CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Britain's Foreign Minister Holds Press Conference
Aired March 20, 2003 - 06:37 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Jack Straw, Britain's foreign minister, now talking at a new conference in London -- let's listen in.
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JACK STRAW, BRITISH FOREIGN MINISTER: ... backed by the credible threat of force. But we have stressed all the way through that for this threat to be credible we had to be prepared to use force if the threat itself was not sufficient.
The international community has spent 12 years passing a series of Security Council resolutions and showing very great patience in pursuing the disarmament of Iraq, which was demanded by the Security Council to be completed by 1991. Over four months ago, the United Nations Security Council gave Saddam Hussein his -- quote -- "final opportunity to disarm through cooperation." He has rejected that opportunity by once again responding with a familiar pattern of concealing, deceit and delay.
There was a further meeting of the Security Council yesterday to receive a further report from Dr. Blix. I quote directly and verbatim from his report. He said, "Three-and-a-half months of work carried out in Iraq by UNMOVIC have not brought the assurances needed about the absence of weapons of mass destruction and other prescribed items in Iraq."
And he went on to say, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) "that in my last report I commented on information provided by Iraq on a number of unresolved issues." Since that last report which was the 7th of March -- quote -- "Iraq has sent several more letters on such issues."
And he goes on, "Our experts have so far but found that in substance these letters contain only" new information that will help -- I mean, "limited new information that will help to resolve the remaining items."
And those of you who are familiar with the reports the reports and Security Council resolutions contained here, republished by me to the British House of Commons, will know that in report after report after report by UNMOVIC there is laid bare there all of the unresolved disarmament issues and chapter and verse about how Saddam has failed to meet his disarmament obligations.
As it happens, there are many issues where there is not agreement between France and Germany. France is a very proud nation state and with a very long history as a nation state. Germany is also a proud nation, but is less concerned about what they would see as older concepts of sovereignty that is France and the United Kingdom, and the aim of the convention is to try and secure a reconciliation of those.
I'll take one last question. Yes, ma'am.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning for those of you just joining us for AMERICAN MORNING. You are listening to the foreign minister of Great Britain take questions from reporters, as he continues to reinforce Britain's commitment to Operation Iraqi Freedom.
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STRAW: Our concern, of course, is to ensure that this military action is over as quickly as possible and with the minimum loss of life, and huge efforts are being made to secure that end.
As to tactics Saddam Hussein will use, I'm afraid I can't speculate on those. What we do know is that he does have weapons of mass destruction. The whole international community knows that, and it's exactly for that reason that we agreed unanimously to Resolution 1441, which begins by saying that Saddam Hussein's proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and is long-range missiles and his defiance of the United Nations poses a threat to international peace and security. And it ends by saying that if Saddam refuses to comply peacefully, then serious consequences will follow.
And every single thing that we are doing is fully in compliance with Resolution 1441. What we are doing is putting that resolution into effect, not avoiding it.
Thank you very much indeed.
ZAHN: Once again, for those of you who are just joining us, that was British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw urging European governments on Thursday to pull together to bring humanitarian relief to Iraq, and also join in the reconstruction process.
Here is a quote from what he had to say a little bit earlier on in the question-and-answer session with reporters. He said, "The European community should come together, recognize that we have a common agenda of working for the humanitarian relief of Iraq and its reconstruction."
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