Foreign Affairs and Defence

Part of Orders of the Day — Debate on the Address – in the House of Commons at 8:14 pm on 8th November 1990.

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Photo of Mr Dale Campbell-Savours Mr Dale Campbell-Savours , Workington 8:14 pm, 8th November 1990

The hon. Member for Battersea (Mr. Bowis) has just made a very compassionate speech.

I intend to speak about the Gulf crisis. Before I do so, however, may I congratulate the Foreign Secretary on his candid comment that sanctions alone will not deal with the problem? He then said that war should be avoided, if at all possible. I am also indebted to my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey), who referred to Senator Sam Nunn's comment—that all other options should be considered. As my right hon. Friend said, the truth is that it would be a very difficult war. In the event, however, of a war being needed and required, I want to make it clear that I shall support it. I do not duck that responsibility. War should not be ruled out. If at all possible, however, we should find another way.

The problem is that we are bound by a United Nations resolution that provides for unconditional withdrawal. I wonder what "unconditional" means. Does it mean that we do not even have to set out guidelines for a settlement? I intend to deal with the guidelines, first as they ought to apply to Iraq and secondly as to the response of Kuwait and the west. I want peace to be given a chance before we are driven into a war.

I believe that the Iraqi Government ought to be asked whether they would be prepared to permit at an early stage the free passage into Kuwait of an unarmed contingent of United Nations personnel to set up collection points for the evacuation of those persons in hiding, such a proposal to be the subject of negotiations between the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the Iraqi Government.

Would they permit all foreign nationals currently living in Iraq the right to leave, if they so require?

Would they be prepared to withdraw from the former territory of Kuwait all Iraqi military and civilian personnel who have entered that territory since 2 August 1990?

Would they be prepared to refrain from any hostile act which might impede the restoration of the former administrative, governmental and constitutional arrangements, with a right to vote extended only to those who were residents of the former Kuwait prior to 2 August 1990?

Would they be prepared to recognise the independence and sovereignty of the state of Kuwait within the frontiers as specified in the exchange of letters of July 1932 between the Prime Minister of Iraq and the then ruler of Kuwait and as set out in the agreement of 4 October 1963, the timing of such recognition to be the subject of United Nations decision with due regard being paid to internal political conditions within Iraq?

Would they be prepared to accept the dismantling of all chemical weapons manufacturing facilities which might exist, the destruction of all chemical weapons stocks and a self-imposed ban on their use?

Would they be prepared unilaterally to renounce all development and manufacture of nuclear weapons with a clear and unambiguous affirmation of acceptance of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty?

Would they also be prepared to accept permanent international inspection arrangements in the case of all nuclear facilities in Iraq by a body to be mutually agreed but including representatives of the International Atomic Energy Agency?

Would they be prepared to accept a demilitarised zone 150 km in depth on that territory of Iraq fronting the boundaries of Iraq with Saudi Arabia and the boundaries of Iraq and the former state of Kuwait, this zone to include that land which comprises neutral Tawal territory providing for a corridor where the demilitarisation does not apply—15 km in width from a line at its southern end logitudinally 30·5° to that point in the north where the 150 km demilitarised zone no longer applies, this zone to apply for a period of five years from the signing of the agreement, at the end of five years the future of the zone to be decided by a conference of the Arab nations, with defensive forces only to be stationed in this zone and only with the approval of the United Nations?

Would they be prepared to return to the former Kuwait all confiscated assets, including bank deposits, reserves, works of art, plant and equipment, aircraft, vehicles marine equipment, administrative records and all public property formerly in the ownership of Kuwaiti public bodies?

Would they be prepared to return to the former Kuwait and its citizens all that confiscated private property which can be identified as of Kuwaiti origin with agreed arrangements for the identification, wherever possible, of the former owners of such property? Would they be prepared to withdraw the threat of a missle attack against the state of Israel?

Would the Iraqi Government be prepared to accept those guidelines in return for an undertaking underwritten by the major powers that there should be arranged an international conference of the major powers on the Palestinian question with an open agenda and without prior commitment to any particular course of action? Such a conference would be convened within 12 months of a diplomatic settlement. Clearly, in presenting my case in this way it is implied that there is a form of linkage, but I am trying to avoid it.

Would the Iraqi Government be prepared to accept the guidelines in return for the following: an airlift of food and necessary supplies to Iraq to deal with immediate shortages; the lifting of the oil embargo; the normalisation of trade and diplomatic relations and the ending of sanctions; the releasing of Iraqi assets currently frozen; a negotiated settlement on the question of outstanding loans between Iraq and Kuwait with due sensitivity being paid to the problems of Iraq and any obligations placed on Iraq arising out of the present conflict and the war with Iran, such a settlement to call upon the resources of the world bank or similar multilateral financial institutions; consideration to be given to the problems of Iraqi access to the Persian Gulf with a commitment to arrange for financial support for the development of adequate oil and general trade infrastructural and port facilities for the purpose of facilitating the export of Iraqi oil in large tankers; a calm, rational and sensitive approach being adopted by the major powers to the question of war reparations for losses incurred during the conflict and on the question of allegations of mistreatment during the period of the dispute of foreign nationals and former residents of Kuwait; a United Nations sponsored geological survey and evaluation of oil reserves to establish what proportion of oil extracted from the Rumaila oil field is drawn from that part of the field which extends into Iraqi territory, the division of the oil revenues to be based on the findings of that evaluation; a declining and tapering percentage of Iraq's share of proposed Rumaila oil revenues to be used for the reconstruction of infrastructure lost during the course of the invasion and occupation, the scale of such a contribution to be decided upon by the Arab nations; discussions between Iraq and other Gulf states on the future volume of defence equipment and advisory personnel to be retained not only in Saudi Arabia but in the Gulf as a whole and which has been dispatched to the Gulf for reasons arising out of the most recent escalation of the conflict beginning 2 August 1990; the withdrawal of those United States, United Kingdom and allied military and civilian personnel who have been stationed in the Gulf for reasons arising out of the escalation of conflict beginning 2 August 1990; the granting, for a consideration, of the islands of Bubiyan and Warbah on a lease to Iraq and/or on the basis of some shared responsibility, to be negotiated under the auspices of either a negotiating body comprising the Arab nations or the Secretary-General of the United Nations, that both islands be treated as a de-militarised zone.

The House will recognise that the proposals I have set out involve concessions on all sides. The main concessions for Iraq would be on the question of nuclear and chemical weapons technology and the withdrawal from the territory currently occupied and annexed. My view is that movement on those points would do much to alleviate international tension and could lead to a settlement.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East opened the door today for that sort of solution. He did not spell out anything specifically. He talked of a diplomatic solution, having spent some 15 minutes addressing the House on the consequences of war. He did not rule out war, and I do not do so either. However, war must be a position of last resort. The position of first resort must be to gain some understanding and avoid war in the knowledge that that is in the wider international interest.