|TARIQ AZIZ PRESS CONFERENCE|
December 18, 1998
|Just before the U.S. and Britain launched its third air strike, Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz addressed reporters in Baghdad.|
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER TARIQ AZIZ: What we are witnessing now is not a military conflict. It's a criminal aggression by the United States and Britain against Iraq, the Arab nation, the Moslems, and against the whole international community. It's a criminal violation of the Charter of the United Nations, and it's a contempt to the Security Council of the United Nations.
Clinton and Blair, in their justification of this criminal aggression, used the report of Richard Butler. I will give you some facts about this matter. Recently Butler visited Paris and Moscow, and there he said things quite different from what he reported to Kofi Annan. Butler was supposed to present his report on the 14th of December. That was the deadline. Dr. Baraga of the IAEA presented his report on the 14th of November [ed. note: means December]. That report was factual and positive. Butler postponed his report till late the 15th of November [ed. note: means December].
At that time, Clinton was in Israel, and it was clear that his visit was a failure. Officially, he received Butler's report while he was in Israel and on his way back to the United States. Today the New York Times says that Butler reported the contents of his report to Clinton on Sunday. That was two days before reporting to Kofi Annan. Those incidents show that there was a coordination by the United States government and Butler about the content of the report and the timing of the report.
It is clear to us, and it will be clear to the world, that that report of Butler was written to justify the aggression. The Zionist clique around Clinton advised him to start the aggression to change the subject from the failure of his visit to Israel and another matter which I don't want to address, to change the subject from the reality to the falsifications of Butler's report and use those falsifications, lies, exaggerations, as a pretext to commit this criminal aggression.
Another fact: Butler decided to withdraw his inspectors from Iraq before reporting to the secretary general of the United Nations and before reporting to the Security Council. He's a U.N. official, and he is the head of an organ which is called a subsidiary organ of the Security Council. He did so for the second time. He did it in November and he did it once again in December. And this tells that this man is a cheap pawn at the hands of the United States, used whenever the United States wants to use him.
The other fact which tells that the United States and Britain were and are violating the charter of the United Nations, the norms of the work of the United Nations ... the Security Council, is that while the Security Council was meeting to deliberate on the situation, they started the aggression. Therefore, the matter is not Butler's report. The matter is the deliberate precipitated wish to commit this criminal aggression against Iraq. The matter also is not weapons of mass destruction.
They know very well, the Americans and the British, through their experts, they know that all weapons of mass destruction have been totally eliminated. They know through a monitoring system which has been established for four years that there hasn't been any violation by Iraq of its commitments according to Resolutions 687 and 715. Had the matter been weapons of mass destruction, Kofi Annan suggested a comprehensive review, and preparations were made that such a review might take place in January. They could have waited till January, witnessed the review, heard what UNSCOM could say, what Iraq might say, and then make a judgment, an objective, honest judgment of the situation. And if the judgment, the consensus in the Security Council, is that Iraq had violated its commitments, then they could act unanimously; not only the United States and Britain, because this Resolution 687 and Resolution 715 were adopted unanimously by the five permanent members as well as the other existing members in the Security Council.
The fact that they acted unilaterally against the will of the Security Council, by contempt of the rules of the Security Council, tells that the matter is not weapons of mass destruction. The matter is not the report of Butler. The real objective of this aggression is to show that the United States is the sole superpower in this world, to show the arrogance of the United States, to show that the United States is ready to impose its will on the whole world, on the whole world, not only on Iraq, according to its greedy interests, not according to moral values or to international law.
In this, Britain joined the United States. You know Britain has lost its previous status as a superpower or one of the major powers. But being a colonialist and an imperialist in nature, they would like to join the elephant as a small rat in order to get their share of the petty results of such an aggression.
To realize this truth, you should concentrate on the position of Russia and China. Russia and China did not take the position they took recently just as a support to Iraq. They realized that there is a substantive dangerous change in the mood in the United States, that the United States wants to show by this military aggression that it wants to impose its hegemony on the whole world. And, of course, they cannot accept that. It's against their policies of multilateral powers, multilateral joint work regarding the international business.
Clinton and Blair lied lately. They lied flagrantly, as they lied in February, as you remember. Both these two statesmen appeared on television late January and in February. Clinton said that the presidential sites -- one of the presidential sites is larger than Washington DC. Blair said that one of them is larger than Paris. And then a U.N. team came, a survey team came to Iraq, and it appeared that the eight presidential sites ... are only 32 square kilometers. Ten of that is water. These two statesmen lied in February when they were preparing an aggression to justify that aggression. They and the same figures -- Albright, Cohen, the foreign minister of Britain and the defense minister of Britain -- were telling the Congress, the House of Commons, the international community, that there are thousands of tons of stockpiles of biological weapons, chemical weapons, means to produce them, in those presidential sites. You remember that. Then the experts of UNSCOM and IAEA, in the presence of 20 diplomats from all over the world, entered those eight presidential sites and they found that they were only guest houses, beautiful guest houses with beautiful gardens and beautiful lakes. And it was a farce. Now they are repeating the same lies, the same fabrications, the same figures -- Clinton, Blair, Cohen, Albright and the British officials. They are repeating the same lies in order to justify a crime that cannot be justified, a crime against Iraq, a crime against the Arabs and the whole world. It's a sinister crime.
Look at some of the targets that they have targeted during the last period. Take, for instance, yesterday. They targeted the whole ministry of defense. It's not the ministry of defense. They know it. They have visited and inspected that building. It's one of the monuments in Baghdad. It's an old building ... and there is nothing in it except some administrative departments which had been visited by UNSCOM inspectors several times -- several times. They attacked it with several missiles to destroy it. What does that mean? Just to hurt, to hurt whatever is dear to the Iraqi people.
You remember what one of the generals in the American Air Force said before the aggression in 1991. "What are your targets?" He said, "Well, everything that's valuable and dear to the Iraqi people." Now they are doing the same. They attack the presidential sites. What are these presidential sites? They are guest houses. They have been built by the Iraqis. They are fine buildings. The genius of the Iraqi builders, the genius of the Iraqi artists have been put on them. They just want to destroy them. Such buildings could not be used for any purpose regarding their allegations, and they have been visited by them. And the whole diplomatic corps in Baghdad knows that.
You know we invited all the diplomatic corps in Baghdad and the journalists before the entry arranged by Kofi Annan to visit those sites. And people appreciated the work of art in these places. As the foreign minister was telling you yesterday, they attacked the house of the daughter of the president. They attacked residential sites. Yesterday the collateral damage which was inflicted on the ministry of defense led to a nearby destruction of hospitals, and so on and so forth. They say, "We are not attacking civilian targets." They did. They attacked the radio and television. Radio and television are not arms of mass destruction. They are not the means, as they allege, that could be used by the government of Iraq to threaten its neighbors. They attacked the oil refinery in Basra. They attacked the warehouse belonging to the ministry of trade -- and so on and so forth. We don't have a full account of all the civilian targets that they targeted till now because of the circumstances, but the truth will appear.
They were saying the same lies in 1991 that they were aiming at the military capability of Iraq in order to enforce the withdrawal from Kuwait, and then it appeared they were targeting the whole country. They were targeting the whole people of Iraq. The same liars, the same criminals, are repeating their lies and crimes.