Dominique de Villepin

March 08, 2003

The following is an excerpt of French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin's remarks to the U.N. Security Council :

What have the inspectors told us? That for a month Iraq has been actively cooperating with them, that substantial progress has been made in the area of ballistics with the progressive destruction of al-Samoud 2 missiles and their equipment, that new prospects are opening up with the recent question of several scientists. Significant evidence of real disarmament has now been observed, and that is indeed the key to Resolution 1441.

Therefore, I would like solemnly to address a question to this body, and it's the very same question being asked by people all over the world. Why should we now engage in war with Iraq? ...

... War is always an acknowledgment of failure. Let us not resign ourselves to the irreparable. Before making our choice, let us weigh the consequences. Let us measure the effects of our decision. And it's clear to all in Iraq, we are resolutely moving toward completely eliminating programs of weapons of mass destruction. The method that we have chosen worked. ...

... What conclusions can we draw [from the inspectors' reports]? That Iraq, according to the very terms used by the inspectors, represents less of a danger to the world than it did in 1991, that we can achieve our objective of effectively disarming that country. Let us keep the pressure on Baghdad. ...

... The American and British military presence in the region lends support to our collective resolve. We all recognize the effectiveness of this pressure on the part of the international community, and we must use it to go through with our objective of disarmament through inspections. ... .

... The military agenda must not dictate the calendar of inspections. ...

... By imposing a deadline of only a few days, would we merely be seeking a pretext for war? As a permanent member of the Security Council, I will say it again: France will not allow a resolution to pass that authorizes the automatic use of force.

Let us consider the anguish and the expectations of people all over the world, in all our countries, from Cairo to Rio, from Algiers to Pretoria, from Rome to Jakarta. Indeed, the stakes go beyond the fate of Iraq alone.

Let us be clear-sighted. We are defining a method to resolve crisis. We are choosing how to define the world we want our children to live in.

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