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Monday, 11 November 2002
Page: 5869

Senator FERGUSON (2:16 PM) —My question is directed to the Leader of the Government, Senator Hill. Will the minister inform the Senate of the most recent resolution passed by the United Nations Security Council in relation to Iraq? Will the minister also outline why it is important that Australia support international efforts to bring an end to Saddam Hussein's program of weapons of mass destruction?

Senator HILL (Leader of the Government in the Senate) —I thank Senator Ferguson for his questions. It is true that the Security Council has now passed resolution 1441 in relation to Iraq, and we welcome that resolution. This government has held the view that it is important that Saddam Hussein disarms and that he ends his program of weapons of mass destruction. We have also expressed the view on many occasions that it is preferable that that be achieved through collective action under the auspices of the United Nations Security Council. Therefore, although it has taken some time to achieve—it is about four years since the inspectors were in effect thrown out of Iraq—it is pleasing that the United Nations has now taken up that responsibility and passed a unanimous resolution. I think it is worth reinforcing the fact that this resolution was unanimous and included such states as Syria, so that Saddam Hussein knows that he is now totally alone, that the international community as a whole is determined that he end his weapons program and that the threat be removed.

I think it is also noteworthy that the resolution has been passed in the strongest possible terms. For the benefit of honourable senators who may not have had an opportunity to look at the resolution, I can bring to their attention the fact that it recognises Iraq's non-compliance with previous resolutions; that it recalls its previous resolution that authorised the member states to use all necessary means to uphold and implement the resolutions; that it deplores the fact that Iraq has not provided an accurate, full, final and complete disclosure as required in relation to weapons in the past; that it deplores the fact that Iraq has repeatedly obstructed immediate unconditional and unrestricted access to sites; that it deplores the absence since December 1998 of international monitoring, inspection and verification; and that it deplores the fact that the government of Iraq has failed to comply with its commitments pursuant to resolutions with regard to terrorism and with regard to repression of the civilian population and other international humanitarian responsibilities.

The resolution recalls previous resolutions under which the Security Council agreed that a cease-fire would be based on acceptance by Iraq of those resolutions and expressed its determination to ensure full and immediate compliance by Iraq with its obligations. In particular, the resolution decided that Iraq has been and remains in material breach of its obligations under the relevant resolutions; that this is a final opportunity—and I emphasise the words `final opportunity'—to comply with disarmament obligations; that, in order to begin to comply with its disarmament, Iraq must provide a currently accurate, full and complete declaration of all aspects of its weapons program within 30 days; that false statements or omissions will be a material breach in themselves; and that Iraq must provide immediate unimpeded, unconditional and unrestricted access for inspectors—exactly the sort of terminology that this government has been seeking. It directs the Executive Chairman of UNMOVIC and the Secretary of IAEA to go back in and put the inspectors back in place, and it decides to convene immediately upon any irregularities. It is a strong resolution. (Time expired)