Iraq resolution does not mean war - Cowen


There is no automatic trigger for military action in the latest UN Security Council draft resolution on Iraq, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Cowen, has insisted.

He told the Dáil last night that "we are trying to avert war". The Minister stressed that the draft resolution was still a draft and the Government was concerned to ensure that "there will be no recourse to force, provided that Iraq complies with its obligations under the charter".

He added that it was the Government's view that every possible effort should be made "to avoid the use of military force, which should remain a matter of last resort".

However, the Minister said that "Iraq has so far consistently failed to meet its obligations under international law and the relevant Security Council resolutions".

Fine Gael's Foreign Affairs spokesman, Mr Gay Mitchell, had warned the Minister that constitutionally Dáil Éireann had the function of declaring or not declaring war. "The Government has no power to declare war and Ireland's Ambassador to the UN has no right."

Mr Mitchell, who raised the issue on the adjournment, insisted that the issue of declaring war would have to be fully discussed in the Dáil.

Mr Cowen said the resolution pointed out that the council had "repeatedly warned Iraq that it will face serious consequences as a result of its continued violations of its obligations".

The Minister said there would be a two-stage process in which "a material breach or failure to comply and co-operate would be reported to the Security Council. In a second stage, the council would consider the situation and any further steps to be taken".

Mr Cowen said "this could include the use of force, as is made clear by the paragraph warning of serious consequences. However, the purpose of the resolution is to bring about Iraqi co-operation with arms inspections, not to mandate a war."

Earlier, Sinn Féin expressed concern at the Government's support for the resolution, which it believed would allow the US to interpret Iraqi non-compliance with arms inspectors in its own way and to use force.