Response to Iraqi Bombing

  • Don McKinnon
Foreign Affairs

Foreign Minister Don McKinnon has confirmed tonight the ten New Zealanders assigned to the United Nations Special Commission on Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction (UNSCOM) were safe and well in Bagdad although hunkered down.

Mr McKinnon was responding to inquiries following the launch of cruise missiles at military targets in Southern Iraq.

I am very concerned about the growing instability and conflict in Iraq.

However, if Sadam Hussein persists in using Republican Guards to support a bloody power struggle between Kurdish factions he should not have been surprised by the US response, he said.

Mr McKinnon said he believed Sadam Hussein was taking advantage of disputes between Kurdish factions to attack Arbil. He went on to say, however, it was not clear the Iraqi leader was violating international law.

It is nevertheless clear President Clinton believed the circumstances were such as to fully justify American actions under Security Council Resolution 688 which demands Iraq end repression of the Iraqi civilian population.

Mr McKinnon noted the picture was still confused and that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would be monitoring the situation closely.

I believe the issues arising out of Iraqs agression should now be taken up urgently by the Security Council. The Council should meet promptly to consider and formulate a response to the developments, he concluded.