STATEMENT
by
Mr. Mohammed Said Al-Sahaf
Minister for Foreign Affairs
of the Republic of Iraq
before
the Fifty-Second Session of the General Assembly
 
 
New York
2 October 1997 

 Mr. President,

 It gives me great pleasure to congratulate you on your election to the Office of the President of the fifty-second session of the General Assembly. I am quite confident that your extensive experience and high competence will positively contribute to the successful conduct of the proceedings of this session.

 I would like to assure you that the Iraqi delegation will do its best to cooperate with you and with your colleagues in discharging your responsibilities to bring the proceedings of this session to a successful conclusion. I would like also to pay tribute to your predecessor, Mr. Razali Ismail, for the incessant and sincere efforts which he made to crown the proceedings of the last session with success. He has earned our appreciation.

Mr. President,

The success of the United Nations in the exercise of its desired role depends primarily on the proper application of the principles and provisions of the Charter, because it is the only instrument that can achieve the goals for which the Organization has been established. These goals consist in the endeavour to achieve an international community based on respect for the sovereignty, freedom and independence of peoples and their empowerment to achieve their goals of economic and social development.

 The reform of the United Nations structures and machinery in a proper way that ensures justice to all member states and geographical groups will enable it to discharge its responsibilities in a manner consistent with the purposes, principles and provisions enshrined in the Charter.

 We believe that the reform process of the Organization should not be limited to the management aspect, important as it is. More importantly, there should be  a common political will to redress the real and effective balance in the work of the Organization and to prevent its machinery from being used for private political objectives and purposes of certain super powers. Above all, one should pay attention to the dangers inherent in one international pole breaking loose and trying to dominate the world. In this context, Iraq welcomes the communique issued by the meeting of President Yeltsen of Russia and President Jiang Zemin of China in Moscow on 22 April 1997, which clearly called for the  rejection of hegemony by any state over world affairs, the exercise of power politics or the monopoly of international issues. It called for the establishment of a multi-polar international system. We in Iraq are proud to note that our leader, President Saddam Hussein, called twenty years ago for a multi-polar world.

 The United Nations should not be controlled by the rich, although they are a small minority in the world. Among the basic objective of the United Nations, according to the Charter, is "the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples." Based on that, we consider it necessary to avoid marginalizing developing countries and denying them the chances and potential for economic and scientific development.

 While we are talking about the reform of the Organization and its machinery and the revision of its role, we should not overlook the basic realities of the evolution of the international community from a small group of states that are homogenous in their concepts and interests to a community of a global nature necessarily heterogenous and varying in all these aspects. This objective reality makes it imperative for all of us to employ our common energies to reviewing the charters and machineries that we have inherited to make them consistent with the objective reality of the international community in order to achieve the common and public good, not simply the interests of the minority. One example that comes to mind in this regard is the area of human rights.

 Finally, we must recognize the need for deliberation, consultation and extensive negotiation on what reform steps should be approved. A pre-requisite for the success of any step in this common effort is the presence of a real consensus among states, not the voices enunciated under pressure and threats to their respective interests.
 

Mr. President,

 For more than seven years, Iraq has been suffering under an unjust blockade the like of which has never been witnessed in human history. We have more than once stated clearly and unequivocally before the General Assembly the steps that Iraq had undertaken to implement the resolutions of the Security Council on the so-called Gulf crisis, particularly resolution 687 (1991), in order to lift the blockade imposed upon it.

 Iraq has carried out what it was required to do under these resolutions. In the context of working with the Special Commission and the International Atomic Energy Agency for the implementation of Section C of resolution 687 on proscribed weapons, Iraq has carried out all the substantive obligations embodied therein. Iraq has never tarried in doing everything possible to emphasize its keenness to deal even with the minute details so that the Security Council may move to carry out its corresponding obligations towards Iraq by lifting the blockade.

 Our work in this regard is of special importance. We should pause to shed light upon it. The full implementation, achieved to date, of the substantive obligations imposed on Iraq with regard to banned weapons is an established fact. Despite all the rumors, the truth is that Iraq no longer has any banned weapons, equipment, machinery or materials. The system of continuous observation established in Iraq by the Special Commission and the International Atomic Energy Agency is working effectively. This system has been working since August 1994 and it covers all the territory of Iraq. When the new Chairman of the Commission, Mr. Richard Butler, assumed his office, we welcomed his statements in which he affirmed that he would follow an objective, scientific and technical approach in dealing with what the Special Commission views as remaining issues and in accordance with the requirements clearly established by resolution 687. We affirmed our full readiness to cooperate with Ambassador Butler. We agreed with him, during his first visit to Baghdad last July, on an intensive common work programme which we have actively carried out. Substantial advancement has been made in this common activity and we look forward to the semi-annual report by the Commission, which we hope to be submitted to the Security Council in a few days and hope that the report will equitably reflect the progress achieved and open the door before the Security Council to start implementing paragraph 22 of resolution 687, which means the beginning of the lifting of the blockade on Iraq.

Mr. President,

 The comprehensive blockade imposed on Iraq is the most extensive and cruel boycott system ever imposed by the Security Council in its history. It covers and affects, in theory and practice, every aspect of life. We are convinced, from our practical experience, that the insistence on the perpetuation of the blockade against Iraq is not connected to the fulfillment by Iraq of its obligations. It is rather a systematic plan to inflict severe damage on Iraq by putting an end to its development potential and destroying its economic infrastructure, to fulfill the selfish interests of an aggressive super power.

 The whole world has felt the magnitude of the wanton damage and destruction inflicted on Iraq by the continuation of the blockade, which is contrary to the purposes for which the United Nations was established and which have been emphasized in its numerous conferences. International organizations, humanitarian missions and United Nations agencies have warned of the dangers besetting the people of Iraq as a result of the continued blockade, particularly the dangerous effects on women and children.

 UNICEF, for instance, has confirmed in its latest study, in March 1997, that "27.5% of Iraqi children under 5 suffer from chronic malnutrition and that the most threatened segment was children under 2, due to malnutrition and the incidence of contagious diseases."

 Furthermore, the environment in Iraq has suffered extensive damage  because of indiscriminate bombing by the United States and some of its allies, which was aimed at power stations, sewage systems and factories, which we have not been able to rebuild fully because of the blockade.

 Scientific studies and research carried out by foreign researchers and scientists have unequivocally confirmed that the United States had used banned weapons and ammunition enriched with depleted uranium in its military operations against Iraq. This exposed vast tracts of Iraqi territory to contamination by deadly toxic materials.  Numerous cases of hitherto unfamiliar illnesses have been recorded, such as congenital deformities in unborn children, bone deformities and many cases of leukemia among children.

Mr. President,

 We have heard many allegations from the representatives of the United States and Britain before Iraq accepted to deal with the oil-for-food formula. The representatives of these two countries had shed crocodile tears and alleged that they were concerned for the suffering of the Iraqi people. They said that they had come up with resolution 986 (1995) to alleviate this suffering.

 The said resolution was not balanced. When we and the United Nations Secretary-General were able to reach a memorandum of understanding to implement the said resolution in a balanced manner in May 1996, and implementation started in December  1996, the American and the British conduct appeared in its true form.

 The oil-for-food-and-medicine formula is a temporary and modest formula that meets only a small fraction of Iraq's needs. Nevertheless, this formula has experienced and continues to experience many major obstacle and difficulties, which the United States and Britain in particular try to impose with a view to hindering its proper and effective implementation, thereby contradicting the declared purpose of resolution 987.

 The conduct of the representatives of these two countries in the 661 Committee has led to the accumulation of rejected or suspended contracts on flimsy pretexts. This caused a huge gap in the smooth flow of approvals of such contracts and thus delayed the delivery and distribution of materials to the Iraqi people. Until now, over three months since the expiry of the implementation of the first period, Iraq has received only 25% of the medicine required and has not received any materials at all in the fields of agriculture, education, water, sewage and spare parts for electricity generating power stations.

Mr. President,

 It is high time, now more than ever, for the United Nations to discharge its responsibility with regard to its obligations under the Charter not only to the people of Iraq, but also to the international community. The United Nations is duty-bound to carry out a professional and objective review of the provisions of the blockade imposed on Iraq in order to implement paragraph 22 of Security Council resolution 687 as a first step towards lifting it completely.

 All the discussions that took place in the United Nations, in specialized working groups and committees, in particular the Special Committee on the United Nations Charter and the Strengthening of the Role of the Organization, have stressed that sanctions should be an exceptional measure used by the United Nations in accordance with its Charter. They also stressed that such sanctions should not be simply based on political expediency, but rather on a solid basis of international law; that they should be implemented according to the principles of justice and international law; that they should not serve individual or factional interests; that in implementation, consideration should be given to the human suffering that they cause; and that a time limit should be set for their lifting. Such a serious measure should not be left without setting a precise time for its lifting.

Mr. President,

 The United Nations responsibility does not end here. It must put an end to all hostile practices by the United States against Iraq, which consist in its continuous attempts to interfere in Iraqi internal affairs with a view to causing instability and insecurity and in carrying out operations to change its patriotic regime, which practices are considered criminal acts even under its own domestic law. Statements made by senior American officials confirm the hostile American policy towards Iraq. Members of the United Nations are not unaware of the article published in the Washington Post on 26 June 1997 and of the information contained in the ABC's television programme aired on 26 June 1997. This information confirmed that the United States was involved in conspiracies against the nationalist regime in Iraq. This involvement is a policy that  was approved by the American President and an allotment of $100 million was appropriated for it. The Central Intelligence Agency was charged with its implementation. This policy was acknowledged following its publication by an official spokesman of the American State Department in his press briefing on 27 June. The United Nations resolutions on Iraq affirm that all states have an obligation to respect Iraq's sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence. What the United States is carrying out is  a policy of its own not approved by provisions of the Charter nor by the said resolutions. I hope that the United Nations members are not oblivious to the fact that among the means to achieve the declared objectives of this hostile policy towards Iraq has been the imposition of no-fly zones in northern and southern Iraq. This is an illegal act that is contrary to Security Council resolutions. It is a unilateral military act by the Governments of the United States and Britain - a clear exercise of brute power politics against our country. We demand that the United Nations deplore and condemn the intents and purposes of unilateral policies based on the logic of brute force, opportunism, double standard and hegemony.

 We are not demanding more than the legal and proper application of Security Council resolutions in accordance with the purposes and principles of the Charter. We believe that there is a collective duty to take joint action to equitably evaluate the carrying out by Iraq of its obligations. This responsibility rests first and foremost with the members of the Security Council because they collectively bear responsibility for any imbalance caused by the unilateral positions taken by the United States and Britain.

Mr. President,

 We are keen on establishing the best relations with neighbouring countries. We affirmed more than once the importance of dialogue to arrive at the best solutions for the problems besetting relations between the region's countries. Unfortunately, we have not found the required response from certain parties mostly for extraneous reasons imposed by external powers that have nothing to do with the interests of the states of the region.

 It is most unfortunate to note that our neighbour, Turkey, indulges in dangerous policies that are contradictory to the strong historical, religious and human relations between Iraq and Turkey. Turkey has continued to violate our sovereignty, interfere in our internal affairs and invade our territory repeatedly, basing itself on flimsy pretexts. We have discussed the situation with our neighbour, Turkey, on several occasions in the past, most recently in the discussions with the Under-Secretary of the Turkish Ministry for Foreign Affairs that took place in Baghdad, on 15 September 1997. We explained at those discussions that the solution to the Kurdish problem inside Turkey could not be achieved by committing armed aggression against Iraq, nor by interference in its internal affairs, in collaboration with foreign powers, namely the United States and Britain, but  rather by full observance of the principle of mutual respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the two countries and by cooperation between their governments to ensure the security and stability on both sides of the international border. We have warned Turkey of the serious and negative consequences of its policies for the relations between the two countries and for Turkey's own interests. Many countries in and outside the region, led by the League of Arab States, have condemned the new Turkish aggression against Iraq, which began on 22 September. While we strongly condemn this new military aggression, which is a flagrant violation of Iraq's sovereignty and territorial integrity, we demand that Turkey withdraw immediately its invading forces from our country and refrain from repeating such  aggressive military practices which contradict good neighborliness, the Charter and international law. We hold Turkey fully responsible internationally for its acts of aggression inside Iraqi territory and reserve our full right to respond to these acts of aggression as well as our other legitimate rights under international law, which results from this responsibility.

 We are also keen on establishing good neighbourly relations with Iran, based on mutual respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-interference in internal affairs. President Saddam Hussein issued an appeal on 8 August 1997 to the new Iranian government to show its good intentions towards Iraq by carrying out its established obligations, in the forefront of which is the release of Iraqi prisoners of war and the return of the aircraft entrusted to it. He affirmed that Iraq would reciprocate each step taken by Iran in this regard by taking two balanced steps: one corresponding to the Iranian step and another in line with our deep sense of humanitarian, regional and international responsibility to encourage the taking of successive and incessant steps  to ensure that regional security, mutual respect and balanced interests firmly rest on their proper foundation in such a way that benefits the peoples of the region. It is unfortunate that our neighbour, Iran, does not match our inclination and prefers to continue to exploit the conditions of the iniquitous blockade imposed against Iraq and exploit the imposition of no-fly zones by the United States and Britain in northern and southern Iraq to violate Iraqi sovereignty, penetrate its airspace and commit one military aggression after another. The most recent of such acts was the bombing by eight Iranian military aircraft of positions inside Iraqi territory, in the governorates of Diala and El-Kut on 29 September.

 Iran and another state take advantage of the illegal air embargo imposed on northern and southern Iraq by the United States and its collaborators to violate Iraq's sovereignty, penetrate its airspace and commit continuous military aggression on its territory. The continuation of this illegal air embargo constitutes a continuous threat to Iraq's sovereignty and security, not only from America and Britain, but also from Iran and others.

 This situation, in which acts of aggression and the use of armed force against Iraq are repeatedly committed means that the explicit United Nations pledges in Security Council resolutions to safeguard Iraq's sovereignty and territorial integrity have become a mere dead letter. It is time that these pledges be honoured. To do otherwise, the United Nations will have violated its own pledges.

 Iraq is an ancient country with a history extending 7000 years. The Iraqi people who contributed immensely to human civilization will remain in charge of their own affairs, independent in their choice and able to overcome crises. While we stand at the threshold of the 21st century, we look forward to seeing the United Nations able to discharge its basic responsibilities to carry out its purposes embodied in the Charter.

 Thank you, Mr. President.