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Iraq: weapons of mass destruction declaration.



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MEDIA RELEASE MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS ALEXANDER DOWNER FA192 20 December

2002

IRAQ: WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION DECLARATION

Iraq has again failed to provide a full and frank accounting of its weapons of mass destruction holdings and programs, according to UNMOVIC’s and the IAEA’s initial assessment of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction declaration. The declaration was submitted to the UN Security Council on 19 December under Security Council Resolution 1441.

It is very disappointing that Iraq has not taken the opportunity to clarify aspects of its weapons of mass destruction programs in its declaration.

As UNMOVIC pointed out, Iraq has failed to address outstanding questions relating to its production of the biological agent anthrax. It has also provided insufficient evidence in the declaration to show that Iraq had destroyed its stocks of this agent.

The declaration does not address unresolved questions relating to Iraq’s production of the chemical agents VX, mustard gas, and sarin.

The onus is on Iraq to give concrete evidence that it no longer possesses these weapons or related programs, given its record of both producing and using weapons of mass destruction. Yet again Iraq seems to have failed this test. It is unfortunate that Iraq has not understood the strength of the international community’s resolve on this matter.

Australia remains hopeful that this issue can be resolved peacefully. The deficiencies and omissions in Iraq’s declaration will make the job of UNMOVIC and IAEA weapons inspectors over coming weeks even more crucial. Iraq must cooperate fully and unconditionally.

I call on Iraq to reconsider its approach to the efforts of the international community and to address frankly and conclusively the genuine concerns about its weapons of mass destruction programs.

Media enquiries: Chris Kenny (Ministerial) 0419 206 890 Lyndall Sachs (Departmental) 02 6261 1555