Let UN do its work

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 September, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 September, 2002, 12:00am

(SCMP; September 21, 2002)

By mid-October, United Nations inspectors should be back in Baghdad for the first time in four years to resume their efforts to detect and destroy Iraq's capacity to produce weapons of mass destruction. This is a development that should be welcomed, and it would be unfortunate if United States doubts about the efficacy of the inspection regime were to stop this process.

It is in the interests of the world that Iraq not develop and possess weapons of mass destruction. It is equally in the interests of all that war does not break out in Iraq. The only way to work towards both these objectives is to ensure that the inspection regime works as effectively as possible.

While a great deal of scepticism has been expressed in Washington about whether the inspections can achieve anything, it is useful to recall the experience of earlier inspections. In seven years the previous inspection regime uncovered Iraq's biological weapons programme and destroyed much of the regime's stocks of these weapons. It also unearthed Iraq's secret nuclear weapons programme, and destroyed the facilities and equipment that Saddam Hussein had acquired.

True, the weapons inspectors grew increasingly frustrated towards the end, and many of them believed that there were materials and facilities that they had not succeeded in uncovering. But the inspectors have a second chance now, and they must be allowed to succeed. This involves giving them the international backing they require.

US efforts to strengthen the inspection regime can only be welcomed. But an effort to stop the process short before it has even begun will be counter-productive.

International pressure, largely from the US, has brought Iraq around to accepting the unconditional resumption of inspections. The Iraqi regime should now be given a chance to prove its good faith. If the inspectors complain that they have been prevented from doing their work, then the world can begin the next steps, not before that.

It is important above all to keep the interests of ordinary Iraqi people uppermost. Launching a war on Iraq is only going to lead to more misery and suffering for a people who have been trapped between a dictatorial regime and a hostile West for far too long. It will also harden anti-American sentiment throughout the region, and create a new generation of extremists waiting to vent their rage on the US.


resume an effort (v) to make an effort to do something again after interruption

capacity (n) the ability to do something

Example: Taking on China's mind-boggling capacity to produce copies of everything from computer software to aircraft parts is no small task. But new trademark laws introduced this month may give mainland pop stars like Na Ying a fighting chance. (SCMP; September 22, 2002)

efficacy (n) effectiveness and the ability to do what something is supposed to do

Example: A spokesman for the Hospital Authority New Territories East cluster mentioned three principles for classifying non-essential drugs, which include those that lack comprehensive proof of their efficacy. (SCMP; August 11, 2002)

scepticism (n) doubts or disbelief

backing (n) approval, endorsement

Discussion points

- Emphasising the need to strike down security threats posed by other countries, President George W Bush detailed his new policy of pre-emptive action against terrorists and Iraq. Do you agree with his reasoning? Why?

- Write a letter to an American lobby group, which always supports Mr Bush, to express your view.