Bush bluster puts weapons inspectors at risk

The safety and effectiveness of the UN weapons inspection team to Iraq is being jeopardized by President Bush’s determination to unleash his military might on that country, Green Party Foreign Affairs Spokesperson, Keith Locke warned today.

“International pressure has forced Iraq to re-admit weapons inspectors without any conditions on their activities,” said Keith Locke. “Yet this result — which the international community, including New Zealand had been pressing for — is now at risk because of President Bush’s fixation with toppling Saddam Hussein.

“How can the weapons inspectors be expected to carry out their duties effectively while the United States simultaneously builds up a massive invasion army on Iraq’s very borders?

“The US has no intention of waiting for the weapons inspectors to complete their mission. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has admitted as much: the goal of U.S. policy is not weapons inspections, but to install a Government more friendly to them.

“The Iraqi people are less likely to see the benefit of having weapons inspectors if at the same time the United States is preparing to conquer their country.

“The chance for Middle East peace — and the safety of New Zealand’s 10 weapons inspectors – is being placed at risk and the New Zealand Government should convey its disapproval in the very strongest language to the United States.

“This Government has often boasted of its ‘very, very, very’ close relationship with the Bush administration,” said Keith Locke. “Now is the time to exert some of that influence.

“As an absolute minimum, the US Ambassador should be summoned to the Beehive and told that the US must abide by those international norms of behavior that it claims it is trying to defend.”