CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Tony Blair Answers Questions About Iraq
Aired December 18, 2002 - 10:01 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: All right, first this hour on CNN, the Iraqi weapons report and the latest chapter in the international scrutiny of that report. The nonpermanent members of the United Nations Security Council today are combing their way through the edited version of the Iraqi declaration and the Bush administration is expected to come out and issue a scathing declaration of its own.
Our John King will join us from the White House with more on that story, but let's now with our senior U.N. correspondent Richard Roth with the angle from there.
Good morning, Richard.
RICHARD ROTH, CNN SR. U.N. CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Leon.
The United Nations Security Council as a whole now has the full, nearly 12,000-page report, declaration from Iraq. Last night, the so- called "elected 10," those nonpermanent members of the Security Council, received their copies. However, these copies are sanitized. Couriers from the various 10 countries came over to headquarters and picked up the documents, boxes handed out by the United Nations weapons inspections agency. Many of them will now be shipped off to their home countries.
Of course, for some of these countries, it's a bit like a lump of coal in a sock, because they did not receive the so-called uncensored versions the permanent members did receive. Many countries will be watching very closely what the United States says in the coming hours and days regarding their view of the Iraqi level of compliance.
Here, France and Russia and Secretary General Kofi Annan think the weapons inspectors should be given time to do their job, and that nobody should be declared in material breach, at least so far -- Leon.
HARRIS: All right, Richard. Thank you very much.
We want to cut away, because the United States isn't the only permanent member of the Security Council that is speaking out about the situation with Iraq and with its declaration. We are looking now at what's happening at the House of Commons. You see now the British Prime Minister Tony Blair is now speaking before the House of Commons, and he's taking questions about this issue.
TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: ... is the first line of defense. However, I have to say to him, that we don't know of any specific threat to that end. So I think the sensible thing for us to do is to follow the guidelines set out by the WHO. I think those guidelines are right and correct, and that's what we intend to do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ian Duncan Smith.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The United States has made it clear they will be responding to the Iraqi weapons declaration within days. Can the prime minister tell us when the government will be publishing its own formal response to the declaration? And on the evidence that he's seen so far and that he has already produced, can he say whether he agrees with Colin Powell, or the skepticism about the Iraqi declaration is well founded?
BLAIR: Mr. Speaker, we will make a formal response shortly after the Christmas break. In respect of Colin Powell's remarks, I think most people who have looked at -- this is a pretty long document, are pretty skeptical about the claims it makes. But I think it's important to study it in detail and make a formal response.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ian Duncan Smith.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Following from that, then, it's clear that the government is also in the papers today certainly making preparations for a major deployment in the Gulf. If a decision to deploy takes place during the recess, is the prime minister prepared to recall parliament? And there's confusion on whether there might be a vote on deployment. I would urge the prime minister to hold the vote on the substantive motion. Would he agree to do so now?
BLAIR: Mr. Speaker, in respect of any substantive vote, we've made it clear it would be our intention to do so, although of course subject to the proviso that the foreign secretary set out, there must be nothing done that would in any way endanger or imperil our troops should we require to act quickly.
In respect of the deployment, and the secretary of state for defense will make a statement about that later, but I should say, this is a contingency deployment. Our position remains exactly as it's always been. We want the inspectors to do their work, we want Saddam to comply with the U.N. resolutions. We use force in circumstances where there is a breach of that U.N. mandate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Last week I was told by a child in my constituency that she couldn't sleep, not because she was overexcited about Father Christmas, but she was afraid that some lout might smash the windows of her mom's flat, or put a lighted match through the letter box.
While the prime minister I know will want to join me in congratulating North Kent (ph) Police for cutting crime by 35 percent over the past year, will he give an assurance to the mother of that child that he will not let up his determination to deal with the sort of loutish and antisocial behavior that still creates a climate of fear, and make sure that the police and local authorities continue to have the resources they need to tackle it, and not take the advice of the party opposite and...
BLAIR: First of all, Mr. Speaker, I can assure my honorable friend that we will do what we can to deal with this issue. I should congratulate the Kent (ph) Police on having reduced crime in the Kent (ph) area. That's a great achievement for them.
But I believe the key to this is to have simple and effective ways of enforcing the law in respect of antisocial behavior, and that's why it's very important that we streamline the antisocial behavior orders, and also, I hope the House will support the measures that we will set out in the forthcoming bill to make it far easier to get fixed penalty notice...
HARRIS: We're going to step away at this point, as you see that freewheeling question-and-answer session that they have from time to time there in the House of Commons. For a time, they were talking about the Iraqi issue, and they may end up going back to that, but we're going to step away right now as Tony Blair continues to answers questions about domestic issues.
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