NEW YORK, 16 DECEMBER 1998
STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR ANTÓNIO MONTEIRO, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF PORTUGAL, TO THE SECURITY COUNCIL 3955th MEETING (The situation between Iraq and Kuwait)
Portugal always hopes that the Security Council will find peaceful solutions to situations of conflict, and it feels no differently in the case of Iraq.
We have always been of the view that full cooperation by Iraq with the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is essential to fulfil the disarmament tasks, to ensure compliance with the relevant resolutions of the Security Council and thus enable the Council to lift the sanctions imposed on Iraq. The confirmation by UNSCOM of full cooperation by Iraq, as promised in its letters of 14 November, would have enabled the Council to proceed speedily with a comprehensive review of all disarmament files, as proposed by the Secretary-General. But, after so many efforts and attempts by the Council to bring Iraq to the path of cooperation, the latest report of the Executive Chairman of UNSCOM states that Iraq has not lived up to its commitments and that, in fact, it has not cooperated fully with UNSCOM.
We appreciate the efforts of the Secretary-General to offer for the Council's consideration several possible options to react to the UNSCOM report. Portugal was ready to consider those options, and said so this morning. In the meantime, however, we have been informed of the decision to withdraw all UNSCOM and IAEA personnel from Iraq for reasons of safety. The Executive Chairman of UNSCOM provided further elements on the degree of non-cooperation by Iraq today to Council members.
The Security Council is thus confronted with a declaration by Ambassador Butler that Iraq has not cooperated fully. The United States and the United Kingdom had made it perfectly clear last month that, in the absence of full cooperation by Iraq, they would act without returning to the Council. It is not, therefore, a surprise to my delegation that a decision has been taken to act militarily. Naturally, the Council will have to evaluate the consequences of military action with regard to fulfilling the goals of disarming Iraq and maintaining peace and security in the region.
Portugal deeply regrets that a peaceful solution could not be found. But the main cause of the current crisis is the obstinate policy of Iraq's rulers in refusing to comply with Security Council resolutions. As Chairman of the Committee established under Security Council resolution 661 (1990), I have been particularly sensitive to the consequences of this crisis on the Iraqi people and have sought to do everything possible in the context of the humanitarian programme to alleviate their suffering.
Portugal will continue to try to contribute actively to find ways to minimize the effects of the current circumstances on top of the already difficult living conditions of the Iraqi people. But we must also remember that the primary responsibility for the well-being of all Iraqis falls to the authorities of that country.