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Transcript of doorstop: 8 March 2003: Melbourne: Blix Report.



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LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

TRANSCRIPT OF DOORSTOP - MELBOURNE - 8TH MARCH 2002

E & OE - PROOF ONLY

Subjects: Blix Report

CREAN: I support the peaceful disarmament of Iraq and today’s report by Dr Blix indicates that is possible to achieve and whilst it is possible to achieve we should exhaust every option available to us to achieve that objective. War in these circumstances should be an option. I say to the Prime Minister that he should be urging the United States through our special relationship with them to get behind the UN resolution that achieves a peaceful disarmament of Iraq.

JOURNALIST: …the Security Council last night. Do you see this being the slow disintegration of backing for the US?

CREAN: I see it as being the potentially strengthening of the hand of the UN. What this report shows is that the Weapon Inspectors are making progress, and indeed Dr Blix says substantial progress. Now it’s true that Iraq has not fully complied, and it must fully comply that’s not in question here. But it’s got to be allowed more time to comply. And interestingly even the UK, who up until now have been very strongly backing the US, are arguing for more time. Therefore the United Nations should be determining how much time they need. How much in the context of the Blix Report.

JOURNALIST: Well how much time? I mean surely it can’t be limitless?

CREAN: No it shouldn’t be limitless and indeed Dr Blix doesn’t suggest that it be limitless. He talks in terms of months but in the end that’s a judgement for the Security Council. But the important thing here is that war can be avoided and if it can be avoided we’ve got to ensure that course is pursued and that can happen if the UN Security Council is given a stronger hand here not a weaker one. If the US goes it alone they are weakening the UN and if John Howard joins the US in going it alone he won’t have my support and he won’t have the support of the Australian people.

JOURNALIST: What are the dangers if Australia defies the will of the UN though?

CREAN: I think there are serous dangers if Australian takes itself outside of the United Nations and locks itself in to the Coalition of the US. Serious dangers because it’s always been in our interests to have the United Nations achieve peace and disarmament. We’ve got to get behind the United Nations not undermine it and indeed there is a real risk if Australia does go down this direction, a real risk in terms of our own security at home. That’s what we’ve got to be concerned about for the future. Most importantly, why would you go down this path of war if you can still achieve the peaceful resolution? Why go to war if you can secure the peace? That’s the simple proposition that the Prime Minister has to respond to and on this, International Women’s Day, why doesn’t he make the commitment to peace and disarmament? That’s what the Prime Minister should be doing today.

JOURNALIST: What about the dangers of defying the US?

CREAN: We have an obligation in terms of our alliance with the United States, under Article One, to resolve international conflict through the United Nations. There is no danger of defying the US. Where I think we risk it is if we don’t insist on that article, that provision, under our alliance. We should be insisting harder with the United States to resolve these international issues through the United Nations.

JOURNALIST: Can Saddam Hussein be trusted to disarm?

CREAN: That’s a very difficult question because he has to disarm and he hasn’t up until recently shown a preparedness to disarm. What I believe has been demonstrated over the last couple months is that with the full pressure of the United Nations he has no choice. He’s been forced to disarm and in the end what you judge it by is the actions and you judge it by the report the people who have been sent in to judge those actions make. And what Dr Blix is saying today is that substantial progress has been made. If substantial progress has been made since November why not complete the task? If indeed people argue that it’s taken 12 years to now, what’s wrong with another couple of months if it achieves the peaceful disarmament of Iraq? That’s what we’ve got to do.

JOURNALIST: What do you feel has been more effective? The UN or US troops on his borders?

CREAN: I believe that threat of action has been important but the most significant factor has been the unanimity of the United Nations. The unanimous resolution through 1441 telling Saddam Hussein he must disarm. Saddam Hussein has always looked stronger when it’s just the US he’s been attacking, he’s always been weaker when he’s had to deal with a unanimous

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decision of the United Nations. Let’s get behind the unity of the United Nations not undermine it.

JOURNALIST: It’s not what happened ten years ago?

CREAN: Look we’re talking about the future. I don’t believe it makes much sense to talk about the past if the issue is before us now. Not only is the issue before us now, real progress has been made now. And if real progress has been made let’s build on it.

ENDS