I am speaking on behalf of the European Union. The following candidate countries associate themselves with this statement: Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Turkey.
The EU wishes to thank the Director General for his briefing on the latest developments concerning the situation with regard to Iraq.
The EU notes with interest that the Director General has reported that the first inspection has taken place, and that he considers it a good beginning. We share his hope that full corporation will continue throughout the inspection process.
The EU welcomes the unanimous adoption of Security Council resolution 1441 of 8 November 2002, which paved the way for weapons inspectors to return to Iraq on the basis of a strengthened inspection regime. This resolution sends an unambiguous message to the Iraqi government and points the way for Iraq to resolve the crisis peacefully.
The EU‘s policy towards Iraq has a clear objective i.e. the disarmament of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolutions. Iraq must now cooperate immediately, unconditionally and actively with the weapons inspectors. The EU urges the Iraqi government to grasp this final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations. This is the only way for Iraq to avoid further confrontation. In this context, the EU notes Iraq’s acceptance of the resolution as the first step to complying with its disarmament obligations.
The EU will continue to give its whole-hearted support to the UN and in particular the UN Security Council, which bears the main responsibility for tackling this problem. The role of the Security Council in maintaining international peace and security must be respected.
The Council of Foreign Ministers of the European Union has expressed its full support for Dr. Blix of UNMOVIC and Dr. ElBaradei of the IAEA. The EU stands ready to provide whatever political and practical assistance it can to ensure that their mission achieves the international community’s objective of an Iraq free of weapons of mass destruction.
Thank you, Madame Chairperson.