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Friday, 8 November, 2002, 18:13 GMT
'Disarm or face war,' Blair warns Iraq
Tony Blair
Blair: 'we have no quarrel with the Iraqi people'
Tony Blair has urged Saddam Hussein to obey a unanimous United Nations resolution requiring him to disarm - or face being disarmed by force.


Everyone now accepts that if there is a default by Saddam, the international community must act to enforce its will

Tony Blair
Speaking from 10 Downing Street, the prime minister said: "Conflict is not inevitable, but disarmament is."

In a message to Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein he said: "Defy the UN's will and we will disarm you by force. Be in no doubt whatever over that."

The UN Security Council voted earlier to endorse a US and UK sponsored resolution designed to force Iraq to give up its weapons of mass destruction.

All the members of the 15-strong body agreed the text - the result of two months of negotiation.

Mr Blair said: "The position of the international community is now unified and certain.

Duty

"The weapons inspectors must return to Iraq. They must carry out their work without any restriction, condition or inhibition on their effectiveness.

"The duty of Saddam Hussein is to co-operate fully and totally."

Main points of resolution
Iraq has breached UN resolutions
Tough inspection regime to be set up
Baghdad given deadlines to comply
Inspectors to have immediate access to all suspected sites, including palaces
Inspectors to report immediately any Iraqi breaches
Iraq to face "serious consequences" if it continues to violate its obligations

Mr Blair praised the "skilful diplomacy" of Jack Straw and his foreign office team and the "central role" they played in helping to break the UN deadlock over Iraq.

He said that Saddam had long been in "material breach" of resolutions passed by the UN after the 1991 Gulf War.

After years in which the Iraqis had played "hide-and-seek" with weapons inspectors, Mr Blair insisted that there must be "no more games, no more deceit, no more prevarication, obstruction or defiance".

If Saddam co-operated with weapons inspectors, there would be no need for war and no need for regime change, said Mr Blair.

But he added: "Everyone now accepts that if there is a default by Saddam, the international community must act to enforce its will.

"Failure to do so would mean having stated our clear demand, we lacked the will to enforce it."

Message to Iraqi people

Mr Blair insisted the UK had "no quarrel with the Iraqi people".

"We want you to be our friends and partners in welcoming Iraq back into the international community," he said.

And he stressed that "whatever happens the territorial integrity of Iraq will be absolute."

In a message to the Iraqi, Mr Blair said: "You have suffered from long years of war, corruption and repression.

"I hope that an Iraq free of weapons of mass destruction, a government unable to use those weapons to oppress its people and its neighbours is a symbol of change for you the Iraqi people as well as giving hope for the future of the world."

Last minute negotiations

Last-minute adjustments to the UN text on Thursday paved the way for the vote - overcoming objections from permanent members France and Russia, and the only Arab member, Syria.


Iraq must get rid of weapons of mass destruction and must show the weapons' inspectors that this has been done

Iain Duncan Smith
Iraq itself had urged council members to reject the resolution, which it said was introducing "the law of evil".

The resolution demands that Iraq give UN weapons inspectors "immediate, unimpeded and unconditional" rights to search anywhere in the country for weapons of mass destruction, including President Saddam Hussein's presidential compounds.

It warns Baghdad of "serious consequences" if it fails to comply and - crucially - makes no mention of the need of a further resolution to authorise military action.

Action

Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith said: "I am very pleased that the United Nations Security Council has passed this resolution.

"It was a very clear statement that Iraq must comply with the original resolutions laid down after the Gulf War.

"Iraq must get rid of weapons of mass destruction and must show the weapons' inspectors that this has been done, otherwise we will have to take the necessary action to rid the world of this threat."

Charles Kennedy, for the Liberal Democrats, warned against following the US into unilateral military action, if the new UN resolution failed.

Caution

"Maintaining the international coalition of pressure on weapons of mass destruction has to be priority number one."

He added: "I think a cautious and considered approach based on international principle - and that international coalition of interests - is most likely to yield positive results for all concerned."

Labour backbench MP Alice Mahon, a prominent anti-war campaigner, said the resolution was designed to make war inevitable.

She said: "President Bush is determined to go to war against Iraq and the British Government is as determined as ever to support him."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Prime Minister Tony Blair
"Defy the UN's will and we will disarm you by force"
The BBC's Guto Harri reports from Downing St
"Mr Blair will be pleased at how this has happened"
Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy
"We are hearing less now about regime change and more on disarmament"

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See also:

08 Nov 02 | Middle East
08 Nov 02 | Middle East
08 Nov 02 | Americas
08 Nov 02 | Middle East
07 Nov 02 | Americas
08 Nov 02 | Middle East
08 Nov 02 | Politics
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