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Statement on Iraq Before the United Nations Security Council

Ambassador John D. Negroponte, Permanent Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
March 27, 2003

Mr. President, we have listened carefully to our colleagues. We share many of their concerns. We welcome the expressions of support. We join many in looking to the future to a better Iraq and we disagree profoundly with those who still avoid the central issue. The responsibility for the current situation lies in the hands of the Iraqi regime, a regime which launched two bloody wars and which has refused for 12 years to give up weapons of mass destruction and join its neighbors in peace.

Iraq has repeatedly refused to respond to diplomatic overtures, economic sanctions, and other peaceful means, designed to bring about Iraqi compliance with its obligations to disarm. The actions that coalition forces are undertaking are an appropriate response. The military campaign in Iraq is not a war against the people of Iraq, but rather against the regime that has denied the will of the international community for more than 12 years.

It was regrettable that the Government of Iraq decided not to take the "final opportunity" for compliance provided in Resolution 1441. The Coalition response is legitimate and not "unilateral." Resolution 687 imposed a series of obligations on Iraq that were the conditions of the cease-fire. It has long been recognized and understood that a material breach of those obligations removes the basis of the cease-fire and revives the authority to use force in Resolution 678. Resolution 1441 explicitly found Iraq in continuing material breach. In view of Iraq's additional materials breaches, the basis for the existing cease-fire has been removed and the use of force is authorized under Resolution 678.

As President Bush has said, we are acting to compel Iraq's compliance with these resolutions because the United States, along with a coalition of more than 48 countries, believe that the risk of inaction is too great to tolerate.

I would now like to turn to the efforts being made to provide the most rapid and effective assistance to the Iraqi people. The current humanitarian situation in Iraq is fragile, all the more so, as a result of the policies and actions of the Iraqi regime over the last two decades. The United States has been planning across all relevant United States government agencies and in support of United Nations efforts to anticipate likely requirements and we and other members of the coalition are prepared to administer necessary relief as quickly as possible.

We have consulted and are continuing to consult with interested governments, regional and international organizations, civil society and, of course, the United Nations. We have pre-positioned $16.3 million worth of relief supplies, including water supply materials, blankets and other shelter items in the region. In addition, we have contributed over $300 million in food aid and over $200 million in health and other humanitarian assistance to UN agencies, including OCHA, UNHCRUNICEF,  the World Food Program, and the World Health Organization, and a multitude of non-governmental organizations. Included in these totals is a $10 million contribution to the International Committee of the Red Cross. As we increase U.S. contributions, we also urge other donors to contribute to these critical humanitarian efforts.

We have also fielded the largest ever Disaster Assistance Response Team, composed of U.S. civilian humanitarian experts, to the region to assess needs, liaise with partners and provide in-field grant-making capacity. Forty-eight members of the team are already positioned in Kuwait and additional staff will arrive in the coming days. In fact, a DART team conducted an initial assessment of the Port of Umm Qasr, yesterday. Its initial reports suggest that security is acceptable for more detailed assessment teams to move into the area.

We welcome the March 19 letter from the Secretary-General requesting the necessary authorities to ensure the continuity of the Oil-For-Food Program. We fully support his request and we believe the Council is close to agreement on a resolution that responds favorably to the Secretary-General's requests. We trust that other members of the Council share the objective of resuming the flow of humanitarian goods through the Oil-For-Food Program as soon as possible. Progress on this resolution must accelerate, putting political debating points aside, if we are to minimize any interruption of the program. There would be serious humanitarian implications for the people of Iraq, if the Council fails to do so. Sixty percent of the people of Iraq rely on Oil-for-Food, regardless of the security situation. Insistence on narrow economic interests and extraneous political matters in what essentially constitutes a technical adjustment of a humanitarian resolution would prevent us from giving the Secretary-General the flexibility he needs to begin immediately making arrangements for the urgently needed humanitarian supplies. We urge experts to move swiftly through their discussions and provide the Council with a compromise text as soon as possible.

As the Coalition acts to enforce the relevant Security Council resolutions and the international community joins together to meet the humanitarian needs of the people of Iraq, much thought has been given to the future of Iraq. Our thinking is guided by a number of principles.

First, we will demonstrate to the people of Iraq and the world that the United States and the coalition aspire to liberate, not to occupy.

Second, Iraq must be disarmed of all nuclear, chemical and biological weapons production capabilities, and the means to deliver such weapons.

Third, we must eliminate Iraq's terrorist infrastructure.

Fourth, Iraq must be preserved as a unified states, with its territorial integrity intact. Concern for the safety of Iraq's people has been foremost in our minds from the moment hostilities began. The United States and the Coalition allies will provide security to prevent chaos and retribution.

Fifth, along with other partners, we must begin the process of economic and political reconstruction, working to assist the people of Iraq in putting their country on a path towards prosperity and freedom.

As President Bush has told the world, "We cannot know the duration of this conflict, yet we know the outcome. Unlike Saddam Hussein, we believe the people of Iraq are deserving and capable of human liberty." Assisting and rebuilding a post-Saddam Iraq will be a huge undertaking. Success will only be possible by working with Iraq's neighbors and the international community.
This message was reinforced by President Bush and the leaders of Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom, in their statement at the conclusion of the Atlantic Summit on March 9 in the Azores. The four undertook "a solemn obligation to help the people of Iraq build a new Iraq at peace with itself and its neighbors." They committed to work in close partnership with international institutions, including the United Nations; our Allies and partners; and bilateral donors. The statement concluded with a call on "the international community to join with us in helping to realize a better future for the people of Iraq."

We want to return control over the sovereignty of Iraq to the people of Iraq as soon as possible. We will stay as long as it is necessary to do this, but not one day more.

Thank you, Mr. President.

Released on March 27, 2003

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