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Ambassadors Answer Questions After Security Council Meeting

Aired February 27, 2003 - 14:01   ET


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Right now, we are going live to the United Nations. This is the British ambassador to the U.N. speaking about today's meeting of the full Security Council -- let's listen in.

JEREMY GREENSTOCK, BRITISH AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: ... that should be very clear, facts about current WMD activities in Iraq, facts about the concealment program, facts about deceiving the inspectors, and I hope that was of interest to the council.

In other words, we were showing why the claim by Iraq that there is a zero in terms of their WMD holdings is a lie. Particularly important in that area was the question of interviews, the way that interviewees have been threatened and intimidated, indeed, as my foreign secretary has said, terrorized for making proper statements to the inspectors, the way in which they have been fitted out with tape recorders and bugs so that they know that they're being listened to by the National Monitoring Directorate of Iraq, the way in which interviewees have been -- potential scientists have been detained by Iraq, kept out of the way of the inspectors and been told to give tape recordings of what they say to the Iraqi authorities.

I also pointed out that the inspectors cannot in these circumstances disarm a resistant Iraq. It's just -- there is no future in the inspectors unless they have the cooperation of Iraq. And it was obviously necessary for some members of the council to show why that should be so and why there should be 1441 quality cooperation by Iraq if we're going to get through this period peacefully -- 1441 quality.

And I also underlined what those high standards of cooperation in 1441 are -- immediate, unconditional and active, it says. But is that happening? No. The inspectors haven't reported on a single occasion that there has been that kind of progress.

There were obviously other views put. You will hear from others. Members are concerned that there should be facts in front of them. They're concerned to be put between two camps. They're concerned about the unity of the council.

All these things will be gone over in the days to come. But I just wanted to give you an indication of the type of debate we had. But what each member said is up to each member to say whether they are going to talk about it in public or not.

QUESTION: Were are these so-called Canadian ideas discussed at all this morning in consultation and is it your sense that there seems to be an appetite to maybe incorporate those ideas so as to find a middle ground or compromise?

GREENSTOCK: Nobody mentioned them in the meeting this morning.

QUESTION: The BBC has obtained a draft copy of Hans Blix's report. They are saying in that that the results of disarmament are so far very limited, but also that since mid-January, Iraq had been taking steps which could result in some kind of disarmament. What's your reaction.

GREENSTOCK: The BBC is ahead of me. I would like to see the final version of the inspectors. I don't want any drafts, thank you. I would like to see the final version as officially -- there was another question.

QUESTION: What do you say to the non-permanent members who are asking the permanent members like yourself to talk to each other, reach a resolution, a middle ground? What do you say to these countries who are looking for you...

GREENSTOCK: I don't think they're aware of how much we are talking to each other between capitals.

QUESTION: What about the Chilean speech that said that and pretty much incorporated the Canadian ideas...

GREENSTOCK: Which speech?

QUESTION: The Chilean speech, the Chilean ambassador.

GREENSTOCK: It was a very strong appeal for unity, as I heard it, with which I entirely agree. That appeal.

QUESTION: But he also mentioned the Canadian ideas in his speech.

GREENSTOCK: Well, there is references to benchmark ideas, the references to ultimatum. But there were no new proposals made this morning that I heard in the council. Thank you very much.

KAGAN: And so there you have comments by the British ambissidor (ph) -- ambassador to the United Nations, Jeremy Greenstock. The full Security Council has been meeting all day today, talking about this new resolution put forward by the British, the Americans, and the Spanish. Let's bring in our senior U.N. correspondent, Richard Roth for more on this.

RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR U.N. CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Daryn, let's listen right now to Mexican ambassadors -- Mexico, one of the uncommitted six whose support is widely sought after, and he's standing next to Chile.

ADOLFO AGUILAR ZINSER, MEXICAN AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: ... that we are examining options to find a peaceful solution that we share the objective of the members of the Security Council that we must disarm Iraq. But we are hopeful that the disarmament of Iraq can be achieved by peaceful means. And we are still exploring those peaceful means, and we are encouraged by the discussions that are taking place in the Security Council and we have great expectations on the possibility of still being able to disarm Iraq peacefully.

We also think that the Security Council must be -- and it is -- the forum -- the multilateral forum, where the matter of Iraq should remain and where we should discuss what actions should be taken. So Mexico and Chile are working together.

QUESTION: Can you comment on the Canadian proposal? Your country is reporting as being siding already with the United States. What do you have to say about that?

ZINSER: The government of Mexico is examining all options that have been presented to the Security Council and it is also examining the option that has been proposed by Canada. Indeed this morning and yesterday President Fox and the prime minister of Canada had discussed bilateral issues and they included in their agenda the issue of Iraq and, of course, the question of the proposal of Canada was presented and is examined by our government.

QUESTION: Ambassador, this position that you have just expressed now for the continuation of the inspections, is that a preliminary position? Is it likely to change within a couple of weeks?

ZINSER: We are, together with Chile, doing a great effort to see that inspections continue and that inspections render results and that we can find an agreement in the council that will set the basis for the continuation of inspections. We certainly want inspections to be the peaceful way by which we achieve this disarmament of Iraq.

ROTH: All right. That's Mexico's ambassador, Adolfo Zinser. He is one of the envoys from a country that is not committed, denying reports, in a way, that his country has moved closer to United States, though President Bush phoned Mexican President Fox over the weekend, and some senior U.S. officials have been there. I'm not sure if Chile is speaking in Spanish. Let's take a dip in and listen.

All right. That's the Chilean ambassador. Earlier he issued, I would say, what was the angriest comment we have heard to date in the beginning of these discussions in the search for a solution on a new U.S. resolution -- not necessary a solution, but a solution to the deadlock, and he indicated that he was upset that the permanent members -- the veto packing members are just throwing it onto the uncommitted six because of their divide.

And Mexico, Chile are very interested in getting council unity because if the U.S. goes it alone with Britain around the council, it certainly is a tough blow to the U.N. organization, and more than the U.S., a lot of these countries really need the U.N.

One other note -- very interesting, Daryn, a minor point here -- we're told that the German ambassador gave the Russian ambassador a pair of binoculars and said we are now all inspectors. Two other diplomats said not much was accomplished. Let's listen to the French ambassador right now.

JEAN-MARC DE LA SABLIERE, FRENCH AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: ... we finished a very interesting meeting, which is a follow-up of the consultation we had during the last day. And I think that it is a very defining moment for the Security Council.

The Security Council has to answer a very simple and very important question from one side -- the delegation, the UK, the United States and Spain were telling us with a draft resolution that there is no other option than war. This is a resolution about war. This is a resolution which authorize -- which asks the council to authorize the use of force.

And there is another option. The other option is to disarm Iraq through peaceful means. And those who are defending the other option -- France, Germany, Russia, supported by China and by other members of the council -- think that the time has not come to say that there is no other option than war.

We do think that there is another option: Reinforcing the inspections, giving a very clear mandate on identifying very clearly what are the key remaining disarmament issues and having a very clear time line for the inspection is another option.

So the discussion was very interesting and, in my view, showed very clearly that, in the council, the majority of the members think that the time has not come to decide to go to war. The majority of the council today -- this is what I understood -- think that we should really look very carefully and work very hard to enhance an inspection regime and do the job, which is to disarm Iraq, through peaceful means.

Many delegation -- and I think the majority of the delegation wants to see what are the key remaining disarmament issues. And we had a discussion on this question. And it was very clear that the council wants to be informed of what are the key remaining disarmament issues. So I'm quite happy for the discussion, and we will have more consultation in the coming days.


QUESTION: The memorandum, ambassador, that you circulated together with the Russians and the Germans, why not table it as a draft resolution on par with the resolution by the Americans and the Brits and the Spanish?

SABLIERE: We do think that the memorandum is about implementation of Resolution 1441 and Resolution 1284. There is no need for a second resolution because everything we are asking is in Resolution 1441 and Resolution 1284.

What we're saying in this memorandum is that we should have a clear program of action for the inspection. And when I say clear program of action, I refer to key remaining disarmament issue. And as you may know, the inspector has to present -- will have to present to the council this key issue. So this is in the memorandum. At the same time, there is in the Resolution 1441, which is a resolution which set up a very intrusive inspection regime -- there is a lot of disposition which has not been enough utilized. And we think that it is possible to have, just using Resolution 1441, more intrusive inspections and inspection more efficient. So there is no need for a new resolution.

But we thought, because there was this resolution on the table, that it would be useful for the delegation and for the press and for the whole world to see in a document what is the other option. This is why we propose this memorandum. There is no need for another resolution.

QUESTION: What's France's position about the Canadian proposal? Chile and Mexico seem to be in favor.

SABLIERE: It is coming from -- what is very important first is to see and to analyze what is happening in the whole world.

There is a discussion here in the council, but the whole world is listening to what is happening in the council. So the council is more relevant than ever.

And what is interesting is that this proposal is coming from a country which is not in the council. And you can listen, from Africa (UNINTELLIGIBLE) from Asia, from everywhere in the world messages saying time has not come to go to war.

And this proposal is a proposal which tries to bridge you know what is probably very difficult to bridge because, on the one side, you have those who are saying that time has come to war and we -- that -- they're asking the council to authorize war. And the other side, there are, I think and I hope, the majority of the council which is saying, "No, we have to continue the inspection." So it is not any proposal which is an ultimatum. And maybe this draft is an ultimatum, any resolution, any draft which is an ultimatum, I don't think it will serve really the unity of the council because -- and ultimatum means very clearly that the use of force now -- if not now, in two weeks. It's the same. It's almost an ultimaticity.

But I think, altogether, we have to try to work with the idea of having the unity of the council to work very hard on a peaceful means to disarm Iraq. There is a lot -- a lot of possibilities. And every time, the council meet, every time Mr. Blix and Mr. ElBaradei go to Iraq, there are pressure on Iraq and there are results. There are results. And we are making progress. And it will be totally paradoxical -- I don't know how to explain it exactly in English -- but a paradox that while we are witnesses -- witnessing progress in the cooperation and even though the progress is not enough and we consider that Iraq should be much more.

But we have some progress. It would be a paradox to decide at the moment we're witnesses progress that the time has come to war. So my message and our message and the message of those who have presented this memorandum is work on what is our goal, disarm Iraq through peaceful means.


QUESTION: ... any time limit as yet?

SABLIERE: What we have reported in our memorandum is to have time lines. We think that we should organize the time much better and what we have asked is for the inspector to present us as soon as possible the program of work. I remind that this program of work they have to present is something which has been asked by the Security Council. So we're asking them to present it as soon as possible. And then every three weeks -- every three weeks -- we propose, every three weeks, we will meet and see how -- what is implemented and what is the progress in the program of work, in the implementation of the program of work. And then, according to the Resolution 1284 -- and we have not invented that. It is in the resolution, adopted by the Security Council, 120 days after the adoption of the program of work, we will have an assessment on the cooperation of Iraq. So all this benchmark, all this time line is something which has been adopted by the Security Council. There is no reason now to change it.

In Spanish. In Spanish. In Spanish.

ROTH: Yes, that's the French ambassador and clearly, the battle lines are even hardening here at the Security Council. Big division. Nothing settled today. The U.S. has a resolution. France doesn't think one is needed. France and Russia and China think there should be more time for the weapons inspectors. The British ambassador, Sir Jeremy Greenstock explaining to journalists how he laid out at the meeting Iraq's defiance on issues such as private interviews with scientists. All, he says, in violation of the latest unanimously passed resolution.

A further sign of tensions: Chile saying the big powers who can't agree are throwing the whole issue on the non-permanent, the elected ten members, those uncommitted six -- Chile, Mexico, Pakistan, etcetera.

So the Security Council remains very split. The time is ticking away for a diplomatic solution, and so far the Security Council is not the place for it. There is still talk about a Canadian compromise. Chile and Mexico like it. Both the U.S. and France, they may disagree on a new resolution, but they agree that it doesn't seem any interest for the big powers in Canada trying to save the day -- Daryn.

KAGAN: And Richard, to get back to this Mexico and Chile situation, it seemed then you were alluding to this, that there might even just be a third camp developing here, and this of the undecideds basically getting ticked off and frustrated today with the permanent members of the Security Council saying, You know what, you are the permanent members, you guys have to figure it out, and stop your bickering.

ROTH: Well, they've been lobbied over the last two days by each side, and that didn't produce an agreement. You see -- you saw how Mexico almost -- not boasting, but very confident saying our communications with Mexico are very solid, we're in it together. Those are two -- two of the non-committeds who are highly sought after. They deny they are in a block of votes, that they are acting together, but it certainly helps their cause to also dig in their heels, so we may indeed have three sides to this 15-nation council ahead.

KAGAN: All right. Well, we expect even more ambassadors to come out and step up to the microphone. As they do, we'll show it to our viewers live right here on CNN. Richard, you stand by at the U.N. We are going to take a quick break, and we'll be back right after this.


KAGAN: And we go back to the United Nations. This is the German ambassador to the U.N. Let's listen in.

GUNTER PLEUGER, GERMAN AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: ... on the question of how to further proceed in the Iraq policy. Now, basically, we are all agreed in the council that the common goal is disarmament, and full and complete disarmament of Iraq of weapons of mass destruction. The question is, however, now, is time really up or do we need more time to reach our common goal, the disarmament by peace peaceful means, and should we enhance inspections and give inspections a chance to achieve their goal?

Now, we all agree also that if it comes to the implementation of Security Council resolutions, military force can only be the last resort.

Now, last resort, of course, means that all other avenues have been explored, all other possibility have been exhausted. And those in the Security Council -- and I think that was a majority, especially the co-sponsors of the German, French and Russian paper -- are of the opinion that not yet all possibilities of disarming Iraq peacefully have been exhausted.

And that is the reason why also this morning we have again stressed that there is a possibility of making inspections more intrusive, more effective, of establishing a time line that gives us objective benchmarks to measure what kind of cooperation Iraq is giving.

We will continue this discussion next week or in the near future when Mr. Blix and Mr. ElBaradei have submitted their next quarterly report. The report will be available on Monday.

And we also have discussed today whether, in addition to the contents of this report, the Security Council should have a chance of discussing the work program that the inspectors have to submit to the council by 27th March at the latest. So we understand that Dr. Blix has worked hard already on this report laying out the remaining key tasks of disarmament and a work program for the next 120 days. And we discussed whether Dr. Blix should be given a chance to outlay this program of work and the remaining key disarmament tasks earlier than the 27th of March. And the council will take that up. There was no agreement on whether we should hear Blix next week on this, but I hope that the council will decide to get this information, because everything that will help us to get relevant information that could help the inspections earlier would be welcome.

Thank you.

QUESTION: Ambassador, in terms of your position, how much light is there between the German position, the French position, the Russian position, especially when ultimately push comes to shove?

PLEUGER: How much?

QUESTION: Are there differences between your position and the French and Russian position?

PLEUGER: I think at present the positions are totally identical, as laid out in the memorandum.

QUESTION: Mr. Ambassador, we've seen a draft copy of Dr. Blix's report and it says the results in terms of disarmament have been very limited. What's your reaction to that?

PLEUGER: I will give my reaction when I have read the report. And I will give it in the Security Council and not first to the press. I beg your understanding for that.

QUESTION: Did the Canadian proposal come up and figure into today's debates and discussions?

PLEUGER: The Canadian proposal has been circulated among members unofficially. It has, so far, no status in the Security Council. It has not been discussed in the Security Council.

And speaking for the German delegation, we are a co-sponsor of the memorandum and I think that we are trying to convince the Security Council that this would be a good way to peaceful disarmament of Iraq.

Thank you very much.

KAGAN: We've been listening to Gunter Pleuger. He is the ambassador for Germany to the United Nations.

As you see, they also stuck in their position with the French and the Russians. We have another ambassador.

Now, the Syrian ambassador to the United Nations. Let's listen in to him.

MIKHAIL WEHBE, SYRIAN AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: ... say the discussion today was very constructive in the way that most of the members of the council expressed their concern and their utmost concern about the unity of the council, which we are very keen to preserve for the international peace and security, according to the charter. This is the first and the most important interesting thing I believe we have got today. The second is most of the members -- this is, again, the -- one of the best points -- they concentrated on the peaceful solution to the Iraqi issue and to disarm the weapons of destruction in Iraq by peaceful means, not by war. And there was an impression that the draft resolution of the United States, Britain and Spain leading really to a war resolution.

And as you know, all of you, as an Arab country representing the Arab countries and the Arab League in the council, the ministers of Arab countries, they have met just the last week and considered -- and they took decision just the only solution to the Iraqi question is the peaceful solution and to give the time for 1441, since we have not exhausted this resolution yet. And there is no time framework with 1441, so we have to go ahead with this resolution, and there is no need for another resolution.

And the memorandum of the French, Russian, German, and supported by China, it is a peaceful way and method to be followed with regard, you know, finding a way to disarm the Iraqi weapons from the mass destruction.

QUESTION: How does Syria view the Canadian proposals?

WEHBE: Canadian proposal is not an official document presented to the council. That's why we can't give, you know, from the council -- as a member of the council -- our idea about this matter, since it is not a document presented to the council.

QUESTION: Don't you find it very interesting (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

Countries like Chile and Mexico, they -- the interesting part is the time frame. Do you support any time frame, putting time frame on inspections?

WEHBE: In fact, 1284 yet has not been consumed as well, and exhausted. How to come to another draft resolution or two resolution as long as 1284 with the timing in the resolution, and since Mr. Blix and Baradei, they did not present their program for their work for the future? So we have to wait, Mr. Blix, to see his report, and then we will see what we can do.

Thank you.

KAGAN: We were listening there. That is the Syrian ambassador to the United Nations, Mikhail Wehbe. I think, as we bring Richard Roth in here, our senior U.N. correspondent, I think he is the only one I heard all day today describe the meeting of the Security Council as constructive and productive.

ROTH: Well, that's probably because Syria, opposing the U.S. resolution, would be happy to hear that there are a lot of other members who agree with Syria inside that room, and that the U.S. resolution has not made much progress so far towards getting the necessary nine votes.

But I can't read his mind, but I think that's exactly what the Syrian ambassador would feel. We are told that the Syrian, along with the nine other non-permanent members, are going to gather for lunch pretty soon at one of their missions on New York's east side, and they'll have a lot to talk about, Daryn.

There are clear divisions. The battle lines have hardened even further. Rather rancorous, fractured Security Council now. On one hand, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, the British ambassador saying, in effect, that there is a need for this resolution, but the time has run out for the inspectors, he said.

And you rarely hear that kind of open talk of him saying it's not working, the inspectors, almost resigned to the situation.

On the other hand, France saying no need for a second resolution, inspectors are getting cooperation, there is more time. The Security Council may not have much more time. The German ambassador said next week they may discuss it, or very soon when they get the report from Dr. Blix.

You heard the German ambassador say it was an intense meeting. You do not hear that very often referred to one of those closed-door chambers. Usually, everyone just says we discussed ideas, things like that. Very rare. And that shows what kind of differences right now are out there on the international stage.

The British ambassador did say that a lot of work is being done in capitals, and perhaps representatives from Mexico and Chile were unaware of the progress and the efforts being made elsewhere. Mexico and Chile were publicly saying maybe this Canadian proposal could be a compromise, but that was shot down by both sides of this resolution fight, either France or by the U.S. -- Daryn.

KAGAN: All right. Richard Roth at the United Nations. Richard, thank you so much for helping us read the tea leaves, and what is said as these ambassadors come up and have what they have to say at the microphones from the U.N. Appreciate it.



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