(As delivered)


February 18, 2003

Mr. President,

Thank you very much for convening today's meeting. I would also like to express my appreciation to Dr. Hans Blix, and to Dr. Mohamed El Baradei, for their reports to the Council this past Friday.

The issue of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction represents a threat to international peace and security; it is a matter of serious concern not only for certain specific countries, but also for the entire international community. Behind our concerns lies the fact that in the past Iraq has actually used chemical weapons, and that over the course of the past twelve years, it has challenged the authority and credibility of the United Nations by continuing to disregard its obligations under numerous resolutions of the Security Council.

In order to resolve this issue peacefully, Japan has been making its own diplomatic efforts, including by urging Iraq to proactively dispel every suspicion, to abide by all relevant Security Council resolutions, and to abandon its weapons of mass destruction.

Mr. President,

While resolution 1441, which was adopted unanimously by the Security Council, affirmed that Iraq was in "material breach" of the relevant Security Council resolutions, including resolution 687 through which Iraq committed to eliminate its weapons of mass destruction, it also provided Iraq with a final opportunity to comply with its obligations.

Japan, as do all countries, hopes that this issue will be resolved peacefully; but it is important to stress that this depends upon the attitude of Iraq. Based on the deliberations of the Security Council to date, as well as the intelligence briefing by U.S. Secretary of State Powell on February 5 and the reports by the weapons inspectors on February 14, we cannot help concluding that the declaration submitted by Iraq in response to resolution 1441 was neither complete nor accurate, and that Iraq is not fully and proactively cooperating with the resumed inspections. To the best of our knowledge, only Iraq, and no other Member State, has expressed the view in the Security Council that it has been cooperating fully and proactively.

Mr. President,

We are aware that in countries around the world, there is strong opposition to war. We share the desire to resolve this issue peacefully. It should be stressed, however, that the root of the problem lies in whether Iraq will radically change its attitude, cooperate immediately, proactively and without conditions, and eliminate its weapons of mass destruction in accordance with the relevant Security Council resolutions. In his report to this Council on February 14, Dr. Blix reaffirmed that Iraq's response thus far has been inadequate. Therefore, even if the inspections were to be continued and strengthened, they will hardly lead to the elimination of its weapons of mass destruction, unless Iraq fundamentally changes its attitude of cooperating only passively. There is serious doubt as to the effectiveness of continued inspections.

In our view, it is crucial now that the international community remain united and continue to put strong pressure on Iraq. If the Security Council fails to act in unity, it will not only damage the credibility of the United Nations but also send the wrong message to Iraq. It would also lead to an ongoing threat throughout the world of terror by weapons of mass destruction.

The Government of Japan attaches great importance to international cooperation. Based on the fact that Iraq is not cooperating and not discharging its obligations fully, we consider it desirable that the Security Council adopt a new resolution that clearly demonstrates the determined attitude of the international community. The Council should strive to adopt such a resolution. Diplomatic efforts have been made for twelve long years; Iraq now has very limited time. Japan sincerely hopes that the Security Council will be united and take effective action to fulfill its responsibilities for international peace and security.

Thank you very much.

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