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A time for cool heads - UN process must continue.

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Senator Natasha Stott Despoja Australian Democrats Foreign Affairs Spokesperson 17 January 2003 MEDIA RELEASE 03/22

A time for cool heads - UN process must continue

The discovery of warheads by United Nations weapons inspectors in Iraq demonstrates that the inspection process is working and must continue, according to the Australian Democrats.

Democrats’ Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Senator Natasha Stott Despoja, said that serious allegations had been raised regarding Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction program, and that the purpose of the inspection process was to gather the facts.

“It is crucial the weapons inspectors are given the time to do their jobs effectively, free from pressure,” said Senator Stott Despoja.

“The UN process is yet to be completed - the discovery of warheads must not be used by any country to pre-empt the ultimate findings of the inspectors.

“The inspection process represents a multi-lateral endeavour to resolve this situation peacefully and effectively - it should not be seen as a first step to war.

“If peaceful disarmament is the ultimate objective, it is imperative that cool heads prevail at this time,” said Senator Stott Despoja.

“The Democrats are concerned that Australian military personnel have been deployed to the Gulf prior to the completion of the inspection process.

“The Prime Minister has publicly committed to a Parliamentary debate on Australia’s involvement in military action against Iraq. Now that military personnel have been deployed, it is time for that debate to occur.

“I have written to the Minister and Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs seeking their support for Parliament to be recalled immediately.

“Decisions concerning Australia’s involvement in any military action against Iraq will have significant implications for the safety and security of all Australians.

“The Australian community must be given the opportunity - through their elected representatives - to participate in these decisions,” concluded Senator Stott Despoja.

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