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1991 - Mr Major’s Doorstep Interview in London

Below is Mr Major's doorstep interview held in London on Thursday 21st February 1991.


PRIME MINISTER:

Can I just say to you we have now had the opportunity to look very carefully at what Saddam Hussein seems to have said in his speech. It clearly is very disappointing. There is no glimmer of hope, no glimmer of compromise, no suggestion in the slightest way that he realises what he has done and the extent of the damage that he has caused by his illegal actions over recent months.

Nothing in his speech, I fear, gives any hope of compromise or any suggestion that he is about to obey the Security Council Resolutions. I think this is an immense opportunity that has been lost; it has been lost and now it seems it has gone.

There is no doubt whatsoever that Iraq is going to lose this conflict and that they will be despatched from Kuwait and that Kuwait will return back to its legal ownership. I had hoped that he might have announced - for he knows what is necessary - that he was going to adopt the Security Council Resolutions. Clearly he has not done so; there has been no suggestion of that at all and I regret that very much.

QUESTION:

Does this make a land war inevitable, Prime Minister?

PRIME MINISTER:

We propose to ensure that Kuwait is liberated. Unless Saddam Hussein does adopt the Security Council Resolutions in full, then there will be a land conflict.

QUESTION:

[Inaudible]

PRIME MINISTER:

I think Saddam Hussein has effectively said to the Soviet Union that he does not seem to regard their peace movements as satisfactory and in any event, as we made clear, in our view they fell a good deal short of the Security Council Resolutions that all the Allies have previously worked to.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, it is clear now that the conflict must continue - that inevitably must include the possibility of a land war. Can you assure the families of those who may be called upon through their sons and daughters serving out there to suffer casualties, that every last chance was pursued to avert a land war?

PRIME MINISTER:

Over the last few months, we have done everything we possibly could firstly to prevent the conflict beginning and secondly, as I think everyone will recognise, to minimise casualties, both military casualties on our side and civilian casualties in Iraq. It has been a very remarkable operation to do that. The bombing campaign is there to minimise any casualties that subsequently there will be if we yet come to a land conflict, so we will have very great care for the safety of our troops. That has been the position and will continue to be the position.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, is it not the case that in his speech Saddam Hussein did in fact offer to withdraw from Kuwait and would that not be enough to avoid the bloodshed?

PRIME MINISTER:

He has made it perfectly clear I think, if one reads the whole of his speech - and it is in itself contradictory in some places - that any reasonable reading of his speech suggests no hint of compromise whatsoever, no acknowledgement of what he has done, no willingness to obey the Security Council Resolutions and nothing really that would bring this conflict to a conclusion.

QUESTION:

How ready do you think that the troops are and how decisive do you think the defeat is going to be that is going to be inflicted on Iraq?

PRIME MINISTER:

There is no doubt about the outcome of the conflict - there is absolutely no doubt about that at all: the Iraqis will lose. That, I think, has been clear for some time and is certainly crystal clear now.

QUESTION:

Do you see any merit in waiting to see what the Foreign Minister of Iraq says in private to the Soviet Union [indistinct] what the President said in the broadcast?

PRIME MINISTER:

If the Iraqis were going to accept and endorse the Security Council Resolutions, then I would have thought that Saddam Hussein would have taken the opportunity of saying that in his speech today. Quite clearly, he has not done so and in any event, I must repeat again that the proposals put forward by the Soviet Union fall a good deal short of the Security Council Resolutions.

QUESTION:

As one who may now be responsible for ordering, for agreeing to a further escalation of the conflict, are you easy in your own mind about taking that order?

PRIME MINISTER:

We have done everything we could to prevent this. What we must seek to do is to restore Kuwait to its rightful ownership and ensure that there is a durable peace and security in the Middle East. That is in everyone's interest both in the short and the long term, and upon that reason I am content in my own mind that it is right.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, have you reached the stage where the timing of the land battle is now a matter for the military commanders?

PRIME MINISTER:

I am not going to comment on the timing of the land battle. I do not think that would be at all wise.

Thank you all very much indeed!