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1992 - Mr Major’s Comments on Iraq

Below is the text of Mr Major’s comments on Iraq made during an interview held on Tuesday 18th August 1992.


QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked what the current position was in Iraq].

PRIME MINISTER:

What we’ve said to the Iraqi authorities is that we’re now perfectly clear that they’re engaged in systematic repression of the Shias in the south of Iraq and that isn’t acceptable and that has got to stop.

What we propose to do therefore is to monitor the whole area from the air, and whilst we’re doing that, to ensure the security of both the Shias and of the aircraft, we will instruct the Iraqi’s not to fly in that area.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked what would happen if the Iraqis did fly in the banned area].

PRIME MINISTER:

If they do, they’ll be perfectly well aware that they’re likely to be attacked.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if they would be attacked].

PRIME MINISTER:

They will be attacked if they fly in the area that is proscribed, yes.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked what would troops do if the Iraqis fought back].

PRIME MINISTER:

I think we have seen in the past that they would lose, but I hope that that won’t be the case. I hope they will accept the fact that the coalition, especially the Americans,  the French and the British would be there in force monitoring what happens from the air and I hope and believe that they will accept the edict that will be laid before them and not fly in that area.

QUESTION:

[Mr Major was asked if the troubles could now just escalate].

PRIME MINISTER:

I think you have to realise why we’re doing it, we’re not doing it for no good reason. It’s happened because there is clear evidence now of the systematic murder and genocide of the Shias. Bombing by Saddam from the air on the Shias, reports not yet confirmed, but fairly good reports of napalm being used and this has been going on for some time. Increasing evidence of this is coming to light and it’s no longer tolerable.