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 14/ 09/ 2002

Address by Joschka Fischer,

Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany, 
at the Fifty-seventh Session of the United Nations General Assembly 


(...) Mr President,

The development in Iraq fills us with grave concern. Saddam Hussein's regime is a brutal dictatorship.Under his leadership, Iraq has attacked its neighbours Iran and Kuwait, fired missiles at Israel and used poison gas against Iran and its own Kurd population. The regime is horrendous for the Iraqi people and a risk for the region. For this reason an effective containment policy and reliable military control of the no-fly zones have been implemented, and a strict sanctions regime introduced against Iraq since the Gulf War.

The regime in Baghdad must not own or produce means of mass destruction and delivery systems. Despite binding obligations from the Security Council, Saddam Hussein refuses to provide credible and verifiable answers to the pressing questions posed by the community of nations regarding his weapons of mass destruction. Therefore the United Nations has to not only maintain the pressure on the Iraqi Government, but also intensify it. 

We welcome the fact that President Bush in his most recent speech, turned towards the Security Council. Even if it becomes very difficult, we have to do everything to find a diplomatic solution.

The Security Council and the member states have to make unequivocally clear to Baghdad that the unrestricted and unconditioned re-admission of the weapons inspectors in the only way to avert a great tragedy for Iraq and the whole region. The Iraqi Government has to implement all relevant Security Council resolutions in their entirety and without delay.

We do not want however any automatism leading to the use of military force. The fight against
international terrorism remains highly dangerous. We have not yet managed to fully stabilize Afghanistan. Explosive regional conflicts in Kashmir, in the Middle East and in the Caucasus have to be solved or at least effectively contained.

The following central questions arise for us: have all economic and political means of pressure been truly exhausted? To what consequences would military intervention lead? What would this mean for regional stability? What effect would it have on the Middle East conflict? Are there new and definite findings and facts? Does the threat assessment justify taking a very high risk - namely, the responsibility for peace and stability in the entire region, and what is more for years or even decades? Would this meet with consent amongst the Arab neighbours? What consequence would this have for the continuation of the global coalition against terrorism? In the face of these open questions we are full of deep scepticism regarding military action and therefore remain with our approach.

Allow me to pose the further question whether a peace solution in the Middle East could not contribute considerably more to the establishment of regional stability, to the successful fight against terrorism and to the effective control and disarmament of weapons of mass destruction. And in this way would the regime in Baghdad not be isolated much more effectually thus generating political pressure for change? And would this cooperative approach to find a new order for the region not be a more promising way to bring democracy to the Middle East which would be supported by the regional powers? (...)