INDEPENDENT NEWS

NZ statement on Iraq to the UN Security Council

Published: Wed 12 Mar 2003 01:42 PM
NZ statement on Iraq to the UN Security Council
Delivered by NZ's Permanent Representative Don Mackay
Mr President
Three weeks ago the New Zealand Government’s statement to this Council urged that the diplomatic process be allowed to run its course with respect to the crisis over Iraq. It also urged that Iraq move rapidly to provide the information and co-operation required of it to avert the catastrophe which war would bring to its people.
The New Zealand Government has placed considerable weight on the weapons inspection process as providing a route to the disarmament of Iraq. As long as the weapons inspectors report that they are making genuine progress, the New Zealand Government believes that their work should continue.
Since the open debate in this Council on 18 February, the inspectors have reported again. Their reports make it clear that while many questions remain to be answered, real progress is also being made. As Dr Blix has said, the destruction of the Al Samoud 2 missiles is not a matter of breaking toothpicks.
On this basis, the New Zealand Government position remains as it was stated on 18 February. We do not support military action against Iraq without a mandate from the Security Council, and we do not believe that the Council would be justified in giving that mandate at this time. As Dr Blix has stated, the inspection process needs months rather than days.
We share the frustration of other members of the Council and the international community at the slow pace of Iraqi disarmament over a long period of time.
But now, when the inspection and disarmament process is finally gaining traction, is not, in our view, the time to abandon it in favour of the use of force.
The use of force can be authorised by the Security Council as a last resort to uphold its resolutions. But in view of the recent reports this Council has received from both UNMOVIC and the IAEA, this is not a time of last resort.
All members of this Council share the same objective: the disarmament of Iraq. Debate has raged not over the objective, but over the timetable for and means of achieving it. It is distressing to my government that the debate has strained longstanding friendships between nations. That strain will be magnified if the next steps taken to resolve the crisis do not have broad international support.
The New Zealand Government therefore urges the Security Council to continue to support the inspection and disarmament process it has in place while it is getting results.
Iraq should not mistake the strong preference of countries like New Zealand for a diplomatic solution for tolerance of its failure to comply in full. This is not time for Iraq to be practising the diplomacy of brinkmanship. Iraq should act immediately to comply in full with all requirements laid down by the Security Council and the weapons inspectors. Only by so doing can it be certain that the catastrophe of war will not be visited on its people.
Thank you, Mr President.

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