USIS Washington 

12 March 1998


Thursday, March 12, 1998
Briefer:  James P. Rubin


10-11 Authorization for Use of Force/Consultations with Security


Q: Did you get earlier, before I came in, did you get to the issue of
Kofi Annan and what he said on Sunday here in town and what he said
since? Have you got into that?

MR. RUBIN: No, I have not, but I think I know where your question is
going, and let me try to answer it.

Q: What do you think is truly his policy on the US use of force in

MR. RUBIN: I think there was a great deal of exaggerated critiquing of
this issue. This is a very simple issue. It's the issue that
distinguishes between talking to colleagues in the Security Council
and around the world about whether there's been a violation and what
the results of that violation of the accord on Iraq will be, and
requiring a positive vote in the Security Council to justify
internationally the use of force.

We have taken the position that we believe there is legal authority
internationally contained in two resolutions Resolution 678 and
Resolution 687 in the sense that if Iraq is in violation of Resolution
687, the cease-fire resolution, the underlying authority authorizing
member states to use all necessary means against Iraq is contained in
Resolution 678. That is our view. But it's also been our view and
we've stated quite clearly that one of the advantages of this
agreement is that we are better off either way. If Iraq meets the
agreement's requirements and does what it has promised to do namely,
allow unfettered and full access to the UN inspectors we will have
access to places the UN has never gone before.

Most recently, this weekend UN inspectors went to the ministry of
defense building. They've never gone there before. This is an example
of how access can improve the ability of UNSCOM to do its job, and how
if this agreement is implemented, it is the best way to combat the
weapons of mass destruction threat.

We've also said if the agreement is violated, that we are in a better
position to get support internationally for the use of military power.
It is our view that it would be normal and appropriate if Chairman
Butler believes there's a violation of this agreement, he will be
reporting that to the Security Council. Member states will be
commenting on that report, expressing their views on that report; and
that is consultation in the Security Council. We fully expect that to
happen; that's always been part of our timeline for activity if Iraq
violates the agreement. So this is a difference without a meaning, and
I'm not even sure it's a distinction without a difference. But it's
certainly not practically significant.

There will be discussions in the Security Council. How could there not
be, if Chairman Butler issues a report of a violation? I've been
there; the member states comment on what they think that violation
means and what the consequences would be. That is very different than
requiring a resolution under an international law to justify the use
of military force.

Q:  It's Kofi Annan who's saying this.  Did he get it wrong?

MR. RUBIN: He didn't say that. If you look at his quote, what he said
was "required to consult." Consultation, as members of Congress often
point to us, sometimes involve no more than a discussion.

Q:  But the authority is given -- it has been given --

MR. RUBIN: We believe, in our view, the authority exists now for
military action. It is inconceivable to me there won't be some
discussion/consultation in the Security Council in the event that
Butler declares a violation.

Q:  He used the verb "required."  That's what I'm driving at.

MR. RUBIN: Well, one can make a lot out of that, but it turns out not
to matter. People who wanted to look for the Secretary General telling
us what to do or what not to do obviously would jump on a word like

But from our standpoint, the Secretary General did a great job in
getting Saddam Hussein to agree on paper to an agreement. Now it
remains to be seen whether it will be fully implemented over time. And
the fact that he thinks we ought to consult before using military
force is no problem; we're going to consult before using military
force. The President made that quite clear.

He also made clear that this agreement would never have been possible
had not the threat of the use of force been in existence when he went
to Baghdad.


(The briefing concluded at 1:20 P.M.)

(end transcript)