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Thursday, 3 October, 2002, 13:06 GMT 14:06 UK
Live webchat: Ask Jack Straw
  • Click here to read the transcript

    The UK will press for "much tougher" weapons inspections regulations for Iraq, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has told BBC News Online after rejecting Iraq's latest offer for inspectors to return.

    Mr Straw said the existing inspections regulations were "defective".

    Asked in a BBC News Online webchat whether he would commit his son to war, the foreign secretary said: "My son is over 21 so it is a matter for him".

    Foreign Secretary Jack Straw answered your questions in a live webchat.


    Transcript


    Newshost:

    IAN: President Bush wants to oppose the UN inspections that Hans Blix has agreed with Iraq. Why should the UN inspectors allow themselves to be blocked by US when they have a previously agreed mandate?


    Jack Straw:

    The UN weapons inspectors have to work under existing security council rules. The inspectors, under Hans Blix, are good people, but the existing rules are defective. We want a much tougher inspection regime so does the United States. By the way President Bush's speech to the general assembly on September 12th was very pro UN.


    Newshost:

    JOHN: How is bombing other people ever going to bring peace anywhere? The history of the world will show that all war, or "regime change" will bring with it reprisals and more bloodshed.


    Jack Straw:

    I understand the pacifist argument - my dad was a pacifist and was jailed for his beliefs. But I do not agree with it - sometimes we do have to use force to secure a greater peace. That's the real lesson of history.


    Newshost:

    SIMON: As a UK voter I would ask Mr Straw why he is so keen in enforcing UN resolutions about Iraq and yet will do absolutely nothing to enforce UN resolutions in the case of Israel/Palestine?


    Jack Straw:

    The question is wrong. We want to see all UN resolutions enforced. The Prime Minister committed us to enforce the key Israel/Palestine resolutions in his speech yesterday. But there is in any event a significant difference in the resolutions against Iraq. They are "higher law" made under "Chapter 7" of the UN Charter that authorises the use of force. The Israel/Palestine resolutions are different. They impose obligations on all sides and we're working on them.


    Newshost:

    JULIE: Mr Straw, living abroad it appears that the UK is the only nation to wholeheartedly support the US at the moment. Aren't you concerned that this may isolate us from our more broadminded allies?


    Jack Straw:

    I think many other countries wholeheartedly support the United States, which has long been a profound force for good in the world. They saved us in two world wars. And without the United States the peoples of Kosovo and Afghanistan would still be under tyranny.


    Newshost:

    TIM: How close do you think the current European attitude is to the attitude they had in 1939? Is Europe ready to pay the price for a bio, chemical, or nuclear attack on their soil?


    Jack Straw:

    First of all I'd say that all our efforts at the moment to deal with weapons of mass destruction held by dangerous rogue states like Iraq are designed to avoid this prospect. Of course there's a range of opinion across Europe - we are all democracies - but overwhelming support for a tough stand against Iraq.


    Newshost:

    VAUGHAN: I truly believe that our government is not doing enough to combat the influx of refugees into our country.


    Jack Straw:

    We are doing all that we can to combat unfounded asylum seekers. It's a constant battle but we are getting on top of it. David Blunkett has just got the French to close Sangatte, for example.


    Newshost:

    RODNEY: What are you doing about Robert Mugabe?


    Jack Straw:

    Robert Mugabe is leading Zimbabwe to a humanitarian catastrophe. We have led the way in getting the Commonwealth and the European Union to impose tough sanctions against the ruling elite. At the same time we are increasing our humanitarian aid to the ordinary people of Zimbabwe.


    Newshost:

    TIM: On the basis of evidence published by the government on Iraq weapons, would you commit your son to a war in Iraq?


    Jack Straw:

    My son is over 21 so it is a matter for him. Am I prepared to see force used, which is justifiable and consistent with international law - yes.


    Newshost:

    PEACE: Isn't it dangerous to send our soldiers into battle zone while not knowing exactly what Saddam is capable of in terms of chemical weapons?


    Jack Straw:

    It goes without saying that any forces that were used in the Iraqi theatre would be fully prepared for any eventualities. Geoff Hoon, the Defence Secretary, takes his responsibilities for British troops very seriously.


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