Examination of Witnesses (Questions 280-298)|
TUESDAY 23 APRIL 2002
280. Given that you have spoken at length and
frankly about Iraq in the last few minutes, do you think in retrospect
that President Bush was wrong, given the advances that have been
made by the liberal movement in Iran, to class Iran within the
axis of evil?
(Mr Bradshaw) We made quite clear at the time of that
speech that we did not share American analysis of the best way
forward with Iran. The British policy and the European Union policy
is one of critical engagement. We have a different analysis of
how we encourage change for the good in Iran and, as on a number
of other areas, where we disagree with our American friends we
are not reluctant to say so.
281. I am extremely pleased to hear the Minister
say that but perhaps, however, we should be saying it a lot more
loudly because I am sure some of our friends in the Middle East
would appreciate that a great deal.
(Mr Bradshaw) Mr Olner, I have said it very loudly
in every single interview I have given on the subject since that
speech, not least on numerous Arab and Muslim tv stations and
282. So would you write it into the record from
your evidence today that we do not share at all the American view
(Mr Bradshaw) What we do share is the serious concerns
that the Americans have on Iranian support for rejectionist groups
in the Middle East and for the Iranian programme of weapons of
mass destruction. Those are areas where we share American concerns,
we just come to a different view as to how best to move Iran in
the right direction.
Sir John Stanley
283. On this key question of the legality of
any future military action against Iraq, we will await with great
interest your memorandum coming to us tomorrow.
The question I would like to ask you is this: has your memorandum
been shown to the US Government? If not, can you tell us if it
was shown to the US Government would the US Government agree with
it or do they take a different view?
(Mr Bradshaw) It has not been shown to
the US Government, Chairman, and I would not want to pre-empt
any reaction that the US might have if we were to show it to them.
284. The second part of my question is the really
important one. We know because we have been in the United States
recently and we have discussed this issue at considerable length
and our post at the United Nations is very, very fully conversant
with this issue, so there is a steady ongoing dialogue between
the British and American Governments on this key question, which
I want to put to you again. Do you believe that the US and UK
Governments see the legal position in terms of the legality of
what would be required from the United Nations to provide legal
cover for further military action against Iraq as the same or
do they take a different view?
(Mr Bradshaw) I am afraid I cannot speak on behalf
of the American Government. All I would say, Chairman, is that
in all of the recent instances that we have referred to in our
session today, whether Afghanistan or Kosovo or, indeed, the Gulf
War, America has taken military action in accordance with international
285. Of course we understand that you cannot
speak for the American Government but there is sustained dialogue
that has been taking place between the British and American Governments
on this key issue for several weeks, if not months, now. Surely
you can answer the Committee, is this an issue on which there
is legal agreement between the British and American Governments
or is it one on which, perfectly reasonablyit is not a
point of criticismthere is a difference of legal view?
(Mr Bradshaw) There has not been a sustained dialogue
on what would be a hypothetical situation.
286. Just a machinery point. Who is your main,
I think the word is, interlocutor in the United States' State
Department? Who is your opposite number? Are you in regular contact,
perhaps not daily contact face to face? How does this all work
and operate? What is your level of government? Where do you connect
in? Do you know him or her and do you speak to them regularly
as distinct from your officials?
(Mr Bradshaw) As is often the case with different
countries there are not exact replicas of how we do things in
this country but I guess that my opposite number would be Bill
Burns, who is a Deputy to Colin Powell, who is also responsible
for the Middle East who happens to be there at the moment. Yes,
we do talk regularly. He passes through London on a regular basis
and he always drops into the office and we try to catch up on
things. We also speak on the telephone.
287. Minister, you will be aware of the considerable
anxiety in this country about the possibility of additional pressure
on Iraq, yet there may be available to Government sufficient evidence
in relation to the threat posed by their armoury of weapons of
mass destruction that could have quite a substantial effect on
public opinion. What is the view of the Government about publishing
a dossier of the threat?
(Mr Bradshaw) Chairman, I get rather puzzled when
I am asked this question about evidence. I did have a great big
mountain of it here just a second ago but it was the same pile
that the Foreign Secretary waved around in the debate last week.
288. It is not a matter of waving it around,
it is the fact that it should be available in the public domain.
(Mr Bradshaw) It is, it is actually in the library
of the House.
Andrew Mackinlay: I remember I spoke sotto
voce to the Foreign Secretary when he was in the Chamber
Sir Patrick Cormack: That is impossible!
289. I think you and he got a bit irritated
because you snapped back "it is on the Internet". The
Chairman, myself and others really think there should be a hard
copy in a Command Paperis that the phrasepublished.
One is bewildered as to why there is a reluctance, with all the
trumpeting which does come from some key Government departments,
to have a hard copy printed document published and up-to-date
with all the spin, as it were, because we have a right to know
and I would have thought it would have been in the best interests
of the United Kingdom foreign policy to have done so rather than
say "it is on the Internet", which you did say to me
the other week.
(Mr Bradshaw) It is on the Internet and it is also
in the library of the House. I have got a selection of it here
with me, Chairman, which I will happily leave with Mr Mackinlay
if he would like to take it home and pore over it himself this
290. The Minister misses the point. Indeed,
I do work the Internet and I will take you up on your offer but
I believe that there is a wider audience out there who have an
appetite to understand. I think the Chairman and others offer
this, sort of saying "We are with you on the broad brush
of policy and it would be in the interests of the United Kingdom
if you were to produce a document", but why will you not
(Mr Bradshaw) Chairman, if I could just reply to that.
I do not know whether Mr Mackinlay is suggesting that we send
all these documents to every single household.
Sir Patrick Cormack
291. Put it in your annual report.
(Mr Bradshaw) We will do that, certainly. We have
made the documents which are available already available in the
normal way. Certainly in the letters that I write to Members of
Parliament who write to me on this subject, without writing reams
and reams and reams and pages and pages, at least give them some
of the more salient facts of the evidence. The evidence is there
in all of the United Nations' inspectors' reports, as I said earlier.
It is really not a mystery. Those people who keep demanding more
evidence are not exactly certain what it would be to satisfy them
that there is a real and verifiable threat posed by this regime.
292. The weapons inspectors left Iraq in 1999.
A period of time has elapsed. There has been an accumulation of
evidence since. When, after 11 September, the US and UK Government
decided that it made sense to put the nature of the terrorist
threat in the public domain, it was presumably on the division
of labour, it was decided that our Government should publish a
document. The simple question we pose is why, following that precedent,
is there not a document published now?
(Mr Bradshaw) We have always said we will put more
evidence in the public domain as we get it. There are limits,
as you will understand, to some of the evidence that we can put
in the public domain, not least because the bulk of the evidence
that we have since the weapons inspectors left, by the very nature
of their not being there, is based on intelligence, is based on
defections and is based on what we know the Iraqi regime has tried
Sir Patrick Cormack
293. Why can you not just publish either in
the Government's annual report or in the section dealing with
the Foreign Office or in some other readily available form that
the public can get hold of, why can you not publish this? There
is widespread public concern, there is enormous public interest
and in spite of that and everything you have said about the Internet
and the rest of it, it would be helpful to have a document, or
part of a Government document, devoted to this.
(Mr Bradshaw) I think we have made clear that our
view is that the bulk of the evidence is already in the public
domain. We will put more evidence in the public domain and we
will publish in whatever form we think is the most effective.
(Mr Bradshaw) I am not prepared to say when. When
we feel the time is right, Chairman.
Sir Patrick Cormack
295. Get on with it.
(Mr Bradshaw) If I could emphasise, simply, rather
than constantly asking when a document is going to be published,
there are reams of documents already published in the public domain
which prove not only what Saddam Hussein was up to as long as
the weapons inspectors were thereand you say, rightly,
that they have not been there since 1998 I think rather than 1999
so we have had nearly four years now where there have been no
weapons inspectionsand all the evidence from intelligence,
through defections, through what we know Saddam Hussein has tried
to import and smuggle in suggests that those programmes have been
intensified and accelerated.
Chairman: May we leave you with the point. Surely
if the evidence is there and compelling, everyone will understand
the intelligence factors which apply with the same force to what
was published after 11 September. Surely then there is a very
strong case for publishing what is clearly demanded by a great
swathe of the public who are currently uneasy but could change
their minds if the Government was to publish.
Sir Patrick Cormack
296. Send it to us and we will publish it.
(Mr Bradshaw) We agree with you, Chairman, that it
is important to publish everything that we can but I do not accept
that the publication of some new miracle document is what needs
to change people's minds. Anybody who has any doubt about Saddam
Hussein and what he has been up to and what his regime is about
just needs to study those documents which are already in the public
domain. There is no requirement for some great new piece of evidence,
it is already there. As I have already said, we will publish what
we can when we can as long as it does not compromise as usual.
297. At a time you specify.
(Mr Bradshaw) At a time yet to be announced as long
as it does not compromise our intelligence operations.
298. The point is Saddam Hussein started the
war with Kuwait. As part of the finishing of that war, part of
the cease-fire was you cease to make weapons of mass destruction.
Now as far as I am concerned the United Nations have said that
time and time again and we should give no succour at all to Saddam
Hussein and his regime until he complies with that. Full stop.
(Mr Bradshaw) If I can say one other thing, Chairman.
You will recall that after we published the evidence of al-Qaeda's
complicity in the events of 11 September and the previous Africa
embassy bombings there were still those who said "Where is
the evidence? Where is the evidence?" and in fact it is a
cry I still hear when I visit some parts of the world. I am afraid
there will always be people who will not be satisfied whatever
Sir Patrick Cormack: Let us diminish their numbers.
Chairman: On that theme of diminishing numbers,
spreading light, we thank you and we thank your colleagues. The
dialogue and the process I am sure will continue.
7 See Evidence, pp Ev 98-Ev 99. Back