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Wednesday, 11 November 1998
Page: 121

Ms MAY —Mr Speaker, I take this opportunity to congratulate you on your election to high office. My question is addressed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Minister, what is the government's response to Iraq's refusal to cooperate fully with the United Nations Special Commission as required by relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions and of the possibility that military conflict will occur as a result?

Mr DOWNER (Foreign Affairs) —First, I thank the honourable member for her question and congratulate her on her election to the House. I know she will make a very fine member. I also congratulate you, Mr Speaker, on your elevation to the speakership.

Iraq's failure to cooperate with the United Nations Special Commission is a totally unacceptable flouting of its international obligations as set out in a variety of Security Council resolutions and in the agreement signed with the United Nations Secretary-General during February of this year. On 5 November the Security Council adopted a further resolution condemning Iraq's action in this respect. We are deeply disturbed by Iraq's calculated defiance of the will of the international community and we condemn unreservedly this breach of international law. A diplomatic resolution to this crisis is still possible if Iraq immediately and unconditionally resumes full cooperation with the United Nations Special Commission and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The House should be aware, though, that if Iraq does not do this then military action may be the only alternative to ensure that Iraq does not resume its weapons of mass destruction program. If this does happen, the Iraqi government will have no-one to blame but itself for the damage and for the hardship that will likely result for the Iraqi people.

Mr Howard —Mr Speaker, I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper .