FOREIGN AFFAIRS – IRAQ & CBW – 7 November 2002

Dr Julian Lewis: Does the Foreign Secretary agree that, whereas the plant needed to make nuclear weapons can be detected fairly easily by an efficient inspection regime, the plant required to make chemical and biological weapons is much more difficult to detect? Saddam Hussein has had since 1998 to build up stocks of chemical and biological weapons and even to dismantle the plant that produced them. Does the right hon. Gentleman accept that there is a danger that it will be very difficult indeed for an inspection regime to discover those stocks, which could be hidden anywhere in the vast area that is Iraq? Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that, even under the most rigorous inspection regime, we can have confidence that Saddam Hussein will not be able to maintain such stocks and, if he wishes, supply to them terrorist groups abroad?

[Jack Straw: The hon. Gentleman makes an important point about the greater ease with which one can hide chemical and biological weapons than facilities for developing nuclear weapons. That is true and it is has had to be factored in to the powers being given to the weapons inspectors. No one can guarantee what is going to happen now. We cannot predict the future. The powers that the resolution will give to the weapons inspectors are the toughest possible powers to secure the best outcome – we hope – but the resolution also requires compliance and co-operation by the Saddam Hussein regime. It needs to know that if it fails to comply with any of the particulars, it will be in material breach and serious consequences will follow.]