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19 February 1998

TRANSCRIPT: PICKERING 2/19 WORLDNET INTERVIEW ON IRAQ

(Kofi Annan has best chance to bring back a solution) (7360)



Washington -- A diplomatic solution to the Iraq crisis "should achieve
the objectives of the international community, to carry out the U.N.
resolutions to deny Saddam the weapons of mass destruction and the
right or the capacity to threaten his neighborhood," Ambassador Thomas
Pickering, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, said
February 19.


"That's an important objective, and Kofi Annan, the secretary general
of the United Nations, is now about to leave to go to Baghdad to talk
to the Iraqis about achieving that solution," Pickering said on a
Worldnet "dialogue" program with participants in Moscow, Rome and
London.


"I believe that Kofi Annan, with the full support of the Security
Council, and with the especially strong backing of a permanent five
which has common views, has the best chance to bring back a solution,"
he said.


The ambassador noted, however that it is difficult to make a
prediction about how he [Saddam] will react. "We hope for the best.
Like all good planners, we have to plan for the worst," he
acknowledged.


The "core principles that need to be applied" during Annan's visit,
Pickering said are:


-- "that the United Nations Special Commission should have full and
unfettered access, immediate unconditional and unrestricted access is
what in fact the Security Council has said about access;


-- "that the United Nations Special Commission should be able to
inspect any site in Iraq that it believes it needs to, at any time it
needs to, by any method of inspection that it believes is required to
carry out its mandate;


-- "that UNSCOM must be the inspecting organization, that its
professionalism and its technical expertise -- indeed that the role of
its executive chairman, its integrity, its ability to make its reports
-- needs to be preserved.


"Those are the kinds of principles that we will apply in reviewing any
settlement that will be brought to the Security Council in order to
define our response to the question of whether this settlement meets
the strictures of the Security Council resolutions by which we are all
bound," he stated.


Pickering posed the following answers to questions he said he is most
often asked:


-- "What would happen if the diplomatic solution should fail? We hope
very much that it will not fail ... But if it should fail, we have
made clear that we are not prepared to rule out any option, including
the use of force. The president hasn't made that decision yet. We will
want to see the results of the diplomatic efforts now ongoing.


-- "If we should use force, what will happen? We believe that Saddam
can expect a significant use of force -- not a pinprick, not a
symbolic or demonstrative use of force. We also are clearly committed
-- if he will not accept UNSCOM back, which is our preference, to use
force on a continuing basis to diminish substantially his capacity to
use weapons of mass destruction and to threaten his neighborhood.


-- "What happens to the people of Iraq? We are not against the people
of Iraq. We are supportive of the people of Iraq. In the original
resolutions of the Security Council we made a major effort to exclude
from the sanctions regime food and medicine for the people of Iraq.
... Today or tomorrow the Security Council will adopt with our full
support another resolution extending that regime for the people of
Iraq. The resolution ... will substantially increase the amount of
food and medicine for the people of Iraq."


Following is the transcript of the Worldnet program:



(Begin transcript)



MR. BERTEL:  Welcome to Worldnet.  I'm Jim Bertel. 



United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan is on his way to Baghdad
to seek an eleventh hour diplomatic solution to the crisis in Iraq.
Here to discuss this effort, and the overall United States policy
toward Iraq, is Ambassador Thomas Pickering. Ambassador Pickering is
the undersecretary of state for political affairs, and served as the
U.S. ambassador to the United Nations during the Gulf War. Ambassador
Pickering, it's a pleasure to have you back with us on Worldnet.


AMB. PICKERING:  Thank you, Jim, it's very nice to be here.



MR. BERTEL: Before we join our international audience, I'd like you to
quickly bring us up to date on where we stand in finding a peaceful
diplomatic solution in the crisis.


AMB. PICKERING: Jim, thank you. I'd like very much to do that. As
President Clinton said on Tuesday, when he spoke to the American and
world publics, we are dedicated to a diplomatic solution if that can
be achieved. A diplomatic solution in our view should achieve the
objectives of the international community, to carry out the U.N.
resolutions to deny Saddam the weapons of mass destruction and the
right or the capacity to threaten his neighborhood. That's an
important objective, and Kofi Annan, the secretary general of the
United Nations, is now about to leave to go to Baghdad to talk to the
Iraqis about achieving that solution.


The achievement of that solution will be rather simple. The U.N. has
firm resolutions. The U.N. Special Commission has to have the right to
inspect anywhere at any time by any method in order to discover and to
disarm Saddam of the weapons of mass destruction that he has
heretofore hidden or will seek to recreate we are certain as we
proceed ahead.


What would happen if the diplomatic solution should fail? We hope very
much that it will not fail. We wish the secretary general well. He
goes with our confidence. He is a skilled and able diplomat. But if it
should fail, we have made clear that we are not prepared to rule out
any option, including the use of force. The president hasn't made that
decision yet. We will want to see the results of the diplomatic
efforts now ongoing.


If we should use force, what will happen? Those questions are asked of
us all the time. We believe that Saddam can expect a significant use
of force -- not a pinprick, not a symbolic or demonstrative use of
force. We also are clearly committed -- if he will not accept UNSCOM
back, which is our preference, to use force on a continuing basis to
diminish substantially his capacity to use weapons of mass destruction
and to threaten his neighborhood. That is a very important goal of the
United States. That spells out our continued commitment to the U.N.
resolutions and their focus in this area.


The final question is often asked of me, What happens to the people of
Iraq? We are not against the people of Iraq. We are supportive of the
people of Iraq. In the original resolutions of the Security Council we
made a major effort to exclude from the sanctions regime food and
medicine for the people of Iraq. Saddam waited five years before he
implemented that resolution, and another year and a half after in fact
the implementation regime was put in place before he actually moved
ahead to produce oil under United Nations supervision to provide food
and medicine for the people of Iraq.


Today or tomorrow the Security Council will adopt with our full
support another resolution extending that regime for the people of
Iraq. The resolution, which is the recommendation of the secretary
general, will substantially increase the amount of food and medicine
for the people of Iraq. So our problem is with Saddam, with his
policies of recreation of weapons of mass destruction and regional
domination. We hope diplomacy succeeds. It has all of our support. The
Security Council members are behind the secretary general. The
Permanent Five members of the Security Council provided the secretary
general with their joint ideas about what could be done to solve the
problem in full keeping with the United Nations resolutions.


Thanks, Jim.



MR. BERTEL: We'll all be watching the secretary general's diplomatic
mission with great interest in the days ahead.


Well, at this point I would like to welcome our international audience
gathered in London and Rome. Let's go first to London. Please go ahead
with your first question.


Q: I'm just wondering what real prospects you hold out for Kofi Annan
coming back with a peaceful solution.


AMB. PICKERING: I believe that Kofi Annan, with the full support of
the Security Council, and with the especially strong backing of a
permanent five which has common views, has the best chance to bring
back a solution.


Saddam is by nature unpredictable. Some consider him perhaps not
totally in keeping with world standards of mental behavior. However
that may be, it is difficult to make a prediction about how he will
react. Others in closer touch with him have told us he is prepared to
react positively to the secretary general. We would like nothing
better than to see UNSCOM back in fully operating with full access,
with the ability to do what it was set up to do, to inspect, to
disarm, and to continue to monitor these programs in Iraq. We hope for
the best. Like all good planners, we have to plan for the worst.


Q: This is John Andrews of the Economist. Ambassador Pickering --
(technical difficulties).


MR. BERTEL: We are obviously having some technical difficulties with
London at this point. Ambassador Pickering, it came out in the news
yesterday that Hosni Mubarak, the president of Egypt, has indicated
that Iraq has presented a proposal that goes a long way towards
answering the request of the U.N. and the resolutions. Is that
something that the United States is willing to accept?


AMB. PICKERING: Well, you're asking about a proposal the dimensions of
which I haven't seen. We welcome the support of President Hosni
Mubarak. He is a key and significant player in the Middle East in many
ways, and he has made it clear to us that he is working very hard to
convince Saddam Hussein to accept proposals which will fully implement
the resolutions.


Our standard is very clear: There needs to be free and unfettered
access for UNSCOM; there need to be the right to inspect any site in
Iraq at any time by the methods which UNSCOM believes best; it will
choose that UNSCOM must be preserved as the inspection mechanism, that
its professional people, that its technical people should carry out
the inspections that the executive chairman needs to be supported,
provide his reports to the Security Council and to the secretary
general. All of these key parameters I believe are fully joined in by
all the members of the Security Council. So we will be able to judge a
proposal, whatever it might be, against these key parameters, and
certainly we will not commit ourselves in advance to judging a
proposal which we haven't yet seen. But we hope that it will be
successful.


MR. BERTEL: At this point let's return to London for more of our
discussion. Please go ahead.


Q: (Off mike) -- plans of the administration to explain its position
to the American people came somewhat awry.


AMB. PICKERING: I got the end of the question, and I presume you are
asking about the plans, and indeed the meeting yesterday in Columbus,
Ohio, which the secretary of state, the secretary of defense and the
president's national security adviser conducted. Let me just comment
on it. I didn't get the full range and scope of your question, but I
think I can guess at what was asked.


The United States is preeminently a democracy. We believe in free
speech. Decisions to use force, particularly on a significant scale,
in this country is a subject of debate and questioning, as they are in
all democracies, and we pride ourselves on that. We also pride
ourselves on our ability to answer those questions and to convey to
the American people not only what our policy is but what our strategy
is in carrying it out. Just as in the brief compass in my opening
remarks I attempted to convey that to you.


I believe, just as at the time of the Gulf War, when there was a
similar debate -- perhaps even more in some ways significantly diverse
than the one that took place yesterday -- that the American people
will be behind the president if the time of testing should come, and
that the American people will support their armed forces as they
always have when they undertake obligations particularly in response
to carrying out the United Nations Security Council resolutions.


I was disturbed that the -- if you can call it the cacophony of the
background noise in the debate yesterday -- it really prohibited, or
at least diminished the capacity of the American public firmly to hear
what was said and firmly to digest and understand the arguments in the
true tradition of free speech. Nevertheless, in a democracy one has to
of course understand that not everybody will be decorous all of the
time, and that the sense of emotion over these issues in this country
is significant. Nevertheless, I believe the sense of our national
determination when the time of testing comes will be equally
significant.


Q: This is -- (inaudible) -- from the Middle East Broadcasting Center
Television. A lot of skeptics in the Arab world regarding the U.S.
policy towards Iraq have questioned the actual motive. They are asking
the question that who will be paying the bill for the next strike -- I
mean for this build up and for the strike when it happens. Who will be
covering the whole bill, estimated to be costing -- it's going to be
costing in the billions of dollars.


AMB. PICKERING: First, I wouldn't make such exaggerated estimates. The
secretary of defense said yesterday when he addressed the question
that the forces that are out there we have to maintain anyway. The
additional costs come for their transportation, for their fuel, for
their additional operational pace. In some cases Middle Eastern
countries have provided us with the facilities that we will need to
carry out whatever force we decide must be used when the time comes.
Others have agreed or have given us a commitment to help us as well
financially. But we are responsible for our own forces. We are
prepared as this process goes ahead to meet the budgetary needs, and
if necessary to go up to our Congress if that has to be done -- that
hasn't been decided yet -- to seek the additional funding that's
necessary to do this. This is not an action on the scale of Desert
Storm, even though it is a very significant action.


Q: (Off mike) -- Press Association. I was just wondering how much you
need Britain, if it does come to a point where you decide to use
military action. Will the U.S. proceed alone, or do you have to have
the backing of Tony Blair?


AMB. PICKERING: We are delighted to have the backing and commitment of
Prime Minister Blair and the British government. And indeed they have
been, and we believe will remain, staunch allies through the process.
And we are in the closest consultation, particularly in the effort to
achieve a diplomatic solution, to which we are both clearly committed.
We are also working very hard to build a coalition. And beginning with
the United States and Britain, who have been working together in the
Security Council, we have added now at least another 10 or a dozen
states that are prepared to make significant commitments either in the
military sphere or to support us in basing and logistics. And there
are a broader number of other states that have committed themselves to
us in a serious way, both diplomatically and in public, up to and
including the fact that they recognize that Saddam is responsible for
any outcome that might be necessary through his reluctance to continue
to implement the Security Council resolutions. Others have made it
very clear that they understand that no options can be ruled out.
Others have been even more clear in saying that not only does the
threat of use of force help diplomacy and assist diplomacy, but it
needs to be backed up by the capacity -- indeed the determination --
if in fact diplomacy, as we hope not, does fail at this particular
time.


MR. BERTEL: London, thank you for those questions. We are discussing
the crisis in Iraq with Ambassador Thomas Pickering, undersecretary of
state for political affairs. Let's take our discussion to Rome now.
Please go ahead with your first question.


Q: This question come from -- (inaudible) -- of the financial daily --
(inaudible). The policy of dual containment toward Iraq and Iran has
been criticized by almost all the American allies, both Arabs and
Western countries. As far as we know, only Israel agrees on it. Do you
think that this doctrine needs to be redefined at this point?


AMB. PICKERING: No, I don't believe that there is a need to redefine
the doctrine. And in fact while the doctrine has often been
misunderstood, and has received criticism, there is a growing sense,
both among Europeans and throughout the world, that with respect to
Iraq, Iraq does have to be contained, that Iraq does need to be
dissuaded, or if necessary deterred from its continued efforts, both
to hide from the United Nations its weapons of mass destruction
programs, and as a result resist disarming them as the United Nations
has decided; but, even more importantly, to resist the question of
ongoing monitoring of those programs as the process goes ahead. And
the world I believe is in full support of sanctions against Iraq with
respect to those particular programs.


On Iran, we have been conducting conversations, particularly with our
friends and supporters and allies throughout the European Union, about
our deep concern about three Iranian policies that we believe we share
a common sense of deep concern about. One of those is the Iranian
program to develop weapons of mass destruction and missile delivery
vehicles. The second is the use of terrorism as an instrument of state
policy by Iran, often against Iranian opposition leaders. And the
third is the use of violence, or the support for the use of violence
against the Middle East peace process. We believe that there is a wide
degree of consensus about this, and we are working hard to develop
common strategies and common approaches to deal with these particular
problems. That work is ongoing. We would like to see more progress in
that area. We believe that we are making slow but important progress
in that area, and we will continue to stay in very close touch with
the states involved in the region about it.


Q: This is -- (inaudible) -- from La Stampa daily paper. Good morning,
Ambassador Pickering. If the military operation against Iraq will
begin, will the United States have to use the bases, the military
bases, in Italy? And according to the existing agreement between the
two countries, could theoretically speaking the Italian government ask
Washington not to use these bases?


AMB. PICKERING: Good afternoon -- (inaudible) -- and thank you for
your question. First with respect to bases in Italy or elsewhere,
those bases that we need to use we will use only in close consultation
with the governments concerned.


For military operational reasons I am not going to discuss particular
countries or particular base arrangements, but I want to assure you
and others who may have concerns about this particular question that
our approach to these questions is the same approach that we always
have, that the use of bases is subject to the common agreement of the
countries concerned, and that that is a procedure and a process that
we will continue to follow.


Q: The following from -- (inaudible). The second pillar of American
policy in the Middle East, along with dual containment, is the
Arab-Israeli peace process. If or when this confrontation with Saddam
Hussein will be over, will the United States put forward new
initiatives to let the peace process get back on track?


AMB. PICKERING: The United States is now urgently and clearly pursuing
ideas, thoughts that have been conveyed to the parties. We are in a
sense actively pursuing the question of initiatives with the parties.
We have had them here a week ago to get their initial reactions. We
will be looking forward to further discussions with them to develop
those reactions. The United States believes it has, as a mediator
clearly accepted by all of the parties in the Middle East peace
settlement process, an enormous responsibility in this regard. The
United States wants clearly to use its role to build trust and
confidence, just as it wants to use its role to provide, when the
appropriate time has come, and that time is certainly now, the sort of
thoughts and ideas that it has to share with the parties to move this
particular process ahead. So perhaps your question is already
anticipated by my answer. Thank you.


Q: A question from Umberto -- (inaudible). In his February 17th speech
at the Pentagon, President Clinton listed the countries supporting the
United States in a possible military intervention against Iraq. Italy
was not mentioned. Why is that so?


AMB. PICKERING: The president mentioned a short list of countries that
have agreed to provide us with direct military support. That of course
list is expanding and growing. We have had an excellent talk here with
Foreign Minister Dini about the situation. We have a clear sense of
common views and common cooperation with respect to that. And of
course questions about Italy's participation are uniquely up to Italy
to decide, and Italy would of course be the appropriate place to
address your questions about that, and the appropriate place to
provide a response. But we are very satisfied with our relations with
Italy. We are very satisfied with the visit we had here with the
foreign minister and with our continuing contacts. And let me add,
because as you all know we are deeply sorry -- we extend our
condolences to all who were injured in the very serious aircraft
accident, and we are committed to work with Italian authorities on a
full and open investigation of that process to develop precisely what
happened and where responsibilities may rest.


Q: Ambassador Pickering, under which condition you will consider a
complete success the Annan mission in Baghdad? Because as far as we
know the Iraqi government today is ready to open the presidential
places, but asks to limit the time for inspections, and to change the
composition of these inspection teams.


AMB. PICKERING: I think that a simple definition of success is first a
general one -- the full carrying out of all the U.N. resolutions. And,
secondly, in its specific parameters, while these may not be the total
definition of success, fundamental in our view are three principles:
that the United Nations Special Commission should have full and
unfettered access, immediate unconditional and unrestricted access is
what in fact the Security Council has said about access; secondly,
that the United Nations Special Commission should be able to inspect
any site in Iraq that it believes it needs to, at any time it needs
to, by any method of inspection that it believes is required to carry
out its mandate; and, thirdly, that UNSCOM must be the inspecting
organization, that its professionalism and its technical expertise --
indeed that the role of its executive chairman, its integrity, its
ability to make its reports -- needs to be preserved. Those are in our
view the core principles that need to be applied. Those are core
principles which we believe have the full support of the Security
Council. And those are the kinds of principles that we will apply in
reviewing any settlement that will be brought to the Security Council
in order to define our response to the question of whether this
settlement meets the strictures of the Security Council resolutions by
which we are all bound.


Q: (Inaudible.) Let's suppose that the crisis in the Gulf is over,
with Saddam Hussein agreeing to meet all the international
requirements on arms control. Will the United States ease or review
its policy of sanctions towards Iraq at that point?


AMB. PICKERING: The United States is fully committed to the Security
Council resolutions, those resolutions that set up a process and a
procedure that will deal with the issue of sanctions, and finally of
their removal. For seven years we have waited for Saddam to comply.
For seven years he has not complied. He has provided false
declarations. He has blocked access. He has made it extremely
difficult to move ahead. If in the circumstances Saddam were fully to
comply, the first stage that we would look forward to would be that on
the basis of reports by the Special Commission, and in the nuclear
area by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Security Council
would have to consider the question of moving in the inspection regime
from the active verification and inspection phase to the more passive
monitoring phase, with obviously inspections still available to look
at idiosyncracies, to look at difficulties, to look at uncertainties.


The United States believes with the full implementation and full
compliance with all the resolutions it then will be in a position to
consider the question of sanctions under United Nations Security
Council Resolution 687, which provides this framework that I have been
talking to you about.


MR. BERTEL: Rome, thank you for those questions. At this point I'd
like to welcome our participants gathered in Moscow. Please go ahead
with your first question.


Q: Sergei Deremka (ph), Public Russian Television Channel One. Hello,
Mr. Pickering. You are saying that you have all the legal basis for a
military action against Iraq. Meanwhile, as far as I understand it,
Great Britain is preparing an additional resolution which incidentally
says that there are insufficient legal basis, or perhaps are absent
all together.


AMB. PICKERING: Sergei, thank you for the question. I think it's an
important one, because I think it will shed light precisely on the
United Nations Security Council processes and where things are.


The United States believes that Saddam Hussein, in agreeing to accept
the cease-fire and the Resolution 687 which implemented it, also
agreed to accept the disarmament of his weapons of mass destruction.
Having created in fact a situation in which he is no longer obviously
complying with that resolution -- he is blocking access to
inspections, he has not fully complied with the requirement of the
resolutions to provide full disclosure of his programs in the first 15
days after the resolution was passed back in 1991. That means that in
our legal view the underlying resolution which authorized the use of
force, all necessary means, at the end of November in 1990, the famous
Resolution 678, still applies. And in the absence of a binding
cease-fire there is on the part of the United Nations and others the
right to use force.


The second point obviously is that we believe and are fully willing to
support a resolution in the Security Council making a finding of
so-called material breach in international law, because we believe
that seven times in the last seven years, in various crises and
confrontations with Iraq, Iraq has complied after the Security
Council, either in a resolution or a presidential statement has made a
finding of material breach. And that the United Kingdom has told us it
is interested in offering such a resolution, we believe that such a
resolution at an appropriate time would clearly be important if you
like in making clear to Saddam that the Council is united, that the
Council is deeply concerned by this problem, the Council is sending
the appropriate diplomatic signal to Saddam that the issue here is a
significant ad serious one, one that in the past -- a signal in the
past that he has received, reflected upon, and taken the appropriate
decision to comply.


Q: Please tell me -- I have another question here -- to what extent
does the United States play a role, as we say in Russian, the "bad
cop"? To what extent is your two-day ultimatum -- is that of
assistance to Kofi Annan?


AMB. PICKERING: The United States believes that in this particular
case, as in other confrontations with Saddam, diplomacy must be given
preeminence until it is clear -- and unfortunately I think it is
becoming clear that it has run its course; that diplomacy backed up by
the threat of use of force has had the most influence on Saddam in the
past, and therefore it needs very much to be in the equation; that
finally, as was the case in the Gulf War and in three or four other
instances unfortunately in the past following the Gulf War, when
Saddam has clearly failed to comply with resolutions, the use of force
has been necessary and has been used, and has brought him to
compliance.


And so we look at this as a set of interlocked relationships, a case
in which the threat of the use of force in our view is important and
very necessary for diplomacy to succeed, and that should diplomacy
fail then the critical decisions on the use of force will have to be
made in confidence that in the past it has been successful and that it
must be used in order to be sure that we do everything possible to
carry out our legal and binding commitments to ensure that mandatory
resolutions of the Security Council are implemented.


Q: We agree that such a splitting of roles would be very productive.
That is, if one party points to the other in the role of a bad cop
that this would be very productive. Perhaps there is such a secret
agreement with Moscow that you have at the present time on this?


AMB. PICKERING: Not at all. We have of course watched very closely,
and we have supported the efforts of Russia to bring about a solution
to this problem. We want a solution on the basis of full
implementation of the resolutions. And we have had some questions, as
indeed I believe people have had in Moscow, about Saddam's willingness
to meet the requirements of the resolution, to have inspections when
the UNSCOM people believe inspections need to be carried out. He's
seeking to impose time limits. He is seeking to impose a
one-time-for-all inspection regime. These are difficulties that I
believe we see eye to eye on with Moscow, and our effort has not been
to play a bad cop and offer Moscow the role of good cop.


Our effort has been to say that diplomacy and force in this particular
case are proven formulas for success in the past. We should both adopt
them. We should both remain committed to them. We should give primacy
-- and we agree on that I believe -- to the use of diplomacy. But we
should not rule out the use of force, which is in my view, and in the
view of the United States, the best way to bring home to Saddam that
he has an alternative to resolve this problem, the alternative that he
has finally selected in the past to accept the diplomatic solution
which will bring him back into full compliance with the resolutions.
Should he not -- and this is perhaps where we differ -- then the
question of the use of force comes into play. The use of force in the
past has had success, and it should not be discarded in our view as a
way to achieve what it is we believe we are obliged to achieve under
the charter in respect of our very significant joint role in the
Security Council.


Q: Mr. Pickering, some time ago you said like all good planners we
have to plan for the worst. I would like to ask -- well, suppose the
worst does happen? You say bomb some storage areas where biological
weapons were stored, and you as a result of this the biological
weapons have now been spread onto the civilian population. Saddam has
been killed and there is no one to replace him, because there is no
opposition in the country.


AMB. PICKERING: I'm of course concerned about the first part of your
question, the collateral damage if you like, the damage to innocent
civilians, and we will of course be very careful. It is our purpose
obviously in the use of force to strike those targets which contribute
to his weapons of mass destruction, to his ability to thwart the work
of UNSCOM. And we will of course continue to do that. No one obviously
can rule out the fact that there will not be damage, and that's why we
take the use of force so seriously, and why we consider it a last
resort but a necessary resort.


With respect to the question of the terrible problem of having to deal
with a successor to Saddam, there are many in this country who wish
they could have that problem, that we could in fact -- and believe
that there will be people who will come forward both inside and
outside of Iraq, to take over leadership of the country, people who
feel that the oppression of the Iraqi people -- not just for the last
seven years, but for a long period of time under Saddam's rule. We
have to remember that 17 years ago he started a terrible war against
Iran, that his people suffered enormous casualties as a result of that
terrible decision; that he continues to oppress his people; that
people in Iraq deserve an opportunity to find a way to free themselves
from that kind of oppression, just as they deserve the opportunity
that we hope the Security Council will give them in the next couple of
days to get the food and medicine which for such a long time Saddam
had deprived them of having.


And we clearly believe that were he to leave the scene a new
leadership would come forward. We would be in every sense of the word
committed and willing to work with a successor regime, a successor
regime which we hope would be willing to comply with the resolutions
of the Security Council, move Iraq forward. We are committed in that
sense as we always have been to maintaining the territorial integrity
of Iraq in the Middle East. We look forward to the promise of your
question. I wish I could say I had high hopes it would happen, or that
there was some magical way to make that happen. I don't believe that
that is the case. We are committed in the long run to the U.N.
resolutions.


Q: Ambassador Pickering, I would still like to ask about the
responsibility of the victor. You took upon yourself the
responsibility after winning the war with Japan. The same in 1945 in
Germany. Now let's assume that Saddam has been killed and anthrax has
been spread throughout the area, that the Shiites have risen up in the
south, and the Kurds who are viewed as a threat by Turkey and Iran are
in a pincer by these two countries. Who then in this situation would
have the responsibility for the ensuing situation?


AMB. PICKERING: Well, first and foremost -- and we can look at lots of
alternative scenarios -- some even bleaker than the one that you have
painted. First and foremost, obviously it is the people of Iraq who
will be responsible for their own future. It is our sense that there
is -- despite the fact that there are historically different
communities living in Iraq, a strong commitment to a central, if you
like, country of Iraq built around the three major communities --
Sunni, Shia and Kurdish. We and others I believe are committed
throughout this whole process to helping those communities find a
future in Iraq free of Saddam. We would certainly want to work very
closely if that were the outcome with those communities to try to
develop the coherence, the cooperation that has existed in the past
and will be necessary in the future to preserve tranquility.


We of course are deeply concerned about any results of casualties in
the country. We will do everything we can in use of force, should it
come to that, to minimize those casualties.


Q: Please tell me can we talk about responsibility if you are prepared
to patrol the streets, prepare to write a Constitution to guarantee
free elections in Iraq. Those kinds of examples could testify to your
responsibility. Bombing simply by itself can scarcely be considered as
any token of responsibility.


AMB. PICKERING: I would differ with you on your last remark. The use
of force to carry out United Nations resolutions is something that
took place in the past. It was successful. It is something that we
hope will be successful. If it is not successful we have said that
certainly we hope to achieve our objectives of substantially
diminishing his capacity to develop or use weapons of mass destruction
and threaten the neighborhood. Were cataclysmic changes to take place
inside Iraq, we have said, and will continue to say, we look forward
to working with successor regimes, with successor governments. We
would look forward to accepting a responsibility to helping those
regimes, those governments, live up to their obligations under the
United Nations Charter to be good neighbors in the neighborhood, to
develop governments of their own choice, to work to achieve what it is
that Saddam has been working so hard to block and to thwart, and to
make if not difficult almost impossible -- put it that way.


Q: Ambassador Pickering, doesn't it seem to you that many countries
who are participating in this crisis are perhaps trying to solve their
own problems, domestic issues, before the international ones? We can
see that in Russia that some of the opposition people here in our
country are more concerned with their own problems. To what extent
does this concern the United States domestic policy and the latest
scandals that are surrounding the White House?


AMB. PICKERING: Well, I would leave aside comments on Russia. I
haven't been there since November of 1996. I follow the situation
closely, but I think that's probably best for analysts closer to the
spot to actually review and recommend.


The implication was, and I would like to take that on head on, that
the United States is somehow pursuing its policy on Iraq because there
are domestic questions that have come to the fore that somehow need to
be taken care of or put in perspective by Iraq policy. The chronology
itself of the development of this particular issue should go far to
put at rest that particular problem. Saddam began defying the Security
Council, began defying the world community, began to violate the
resolutions long before any such issues became the subject of
discussion in the United States.


Secondly, I believe that it has been Saddam who has initiated this
particular crisis and Saddam who bears the responsibility for it. And
our strategy has been focused long since on first trying to solve the
problem diplomatically -- we thought it had been solved in November.
We hoe it will be solved now. We hope now it will be solved for all
time. But at the same time we have been prepared, as we have been in
the past, seven years ago, six years ago, four years ago, to consider
the use of military force if that has been necessary to resolve this
particular issue.


And I think that in other countries around the world who have joined
us there is a similar feeling. I think the notion that there is a kind
of conspiracy of a coalition which wants to bring Saddam into
compliance to resolve some or all of its domestic problems through
reliance upon Saddam really vitally stretches the imagination deep
into the world of fiction. It's almost become a kind of art form. And
I would say that there is almost nothing that one could attribute to
substantiate that kind of argument. I've given you some of my thoughts
on the subject.


Q: Thank you very much, Ambassador Pickering, for your answers. We
recall with great warmth your stay here in Moscow.


AMB. PICKERING:  (In Russian.)



MR. BERTEL: Moscow, thank you for those comments. Let's return to
London for another quick question.


Q: Ambassador Pickering, this is John Andrews from the Economist.
Clearly some of your friends in the Arab world -- the Saudis, King
Hussein of Jordan, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt -- have misgivings about
American policy so far on this crisis, not at least because there is
widespread popular dissatisfaction with the policy. How can you help
those leaders who are your friends so that they get greater support
from their populations?


AMB. PICKERING: Thank you, John. We have been working very closely
with those leaders, and we have had excellent consultations with them.
Those leaders themselves I think have begun, if I could phrase it this
way, to help themselves very significantly, and that obviously is the
major locus of responsibility in this regard, by supporting the
efforts of the secretary general, the efforts of others of us who have
attempted to achieve a diplomatic settlement of this process in
keeping with the United Nations resolutions.


They have also helped us in a very significant way to make credible
the fact that if a diplomatic settlement cannot be achieved there is
another alternative. And we have been grateful to them for the
assistance and help that they have given, the assistance and help that
we believe will meet our needs and requirements as we go down this
track.


I think it is also extremely important that over a period of seven
years a number of myths have been propagated -- myths which have found
a kind of home if you like in what I guess is best called the Arab
street -- myths that somehow Saddam is not responsible for the parlous
and terrible conditions visited on his people by his absolute refusal
to work with the United Nations, to use his own resources to provide
food and medicine for his own people for a total of almost six and a
half years in various stages, by in fact his absolute refusal to work
on a number of occasions with the United Nations Special Commission to
carry out the tasks which he himself accepted as a responsibility when
the cease-fire agreement was reached and Resolution 687 was formally
accepted by Saddam, by his own efforts to threaten the neighborhood,
and by in fact the deep concern that I believe we all share that the
weapons of mass destruction, some of the terrible biological weapons
and some of the terrible gas weapons that he has developed remain in
his hands, or the means and facilities to reconstitute those weapons
remain in his hands, and thereby serve as a permanent threat.


Many have said that Saddam would not use those weapons. And in fact I
think the history of this is quite clear. On a number of occasions he
has unfortunately used them, both on his own people and on his
neighbors. And so it is important I believe to have the full story, if
you like, broadcast to, provided to, made available to, the people of
the Arab world. And I think it is through those methods, through those
efforts that we are trying to make, and others are trying to make,
that we can help the leaders concerned to work with their own people.


MR. BERTEL: Ambassador Pickering, we are going to have to stop our
discussion there. We are just running out of time. I want to thank you
for joining us for this important and informative discussion. And my
thanks to all of our participants overseas. In Washington, I'm Jim
Bertel for Worldnet.


(End transcript)