Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:30 pm on 10th February 1998.

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Photo of Robin Cook Robin Cook Foreign Secretary 3:30 pm, 10th February 1998

The right hon. Gentleman speaks with experience, and I am grateful for his support. I wish that the nature of the regime with which we are dealing were better understood. It might be helpful to mention that, in the past two months, Iraq has cleansed its prisons by executing every prisoner who had been sentenced to more than 15 years: in that time, 1,200 prisoners have been shot in prison courtyards in Iraq. That is the nature of the regime with which we are dealing.

The right hon. Gentleman will understand if I do not respond on any specific targeting plans, but Saddam does keep himself in power through fear and force. He should be under no illusion that, if military force is required on this occasion, the military power that keeps him in power will be hit hard.