Amid growing speculation about a U.S.-led attack against Iraq, the French government on Thursday sent a clear message to Baghdad, warning that Iraq will never again be allowed to threaten the Arab Gulf region with mass destruction weapons and must allow United Nations inspectors to control Iraq’s alleged weapons programs.
As reports indicate that president George w. Bush is close to a decision on a plan to oust president Saddam Hussein and bring Iraq into line with international law, France is seeking to distance itself from military action.
But at the same time, the French government is giving a clear warning that Iraq will not be allowed to thumb its nose at the UN Security Council for much longer. "We share with the United States an identical aim," French deputy foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said. That aim is "to assure that Iraq can never again become a threat to regional stability."
Iraq has not allowed any inspections of its weaponry and arms programs since the end of 1998 and there are concerns across the board about what might have happened in Iraq over the past three years. "In effect, experience shows that Iraq did constitute a threat for its neighbors, notably through weapons of mass destruction," Valero said.
"This is why we have the same requirement vis-à-vis Iraq as the United States: the return of international inspectors in conformity with the resolutions of the Security Council.
Meanwhile, Kuwait has called upon Iraq to comply with United Nations resolutions and stated it believed military action said to be considered by U.S. President Bush would seek to overthrow Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
Last week U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell made it clear that Bush was considering military action against Iraq. "And if it [a military strike] is carried out, our reading of the situation is that it will not be a limited one, but will deal with toppling the regime," Information Minister Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahd Al Sabah told Reuters in response to questions regarding what the goal of any possible U.S. military operation would be.
"Iraq must implement Security Council resolutions, the appropriate and most secure exit for all," Sheikh Ahmad said.
Diplomats in the region say some U.S. allies in the area are hoping that any new action against Baghdad would follow the “Afghanistan model”, where a U.S. bombing campaign and support for the opposition Northern Alliance overthrew the ruling Taliban regime.
"Everyone knows how global matters are advancing on terrorism and dealing with it, therefore there are these [Iraq strike] indications...", Sheikh Ahmad explained.
His comments follow a similar warning from Kuwait Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, who also insisted Iraq comply with U.N. Security Council resolutions or face the consequences. (Albawaba.com)