United States Secretary of State Colin Powell today presented the United Nations Security Council with what he called "solid" evidence that showed Iraq still has not complied with resolutions calling for it to disarm.
While his speech may help sway American public opinion, whether it will close divisions in the Council is not clear.
Following are some statements from the other security council members.
Tang Jiaxuan, Minister for Foreign Affairs of China, said that the Council had basically maintained unity and cooperation on the issue before it today, which was critically important. He said as long as there was still the slightest hope for political settlement, the utmost effort should be exerted to achieve it. China was ready to join others in working in that direction.
Jack Straw, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom, said that the Council had just heard a most powerful and authoritative account of Iraq's practices by Mr. Powell, which demonstrated the great danger that Iraq's regime represented.
Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin of France said "Why go to war if there still exists an unused space in resolution 1441?".
Khurshid Kasuri, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Pakistan, said: While the international community was justified in bringing about the earliest possible compliance by Iraq with its resolutions, he said it could not ignore other elements that arose in the context of security, namely: amending the suffering and ensuring the welfare of the Iraqi people; preserving the unity and territorial integrity of Iraq; and preserving the political and economic stability of the region.
Mikhail Wehbe of Syria said that the Council should lift the sanctions imposed on the Iraqi people and activate the provisions of its resolution calling for the declaration of the Middle East as a zone free of all weapons of mass destruction, without any exceptions. Those provisions should include Israel, which was the only country in the region possessing such weapons. It was important to arrive at a peaceful solution of the Iraqi crisis. Iraq's neighbors had expressed a readiness to cooperate with the Council towards that end. A peaceful settlement would save the thousands of lives that would be lost through military action outside of the legitimacy of the Council.
Joschka Fischer, Vice-Chancellor and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany, said it was now decisive that the inspectors were also provided with that extensive material, in order to be able to clarify the unresolved questions, quickly and fully. He had no illusions about the inhumane and brutal nature of Saddam Hussein's dictatorship. Under his rule, Iraq had attacked its neighbors, Kuwait and Iran, fired missiles at Israel, and deployed poison gas against Iran and its own Kurdish population.
He said that several States suspected that Saddam Hussein's regime was withholding relevant information and concealing military capabilities. That strong suspicion must be dispelled beyond any doubt. At the same time, the dangers of military action were plain to see. A peaceful solution must continue to be sought.
Iraqi Ambassador Mohammed Aldouri said his country would provide detailed and technical explanatory answers to the allegations made in Mr. Powell's statement. What had been mentioned in the presentation was utterly unrelated to the truth. No new information had been provided, except for sound recordings that could not be ascertained as genuine. What had been presented contained incorrect allegations, unnamed and unknown sources, as well as assumptions in line with the American policy towards one known objective.
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