Iraq not in breach of council's resolution

John O'Neill johnfergaloneill at eircom.net
Fri Feb 14 06:19:58 MST 2003


Iraq not in breach of council's resolution, says Aziz
>From Paddy Agnew, in Rome, and Frank Millar, in London



  ITALY: Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Mr Tariq Aziz yesterday dismissed
suggestions that Iraq's missile programme breaches UN Security Council
resolutions.

Mr Aziz was speaking in Rome at the beginning of a three-day trip that
includes an audience with Pope John Paul II in the Vatican this morning.

On arrival at Fiumicino airport, Mr Aziz was asked about reports claiming
that Iraq's production of the al-Samoud 2 missile was in breach of a
Security Council resolution requiring it to limit missile range to 93 miles.

"We are still within limits that are decided by the United Nations. The main
problem is that short-range Iraqi missiles don't have a guidance system and
when a missile doesn't have a guidance system, it goes five, 10, 15
kilometres beyond [its target\]. That is not very dangerous and must not be
exaggerated," he said.

Mr Aziz, who is a member of the Iraqi-based, eastern rite Chaldean Catholic
Church, has come to Rome to lobby for support against US-led military
intervention in his country. Whilst he will be listened to with sympathy on
the Vatican side of the Tiber, the government of Italian Prime Minister Mr
Silvio Berlusconi is likely to offer a much cooler reception.

Mr Aziz will be received by the Italian Foreign Minister, Mr Franco Fattini,
today, but not by Mr Berlusconi, one of the most outspoken European leaders
in support of US policy on Iraq.

Looking forward to this morning's audience with the Pope, Mr Aziz said that
he hoped to discuss the peace initiatives sponsored by the Vatican.

"All people who believe in peace and justice are against this aggression.
The Holy Father and the Vatican and believers in God, Muslims and
Christians, are trying their best to stop this aggression. We have to
discuss how to continue the work in that direction and mobilise all the
forces of good against the forces of evil," he said.

In an interview published yesterday by Italian daily, Corriere Della Sera,
Mr Aziz called US President Bush "the new Hitler", adding that he wished to
ask Mr Berlusconi why he supported the US. Mr Aziz insisted that Iraq did
not have weapons of mass destruction and said UN inspectors could prove this
if the US gave them enough time to finish their job.

"Those who say that time is running out are afraid of the truth," he told
reporters.

"The real intentions [of the US\] are not weapons of mass destruction,
because simply they do not exist. The real intentions are oil and
domination," he said.

The British Prime Minister, Mr Tony Blair, said reports that Iraq had
developed long-range missile capacity beyond the limits set by the UN are
"extremely serious". While Downing Street did not proclaim this the "smoking
gun" evidence to justify military action, Mr Blair said confirmation that
Iraq's al-Samoud 2 missiles had an undeclared range of 112 miles would
constitute a "significant breach" of UN resolution 1441.

Speaking ahead of Mr Hans Blix's critical second report to the UN Security
Council, the Prime Minister said: "If these reports are correct, it is very
serious because it would not just be a failure to declare and disclose
information, but a breach of resolution 1441."

He continued: "Any evidence that comes to light of a failure to declare
honestly, and any evidence of a breach of resolution 1441, is extremely
important because it indicates the futility of simply going on with more and
more time, when it's perfectly obvious they're not co-operating."

Despite mounting opinion poll evidence of Mr Blair's isolation over Iraq,
however, his Foreign Secretary, Mr Jack Straw, told the House of Commons
that if the reports concerning Iraq's missiles were confirmed, Britain would
demand "rapid action to eliminate any such illegal programme".

Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister, Mr Yury Fedotov, dismissed reports that
Iraq had developed a ballistic missile in breach of UN resolutions, saying
such armaments had already been declared by Baghdad, the Itar-Tass agency
reported yesterday.

"The systems in question are not prohibited. They were permitted by previous
decisions of the UN Security Council," he said.




© The Irish Times




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