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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

PRESS CONFERENCE BY IRAQ

Department of Public Information . News and Media Division . New York

4 August 2005

The Security Council’s adoption today of a resolution condemning “in the strongest terms and without reservation” terrorist acts in Iraq was a significant event and a clear signal from the international community that it stood firmly against acts of terror, and that it stood behind the political process in Iraq, that country’s ambassador told a Headquarters press conference this afternoon.

Samir Sumaida'ie, Iraq’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, briefed correspondents following the Council’s unanimous adoption of resolution 1618 (2005), which also urged Member States to prevent the transit of terrorists to and from his country. Today’s resolution, he stated, placed a moral responsibility on Member States, and provided a yardstick by which their actions, or lack thereof, would be measured.

Terrorism did not exist in a vacuum, he said, but existed and flourished in supportive environments. Among the features of such an environment was media treatment. There were television channels and newspapers that openly promoted and glamorized terrorism, as well as produced people who argued in favour of using terrorism as a means to achieve political objectives, all under the banner of free speech. Free speech, like other rights and freedoms, must have responsible boundaries and must be such that it did not cause harm to individuals or society. Specific steps should be taken in certain countries to make it illegal to promote hatred and acts of terrorism and to cast it in a light that, in some cases, bordered on heroism.

He also mentioned religious edicts, which provided so-called religious legitimacy for terrorists. Terrorism, and extremism in general, had no place in Islam, he stressed, noting that it was based on a “skewed reading” of the teachings of Islam, and was rejected by the bulk of Muslims. However, a small minority could cause tremendous damage, he noted, recalling the destruction brought on New York in 2001 by a group of 19 men.

Asked what his country had been doing to protect its borders, Mr. Sumaida'ie said Iraq had made it clear to Syria that it was aware of people within Syria that were facilitating the passage of terrorists into Iraq and financing terrorism. Syria had been asked to deal with such people and to stem the flow of terrorists. The Iraqi Government continued to get assurances from the Syrians that they were doing what they could. Meanwhile, more and more people were coming across the border. “We continue to exert pressure but continue to get the same results. Frankly, we are not fully satisfied.”

As for who was ultimately responsible for stemming the tide of terrorism in Iraq, he said that, first and foremost, it was the responsibility of Iraq and the forces in charge of security in Iraq. At the same time, it was important that Iraq’s neighbours helped. The resolution adopted today was significant in that it placed clear responsibility on Iraq’s neighbours.

The situation in Iraq was complex, he continued. He did not want those who blew themselves up, killed civilians or detonated explosive-laden vehicles to be presented as freedom fighters. They were murders. “The sooner the violence stopped, the sooner foreign forces can withdraw.” The terrorists were achieving the exact opposite of what they claimed to be aiming for.

The terrorists, he said in response to another question, were a “mixed bag”, comprised mostly of Iraqis. They basically fell into three categories. The first category was the remnants of the previous regime, the “Saddamists”, who believed that by making the country “ungovernable”, by creating sufficient chaos, they could force the Americans and others to withdraw their forces, and then impose their own will by force and regain control of Iraq. The second category, partly Iraqis and partly non-Iraqis, was the Islamic fundamentalists, who wanted to create the ultimate Islamic State, as was tried during the Taliban rule in Afghanistan. The third group was organized crime, and criminals in general, who were cashing in on the current environment and engaging in kidnapping and looting.

Asked about the Iraqi constitution which was expected to be completed by 15 August, Mr. Sumaida'ie called it a “work in progress” and said sincere efforts were being made to accommodate the aspirations of everyone. “The key to success here was to not leave anyone out.” He was optimistic that a document agreed to by all participants -- with an equal level of misgivings -- would be produced on time.

A correspondent stated that the committee investigating the “oil-for-food” programme was expected to ask for more money from the Secretary-General to continue the investigation. Asked what his reaction was to the fact that “oil-for-food” money was expected to be used for that, Mr. Sumaida'ie said that, as expected, he was against it. He said Iraq had made its position clear the first time around and it had not changed.

Responding to a question on the investigation into the death of Mr. Sumaida'ie’s cousin, the Ambassador said that he had circulated a letter on that issue. An investigation had been launched. He was contacted by General Casey (the commander of the Multinational Force in Iraq), who ordered a further investigation to resolve some anomalies. Mr. Sumaida'ie would not comment while the investigation was going on but had asked for a draft of the report of the investigation before it was finalized.

Asked if he felt better now that John Bolton had arrived as Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations, he said it was important for Iraq, the United States and the United Nations to “have someone in that seat”. He said he had worked well with Anne Patterson (the acting Permanent Representative, prior to Mr. Bolton’s arrival), who he called “competent and sympathetic”. It was for the United States to decide who represented it and he was ready to work with whomever it chose, he added.

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For information media • not an official record



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