Iraq

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:53 pm on 3rd November 1998.

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Photo of Robin Cook Robin Cook Foreign Secretary 4:53 pm, 3rd November 1998

I thank the right hon. and learned Gentleman for what I shall take as support for our position. He is, of course, absolutely right to say that this is not the first time that Saddam Hussein has tested the will of the international community—nor is it the first time in the past eight years. Saddam Hussein's testing of the international community did not commence after the general election. Whenever the previous Administration stood firm to him, we gave them our full support.

It is important that we remain patient, strong and resolute. We might as well be clear now that this will not be the last time that Saddam Hussein tests our resolve. We have to be firm and clear that he has to comply, and we shall have to be resolute the next time he seeks to test that resolve. There is absolutely no intention on the part of the Government to walk away from either the crisis in the Gulf or what we said on the previous occasion.

We remain ready to use all options. We have a dozen Tornados already in the Gulf, and we have maintained that presence ever since the previous crisis. We are confident that we have the basis on which, if required, we could put them into use. Resolution 1154, which endorsed the agreement reached by Kofi Annan in Baghdad, warned that violations would be met with the severest consequences.

Finally, in respect of Mr. Ritter, it is a bit rich to accuse the United States and the United Kingdom of being weak and irresolute in standing up to Saddam Hussein. Those two countries have been the firmest in making it clear that Saddam Hussein has to comply with the resolutions, and it would give us a better prospect of Saddam Hussein recognising our resolve if the right hon. and learned Gentleman did not at every possible opportunity seek to undermine that resolve.