USIS Washington 
File

03 March 1998

CLINTON SAYS UN RESOLUTION SENDS CLEAR MESSAGE TO IRAQ

(Says Iraq must obey commitments without excuses) (800)

By Wendy S. Ross

USIA White House Correspondent



Washington -- President Clinton says the unanimous (15-0) vote of the
UN Security Council late March 2 "sends a clear message" to Iraq that
it must honor its weapons inspection agreement with the UN or face
"severest consequences."


Speaking at a March 3 event in the East Room of the White House,
Clinton emphasized that "Iraq must fulfill, without obstruction or
delay, its commitment to open all of the nation to the international
weapons inspectors, any place, any time, without any conditions,
deadlines or excuses.


"All the members of the Security Council agree that failure to do so
will result in severest consequences," he said. "The government of
Iraq should be under no illusion. The meaning of severest consequences
is clear. It provides authority to act if Iraq does not turn the
commitment it has now made into compliance," the President said.


Clinton noted that UN Secretary General Kofi Annan told the Security
Council March 2 that "Iraq's complete fulfillment of these obligations
is the one and only aim of the agreement. No promise of peace and no
policy of patience can be without its limits. Iraq's words must be
matched by deeds. The world is watching."


According to White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry, the meaning of
the term severest consequences "is as plain as day." He said it means
that "diplomacy must be backed by force and the United States clearly
has stated, and the President has so stated, that any reneging on the
commitments that Iraq has acknowledged will lead to severest
consequences which very clearly means military action."


McCurry said "how and when those consequences might be applied may be,
as the President has suggested, is a matter of timing and choosing
that the United States makes."


If necessary, he said, "we would act unilaterally, but the preference,
as always, would be to act in concert with others, including members
of the Security Council who have now made this very important
statement acknowledging that severest consequences could arise."


Nations that have opposed military action against Iraq, including
Russia, the Press Secretary said, understand what "severest
consequences" means. "Other members of the Security Council understand
our views fully and so does the government of Iraq," he said. He noted
that the UN Secretary General "made it quite clear last night that
there would likely not be a second time around" if Iraq fails to
comply fully with its latest agreement with the United Nations.


Asked why many governments believe there is nothing in the March 2
Security Council resolution that suggests automatic use of force,
McCurry responded that "different governments on the Security Council
take different views about the automaticity that would trigger
military action. That's what the debate in the Security Council has
been: to what degree would any military action, as a result of a
failure to comply with the agreement, lead to automatic military
action. We have a view on that matter, and other governments have
different views.


"But I can safely report that every other government among the
permanent members of the Security Council knows how seriously the
world community would take any failure to implement this agreement by
Iraq. And even some of those who are skeptical of use of force and
against any concept of automaticity, those governments have assured
the United States, at very high and highest levels, that they
understand that a resort to force would be most likely if the
government of Iraq continued to delay meeting its obligations under
U.N. mandates."


United Nations chief weapons inspector, Ambassador Richard Butler,
"will be the one on the ground with his teams that will be in the best
position to judge the performance of the Iraqi government as they
carry out the inspections that they need to carry out in order to do
their work," McCurry said. "So as we always have, we will take very
seriously his reports to the Secretary-General and to the Security
Council."


But, McCurry made clear that the United States makes its own judgments
"as a sovereign member state of the United Nations, as to world events
or the understandings we have with respect to compliance with Security
Council resolutions. And we believe it is manifestly clear already in
Security Council resolutions that there's sufficient authority to take
further steps."


McCurry called "a prudent step" the Defense Department's decision to
accelerate anthrax vaccinations of US troops. He said Central Command
General Anthony Zinni recommended the move to Chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff General Henry Shelton and to Defense Secretary Bill
Cohen. "And they are implementing it in a prudent, precautionary way,"
he said.