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World affairs correspondent David Loyn
"Friday's bombing raid has provoked insecurity in the region"
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The BBC's Orla Guerin
"Child mortality has more than doubled during the sanction years"
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Foreign Office Minister Brian Wilson
"The most important thing is that Saddam Hussein doesn't have the capacity to wage war"
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The Brookings Institution's Megan O'Sullivan
"Smart sanctions can be difficult to implement"
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Tuesday, 20 February, 2001, 14:11 GMT
Iraqi sanctions under review
Robin Cook
Robin Cook has defended the air strikes
Britain and the United States are carrying out a review of sanctions against Iraq.

The review is aimed at scrapping any sanctions that appear to hurt the Iraqi people - while continuing those against the Iraqi government.

There is a long and thoughtful review of the effect of sanctions against Iraq

Brian Wilson
The review follows widespread international condemnation of last week's Anglo-US air strikes against targets near Baghdad.

Ministers are drawing up a list of so-called "smart sanctions" aimed at stopping Saddam Hussein's regime from developing weapons of mass destruction.

'Thoughful review'

Foreign Office Minister Brian Wilson said there was no question of all sanctions being lifted.

"There is a long and thoughtful review of the effect of sanctions against Iraq," he said.

"There are two strands to British government policy.

"The first is to minimise the humanitarian impact on the Iraqi people and the second is to maximise the inability of Saddam Hussein to wage war on his own people, and the region and the wider world."

Mass destruction

Speaking to BBC News, Mr Wilson added: "The most important thing to us and to the world is that Saddam Hussein should not have the capacity to develop weapons of mass destruction and to wage war against his own people and to terrorise the region as he was a decade ago."

Mr Wilson rejected claims that the sanctions meant the Iraqi people were being denied medicines or food.

He added: "I have a positive desire to see sanctions develop in such a way that they do the only purpose they are intended for, which is to stop Saddam Hussein developing weapons of mass destruction."

Critics attacked

Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary Robin Cook has hit back at those who criticised last week's attack.

"Too many commentators overlook the fact that Britain's robust approach has contained the threat that Saddam poses," he wrote in the Daily Telegraph newspaper on Tuesday.

"I suspect that those who are most critical of the stance we are taking on Iraq would be most vociferous if we left Saddam's abuses unchecked.

Brian Wilson
Mr Wilson said the review was ongoing
"With the Americans, we are looking at ways of making our opposition to Saddam still more effective.

"We need to re-focus international opinion on the continuing threat that he poses."

Friday's air strikes involved eight British and 16 American aircraft using long-range precision weapons against anti-aircraft sites near Baghdad. All the planes returned safely.

Strike 'necessary'

In a House of Lords statement on Monday, Defence Minister Lady Symons said the bombing raids had been necessary to disable Saddam Hussein's anti-aircraft defences and to prevent him from attacking his own people.

She said Iraqi defences had increasingly been used to try to shoot down coalition aircraft patrolling the southern no-fly zone across Iraq.

"The threat is real. Saddam Hussein is trying to kill our air crews," Lady Symons told peers.

She said Iraq had launched more attacks on allied aircraft in January than in the whole of last year.

However, the attacks were condemned abroad by Russia, China, Turkey, France and Iran.

Labour MPs George Galloway and Tony Benn also criticised the air strikes.

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See also:

19 Feb 01 | UK Politics
Iraqi raids 'self-defence'
20 Feb 01 | Middle East
Iraq strikes timed to 'avoid Chinese'
17 Feb 01 | Middle East
Iraq defiant as allies strike
17 Feb 01 | Middle East
Iraqi press calls for revenge
17 Feb 01 | Middle East
Little support for Iraq attack
16 Feb 01 | Middle East
Analysis: A tougher line?
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