|THE FRENCH RESPONSE|
February 5, 2003
French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin responds to Powell's report by calling on the U.N. Security Council to strengthen its inspection regime, saying a military attack should only be a final resort.
| MIN. DOMINIQUE DE VILLEPIN
(foreign minister of France): (Through interpreter.) Thank you, Mr. President,
Secretary-General, ladies and gentlemen, ministers, ambassadors.|
First of all, France wishes to reiterate condolences to our American friends after the terrible tragedy that occurred with the Space Shuttle Columbia.
I'd like to congratulate the German government for having organized this meeting and would like to thank Secretary of State Colin Powell for having take(n) the initiative of convening it.
I listened very carefully to the elements that he gave to us. They contained information, indications, questions which deserve further exploration. It will be up to the inspectors to assess the facts, as is stated in Resolution 1441.
Already his presentation has provided further justification for the approach chosen by the United Nations. It must strengthen our common determination. By unanimously adopting Resolution 1441, we chose to act through the inspections. This policy rests on three fundamental points: a clear objective, on which we cannot compromise, the disarmament of Iraq; a method, a rigorous system of inspections requiring of Iraq active cooperation and which affirms at each stage the central role of the Security Council; a requirement, finally, that of our unity, it gave full force to the message that we unanimously addressed to Baghdad.
I hope that today's meeting will make it possible to
strengthen this unity. Important results have already been achieved. UNMOVIC and
IAEA are working. The deployment on the ground of more than 100 inspectors has
occurred; 300 visits on average, an increase in the number of sites inspected,
complete access to the presidential sites in particular. These are all major
The inspectors have reported real difficulties. In their report of 27 January, Mr. Blix gave several examples of unresolved questions in the ballistic, chemical and biological areas.
These uncertainties are not acceptable.
France will continue to transmit all of the information we have in order to define
it better. Right now, our attention must be focused, as a matter of priority,
on the biological and chemical areas. This is where our presumptions vis a vis
Iraq are the most significant.
But we have disturbing indications
about the continued determination of Iraq to acquire ballistic missiles with a
range exceeding the authorized range of 150 kilometers.
But in this kind of scenario, several responses must be clearly given to all governments and all peoples of the world in order to limit uncertainty.
To what extent do the nature and scope of the threat justify use of force? How can we see to it that the considerable risks of this kind of intervention can truly be kept under control? This clearly requires a collective demarche of responsibility by the international community.
It should, however, be clear that in the context of this option, the United
Nations must be at the center of the action to guarantee the unity of Iraq, to
guarantee the stability of the region, to protect civilians and preserve the unity
of the international community.
Consistent with the logic of this
resolution, we must move on to a new stage and further strengthen the inspections.
Given the choice between military intervention and an inspections regime that
is inadequate because of a failure to operate on Iraq's part, we must choose the
decisive reinforcement of the means of inspection. And this is today what France
Let us double, let us triple the number of inspectors; let us open more regional offices; let us go further than this. Could we not, for example, put up -- set up a specialized body to keep under surveillance the sites and areas that have already been inspected?
Let us very significantly reinforce the capacity for monitoring, collecting information in Iraq. France is prepared to provide full support of this. It is ready to deploy observation aircraft of the Mirage IV kind.
Let us establish collectively a coordination center and an information processing center that will provide in real time and in a coordinated manner to Mr. Blix and to Dr. ElBaradei all the intelligence resources that they may require.
Let us list and rank in importance unresolved disarmament questions. With the consent of the leaders of the inspection teams, let us lay down a time frame that is strict and realistic in order to move forward in evaluating and eliminating problems.
to have regular follow-up of progress made in the disarmament of Iraq.
Those that were handed over on the 20th of January was a step in the right direction.
The 3,000 pages of documents discovered at the home of a researcher show that Baghdad must do more. Failing these documents, Iraq must be able to present credible testimony.
The Iraqi authorities must also provide to the inspectors answers to the new information provided by Colin Powell.
Between now and the inspectors next report on the 14th
of February, Iraq must provide new elements. The next visit to Baghdad by the
leaders of the inspectors must be an opportunity to provide concrete -- to achieve