February 9, 2003
WILLIAMSBURG, Va. -- United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged the United States on Saturday to work with other countries to avoid a new Persian Gulf war. He also warned Iraq that if it doesn't cooperate the U.N. could make "a grim choice."
"This is an issue not for one state alone, but for the international community as a whole," Annan said during a speech at the College of William and Mary. "When states decide to use force, not in self-defense but to deal with broader threats to international peace and security, there is no substitute for the unique legitimacy provided by the United Nations Security Council."
Annan said Iraq has not yet satisfied the Security Council it has fully rid itself of weapons of mass destruction, as required under the terms of the 1991 ceasefire. But he cautioned that only a multilateral approach can curb the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
U.N. inspectors are due to give their second report on Iraq to the Security Council next Friday.
If Iraq continues its defiance, the Security Council "will have to make another grim choice, based on the findings of the inspectors," Annan said, referring to the world body's choice to use force 12 years ago after Iraq invaded Kuwait.
He said "there is universal confidence" in the U.N.'s two chief inspectors, who held a pivotal round of talks with Iraqi officials in Baghdad on Saturday.
The inspectors are making clear to Iraq what it must do to comply with its obligation to disarm.
Annan said their hand was strengthened by Secretary of State Colin Powell's presentation to the Security Council on Wednesday that Powell said constituted "irrefutable and undeniable" evidence Iraq was concealing weapons of mass destruction.
Annan spoke to about 4,500 people during a ceremony celebrating the 310th anniversary of the founding of the college. He also received an honorary doctorate of public service.
About 100 students, faculty and community members held a peaceful antiwar demonstration outside the hall where Annan spoke. Some in the crowd held signs reading "Might Does Not Equal Right" and "Kofi, Save Us From Our Leader."