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1/98 8 February 1998


"No Australian should underestimate the very real threat posed to world security by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction", the Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs. Laurie Brereton· said today.

"In the nearly seven years since the end of the Gulf War, the United Nations Special Commission in Iraq has identified and destroyed an enormous arsenal of terror weapons. But UNSCOM's work is far from finished. Large quantities of Iraqi chemical and biological weapons remain unaccounted for including extremely lethal nerve gases and extraordinarily dangerous biological agents including anthrax. Iraq may also still have operational ballistic missiles."

"There is no room for compromise in the United Nations' efforts to eliminate Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Saddam Flussein's continuing attempts to build an arsenal of terror are well documented. There is no doubt that given the chance, Iraq would resume production and stockpiling of chemical and biological weapons with potentially horrendous consequences. It is vital that Saddam be stopped."

"Iraq has engaged in repeated attempts at denial and deception, and the pattern of defiance has worsened over time. UNSCOM cannot carry out its vital task of identifying and destroying Iraq's weapons of mass destruction while Saddam continues to deny unrestricted access to the UN inspection teams. Iraq's non-compliance with Security Council resolutions constitutes a direct and

most serious challenge to the authority of the United Nations and responsibility for whatever consequences may follow rests solely with Saddam Hussein."

Mr Brereton noted the issue of Iraq's compliance with Security Council resolutions was addressed in a resolution on the Middle East adopted at the Labor Party's recent National Conference. The relevant paragraph reads as follows:

"Recognising the threat to peace and security in the Middle East posed by the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, Labor strongly supports the continuing efforts of the United Nations to secure full compliance by the Government of Iraq with the terms of all relevant United Nations Security

Council resolutions and cooperation with the UN Special Commission charged with overseeing the identification, destruction and ongoing monitoring of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capability. Labor deplores the suffering imposed on the Iraqi people by the Iraqi Government's persistent defiance of UN Security Council resolutions, of the rule of law, and of the international community."

"Resort to military force is always regrettable and it is to be hoped that a peaceful resolution of the present crisis may still be achieved", Mr Brereton said. "Only full Iraqi compliance with all relevant UN Security Council resolutions, however, would constitute an acceptable outcome. Only the elimination of Saddam's terror arsenal will remove the threat posed to world security. Every

responsible effort should be made to persuade Iraq to allow UNSCOM unrestricted access. Ultimately, however, there may be no alternative to military action to destroy Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and related production facilities."

Mr Brereton also expressed strong support for the Executive Chairman of UNSCOM, Richard Butler. "Richard Butler is a diplomat of high integrity, skill and professionalism. His determination to complete UNSCOM's work in the face of Iraq's defiance and obstruction deserves the full support of the international community."

Contact: Philip Dorling (02) 6277 4717 or 0416 203 058

PARLIAMENT HOUSE · TEL (06)277 4717 · FAX (06) 277 8502 · ELECTORAL OFFICE · (02) 9349 6007 · FAX (02) 9349 8089