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24 September 2014
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Ben Bradshaw - Acting Leader of the House of Commons – BBC Arabic Service interview

Ben Bradshaw MP, Acting Leader of the House of Commons, was interviewed by Fouad Razek on the BBC Arabic Service about the war in Iraq.

The interview was broadcast yesterday (Sunday 23 March 2003) at 9.00pm UK time.

Selected quotes

Is the British Government's war aim based on regime change, weapons or any other motive?

Ben Bradshaw:

"The British Government is totally consistent in this. We have based our justification on international law and UN resolutions on Saddam's illegal possession of weapons of mass destruction.

"Now the conflict has started, part of disarming Saddam of his weapons will inevitably involve taking on his regime, the very small number of people right at the top who support his reign of terror.

"We have said very clearly that this is not about oil. Iraq is responsible for about three per cent of international oil production.

"We have said very clearly that that when Iraq is liberated, which I hope is something that happens very soon, that the money from Iraqi oil will go into a UN trust fund for the benefit of the Iraqi people and not just for a small clique of people around Saddam."

What will the UK Government do if you do not find any weapons of mass destruction?

"I'm very confident that we will [find weapons of mass destruction] but we will have to wait and see, won't we. We were not satisfied with the way that the inspection regime was working in Hans Blix's last report. He made quite clear that there had been limited compliance with one of 29 chapters.

"Don't forget that resolution 1414 which international community supported unanimously called for immediate, total and active compliance by Iraq. Not even France claims that that happened.

"So I'm afraid we were left with no alternative but to follow through 1441 which made clear that if Saddam did not comply in the way that South Africa and the Ukraine, both countries who disarmed their nuclear weapons complied, then he would be disarmed by force."

"I don't think that's a very likely prospect. Nobody in their right mind, not even the United Nations, suggests that he doesn't have these weapons. Not even the countries that are most critical of the way that the coalition has been following through these policies suggest that he doesn't have these weapons.

"So I'm confident that these weapons will be discovered and we let's hope they are discovered before he uses them."

What do you say to the charge that the current actions of the Coalition are destroying the UN?

"I think there's a problem with the United Nations Security Council. If we go back over the last 10 years, we had Rwanda - two million people killed in the genocide of Rwanda where the UN was totally incapable of stopping that.

"We had the fascist dictator Milosevic in the Balkans running rampage for many years with the UN doing nothing. It wasn't until Britain led a coalition of countries to take military action – with no UN mandate at all - that the Kosova was liberated and the Muslims of Kosova was saved.

"Once again the UN Security Council has proved itself incapable of implementing its own resolutions. But I don't think those countries, like Britain, America and the others, who were actually implementing international law and 17 mandatory chapter seven resolutions could be accused of destroying the UN."

Will Iraq be partitioned after the fall of the Saddam regime?

"Coalition members are absolutely adamant that integrity of Iraq must remain intact. Nobody is talking about dividing Iraq up. We think there are merits in a federal system to give some levels of autonomy to different parts of Iraq but the territorial integrity of Iraq is absolutely non-negotiable.

"We have always made that clear. We would like to see a UN-run administration to help the new administration in Iraq and to ensure that the oil revenue is spent on Iraq, not for any one foreign country, not the UK or US, but under the UN so the people of Iraq benefit from Iraq's tremendous wealth rather than that money going into a corrupt clique around Saddam Hussein."

On popular anti-war support rallying around France and Germany’s position.

"I think that the short term gain in popular opinion, whether in France or Germany or in other parts of the world, does not necessarily mean that one sustains that in the medium and long term.

"I think when people in the Middle East see the Iraqis celebrate in the streets as the allied forces arrive and liberate them. When they see the commitment that the international community will show to the post-Saddam Iraq and its reconstruction; when they see real progress being made on the Middle East peace process and the commitment made by President Bush to create a Palestinian state within three years, they may realise after all that the policy and Britain and other members of the coalition were following was much better than the policy that France and Germany was following."

What do you says to those who say you haven't taken tough action over the conflict between Israel and Palestinians?

"This is a classic example of where British policy has worked better than French policy.

"Who was responsible for President Bush publishing the road map and making a very clear commitment to a Palestinian state within three years? It hasn't been the French.

"It's been the work of our Prime Minister Tony Blair that has persuaded him to do that. He's become the first US President ever, of any political side, to speak of that commitment; to support UN resolution for it and to map out, very clearly, a route from now to achieving it.

"What we have to do is hold the American administration by that commitment. I believe that solving the Palestinian question, which is one of the most important questions I think that faces the world, will be done and we will show our commitment to the region by that commitment."

Notes to Editors

In the UK, World Service is available on 648 MW in Southern England. In addition, overnight on BBC Radio 4, via digital radio, digital satellite (Astra satellite, channel 865) and the Internet at

The BBC Arabic Service can be also heard on line at as well as on BBC World Service Extra - a radio service broadcasting in Arabic and the key languages of Afghanistan and the surrounding region on Sky digital satellite channel 902.

Outside the UK, BBC World Service is available on shortwave; on FM in more than 117 capital cities; and selected programmes are carried on almost 2,000 FM and MW radio stations around the world.



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