Commentary (The Times)

Gulf War: "Thatcher urges UN to act tough" (MT in Aspen)

Document type: Press
Source: The Times , 3 August 1990
Journalist: Peter Stothard & Charles Bremmer
Editorial comments:
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 1,067 words
Themes: Defence (general), Energy, Foreign policy (Middle East), Foreign policy (USA), Defence (Gulf War, 1990-91)

Edition 3ss
FRI 03 AUG 1990

Thatcher urges UN to act tough


MARGARET Thatcher yesterday called for the “collective will'' of United Nations members to isolate Iraq and said she would back “further measures'' if the invading army did not withdraw.

After a two-hour meeting with President Bush in Aspen, Colorado, she said: “The Iraqi violation of the territory of a full UN member was totally unacceptable.”

Mrs Thatcher had been intending to call for a “reinvigoration” of the United Nations and an end to years of “double talk and double standards” in a speech to the prestigious Aspen Institute next Sunday. That call will have been given additional impetus by the invasion, which Downing Street sources said underlined the need for international co-operation in a world of declining superpower influence.

Yesterday the Security Council moved with unaccustomed speed to condemn the invasion and called for immediate peace talks. The Soviet Union, China, the Western allies, Cuba and non-aligned states joined in denouncing Baghdad.

However, the Security Council was expected to await the outcome of Arab League meetings before drafting sanctions or taking other steps to put pressure on Baghdad. Yemen did not vote, saying it had not received instructions from its government.

The resolution was modelled on the council's text denouncing Argentina for invading the Falklands in 1982. It demanded that “Iraq withdraw immediately and unconditionally all its forces” to their positions of August 1.

Under the UN charter, the world body could use force, impose sanctions or adopt other methods including an air and sea blockade to enforce compliance by a country flouting its resolutions.

The UN has adopted sanctions several times, but it has not engaged in a hostile action in the four decades since troops were sent to assist South Korea. Javier Perez de Cuellar, the UN secretary-general, spent the day sounding out Arab representatives and those of the big powers.

In the council chamber, Sabah Kadrat, Iraq's deputy ambassador, faced scathing language from Thomas Pickering, of the US, and Sir Crispin Tickell, the British representative, after he said his country had been asked to establish order by the “free provisional government of Kuwait”. Iraq, he said, would withdraw when the “free government” asked it to. That could come in days or weeks.

Mr Pickering said Iraq had bungled. “Instead of staging their coup d'etat and installing this so-called provisional government before the invasion, they got it the wrong way around. They invaded Kuwait and then staged the coup d'etat in a blatant and deceitful effort to try to justify their action.”

Sir Crispin called the invasion an ugly moment in world affairs. He said he wanted to express not just a sense of dismay but also a sense of disgust that this kind of thing can still happen in 1990.

Besides discussing the future role of the United Nations in her speech on Sunday, Mrs Thatcher will analyse the role of the US and European democracies in extending their values on peace, law and freedom. The Iraqi invasion has thrown the issues into unexpectedly high relief, requiring modification of the text. But British sources said that Baghdad's action “underlined the importance of the points she was going to make”.

Mrs Thatcher said yesterday that if the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait were allowed to endure other small countries would never feel safe. She said that the members of the international community could do nothing separately. They had to have the “collective will to see that this Security Council resolution against Iraq is upheld. And the collective will for further measures too. We are prepared to support those measures which collectively we can agree to, and collectively we can make effective.”

Edition 3*s
FRI 03 AUG 1990

Military action condemned by Thatcher


MARGARET Thatcher yesterday unreservedly condemned the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, which dominated her talks with President Bush at Aspen, Colorado. Her condemnation was relayed by Downing Street, which said the invasion underlined the need for military readiness and international co-operation in a world of declining superpower influence.

However Gerald Kaufman, the shadow foreign secretary, yesterday branded Britain's response to ominous acts by Iraq so far this year as flabby. He described Saddam Hussein as one of the world's greatest dangers to peace. The European Community should have an emergency meeting. A list of economic sanctions should be drawn up and imposed immediately.

Sir David Steel, the Liberal Democrat spokesman on foreign affairs, said the world community should announce an immediate universal ban on the purchase of oil from Iraq. The United Kingdom should be willing, if invited, to allocate military support to the neighbouring Gulf states, he said.

Douglas Hurd, the foreign secretary, who rebuffed Mr Kaufman's accusation that the government's response had been inadequate, urged his EC counterparts to arrange a meeting of the 12 political directors within 48 hours. Whitehall sources said an oil embargo and the freezing of Iraqi assets in Europe were likely to be considered.

David Howell, chairman of the all-party foreign affairs committee, said that if Iraq did not get out of Kuwait there must be a total trade freeze. “We should contemplate a unified, Soviet-backed as well as American-backed, plan to get Iraq out.”

Downing Street sources refused to speculate on what action might be taken if Iraq did not withdraw. The government supports a 48-hour cooling-off period to give Iraq time to respond to a UN Security Council resolution calling for withdrawal.

The prime minister was told of the attack on the first day of her trip to Aspen where she is to make a speech on international security after the cold war. The invasion has thrown the issues on which she is to speak into high relief.

British sources said it underlined the importance of the points she was going to make, including the role of international peacekeeping forces. She intends to call for a “reinvigoration” of the UN and an end to years of “double talk and double standards”.