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And now the news is that the Prime Minister is here.
- Good morning, Prime Minister. - Morning, David.
From the reports in all the papers today - this headline says,
"US gives Blix more time but edges closer to conflict" -
do I gather from this that we in Britain would agree with that,
and that we are prepared if the inspectors tomorrow say
they haven't had time to complete the job satisfactorily,
we would give them further time, whether weeks or months?
They've got to be given the time to do the job,
but it's important to define what the job is,
because this is where I think a lot of confusion comes in.
The job of the inspectors is to certify
whether Saddam is co-operating or not with the UN inspections regime.
And that duty to co-operate doesn't just mean that he has to give them
access to a particular site,
it means he's got to co-operate fully
in saying exactly what weapons material he has,
allowing the inspectors to inspect it,
monitor it then shut it down.
So we would give him extra time?
Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei?
We've gone down the UN route precisely because the inspectors have
got to be the means of trying to resolve this peacefully.
If the inspectors are able to their job, fine,
but if they're not able to do their job then we have to disarm
Saddam by force, and that's always been the choice.
But we would give them extra time, the inspectors, if they need it?
Space and time, time and space, you said?
Of course. I've always said the inspectors should have the time
to do their job, but what's important is that their job is not
to repeat what happened in the 1990s.
What happened in the 1990s is, in April '91,
when the first Resolution was passed, saying Saddam must disarm,
he was then supposed to give 15 days' notice of a declaration of
everything he had, and the inspectors were then to go in and shut it down.
Now, we've been almost 12 years waiting for him to do that.
So the time the inspectors need is not time to play
a game of hide-and-seek with Saddam, where they go in and try
and find the stuff, and he tries to conceal it.
The objective of the inspectors is on the basis of a full
and honest declaration by Saddam of what he has,
then to shut it down, and so the time they need is in order to certify
whether he's fully co-operating or not.
And they should have that time,
whether it's weeks or even if it's months?
I don't believe it'll take them weeks...months, rather, to find
out whether he's co-operating or not, but they should have whatever
time they need, and we've said that right from the very beginning.
One of the interesting things about this -
I heard your report earlier when your correspondent
was saying war is inevitable - war is not inevitable.
It depends on Saddam.
If he co-operates with the inspectors,
if he says how much material he's got,
if he co-operates fully with them in allowing them not just access
but telling them what material he has and allowing them
then to shut it down and make Iraq safe
and free of weapons of mass destruction - chemical,
biological, potentially nuclear - then the issue's over,
but he's not doing that at the moment.
That's very clear.
But I mean, the thing is that we were told,
we were given to understand that what these inspectors were
going to come up with was evidence of weapons of mass destruction
chemical, biological and nuclear.
Compared to that,
which obviously is a reason for war or military action,
these rather pale things, the non-compliance, the shells,
Blix's men sent on hide-and-seek missions, Iraqi scientists
not agreeing to an interview unless an Iraqi person was there,
that all sounds the reason for a stiff rebuke, not a war.
No. I mean, I profoundly disagree with this idea that somehow Saddam
refuses to co-operate, then that's OK. That's of a lesser order.
Look, what we know is that he has this material.
From what was left over in 1998, for example,
we know there's something like 350 tonnes of chemical warfare agent.
We know that there is something like 30,000 special munitions
for the delivery of chemical and biological weapons.
He hasn't even told us where those old leftovers from 1998 are.
Now, what we know Saddam is doing is that there's an elaborate
process, an infrastructure if you like, of concealment,
where he's putting the stuff out into different parts of the country,
concealing it, where he's saying, for example,
that the people that the inspectors want to interview,
because that's one of this duties, to allow people to be interviewed,
these people are being told by the Iraqi authorities
they can only come for interview with an Iraqi so-called minder
and only be interviewed in certain places,
and we know also, from intelligence, that these
people's families are being told that if they co-operate
and give any information at all, they'll be executed.
Now, if he fails to co-operate in being honest, and he is pursuing
a programme of concealment, that is every bit as much
a breach as finding, for example, a missile or the chemical agent.
One of the papers here says that you may prepare another dossier
because the first one didn't have a lot of impact, and so on,
but what are the sort of things you can tell us now that
our intelligence has discovered that you'll be passing on to the world?
What... Do you have a killer fact?
What we have is the intelligence that says that Saddam has continued
to develop these weapons of mass destruction,
that what he's doing is using a whole lot of dual-use facilities
in order to manufacture chemical and biological weapons,
and what we know is that there is an elaborate
programme of concealment, as I say,
that is pushing this stuff into different parts of the country
and therefore forcing the inspectors to play a game of hide-and-seek.
And what I say to people emphatically is that the UN mandate, set out in
the UN Resolution in November,
is a UN mandate that says that Saddam must not just give access to
different sites but co-operate fully with the inspectors,
otherwise the thing is a charade with the inspectors,
who aren't after all a detective agency. They're experts in munitions.
Do you think at the moment we have, you have,
in the light of the things you said,
actually sufficient evidence, if you wish to,
to go to war tomorrow, if you weren't waiting for the UN?
Do you think you have the goods on him now?
Sufficient to back action?
Well, I've got no doubt at all that he's developing these weapons
and that he poses a threat,
but we made a choice to go down the UN route,
and we're pursuing that UN route, and we'll stick with the UN route.
I mean... Again, when people say to me...
I had someone, as I was going into a building the other day,
someone shouted out to me, "Stop the war!"
And I said, "I haven't started it."
We're not at war,
and what we've laid down is a process that has to be gone through
where there is a UN mandate given to the inspectors,
the inspectors have got to fulfil that mandate,
and our judgment, the American judgment,
of course is that Saddam has these weapons,
but the purpose of the inspectors going in is for the inspectors
then, as, if you like, the objective party, to report back the UN
and say either he is fully co-operating or he's not.
So do we need, require...or would prefer a second resolution?
Of course we want a second resolution,
and there is only one set of circumstances
in which I've said that we would move without one,
and so all this stuff that we're indifferent
as to whether there's a UN resolution or not is nonsense.
We're very focused on getting a UN resolution.
There is one set of circumstances...
- Just the one? - Just the one.
And that is the circumstances where the UN inspectors say,
"He's not co-operating
"and he's in breach of the resolution that was passed in November,"
but the UN, because someone, say, unreasonably exercises their veto,
blocks a new resolution.
Now, in those circumstances, you damage the UN.
If the UN inspectors say, "He's not co-operating, he's in breach,"
and the world does nothing about it.
But I don't believe that will happen.
I think that if there is a finding by the inspectors,
and Monday's report is just the first full report,
there will be other reports,
but if they find that he's not co-operating,
then I believe that a second resolution will issue.
And again, just to stress the importance of this...
..if we end up with this issue of weapons of mass destruction,
which I think is a huge question facing the world today,
I think this and international terrorism
are the two big security threats,
if we face an issue where around Iraq -
that is a country that has used weapons of mass destruction -
the UN comes to a position
and says, "You've got to disarm yourself of those weapons,"
and then the UN does nothing about the failure to disarm, well,
how, when we deal with North Korea,
are we going to get them to treat us seriously?
How, when we take these issues out to other countries
that are developing, potentially, nuclear capability,
are they going to take the international community seriously
when, faced with the challenge of Iraq, we've done nothing?
And what about the situation of persuading the people?
As you will have seen today, the NewGov poll - this is
in the situation where we go ahead, of course, without UN blessing...
..and in that situation, 23% minus,
was the situation in September, minus 23 in favour of no,
and now it's gone up to 20/73,
ie 53, more than doubled the opposition to that situation.
How are you... How can you get through the message to those people?
You hope, of course, you won't go ahead without UN blessing,
but if you did, how would you try and convert...
Because it's very, to put it mildly,
uncomfortable to go to war with 73% against.
Yes, but again, I think this is because if people are being
asked today, "Do you support a war?",
my answer to that is, "We're not at war today."
And the circumstances in which we would engage in conflict
are circumstances which haven't yet arisen.
They are circumstances in which the UN inspectors say,
"He's supposed to co-operate with us and he's not co-operating.
"For example, he's refusing to allow us to interview the right people.
"He's refusing to tell us exactly what's happened to
"the weaponry that he has," and in those circumstances,
I think especially if the UN pass the second resolution,
as I believe they will
if the inspectors carry on saying he's not co-operating,
I think public opinion's in a different place.
I do make this point quite strongly to people -
were it not for the stand we have taken,
does anyone seriously think we'd either
have the UN inspectors in there
or any chance of resolving this peacefully?
But at the moment, you do have 75% of the public,
you've united all our quarrelling clerics in this country,
they're all against you, and no Muslim leader has come out in favour.
It's a tough, tough road to hoe.
Well, it is tough, and it's tough for a very simple reason,
that people don't see an immediate threat arising from Saddam
and it's my job as Prime Minister to say to people,
there may not be an immediate threat in the sense that Saddam's
about to launch a strike against Britain,
but this issue of weapons of mass destruction is a huge question
for the world because we know that countries are trying to develop
chemical, biological and nuclear weapons,
these are highly unstable states,
we know this stuff is being traded across
international frontiers at the moment,
we know that international terrorist groups -
and this is the link with terrorism -
are trying to acquire these weapons. Unless we take a stand,
then we will find in years to come, it is very much more difficult
to deal with this issue, and I think it is only a matter of time
before international terrorism and these types of weapons come together.
I mean, you know, you can already see from the arrests
that are happening right round Europe -
these terrorist groups will use chemical weapons if they can.
They don't have the capability at the moment
to cause enormous damage with those but if could do so, they would.
Colin Powell said in an interview with me some time ago,
back in September or whatever,
and he's said it since,
that the important thing is not knowing when to start a war,
it's knowing how to end it.
Now, what are we going to do if we get to Baghdad,
if we're victorious, um, what happens then?
How are we going to end it?
Are we going to set up a UN protectorate or what?
We must know that, obviously.
Well, we don't know the precise details of all that.
That's something to discuss with the UN, with allies, obviously,
but what we do know is that it should be a stable government
that tries to release Iraq from what is, frankly,
the appalling situation Saddam's put it in.
Cos remember, partly as a result of the fact
we've been unable to contain Saddam any other way,
the world has had to impose through the UN sanctions on Iraq which,
because of the way Saddam operates those sanctions,
have meant terrible misery and exploitation
for millions of Iraqi people. So, you know, that's why I...
You know, you mentioned the clerics a short time ago.
I've always found it odd that anybody,
particularly people who are, if you like, are more on the centre-left,
could ever dispute the fact that getting rid of Saddam
would be a huge bonus for the world.
The Archbishop of Canterbury said
that it's in violation of Christian moral teaching.
That was the man you made Archbishop of Canterbury.
Well, then it's his... As I always say to people,
it's his right to speak out as he wants.
But I think it would be...
certainly a violation of our duty to protect the world
if we, having laid down the law, through the UN, to Saddam,
then walked away from it.
You must be annoyed, obviously, with Chirac and Schroeder
on this particular issue.
I mean, you must sometimes think, "God, why didn't we join NAFTA?"
No, I don't think that, no.
I mean, they're entitled to different views
but, you know, French foreign policy
no more represents European foreign policy, exclusively,
than does British foreign policy. Countries have different positions.
But not all European countries are in that position.
Spain, Italy, other European countries
have strongly supported the stand we've taken.
Fear of Israel. They've made it clear
that if they're attacked by Saddam, they'll nuke him back.
Are you worried about what that would do?
Well, one of the reasons why we're taking this action
is that if Saddam is allowed to build up these weapons,
then of course he will threaten his neighbours. He's done it before.
But it is extremely important that we make sure
that we reduce whatever possibility there is of any conflict
we're engaged in spreading.
I mean, if there is any advantage in what Saddam has done,
which is to try and dismantle the programme
and push it out and conceal it in different parts of the country
is that it's more difficult for him to bring it together.
But, I mean, would you give him a warning,
rather like the warning that then President Bush did in the Gulf War,
that if he was to use any of these weapons which we say he's got,
that we would use nuclear weapons?
I don't think any warnings we give are best done in a public way,
and in any event,
we'll consider that situation when we get nearer the point of action,
if action there needs to be,
but, as I say, just to come back to the basic point I'm making,
Saddam could avoid a war today
if he made an honest, full declaration of the material he has.
"Know thine enemy" - that was another phrase that Colin Powell once said.
Obviously, we have psychological profiles and everything,
you're trying to assess and second-guess
what Saddam will do next and so on.
Do you think you are dealing with a man who is mad...
Well, bad, certainly.
- I mean, anybody... - Mad?
I'm not in a position to judge that.
I mean, he's exercised considerable skill, actually,
in avoiding the UN mandate for 12 years.
People do forget, as I say, in April 1991
when the inspectors...the first UN resolution was passed,
15 days was the deadline. Well, we're 12 years later.
You require a certain amount of skill
in playing the international community off against each other.
- So... - Some skill in that.
And in terms of the trip to see the President this week,
what's the most important thing... you've got to do...
or you both have got to do,
when you meet following the reports, tomorrow's reports,
what's the most important item on the agenda?
To agree the right strategy, um, for the future and to go out
and explain to people, yet again,
why it is important to deal with this issue
and I think that the missing part which, you know, we've got
a responsibility to get across to people is to explain how...
why we are concerned about this
whole issue of weapons of mass destruction,
because I think there's a sense in which people feel...
Look, if something like 11th September happens,
they can see an immediate... event has happened,
there's an immediate threat, there's something you need to go after.
I think it's a lot more difficult with this issue
because people don't perceive an immediate threat
and yet it's our job, I think, to say to people, "Look,
"this is why we're worried about this issue,
"not just in respect of Iraq,
"but more broadly than that and this is the potential link
"this has with these terrible, extremist, fanatical groups
"who have given a quite different dimension to terrorism."
And people do say... What about the people who say that there's
a real downside to this?
There's the...Britain becoming a more attractive target for terrorism,
er, the Middle East going up in flames. All of those things.
Iraqis being killed, civilians being killed in their hundreds, um...
What do you feel about that? There is a downside, obviously.
You're not painting this as 100% perfect.
No, of course not, and the very reason
we went down the UN route, when some people thought
that we were just going to lash out,
is precisely to give peace a chance to work but, in the end,
what have we learned from our own history
and the history of the world? That if there is, um, wrong in the world,
if there is a threat and you don't deal with it,
you have to deal with it with even worse consequences in the future
and, you know, the person who's killed hundreds, thousands
of Iraqis is Saddam.
I mean, he's the person who used chemical weapons
against his own Iraqi people.
Incidentally, about Britain being a target...
who would have thought Indonesia was going to be a target,
when those people died in Bali, or Kenya?
Um, round the whole of Europe, there are arrests happening,
not just in Britain, but in France, for example,
which you might have thought has taken
a slightly softer position on the question of Iraq.
We're not going to avoid this by hiding away
and it's not what the British do anyway.
I mean, there's a struggle on and we've got to be there
and we will have, I think...
You know, we would have no influence in shaping it unless we were there
and prepared to be there and I really passionately believe this.
The world is very ambivalent towards America on these issues.
We want America to deal with these issues
and yet we want to attack them at the same time.
And I think that when America is taking on these tough
and difficult questions, our job is to be there,
not be there at any price, not be there without saying
how we think the thing should be dealt with,
but being there in the difficult and tricky times,
not simply there, you know, as fair-weather friends.