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UN Members Should Authorize Use of Force Against Iraq, says Blair - 2003-03-05

British Prime Minister Tony Blair has expressed confidence that a United Nations Security Council resolution backing war with Iraq will be voted on and passed.

Addressing the House of Commons, Mr. Blair said the exact timing of a new Security Council resolution is still under discussion. But he said if Iraqi President Saddam Hussein continues to defy the Council there should be further action. And Mr. Blair squashed speculation that Britain and the United States would not seek a Security Council vote next week as expected, if they think they will not win.

"If he fails fully to comply there should be a vote in the United Nations and I hope very much that the United Nations supports the position it set out in Resolution 1441 last November which called upon him to have full, unconditional and immediate compliance," Mr. Blair said. "If he is not complying there will undoubtedly be a resolution put to a vote."

Mr. Blair argued that Iraq would be in material breech of 12 years of U.N. disarmament demands, even if President Hussein destroys all of the country's al-Samoud-2 missiles. Mr. Blair says there are still unaccounted for quantities of chemical and biological weapons, such as anthrax and VX nerve gas.

He told the House of Commons that not a single world leader he has spoken with recently disputes the contention that Iraq is in violation of the Security Council resolutions. He says they should therefore join Britain in backing a new U.N. resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq.

"There is not a single leader that I have spoken to or official of any government that disputes the fact that Saddam is not presently complying," he said. "Everyone accepts he isn't. Everyone accepts that he is not properly cooperating. Everybody accepts he is a threat. Now Resolution 1441 said he had a final opportunity to disarm voluntarily and he had to cooperate fully, unconditionally, immediately. Everyone accepts he is not doing so."

Mr. Blair said conflict can even now be avoided if President Hussein complies with U.N. demands or leaves Iraq.

The British prime minister held talks earlier Wednesday with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, trying to persuade Russia not to use its veto to block the effort to pass a new Security Council resolution authorizing war.