I would like to thank
Colin Powell for his initiative in convening this meeting. I listened
very carefully to the elements he gave us. They contain information,
indications, questions that deserve to be explored. It will be up to
the inspectors to assess the facts in accordance with resolution 1441.
Already his report brings a new justification to the path chosen by
the United Nations; it must strengthen our common determination.
* * *
1 - In unanimously
adopting resolution 1441, we chose to act through inspections.
· This policy rests on
three fundamental points:
- A clear objective on
which we cannot compromise: the disarmament of Iraq;
- A method: a rigorous
system of inspections which demands Iraq’s active cooperation and
affirms the central role of the Security Council at each stage;
- A requirement: our
unity. This gave the message we unanimously addressed to Baghdad its
full force. I hope that our meeting today will strengthen this unity.
· Significant results
have already been seen:
- UNMOVIC and the AIEA
are at work: more than a hundred inspectors are deployed on the ground
and they are making 300 visits a month on average; the number of sites
inspected has increased; complete access to the presidential sites in
particular is a major gain;
- in the nuclear domain,
the first two months of inspections allowed the IAEA to make good
progress in its knowledge of Iraq’s capacity as Dr. ElBaradei has
stated. This is a key element;
- In the areas covered
by UNMOVIC, the inspections have provided us with useful information.
Mr. Blix has confirmed, for example, that no trace of biological or
chemical agents has so far been detected by the inspectors: not
through analyses of samples taken from inspected sites nor on the 12
empty warheads discovered at Ukhaider on January 16;
· There are still gray
areas in Iraq’s cooperation:
- The inspectors have
reported real difficulties. In his January 27 report, Mr. Blix gave
several examples of unresolved questions in the ballistic, chemical
and biological domains. These uncertainties are not acceptable. France
will continue to pass on all the information it has so they can be
- Right now, our
attention has to be focused as a priority on the biological and
chemical domains. It is there that our presumptions about Iraq are the
most significant: regarding the chemical domain, we have evidence of
its capacity to produce VX and yperite; in the biological domain, the
evidence suggests the possible possession of significant stocks of
anthrax and botulism toxin, and possibly a production capability;
- Today the absence of
long-range delivery systems reduces the potential threat of these
weapons. But we have disturbing signs of Iraq’s continued
determination to acquire ballistic missiles beyond the authorized
- In the nuclear domain,
we must clarify in particular any attempt by Iraq to acquire aluminum
2 - So it is a
demanding démarche, anchored in resolution 1441, that we must take
together. If this path were to fail and take us into a dead-end, then
we rule out no option, including in the final analysis the recourse to
force as we have said all along.
But in such a
hypothesis, several answers will have to be clearly provided to all
governments and all peoples of the world to limit the risks and
- To what extent do the
nature and scope of the threat justify the recourse to force?
- How do we make sure
that the considerable risks of such intervention are actually kept
under control? This obviously requires a collective démarche of
responsibility on the part of the world community.
In any case, it must be
clear that in the context of such an option, the United Nations will
have to be at the center of the action to guarantee Iraq’s unity,
ensure the region’s stability, protect civilians and preserve the
unity of the world community.
3 – For now the
inspections regime, favored by resolution 1441, must be strengthened
since it has not been explored to the end. Use of force can only be a
final recourse. Why go to war if there still exists an unused space in
Consistent with the
logic of this resolution, we must therefore move on to a new stage and
further strengthen the inspections. With the choice between military
intervention and an inspections regime that is inadequate for lack of
cooperation on Iraq’s part, we must choose to strengthen decisively
the means of inspection.
To do this, we must
define with Mr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei the requisite tools for
increasing their operational capabilities:
- Let us double or
triple the number of inspectors and open up more regional offices. Let
us go further: Why not establish a specialized body to keep under
surveillance the sites and areas already inspected?
- Let us substantially
increase the capabilities for monitoring and collecting information on
Iraqi territory. France is ready to provide full support: it is ready
to deploy Mirage IV observer aircraft;
-Let us collectively
establish a coordination and information-processing center that would
supply Mr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei, in real time and in a coordinated
way, with all the intelligence resources they might need;
- Let us list the
unresolved disarmament questions and rank them by importance;
- With the consent of
the leaders of the inspection teams, let us define a demanding and
realistic time-frame for moving forward in the assessment and
elimination of problems. There must be regular follow-up to the
progress made in Iraq’s disarmament.
This enhanced regime of
inspections and monitoring could be usefully complemented by having a
permanent UN coordinator for disarmament in Iraq, stationed in Iraq
and working under the authority of Mr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei.
· But Iraq must
cooperate actively. The country must comply immediately with the
demands of Mr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei, in particular by:
- permitting meetings
with Iraqi scientists without witnesses;
- agreeing to the use
of U2 observer flights;
- adopting legislation
to prohibit the manufacture of weapons of mass destruction;
- handing over to the
inspectors immediately all relevant documents on unresolved
disarmament questions, in particular in the biological and chemical
domains; those handed over on January 20 do not constitute a step in
the right direction. The 3000 pages of documents discovered at the
home of a researcher show that Baghdad must do more. Absent documents,
Iraq must be able to present credible testimony.
The Iraqi authorities
must also provide the inspectors with answers to the new elements
presented by Colin Powell.
Between now and the
inspectors’ next report, on February 14, Iraq will have to provide
new elements. The upcoming visit to Baghdad by the leaders of the
inspectors will have to be the occasion for clear results to this end.
4 - This is the
demanding démarche that we must take together for a new stage. Its
success presupposes, today as yesterday, that the international
community remains united and mobilized.
It is our moral and
political duty first to devote all our energy to Iraq’s disarmament,
in peace and in compliance with the rule of law and justice. France is
convinced that we can succeed on this demanding path so long as we
maintain our unity and cohesion.