong words for Saddam Hussein, saying that the goal here is disarmament, use of force is a last resort.

However, he says to Saddam, disarm or face force.

Let's go now to our Richard Roth, who is standing by at the U.N. where the discussions and the speeches continue -- Richard.

RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR U.N. CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the speeches go on listening there to Prime Minister Blair, it almost sounds like 1990, except at that point Iraq was in Kuwait, but you hear the two- sided appeal, one for disarmament, some threats, but also a message to the people of Iraq, because if there is the use of force, no doubt, the United States and the United Kingdom will be looking for resistance or at least noninterference by Iraqi citizens, and no matter what type of military option might be raised.

Here you are seeing China inside the United Nations. China's the current president. China went along with this vote, it had abstained a few years ago, along with Russia on the last key Iraq resolution.

That type of split and division, perhaps diplomats say, gave Iraq more emboldment (ph) to keep the inspectors out of Iraq. They haven't been there since December of 1998.

Britain was in a very delicate spot, it rode with a stalking horse for the United States, which didn't want to be too dominating. It was the United Kingdom at various points in this resolution fight that tried to rally support for the U.S. resolution.

Also, Britain tried to be peacemaker, and say, Listen, there's no automatic trigger in this resolution. In effect, despite what some officials in Washington were saying, it drove home the compromise also that there would be, indeed, a meeting if Iraq doesn't comply with the weapons inspectors -- Leon.

HARRIS: Richard Roth at the U.N. this morning. Nice work this morning, Richard. Sure do appreciate it. Take care, have a good weekend.

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