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Tuesday, 28 January, 2003, 14:32 GMT
Iraq: You asked US Senator Richard Lugar

Senator Richard Lugar, the Republican chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Talking Point.

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    Your comments

    I don't blame anyone who has grave reservations about the prospects of war with Iraq. But those who feel the US or the UN needs to prove Saddam is developing weapons of mass destruction (WMD) should look at the UN's own reports on Iraq on the UN website. The UNSCOM reports - so reviled by Saddam - go a long way to demonstrate that Saddam, at the very least, has some crucial questions about his WMD programs that he has deliberately refused to answer for over a decade. Is this the US's fault? Perhaps, in that they - and other major powers, who are equally complicit - did not press Saddam to do this earlier. But this sin of omission is no excuse for the international community to recoil from its obligation to force Saddam to show his hand. The alternative - that he develops nuclear weapons - is unpalatable.
    Russ, Bucks, UK

    Mr. Bush is on the verge to throw this world into unnecessary war. All of us know that he is attempting to divert Americans' attention from their fragile economy at the moment. There is nothing like evidence out there. No smoking gun has been noticed by the inspectors. Why then are they still talking of a possible war? If they want one let them go and attack North Korea the one country which has come in public and admit for its nuclear involvements.
    Abel Kinyondo, Windhoek, Namibia.

    It will only create a new generation of people desperate for revenge

    Denis O'Sullivan, Campoli Appennino, Italy
    This war is about control of Iraqi oil and nothing else. This war will solve nothing, it will only create a new generation of people desperate for revenge and become a recruitment campaign for groups like Al Qaeda. The Americans should be concentrating on finding a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian situation. Maybe that would give them back the respect that they once commanded throughout the world.
    Denis O'Sullivan, Campoli Appennino, Italy

    By now the situation is: the inspectors have not found anything, the intelligence has not revealed anything. The only undisputable argument by the US/UK leaders is: we don't like Saddam, so let's bomb the nation he rules. This is what the American crusade for democracy, freedom and justice ended up with. If it were only Iraq, perhaps other nations would cynically close their eyes. However, the nature of the current US behaviour is such that other nations would most likely hear the recent message by North Korean Kim: in the modern world the nuclear arms is the only guarantee against future aggressions by the US.
    Alex, Germany

    The only evidence that the US has concerning Iraq's WMD are its invoices from sales to Iraq in the 1990's. The US administration is too red faced to admit this. Regarding Saddam being an evil dictator, this can't be denied but what about Saudi Arabia etc.
    Owen, Belfast

    Why is Iraq suddenly a threat for world peace? After ten years? Why is North Korea not so urgent? I thought they also are part of the axis of evil? And everybody is saying they are planning to develop a nuclear bomb. Why is the US planning a war against a country without teeth (Iraq)? And why are they all relaxed about a country that has a 1.2 million well trained army, chemical and biological WMD and the devices to get them into Japan or South-Korea?
    Maarten, Belgium (Flanders)

    Germany and France couldn't care less about American causalities. They are concerned about their business interests re.Iraq,and getting re-elected. They are happy to let America pay the price for world peace. Didn't this same thing occur prior to World War 2?
    Mary Doyle, Coram,USA

    The evidence is overwhelming that the war-mongering western powers are swamping the media with their propaganda to consolidate their global hegemony.
    Mohansingh, india

    Bush has been determined to go to war all along. First he said he'd do it as soon as WMD's were found. Now, when none have been found he says it's only because they've got them hidden better. So he wins whether anything is found or not. What does this do for his claim to not be determined to go to war unprovoked?
    Pat Robichaud, Canada

    The US and UK have no evidence that Iraq has WMDs. Why else do they now want to go to war using the flimsy reason that Iraq is not cooperating with the inspectors. The inspectors can go anywhere in Iraq and from news reports have gone to all the places that the US and UK have told them to. Still no WMDs have been found.
    B. Selvadurai, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

    Is the burden of proof not on the Iraqis?

    Jack Franze, Pennsylvania, USA
    Is the burden of proof not on the Iraqis? Saddam must show the U.N. that he does not have WMD or he must face the consequences. Allowing the UN to go into Iraq and not showing the weapons inspectors where the WMD are is not what the UN resolution required. The resolution clearly states that Saddam must declare all of his WMD and the inspectors are merely a vehicle to dispose of them. Half a loaf of bread is the amount of anthrax that is needed to kill 500,000 people. To have to look for such a small item that could be located anywhere in a country the size of California is ridiculous. Inspections will lead to failure without knowledge of where the WMD are.
    Jack Franze, Millersville Pennsylvania USA

    If Iraq really and truly had nuclear weapons, the U.S. would treat it with the same respect (and fear) that it shows North Korea, China, and Pakistan. There are other objectives in play here. World public opinion (aka the street) is not as dumb as Bush thinks.
    A. Lahlali, Dubai - U.A.E.

    It seems that is now politically correct and fashionable to hold an anti-war stance. Whist it is easy to align your opinions with the masses it must be noted that, if left untouched, Iraq will continue to run a ruthless and barbaric regime with Saddam still unaccountable for crimes against humanity. After all, we wouldn't be in this situation if Iraq had let the UN Inspectors stay in '98. It clearly has something to hide.
    Stephen, UK

    Bush needs to show the evidence to the families of the soldiers he's about to send into war.

    Rik van Riel, Brazil/Netherlands
    I think Bush needs to show the evidence (if any) to the families of the soldiers he's about to send into war. The people in the US, at least the ones I've spoken with, don't want members of their family to die for oil. I think Bush owes them at least an explanation as to why the soldiers are being sent to war.
    Rik van Riel, Brazil/Netherlands

    I'm a member of the reserve force in Britain. I really can't get my head around the current situation. Although I feel the attack on 9/11 was hideous and repugnant, I can't understand how the US/UK governments can hope to win support for further action against Iraq without more concrete proof being released to the public at large. I know that there has been an unstable ceasefire since the end of the last war but I know many of my colleagues in both the reserve forces and regular forces of Great Britain have major reservations about fighting a war without more evidence that Iraq has plans to use weapons of mass destruction against us or our allies. Please, give us the reassurance that we are not going to be putting our lives on the line for someone's commercial interests or that of a few politicians' careers. I personally will need a little more encouragement to "go over the top" than the current arguments that have been repeated to us over the last few months.
    Anonymous Part-time soldier, Liverpool

    Saddam Hussein and his past record is the evidence!

    Saeed, UK / Iraq
    I feel people are missing the point here. Saddam Hussein's regime is dangerous, and has no hesitation whatsoever from using any weapons. The missing evidences are expected, especially now this regime knows that he is in danger. Past experience showed that Saddam stops at nothing from saving his skin. This man will lie, kill, deceive, torture any Iraqi Scientist, his children, their wives if they fail slightly in protecting him. What amazes me are those do-gooders, who foolishly demonstrate against this war, driven by their selfish ideological belief, asking loudly for evidence. Well, Saddam Hussein and his past record is the evidence!
    Saeed, UK / Iraq

    During the American invasion of Vietnam, more munitions were used on both civilian and military targets than were used during both previous World Wars combined. The resulting reign of destruction with the deaths of over 5 million people did not succeed in overcoming the self-determination and independence of that nation.

    In Iraq, we can more than likely envisage a similar scenario. Witness the same but more technologically lethal military might in full force. The battle will most certainly be over in a matter of days. In the shake of a hat, a puppet or client regime will be installed to insure that Iraqi oil will continue to flow directly into the gas-guzzling SUV's that clog the highways of the 'Land of the Free'.

    Meantime, in the aftermath, the Iraqi people will continue to live in the bombed and broken infrastructure that war and 10 years of sanctions have produced, but their hearts and minds will bear the malice and contempt of a nation defiled.
    David, Honolulu USA

    We don't need a smoking gun

    Ron Hirsch, New York
    Why is it so hard for the rest of the world to understand we don't need a smoking gun, we just need Iraq to disarm or tell us what happened to the weapons we know they had? Unfortunately the proof will be when Iraq launches weapons of mass destruction after we invade.
    Ron Hirsch, Woodside, NY USA

    Compared with North Korea, Iraq is bending over backwards to accommodate the wishes of the UN Inspectors . This would seem to suggest an uneven hand in US foreign policy. The arguments that diplomacy is the best means of dealing with the North Koreans - a nation hell-bent on getting nuclear weapons - whilst a big stick is preferred for a more submissive Iraq just don't add up. We all know this is about oil at the end of the day. Why doesn't the Bush regime come clean with the world and state its true intentions? Its plain as day for the rest of us!
    Charles Patmore, The Netherlands

    If the US had any convincing evidence of WMD they presumably would have shared it with officials from France and Germany. If that happened then it certainly wasn┐t persuasive enough to convince them to take a more aggressive stance. If no intelligence has been shared then it suggests the US is protecting its own self interests. I can only assume that if evidence does exist it is has been gleaned from US trade records with Iraq in the 1980s.
    Jeremy, Sussex, UK

    Whatever happened to talk of lifting the sanctions on the Iraqi people?

    Timothy Brown, London, England
    It is very distressing how the Iraq agenda is entirely dominated by talk of war. Whatever happened to talk of lifting the sanctions on the Iraqi people? I have not heard one reference or guarantee that the sanctions will be lifted if no weapons are found.
    Timothy Brown, London, England

    The US has no evidence that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction, otherwise why it did not provide it? The US should be more fair and neutral in the Middle East as this might very well alleviate their problems with the Arab world.
    George Nasser, Bethlehem, Palestine

    The US has stated that it is to hold the Iraqi oil reserves 'in trust' for the benefit of its people. Why then is a US Senator openly declaring that only those nations who support the US offensive should get access to these reserves?
    Mike, Suffolk, England

    It's indicative of Bush's clear contempt for the UN

    Brian, US/Belgium
    If Bush has this compelling evidence, then why hasn't he produced it? It seems ludicrous to send in inspection teams to search blind, report nothing, and then be told to look again. It's indicative of Bush's clear contempt for the UN. Smoke and mirrors in the absence of anything substantive. He hasn't fooled anyone.
    Brian, US/Belgium

    Whilst I appreciate the need to keep confidential much of the intelligence the US possesses regarding Iraq possession of WMD, does the US administration understand that much of the world's population has genuine need of such information before being able to support an attack on Iraq? Can we expect the US to release some evidence supporting its case in the event of an attack on Iraq?
    Andrew Gray, Banglamung, Thailand

    Why did the US not stop Saddam when he was gassing the Kurds 10 years ago, or when he was using weapons of mass destruction against the Iranians? Because he was then the ally of the US and was being encouraged and assisted by the West. If there was no oil in Iraq there wouldn't be any threat of war.
    Eddie, Northumberland, England

    We need to think about the Iraqi people

    Joe, USA
    The US supported Saddam in the conflict with Iran. Then we opposed him in the Gulf War. After that we called on the people of Iraq to rise up and overthrow him and gave them no support. I realise that political positions change but we need to think about the Iraqi people and liberate them from this mess. I support President Bush on ousting Saddam but let's do it right this time and get him the heck out of there and help these people. That is the American way. Senator Lugar, will you please make sure we see this through to the end this time?
    Joe, USA

    What do you think is the appropriate response of the US to opponents of war when unilateral action (albeit inclusive of the UK) is necessary and will be taken? Should the US plan for possible sanctions and hostilities from so-called allies?
    Rob Kaper, Rotterdam, Netherlands

    Thousands of British and US military personnel have been deployed to the Gulf in anticipation of a war with Iraq. Does the US and Great Britain have solid evidence beyond any reasonable doubt, that Saddam Hussein is building his reserve of chemical weaponry and weapons of mass destruction? Can you state the evidence to justify an invasion?
    Margaret, Minneapolis, MN, USA

    There was no indication that Iraq had any intention of re-admitting the inspectors

    Marten King, USA
    Many have been (and still are) critical of the Bush war-drum beating. I certainly don't want to see a war, but there was no indication that Iraq had any intention of re-admitting the inspectors or cooperating with the UN in any way before Bush began speaking out, so I see that as a positive development. If Wolfowitz is correct about the threats to kill any Iraqi scientist who speaks to the inspectors, it is absolutely clear that Iraq has something to hide.
    Marten King, USA

    Over 200 inspections in Iraq and still no weapons found. It would seem that if the USA has any evidence of WMDs, and shared this information with the UN, then weapons would have been found a long time ago. No weapons, but plenty of oil, is this not what it is all about??
    Jose, Florida, USA

    We have been dealing with Iraq for over a decade now. It's constantly a game of cat and mouse. The 12,000 pages they released did not account for a whole list of weapons. The inspectors have found other evidence like the chemical warheads. Do we need to find a nuclear bomb to be satisfied? It's fairly obvious that Iraq is not complying.
    Daniel, La Mesa, CA

    Intelligence is much easier to come by but intrinsically much less reliable

    Ian Miller, UK
    Does the USA have any evidence, as opposed to intelligence, at all? Evidence is information solid enough that it could be presented to a court or equivalent. Intelligence is much easier to come by but intrinsically much less reliable.
    Ian Miller, UK

    I would hope that our governments share with the public what evidence they have bearing on the decision to go to war. Evidence, of course, that will not compromise existing intelligence networks. So far, there has been little that would justify a war. It would seem, however, that we have government officials in place, people who do have access to military intelligence, who are equipped to make hard decisions affecting their own and other countries. Why else do we elect them?
    Chris, DC, US

    If Iraq has so many weapons of mass destruction, why is the evidence not revealed? If the evidence is too sensitive to reveal to the public, why can it not be revealed to the UN weapons inspectors? Why is the war against terror taking a back seat to Bush's apparent vendetta with Saddam Hussein?
    Walter J. Smith, Joseph, Oregon, USA

    To Adam, England - the US did not use Agent Orange on the people. It is an herbicide, which was later found to cause various health defects in humans. Nor did they use depleted uranium shells in order to create radioactive effects on people, but rather used them for their destructive capabilities. Nor do I think that well-maintained empty chemical warheads are indicative of a defensive measure against chemical attacks. Bio suits, yes, but not warheads.
    Justin Cunningham, Santa Barbara, USA

    Has it not occurred to anyone that Baghdad is equipping its troops for the possibility of attack from chemical weapons, rather than use of them? America has a long history of using chemical weapons against its enemies, Agent Orange being the most notorious. In the Gulf War, it was the Americans who used depleted uranium shells, the medical legacy of which is still haunting those who fired them, those fired upon, and most tragically the people living in or near areas where DU shells were used.
    Adam, England


    Bridget Kendall:
    Senator Lugar thank you very much for joining us in this programme. You've had a briefing, I think, at the end of last week with the US Administration about what's likely to happen in the week ahead in which you indicated that you think that they'll suggest that UN weapons inspectors should continue. Is that right and for how long do you think that might be?

    Senator Richard Lugar:

    So long as it is useful to do this. I think there has to be a differentiation about what the weapons inspectors are expected to do. Our expectation in the United States and I think it's shared by those in the Security Council that passed a resolution 1441 are that the weapons inspectors were to note data that showed that Iraq had destroyed materials or weapons of mass destruction that had been revealed to the United Nations in previous inspection regimes.

    In 1998 and 1999 there was quite a detailed report then of what was there the last time the inspectors left. So some accounting has to be made for all that material and it was anticipated that when Iraq made its declaration now to the United Nations they would describe how those weapons were destroyed or where they were. So the inspectors could assist the Iraqis or the international community in destroying them.

    As we now know, the Iraqis did not detail this material - it's a mystery as to what happened to all it - tons of it as a matter of fact and the inspectors are being given impossible tasks of trying to find the needle in the haystack, literally.

    Bridget Kendall:

    But do you think they should be given more time and if so how much?

    Senator Richard Lugar:

    Of course more time may lead to the Iraqis making a decision which will be a fundamental one; namely, to make available to the inspectors the materials of the weapons of mass destruction the UN had already found four years ago - something happened to it.

    This is where I think the world needs to understand, this is not a hide-and-seek business - it's a question in which the UN said already Iraq had been in material breach of UN resolutions many times. But we're giving them one last chance and this last chance and this last chance is in fact to come forward with these weapons.

    Bridget Kendall:

    So you think that war still can be avoided?

    Senator Richard Lugar:

    Yes, war can be avoided if in fact Iraq makes this basic determination to make available to the UN inspectors the materials of weapons of mass destruction so they can in fact be destroyed.

    Bridget Kendall:

    Senator Lugar, can I take this point up with you, this question of public opinion. Some people like our caller Kelly in the USA not quite sure what should happen. But certainly here Europe but even in the United States, there is a suggestion from the polls that the majority of people are not yet convinced a case has been made for war. In quite a lot of places, including the United States, there seems to be a suggestion that if there's not a second UN resolution backing a war then many people are very troubled about that. What's your thoughts on this?

    Senator Richard Lugar:

    I agree that polls indicate that a lot of Americans are very uncertain about what we ought to do. It is complex and a great number are saying to our president or other leaders - you need to make the case, you need to explain why we're doing these things or how we ought to proceed. I agree with that and I am hopeful that President Bush will advance that situation in his State of the Union message.

    But let me just indicate some of the rest of us have a responsibility too. The case is a fairly simple one - that the United States is not alone - we are with the international community in believing that it is not advisable for country after country to adopt weapons of mass destruction, particularly countries that have used weapons before on other people and would be aggressive. We ought to be moving the other way in the world towards non-proliferation.

    Now in this particular case of Iraq, there is a government that has used those weapons, has developed the weapons, has the weapons. The question is whether the world at this point, unlike any time in the last 12 years, will with some unity, tell the leadership of Iraq to disarm - to get out of that business. It's not a question of wanting to go to war.

    Bridget Kendall:

    How long though do you think President Bush should give this diplomatic effort to bring allies on board before going to war?

    Senator Richard Lugar:

    I think we will begin that diplomacy again when Secretary Powell and various others in the foreign ministries and the Security Council and other leaders meet at the UN on Wednesday for intensive discussion where we are in this.

    The United States has pushed diplomacy very strongly. We are not unique in this respect. Prime Minister Blair and Foreign Minister, Jack Straw, have been strong proponents of diplomacy. The thought is that we ought to come together again as we did on Resolution 1441 with the unanimous dealing at the UN on the so-called consequences which were a very important part of the first resolution - consequences if disarmament does not occur - material breach is clearly the verdict.

    Now at this particular point however, there are many in America who would say, what are these weapons of mass destruction, why are they important, how do we know that there are any there, for example. What's likely to happen if we just simply let things drift, maybe for two, three, five years - will there be any dangers?

    In fact, many Americans, in a very sophisticated way, are asking what will Iraq look like after conflict or even after disarmament - is there going to be change there in the Middle East that will be significant and how long will Americans, people from the United Kingdom - Germans, French, anybody - be in Iraq trying to help a governed situation with very diverse populations. These are important questions to be discussing right now.

    Bridget Kendall:

    We've had quite a lot of e-mails, Senator, on this question of evidence including from some of your fellow countrymen. Walter J Smith, Oregon, USA says: if the evidence is too sensitive to reveal to the public, why can't it be revealed to the UN weapons inspectors?

    Ian Miller, UK says: Does the US have any evidence as opposed to intelligence at all - evidence of information solid enough that it can presented in court or the equivalent? Intelligence is much easier to come by but intrinsically less reliable. Are we likely to see more of this intelligence made public to us or the weapons inspectors?

    Senator Richard Lugar:

    I suspect more intelligence will be made available. Now the danger of doing this - everybody in the United States or anywhere else needs to understand - that as one's intelligence is revealed, it may also reveal the sources and methods of obtaining it. It may jeopardise people in Iraq who made the intelligence available and that could be a very severe fate for them and their families. It could lead Iraq simply to cart down the road literally by immobile means entire laboratories that deal with biological materials for example. These are not huge installations, they are easily hidden. So this is the dilemma.

    However, it appears to me, given the need for evidence that more and more intelligence will be revealed to the UN inspectors, who may or may not make use of it, but probably to the general public around the world. But there right now are the items that were in the last UN inspection reports just four years ago. Something has to happen that disposes of that evidence; namely, tons of materials, what happened to it? Iraq has not addressed that. Nor can the inspectors find anyone in Iraq who is willing to talk about it. So that is a very important question and that was the material breach before and that is why the UN said this time in Resolution 1441, this is the last chance.

    Bridget Kendall:

    It seems as though scientists so far are saying that they don't feel comfortable being interviewed in private. Do you think this is not something that can usefully be pursued now?

    Senator Richard Lugar:

    I don't think it will be easy to resolve at all. I think one of the previous callers pointed out that you would have take out Iraq not only the scientists and their immediate families but their children and all of their families. This then has led to considerable controversy as to where they go, who will offer citizenship or cover in the future and is just seen to be beyond the scope at least of any scientist willing even to begin the process.

    I would just say from my experience in examining biological and chemical facilities in Russia, that I wouldn't have had a clue in most of these places, without scientists and people with a history who told me this was used to make anthrax - when I saw it, it was making shampoo. The dual use of all of this, even if it's a fairly extensive facility, is known only to some people who have a history, who can take you to the basement rooms where the material is being kept.

    The inspectors now that Hans Blix has really don't have a pray without guides who at least in the last 15 minutes knew before the mobile lab went down the road, where it is. There's an impression in the world that somehow these are big installations and that scientists with certain intelligence might roam in and begin to scoop up the material - but this is really not going to happen. The ability of the Iraqis to control the scientists through fear is really pretty profound at this point.

    Bridget Kendall:

    Our next caller comes from Malaysia, Silva Durai who asks:

    Silva Durai:

    The US and UK seem to be moving the goalposts as far as the Iraq problem is concerned. Before the council resolutions, the US and UK showed us aerial photographs and said they had other evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and that's why it was so important to get the inspectors in and that they should have unreserved access to the presidential palaces and also access at short notice to any other place in Iraq.

    For two months we have had the inspectors there and they have been - as I've read from the news - into all the places that the US and UK have indicated and so far have come up with nothing.

    Bridget Kendall:

    Let's just the ask the Senator what he thinks about this?

    Senator Richard Lugar:

    Since the aerial photographs are not very helpful with regard to chemical materials or biological materials or weapons that can be carted off very shortly and aren't in any particular locations. I would just say the evidence is the last UN declaration from the inspection team - before they were kicked out the last time around - and Iraq really has to tell us what happened to those weapons. It's not up to the inspectors in a hide-and-seek way to try to find where the Iraqis have hidden it or where they have taken it.

    Bridget Kendall:

    Daniel Medix, calls us from Tel Aviv, Israel. Daniel, what's your view?

    Daniel Medix:

    My first point is with regard to global action versus comments by President Bush that the US may work even without any UN resolution. I think that is completely counter-productive because the real war on terrorism is also a war for democracy. By ignoring opposition, what President Bush and Tony Blair, the message they're sending is that might is right and if they have the power they can use it to achieve their goals. Every side thinks that their goals are correct and justified etc.

    Bridget Kendall:

    Thank you Daniel. Let's just ask the Senator what he thinks about that. This question of a second UN resolution. Do you think that the US should do its utmost to get that or do you think there's a cut-off point at which they should walk away from that and go ahead with the war anyway?

    Senator Richard Lugar:

    I think we should do our utmost - not just the United States and Great Britain but every nation that participated in the first Security Council resolution.

    Bridget Kendall:

    But how long should you give it? There are tens of thousands of US troops in the Gulf.

    Senator Richard Lugar:

    Well I don't know how many days or weeks that may take. The last time on resolution 1441, it took seven or eight weeks of very patient negotiations until all 15 countries, including Russia, China, Syria, France, were all aboard.

    It appears to me that we all have our work cut out for us. But this is not a referendum on the United States or Great Britain and might makes right. The fact is that every nation in the world will suffer if there is nuclear proliferation in the event, for example, that the United Nations once again just simply loses track of Iraq and as we have done for the last 11 years, backs away, lets things proceed - then I think it's highly predictable other nations will develop programmes of weapons of mass destruction.

    We're at a turning point in which the world really has to determine whether we want to make things safer for our children or not. I think we do, but we want to negotiate and we want to have the United Nations, we want to have the Security Council - as broad an alliance, not only to tell Saddam to disarm but likewise to think about the future of Iraq, the future of the Middle East.

    Bridget Kendall:

    Our Prime Minister Tony Blair was interviewed on television here today and he said - though I'm paraphrasing - that the only circumstances in which Britain would agree to attack Iraq without UN backing were if Mr Blix declared that Saddam Hussein was not co-operating and then the Security Council vetoed a resolution. In other words, Britain would want to see that resolution voted on before it took such a crucial question as war. What about your position? Did you agree with that? Or do you think the United States should have a different position?

    Senator Richard Lugar:

    I leave that to the President and Secretary Powell. But I would say simply as I have listened to them personally, face-to-face on Wednesday evening. They intend starting Wednesday, to work with all of the Security Council members to come to a successful second resolution. Now I hope that it will not be vetoed. I could not understand why a responsible nation would veto such a resolution. But nevertheless, clearly we must make that attempt and that is why the inspections will continue, why diplomacy will continue, why all the nations of the world hopefully will be united in trying to convince Iraq that the world is serious. If Saddam does not believe that we are, then my guess is there will not be any forthcoming declarations of anything. The hiding will continue, the hope by Saddam that we will get weary - once again begin to argue among ourselves and simply fall back from the exercise.

    Bridget Kendall:

    A caller now from Yorkshire, UK who is on the line. Lee Chadwick. Lee what would you like to say?

    Lee Chadwick:

    I'm one of the ones who are not convinced, I'm afraid. I think, as far as I can see the main reason for the opposition that exists at the moment to current policies is that there is no evidence at all of a credible threat to the West at the moment from Iraq.

    Despite all the assertions which may or may not be true that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. How exactly is Iraq supposed to attack the West with them without committing suicide? What is the reality of the threat? In short it would be illegal on international terms and also immoral to attack a country without absolutely sound evidence of the existence of a true threat.

    I'm very much reminded at the moment of past history. I'm reminded of President Kennedy's alleged US Soviet missile gap which led to a 30 year nuclear arms race. But in fact we now know on the record it was a false gap. It reminds me of intelligence about the Bay of Pigs which led to another fiasco or the Tonkin Gulf incident that in fact led to the United States destroying hundreds of thousands of Asian people.

    We need hard evidence and I think we're all more than a little bit fed up with assertions from politicians about what intelligence services, who are frequently been proven to be at fault, tell them.

    Bridget Kendall:

    Senator, I'll just add a couple of other e-mails, also from Britain here, which I suppose appear to reflect the UK polls as they stand at the moment which says that 68% of people are not convinced and 80% are not convinced of the need for a war if there's no UN resolution.

    This e-mail from Marcus Sheen in Brighton, he says: If Saddam Hussain has weapons of mass destruction, why give him a reason to use them?

    Adam in the England asks: Has it occurred to anyone that Baghdad is equipping its troops for the possibility of attack from chemical weapons rather than the use of them?

    So here is this scepticism in Britain - we know that it's repeated through Europe. What do you say to that? How concerned is the United States that there is all this antagonism that seems to be building up on this side of the Atlantic?

    Senator Richard Lugar:

    There's a great deal of concern. I'm concerned as someone who studied in Great Britain at Pembroke College Oxford, who has been active in Germany and in France as well as working with my colleague Sam Nunn in Russia. We are very concerned about public opinion.

    Let me just say that war on terrorism began here in a big way when our World Trade Center was attacked, when the Pentagon - just down the street from where I'm sitting - was under attack. It happened not by nation states but by cells apparently of al-Qaeda or other terrorists. Now they fortunately did not have materials or weapons of mass destruction at that time but we know that they've tried to acquire them.

    Countries such as Iraq and for that matter North Korea, which we've not mentioned today, are potential sources for those materials. That is the threat to Great Britain or to France or to Germany. In the intelligence services we are all working very co-operatively. I want to emphasise that there is strong unity in Nato when it comes to al-Qaeda. But we really need to realise where the grist for the mill is - it is in irresponsible regimes.

    The UN has developed the fact that Iraq has these materials and weapons. There is a sense of denial on the part of much of the world that this is all that important and maybe it would take several years for a nuclear weapon to develop in Iraq. But always a footnote in the intelligence that if they get the fissile materials from somewhere else - from a laboratory unguarded in Russia or someplace else - then that could accelerate very rapidly. They do have rockets, they can extend their authority a good long way.

    I would just say at this point if you're a responsible leader of a country then you have say, what is my responsibility - to walk away from all of this and simply hope that my successor will not face war and annihilation of cities, or in fact to prudently diplomatically bring the world together to say, enough is enough with Iraq - disarm, get rid of the stuff, move on at least into a non-proliferation regime.

    Bridget Kendall:

    Our next caller is Sirus from Iran.


    Actually I do agree with attacking Iraq. The Iraqi people are now under the dictatorial regime of Saddam Hussein. But I would like to ask Senator Lugar a question. Why the US is 100% sure that Iraq has chemical weapons?

    I have an answer to this question - because they gave the Iraqis instruments to produce these chemical weapons during the Iran/Iraq war. Now that Iraq is out of control and now you ask for the weapons back and they are 100% sure that Iraq has the chemical weapons. However, I think war is inevitable and is useful for the Iraqi people because I think the next generation will be saved by this attack, as Mr Blair said.

    Bridget Kendall:

    Thank you, before we go to the Senator, let's take another call from Switzerland. This is Ahmed Rahman, who is Iraqi living in New Zealand.

    Ahmed Rahman:

    I have two points I'd like to make. The first point has to do with my own personal experience in Iraq during the 1991 Gulf War. I was a civil engineer with a military industrialisation organisation. The fact that the UN inspectors found 30,000 pages of notes in an Iraqi scientist's home, is mind-boggling and I find that this is credence enough to take action against Saddam Hussein because anyone working in such an establishment would not be able to take out one scrap of paper, let alone 30,000 pages.

    My second point I'd like to make is about how the Bush administration or the West in general was defining terrorism. I don't think that we have to prove that Saddam Hussein is in league with al-Qaeda or any other terrorist organisation to take any action against them. He's been practising terrorism actively against his own people and against his neighbours - against Kuwait, against Iran. Isn't this enough to initiate a regime-change in Iraq?

    Senator Richard Lugar:

    Let me respond first of all to the caller from Iran. If I heard him correctly, he mentions that Iraq has already used chemicals against Iran and tens of thousands of Iranian soldiers - maybe civilians - were caught in harms way and killed in the process. Saddam has used the chemical weapons has used the chemical weapons against his own people in the Kurdish areas of his country. So we understand the track record there and the ways that he deals with it.

    Bridget Kendall:

    Isn't it a little embarrassing though Senator that the United States and indeed Britain are only reacting now, not during the Iran/Iraq war when those weapons caused so much damage?

    Senator Richard Lugar:

    Yes, it is and all of us reviewing diplomatic history understand that there may have been supplies coming from the West including the United States, Britain and other sources that were helpful to Iraq in the development of these situations. So any recitation of history really has to include that full record.

    But nevertheless we know that Saddam has the weapons. That's the point that many people seem to overlook now and that somehow we're searching for something that has been utilised rather extensively, brutally to kill a lot of people and it still happens to be there.

    I would just say, the weapons programmes are the things that we want to see stopped. We want disarmament, we want verification that disarmament has occurred. It may or may not occur - I hope it will - the United Nations 1441 Resolution certainly hoped it would. But it said if it does not and this last chance is not taken by Saddam to make a full declaration and destroy the weapons, then there will be consequences.

    What we'll be discussing at the UN, starting Wednesday - what are the consequences, what should we do. This is not a warmongering programme, but it is one that has to be resolute and our President has said finally, wearily, at the end of the day, after all the diplomacy, all the inspection effort and so forth - on this particular occasion, Saddam will be disarmed.

    Bridget Kendall:

    But Senator what everyone's worrying about is when that end of the day will be. They see American troops pouring into the Gulf, they know the summer will become intolerably hot and it looks as though a window is closing and therefore American patience might run out in say, March.

    Senator Richard Lugar:

    Well, that's always a worry that patience will run out. But I would just say that our President has been a very patient person, so has our Secretary of State, so have other American diplomats - so am I for that matter. We really have to try to bring together the rest of the world - the Security Council is a good place to start. The United Nations clearly must be a relevant organisation, as opposed to one that gets up to the precipice and backs away.

    Now having said that, the reason why there are inspectors in Iraq now - why they have some credibility is because the United States, Great Britain and other nations have in fact moved troops into the area - they are credible - they can be seen on the BBC - Saddam can see them. What Saddam has not yet decided is whether in fact it's once again a monumental bluff such as the last two or three times we have approached this situation. At that moment that he knows it's not a bluff, we may have disarmament. I hope that will occur very soon - in the next few days and weeks.

    Bridget Kendall:

    We had many points there from our caller from Tanzania. Let me just put one or two of them to the Senator. Anti-American growing throughout the world because this is so controversial and this enormous suspicion that this whole war is just about oil - we hear that again and again from different people.

    Senator Richard Lugar:

    Well, it's not about oil but obviously oil is important to Iraq. That's one reason why Iraq could be a successful country - it has potential revenues and this is why the governance issue in the period after the disarmament or after conflict, whichever occurs, is very important.

    But I would just simply say the United States is not fighting a war or advocating one over oil. We are in fact attempting to work in the Security Council with many nations who have contracts they believe are valid - the French, the Russians come to mind and they're not exclusive - who want to be involved with Iraq in legitimate ways.

    We want in the United States to get into a situation where we can have trade and other nations can so that the Iraqi people are well fed. It is a talented nation under suppression.

    Why there should be worldwide sentiment to maintain that regime of repression, of weapons of mass destruction is very unusual, it seems to me. I understand it however - there is a feeling on the part of many in the world that the United States is too assertive, seems to offer what they call unilateralism. What I'm trying to say today is quite to the contrary - we have tried to be negotiators - we have tried to bring together relevance for the United Nations, we have tried in fact to bring together unanimity in the Security Council. Those are important features, they continue as our policy.

    Bridget Kendall:

    Senator, we've just got a minute left. What's your final thought on this?

    Senator Richard Lugar:

    I think the bringing up of the Israel question is important because clearly the progress that's necessary to bring about peace for the Palestinians and Israelis is a critical issue for the rest of the world and ought to be for the United States and other nations. That is certainly in the backdrop of the anger that is felt in many Arab and Middle Eastern states and almost comes to the defence of Saddam, even though Arab states have meeting and trying to decide how in the world to defang Saddam - he is a menace to them too. It seems to me we need to talk openly about all of these questions. These are all fit for diplomacy at the moment as is the North Korean situation.

    Bridget Kendall:

    Senator Lugar, I'm sorry I'm going to have to cut you off there because I'm afraid that's all we have time for today.

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    24 Jan 03 | Americas
    24 Jan 03 | Middle East
    20 Jan 03 | Middle East
    23 Jan 03 | Americas
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