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Last Updated:  Monday, 10 March, 2003, 16:32 GMT
Clare Short interview
Clare Short's infamous description of the prime minister as "reckless" over his plans for Iraq came during an interview with Andrew Rawnsley on BBC Radio 4's Westminster Hour. Here are extracts from the interview:

Asked by Mr Rawnsley, if she would resign if there was no mandate from the UN for war, Ms Short said:
"Absolutely. There's no question about that.

"If there is not UN authority for military action or if there is not UN authority for the reconstruction of the country, I will not uphold a breach of international law or this undermining of the UN and I will resign from the government.

"I think it's time for cards on the table. People are speculating and making all sorts of statements about my intentions. I think I owe it to my colleagues in the government and members of the Labour party to just be truthful about my position.

"It's the time to say what my intentions are."

Asked whether she would have less influence in the reconstruction of Iraq after military conflict, if she left the Department for International Development, she said:
"I think I could add a bit if I stayed, but it's a very, very, very good department and you can't stay and defend the indefensible in order to do some other things that you think need doing.

"I can rely on others I think to do what is right to rebuild Iraq."

Asked whether she thought the Prime Minister had acted rather recklessly, she said:
"I'm afraid that I think the whole atmosphere of the current situation is deeply reckless; reckless for the world, reckless for the undermining of the UN in this disorderly world, which is wider than Iraq - (which) the whole world needs for the future - reckless with our government, reckless with his own future, position and place in history.

"It's extraordinarily reckless, I'm very surprised by it.

"My own view is that allowing the world to be so bitterly divided; the division in Europe, the sense of anger and injustice in the Middle East is very, very dangerous.

"We're undermining the UN, it's a recruiting sergeant for terrorism, there's a risk of a divided world, with a weakened UN and we shouldn't be doing it like this."

Asked whether the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary were aware of her concerns she said:
"I have a good relationship and frequent discussions with both of them.

"But what worries me is that we've got the old spin back and we have detailed discussions either personally or in the Cabinet and then the spin the next day is: 'we're ready for war'.

"So I'm worried now that people like me are being told 'yes, all this is under consideration', but we're on a different path and I feel the need now, because it's ten minutes to midnight, to say out loud what I think Britain should do with its influence, because our failure to use our influence properly is so dangerous for the world.

"Well I think it's Martin Luther King's 10 Minutes to midnight and it looks very worryingly as though we're on a timetable set by the US for their sort of military deadlines and not for keeping the world together, exhausting all possibilities, ensuring it's a just war if it has to happen, acting through the authority of the United Nations and making proper humanitarian preparations.

"So it looks as though we're close and I don't think we're doing it right and I think it's really important that Britain uses its influence to try and get the US to slightly modify its plans and act through the UN rather than the UK, just get dragged around behind the US and not using its leverage to bring about any change."

Mr Rawnsley asked "as you say, the United States, along with your own government is declaring March 17th - that's just eight days away - as the final deadline. It's your view is it that that's not the best way to bring this to a resolution?"
"Absolutely. I mean the proposition in the resolution is that Saddam Hussein has to be cooperating absolutely fully on disarmament or without another UN process military action can be triggered.

"My own view is that allowing the world to be so bitterly divided, the division in Europe the sense of anger and injustice in the Middle East is very, very dangerous with undermining the UN it's a recruiting sergeant for terrorism.

"There's the risk of a divided world with a weakened UN and we shouldn't be doing it like this. We should say Saddam Hussein has to comply with the requirements of the UN to disarm.

"We should have used our leverage with the US to say the roadmap to Palestinian statehood by 2005, which has been agreed by the EU, the US, the UK and Russia should be published and the US must commit to it so the Middle East know this is about justice and the rule of law, not just about American power, because of course the Israeli settlements in the occupied territories are a complete breach of international law so we should make progress on that.

"And then we should be saying that Saddam Hussein is not going to get away with it for any more but we're going to get Kofi Annan to work with everyone to get the international community back together to act together.

"If it takes another month or so, that is fine but it is going to be done. He can disarm peaceful or if not there will be military action authorised by the UN.

"And I think you could get a world where we see the UN in authority, justice in the Middle East, proper care for the people of Iraq because at the moment the preparations to care for the humanitarian aftermath of any military conflict are not properly in place.

"And there's one other major legal point - if there isn't a UN mandate for the reconstruction of Iraq - and that isn't yet agreed and we've got this talk about a US-led first military and then civilian. It will in international law be an occupying army and won't have the authority to make changes in the administrative arrangements in Iraq.

"So I think to go on as we are, on the deadline we've got is reckless, divisive and we're not properly prepared to look after the people of Iraq."

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