USIS Washington 
File

05 March 1998

TRANSCRIPT: UN SEC-GEN KOFI ANNAN INTERVIEW ON PBS NEWSHOUR

(U.S. military stay in the Gulf is Clinton's decision) (2690)



(Permission obtained covering republication/translation of the
transcript by USIS/press outside the U.S. From the NewsHour with Jim
Lehrer, March 4, 1998, co-produced by MACNEIL/LEHRER PRODUCTIONS and
WETA in association with WNET. Copyright (c) 1998 by MacNeil-Lehrer
Productions.)


United Nations -- UN Secretary General Kofi Annan says the judgment on
how long U.S. military forces should remain in the Persian Gulf region
is President Clinton's decision, "and his alone."


In a March 4 interview on PBS Television's "Newshour with Jim Lehrer,"
Annan said he believes it is the President's judgment that these
forces must "remain there until we have had a chance to test the
agreement" that the Secretary General negotiated with Iraqi leader
Saddam Hussein.


Under the agreement, the Iraqi government agreed to give the United
Nations Special Commission in Iraq (UNSCOM) inspectors full and
unfettered access to all sites that might harbor weapons of mass
destruction or the capacity to produce or deliver them.


"As I said," Annan continued, "an agreement is something on paper
until one lives up to the commitments. And I hope in the next few
months we will see serious performance on the Iraqi side. And when
that happens presumably the President will not see any need to keep
the military on the ground."


He also stressed that the job of the diplomats who will accompany
UNSCOM inspectors to so-called presidential sites will be to observe
"both ways" -- "to ensure that the Iraqis carry out their commitments
and do what they have promised to do," and that the inspectors "get on
with their work with certain respect and sensitivity."


The Secretary General said Iraq must fulfill a number of requirements
if it is to end the sanctions the Security Council imposed upon it.


"You have the weapons issue, the question of disarmament. And we have
two phases of that. You first disarm to establish a baseline, and then
you have ongoing monitoring which can go on for quite some time."


In addition, he said, "you have the question of the missing in action,
the Kuwaiti missing in action and return of Kuwaiti properties. These
are the things that Iraq has to comply with. And then the Council will
lift the sanctions."


Following is the transcript:



(begin transcript)



THE NEWSHOUR WITH JIM LEHRER

NEWSMAKER INTERVIEW WITH:

UNITED NATIONS SECRETARY GENERAL KOFI ANNAN

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 4, 1998



MS. FARNSWORTH: First tonight a newsmaker interview with U.N.
Secretary General Kofi Annan. Margaret Warner talked with him this
afternoon:


MARGARET WARNER:  Welcome, Mr. Annan.



SEC. GEN. ANNAN:  Thank you very much.



WARNER: Thanks for being with us. What is the meaning to Iraq behind
the resolution that the U.N. passed this week?


ANNAN: I think the meaning to Iraq is that if they do not comply next
time round peace may not be given a second chance. And I hope that
they will comply, because the test will be in the application.


WARNER: So does the "severest consequences," which is the phrase used
in the resolution, does that definitely mean military action?


ANNAN: I think it implies that the Council would take a very strict
action, and that if there is further disruption of inspections there
could be very serious consequences. And my sense if that were to
happen the mood in the Council may be quite different. Let's not
forget that the resolution was passed unanimously, so the unity of the
Council is restored. And if they have to act again my sense is that
that unity could be sustained.


WARNER: Now, President Clinton said yesterday that he felt the
resolution, the phrase he used was "provides the authority to act," as
he put it, if Iraq doesn't comply. Is that how you read it, that it
provides the authority, say, for any single member state to act
unilaterally?


ANNAN: This is a Council decision. I mean, the resolution yesterday
was passed unanimously by the Council, and the Council decided that it
will remain seized of the matter. And my sense then is that if Iraq
does not comply, and action is going to be taken, the Council will
somehow want to be seized of it, but I think it will be much easier
then for the Council to move forward unanimously.


WARNER: So you feel that, say, the French, the Chinese, the Russians,
would be -- do intend to follow through, would be more open to the use
of military force than they were before?


ANNAN: I think they -- first of all, let me say that everybody this
time round indicated they preferred a diplomatic solution. We have got
that solution. And we are now going to test it. If Iraq fulfills it
strictly and in accordance with the understanding we reached in
Baghdad, it may see light at the end of the day. If it does not, and
disrupts it, and the issue came up again, I don't think there will be
many members in the Council hesitating to take action.


WARNER: Now, what would constitute violation of the agreement -- of
the agreement you negotiated with the Iraqis, in your view?


ANNAN: The agreement offers full and unrestricted access for the U.N.
inspectors, and we have also been given access and entry into the
presidential palaces. This can only be done with the cooperation of
the Iraqis, and hopefully they will stick to this understanding. If
they don't, and they block the inspectors from doing their work, it
will constitute a violation.


WARNER: Now, in your reading of the agreement, which of course you
negotiated, is there any room for legitimate disagreement, as you see
it, over an access question?


ANNAN: It's difficult to answer that question. I think we pretty much
covered most of the issues. But I -- you know, you've asked a
theoretical question, and I am often hesitant about dealing with
theoretical situations. In life you never know -- it could happen,
yes.


WARNER: I guess I was just asking because it also says "unconditional
access." And I just wondered if in your view that means basically the
inspectors can go anywhere any time they want.


ANNAN: I think we -- you know, we all have to be reasonable, and I
think so the Iraqi and the U.N. officials, in that even though we have
unconditional access, almost everything we have done in Baghdad we
have had to rely on the cooperation of the Iraqis. For example, Iraq
has participated -- they travel with the inspectors. They go along
with them. And in some cases inspections have been canceled because
Iraqi participants have not appeared, so there could be some
misunderstanding. But it's not beyond human ingenuity to find
solutions to these things. And I hope that even if the situation
you've alluded to were to occur, with the professionalism and good
will on both sides we can work them out.


WARNER: Now, turning to the presidential sites, which was the special
category you particularly had to negotiate, what is going to be the
role of these diplomats who for the first time are going to accompany
the UNSCOM inspectors?


ANNAN: Yes. There has been some confusion about that. The role of the
diplomats will be to observe. And they will be observing both ways --
to ensure that the Iraqis carry out their commitments and do what they
have promised to do, and also to ensure that the U.N. inspectors get
on with their work with certain respect and sensitivity, given the
fact that these are presidential sites and for the government it is
extremely important that it is handled with dignity and sensitivity.
And so the diplomats will observe. They will have nothing to do with
the actual inspections. The team leader will be an expert either from
UNSCOM or the Atomic Agency, and the diplomats will be there to
observe.


WARNER: And will the diplomats have any independent authority or
independent line to you?


ANNAN: They will have access to the commissioner, who is the head of
the special group for the palaces. And he and Mr. Butler will be
working very closely together. But it will be to the commissioner.


WARNER: But just -- not to beat this horse to death, but will you be
getting your report from Mr. Butler, or will there be a separate
report from the commissioner of these diplomats?


ANNAN: The report of the special group, which is headed by a
commissioner, will be sent to the Security Council from Butler through
me to the Council.


WARNER: And you've also said that the diplomats are there to ensure
that the UNSCOM inspectors treat these sites with the dignity they
should be treated. Are you suggesting that in the past UNSCOM
inspectors have not done that?


ANNAN: Well, this is the first time in seven years that they have been
given access to any of these palaces, and this is a direct outcome of
the agreement we signed in Baghdad on the 23rd of February. Some of
the other sites have been factories, they have been laboratories, they
have been other sites which perhaps do not require the kind of
sensitive treatment that the Iraqis are demanding here. And I know
that I have been misquoted, and misquoted wrongly, time and time
again, and in some cases I think deliberately -- that I have called
the inspectors "cowboys." I did not call them cowboys. I reported what
the Iraqi authorities told me that some of them throw their weight
around and behave like cowboys, and they don't want that sort of
treatment around these -- that sort of behavior around these palaces.
I have been working with UNSCOM right from the beginning, and I know
the tremendous amount of work they have done, and I have respect for
them. But I also have a duty to report to the Council what I picked up
in Baghdad.


WARNER: And this week, as I understand it, your representative with
Mr. Butler and others have been negotiating these procedures. Has that
been concluded? Is all this agreed to?


ANNAN: Yes, it's more or less done. We have the procedures, and we
should be ready to begin the inspections of the palaces as soon as the
team is gathered in Baghdad.


WARNER: Now, President Clinton also said that U.S. forces will remain
-- the beefed up U.S. forces will remain in the Gulf for the time
being. Do you think that's necessary or helpful to ensure Iraqi
compliance?


ANNAN: I think in the President's judgment that is necessary too, for
them to remain there until we have had a chance to test the agreement.
And, as I said, an agreement is something on paper until one lives up
to the commitments. And I hope in the next few months we will see
serious performance on the Iraqi side. And when that happens
presumably the President will not see any need to keep the military on
the ground.


WARNER: How long do you think it would be appropriate -- you talked
about several months -- for the U.S. to keep forces at that level in
the region?


ANNAN: That judgment is not mine. The judgment of how long the troops
stay is that, and that of the President and the alliance alone, and so
it is a decision they will have to take. The reference to a month or
to a couple of months is a guess -- guesswork on my part. The decision
is the President's and his alone.


WARNER: Now, the resolution also says that once Iraq complies with
certain -- with Resolution 687, which was the resolution that ended
the Gulf War, that sanctions could be lifted. But again there is some
confusion over really what it is Iraq has to comply with. What has
Iraq not done yet, very briefly, that it hasn't? Is it all dealing
with weapons, or are there other issue?


ANNAN: I think you have the weapons issue, the question of
disarmament. And we have two phases of that. You first disarm to
establish a baseline, and then you have ongoing monitoring which can
go on for quite some time. And then you have the question of the
missing in action, the Kuwaiti missing in action and return of Kuwaiti
properties. These are the things that Iraq has to comply with. And
then the Council will lift the sanctions.


WARNER: Finally, as you know your deal has been criticized by some
Republicans in Congress, and you personally. Trent Lott, the Senate
majority leader, said -- he was describing your dealings with Saddam
Hussein, and he said you were someone bent on appeasement, and someone
devoted to building a human relationship with a mass murderer. How do
you answer critics like that?


ANNAN: Well, these are rather strong and harsh words, and I am not
even sure if I can comment, because I don't know what is behind those
statements, because I think what I did was to try to save lives, to
try and get Iraq to comply in accordance with Security Council
resolutions. And I think if this effort, which was not an easy one,
which entailed quite a lot of risks to try and get Iraq to comply, to
save their lives and to prevent explosion in the Middle East, it's
going to be described in these terms, then of course we have different
objectives. I know that some people on the Hill have a different idea
as to how Iraq and President Saddam Hussein should be handled. That is
not my concern. I am guided by Security Council resolutions.


Yesterday on Larry King's show I was asked -- some people said the
President must be taken out, and I explained quite candidly that the
U.N. is not in the business of taking out any President -- this or
that President -- out. We are not an organization that is illegal --
and I have no mandate from the Council. And so for those who would
think that should be the objective, whatever you do short of that is
failure, is appeasement and is weakness. So I don't think there is
anything else I can say.


WARNER: How do you think you can, or do you think you can regain
though the trust of these Republicans who are the ones who are going
to decide whether or not the U.S. pays back its U.N. dues. You were
supposed to be down here this week to talk to them about that, and
Senator Lott sent word he was too busy to see you. How are you going
to get around that?


ANNAN: Well, first of all, I have to postpone my visit to Washington
because I have to be in New York for the Security Council discussion
of the agreement I brought back. It was legitimate that I remain here.
And so perhaps just as well he didn't have time to see me also,
because I was going to go down in any event.


But let me say that I have done my work as secretary general. I am
accountable to the United Nations, to the Security Council, and to the
185 member states, including the U.S. And I did what the Security
Council and the United Nations wanted me to do. The U.S. is a member
of this organization. The U.S. voted in the Security Council before I
left, agreeing to what I was attempting to do. And since I came back
the entire Council has unanimously endorsed the agreement, and the
U.S. voted for it. And so those who have a problem with the agreement
should not quarrel with me; they should take it up with the member
states of the U.N. There are 185 of them -- if they have a quarrel
it's with them, and not with me. From the day they approved the
agreement -- it's their program -- I negotiated it.


WARNER:  All right.  Well, thank you very much, Mr. Annan.



ANNAN:  Thank you.



(end transcript)