Same rule for one and all

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 November, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 November, 2002, 12:00am

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has been given a clear message - hand over or destroy all biological, chemical and nuclear weapons or suffer the consequences. For the sake of global security, he must comply with the demands.

The United Nations - of which Iraq is a member - has decreed that no country, group or individual can acquire weapons of mass destruction, and that those who have them must disarm.

Humanity is threatened by the existence of such weapons. They may be a symbol of military supremacy and national strength, but they also pose untold risk to civilians. The danger is amplified if they fall into the hands of terrorists.

The 15 members of the UN Security Council passed a resolution on Friday telling Iraq to allow inspections of suspected weapons sites. It has been given a week to respond and 30 days to provide a list of sites. UN inspectors could be starting work within two weeks.

But dictators and despots rarely think or act logically. Often their ambitions - as in the case of Mr Hussein - get in the way. Under his leadership, Iraq has been a threat to its neighbours. An eight-year war with Iran resulted in tens of thousands of casualties. In 1990, Iraqi troops invaded Kuwait and were overpowered the following year by an allied-led offensive. Mr Hussein has been hostile towards Saudi Arabia, which provided the allies with bases during the Gulf War, and Washington's close regional friend, Israel.

Attempts to disarm Iraq have been hampered by an elaborate game of cat and mouse with the UN. Its resolutions have been ignored and its weapons inspectors refused entry to suspected sites, such as Mr Hussein's palaces.

This time there can be no games. Iraq must no longer be a threat to peace and stability.

US President George W. Bush also has ambitions. He wants to oust Mr Hussein - which his father, when president, failed to do during the Gulf War - and install a friendly government. The US will benefit by gaining access to Iraq's massive oil reserves.

Although Mr Bush has a mandate for such action from the US Congress, he does not have the support of the Security Council.

Iraq has an obligation to destroy its weapons of mass destruction, but so too must the UN's members, particularly the permanent members of the Security Council - the US, China, Britain, France and Russia.

The UN has been entrusted with ensuring and maintaining global security. For the sake of a peaceful world, no nation can be allowed to override or ignore its authority.




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