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Interview with Sir Christopher Meyer

Aired November 8, 2002 - 12:45   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: From the very beginning, the United States and Britain stood as one on this U.N. Security Council resolution. Welcome back to SHOWDOWN: IRAQ.
I'm joined now by the British ambassador to the United States, Sir Christopher Meyer.

Thanks so much for joining us, Mr. Ambassador. Were you surprised by this unanimous vote?

SIR CHRISTOPHER MEYER, BRITISH AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: I was surprised, but my goodness, I was delighted. Fifteen to nil is a terrific result for British-American diplomacy, and it's a pretty good result for the Security Council as well.

BLITZER: Did the U.S., and Britain, for that matter, have to make concessions in terms of promises to Russia, China, France, Syria, Mexico, in order to get their support?

MEYER: Well, you might think that after eight weeks negotiation some huge concessions have been made. I would say that actually some adjustments have been made to the resolution to resolve some of the concerns of other members of the Security Council. The fears and concerns actually I don't think were enormously justified. But the essence, the core of what we set out to do eight weeks ago has been 100 percent preserved.

BLITZER: There's no doubt that the French originally wanted two resolutions, another resolution that would be required to go to war -- to use military force. They didn't get that, although they did get a commitment to at least have discussions at the Security Council.

MEYER: Yes. I mean, you know, Wolf, that was always a bit of a false debate because -- think of it this way: We get the resolution, the inspections start, Dr. Blix goes out with his inspectors, and at some point or other he's going to come back and report. Now, if he reports what he thinks are Iraqi noncooperation or violations of the Security Council resolution, by definition he comes to New York and there's a discussion.

So I think that we in London and you in Washington always saw that that was going to be the case, there was going to be that stage.

BLITZER: I don't know if you agree with me, but I'm pretty convinced that the strong victory, in effect, that President Bush had on Tuesday in the elections here in the United States, Republicans doing so well, that sent a pretty powerful message out there to the other members of the Security Council.

MEYER: Well, I think a very powerful message has gone out this week, and particularly today. The message to Iraq is, "The moment of truth has arrived. You've got a choice. You've got a choice either to disarm or be destroyed." It's very, very clear. And it's clarity is the greater because we have had this extraordinary unanimous result. It's a very, very powerful message.

And incidentally, it revalidates and reinvigorates the Security Council itself, and that takes us back to the president's speech of the 12th of September when he said the United Nations is facing a great challenge.

BLITZER: If it doesn't want to be the League of Nations...

MEYER: Exactly.

BLITZER: ... it better take action. Well, this is a very dramatic step. But you don't really believe in your heart of hearts that the Iraqis are going to fully comply, do you?

MEYER: Well, we're going to see. If we judge on the record, you're right: The history of the last 11 years has been a history of deceit, of lying, of prevarication. And my prime minister, Tony Blair, and your president, George Bush, have decided that enough is enough; that you cannot go on 11 years -- more than 11 years defying the authority of the Security Council, unless, as you say, you want to see a repeat of the League of Nations.

BLITZER: But if you're Saddam Hussein and you note what the president said yesterday in his news conference, there have been 17 of these kinds of warnings to him before, but this time we really, really mean it. You know, he could certainly go back to his old games of cheat and retreat, try to divide the international community and delay any action.

MEYER: I think that if, in his bunker in Baghdad, or wherever it is, he has any understanding of the will of the United States, the will of the United Kingdom and now the will of the international community, led by our two countries, if he thinks that he can carry on playing the game of cheat and retreat, he will make a terrible mistake, and for himself it'll be a fatal mistake.

BLITZER: Sir Christopher Meyer, the British ambassador to the United States, thanks so much.

MEYER: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you very much.


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