Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Daily Press Briefing


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

DPB # 32
THURSDAY, MARCH 12, 1998, 12:35 P.M.


QUESTION: 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.

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

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.

QUESTION: 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.

QUESTION: 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.

QUESTION: 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 that.

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.


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