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On Sunday, 27 July 2003, Breakfast with Frost featured an interview with Sir Jeremy Greenstock, British Ambassador to the UN.
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PETER SISSONS: Now Sir Jeremy Greenstock has been our man at the United Nations in New York for the past five years.
Earlier this year it fell him as British Ambassador, to tell the world that diplomatic efforts to avert war with Iraq had failed.
Sir Jeremy was due to retire this weekend but he's accepted one last posting, as special envoy to Baghdad. I spoke to him earlier from New York, and I asked what his new role meant.
JEREMY GREENSTOCK: The role is, the objective is, above all, to get the political momentum into the transfer of power to the Iraqis when everything is stable in Iraq. We want Iraqis taking over as soon as possible when they're ready to do so, when they have political structures working, institutions working and the economy working. So, we're driving at that as hard as we can go.
PETER SISSONS: Anonymous but very senior British diplomats in Baghdad are being quoted as saying the US-led administration is in chaos. Chronically under-resourced and suffering from an almost complete absence of strategic direction. Are you being put in to try to rectify that?
JEREMY GREENSTOCK: No, I wouldn't agree with that description. I think they have done a wonderful job in a very chaotic situation at the beginning. Ambassador Bremer has taken some bold and I think some right decisions.
We've got an Iraqi governing council up and running to begin to take over the interim administration. They're going to be appointing interim ministers for the ministries soon. The security situation is troubling, partly because we were so quick in winning the conflict.
There's a hell of a lot to do, there's no doubt about that, let's not mince words about that. But I think progress is being made every day.
PETER SISSONS: Will you be trying to get the UN more involved? I thought it might be easier to write a constitution and get it accepted and involve the Shia majority whom Saddam so persecuted, if the new arrangements have the UN's stamp of legality.
JEREMY GREENSTOCK: Yes, I rather agree with that and I don't think that the Americans disagree. They are very happy to have the United Nations involved in those areas where the UN has experience and expertise and Sergio Vierledemeto the Secretary General special representative is already involved in these discussions so I think you'll see the UN role growing over the coming autumn. PETER SISSONS: Do you still expect weapons of mass destruction to be found?
JEREMY GREENSTOCK: I don't know, I don't know what the story is. I personally believe that Saddam was certainly running programmes but he decided to destroy and conceal many of his weapons when he knew the inspectors were coming, in order not to be caught on the wrong side of the political line. This story is now unfolding on the ground, there are a lot of people working on this discretely and I think later in the year we'll hear the full story.
PETER SISSONS: Of course there's a heck of a row here because a lot of people believe that they were sold a false prospectus. The reasons given for going to war in Iraq were these weapons and there's no sign of them.
JEREMY GREENSTOCK: Well let's see what the parliamentary enquiry, particularly from the Intelligence and Security Committee, say. I believe the intelligence at the time, I still believe the intelligence. There was a threat, there were weapons, there were programmes. Let's wait for the story to come out.
PETER SISSONS: How did you feel on that day you had to tell the world that diplomacy was dead, that there'd been no second Resolution?
JEREMY GREENSTOCK: Well I was deeply disappointed, because I always wanted to try and make Saddam cough up his WMD without a fight and I was trying very hard under the Prime Minister's instructions to do that and we realised in the middle of March that that was not going to be possible. But there was a plan B and that plan B has been carried out.
I believe it was justified under the resolutions of the United Nations. So it was a disappointing stage of a much longer saga and I think that saga is showing a good deal of success.
PETER SISSONS: Did Britain and America, in your view, have the same aims in Iraq. There's always someone ready to speculate that Washington is planning a much longer stay and that that's got a lot to do with oil.
JEREMY GREENSTOCK: No, I don't believe that at all. I believe that the politics of the approach to Iraq were different in Washington and London to the extent that there was a much wider remit in Washington.
I think that's clear from the story that's come out in public. We were entirely focused on the threat from Iraq with WMD but the objective of removing Saddam because he had WMD and was intending to redevelop programmes was exactly the same in Washington and London.
We both would like to get out of Iraq as soon as possible. There's no need to stay there, this is a proud and, given the chance, a competent country and we both want to go as soon as it's stable, there's no doubt about that.
PETER SISSONS: So what is the exit strategy? How soon before all British troops can be home?
JEREMY GREENSTOCK: It's not so much an exit strategy Peter, as a completion strategy. We have a job to do to turn Iraq over to the Iraqis when they show that they can do that in a stable and free environment and if that happens this coming autumn we would do it.
If it needs through next year to do it we'll stay for the job. But the criterion is an Iraqi run by Iraqis for all Iraqis. And when we reach that criterion we'll go.
PETER SISSONS: What's the significance in your view, of the deaths this week of Uday and Qusay?
JEREMY GREENSTOCK: Well I think that's a striking success for the American security team. The Iraqis now realise, I believe, that this is not a conspiracy theory, this is a genuine success for the turnover of the Saddam regime.
We've now got to find the father, I think that's quite important. I would like to see him brought before a court, I think that's the right way to deal with it but that is in the hands now of the military team looking for him. I would say it was quite important to do that.
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