Biography Chronology Home Search Speeches/Statements

1991 - Mr Major’s Doorstep Interview (3)

Below is Mr Major's 3rd doorstep interview on Friday 22nd February 1991, held in London outside 10 Downing Street.


PRIME MINISTER:

I think you will all be very well versed on the various peace initiatives that have been made in the last few days. I am grateful for the fact that they were made but I think it is clear, in view of what has happened, that the Iraqis have been more concerned with seeking to evade the context of the Security Council Resolutions than to meet those particular Resolutions.

In the light of that, the Coalition partners decided today that they would issue a statement to set out precisely what was required in order to stop that conflict. The statement that has been made has been agreed with all the Coalition partners; it has been the subject of very substantial discussion; it is perfectly clear; and it is not negotiable.

So Iraq now know precisely what they have to do. I hope they recognise that we are not prepared to bargain with them and we are certainly not prepared to be strung along by them.  What is necessary is perfectly clear; they have known what the Security Council Resolutions are since November of last year - the time has now come for them to implement them. If they fail to implement them, then they will know what the consequences are and I think everyone will know precisely where the blame will lie for any events that follow subsequently.

I think, therefore, that I have nothing more to say about that but I am happy to take any questions you may have.


QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS :

QUESTION (JOHN SERGEANT - BBC TV):

Prime Minister, what happens if Saddam Hussein decides unilaterally that the Iraqis will withdraw from Kuwait?

PRIME MINISTER:

He now knows what is necessary. What is necessary is to implement the Security Council Resolutions in full and to state authoritatively and publicly that he is proposing to do that. That is what we require of him.

We are really not prepared to be strung along any longer; it is not in the interests of Kuwait; it is not in the interests of our armed forces; and it is not in the interests of the whole territory - I hope he recognises that.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, what hopes do you have?

PRIME MINISTER:

We have seen on a number of occasions in the past that hopes have been raised and then dashed so I am not going to express whatever hopes I have.  I think it is necessary to set out the position clearly and that we have done. There is now no doubt whatsoever about the position the Allies hold.

MICHAEL BRUNSON (ITN):

[Indistinct] you are not, as such, going to offer Saddam Hussein a cease-fire, that is not part of the agreement? Can you explain why not?

PRIME MINISTER:

The position is perfectly clear, Michael. We have set out what he needs to do. If he does that, then the possibility of a cease-fire is there and we would have a cease-fire but we are not in a position of bargaining with him. He knows what needs to be done; he has known it for a long time; it is time for him to stop fooling about and do it.

MICHAEL BRUNSON (ITN):

And the moment he begins to withdraw, then we would consider holding our fire?

PRIME MINISTER:

We need an authoritative statement of what he is prepared to do - one that is unmistakable - and it needs to be followed by clear-cut action.

QUESTION:

Can he withdraw with his military armour with him or must he leave some of that armour behind in Kuwait?

PRIME MINISTER:

He has a time-frame to get out; we will have to wait and see how that works out.

QUESTION:

Do you think that the agreement today is something which could be built on?

PRIME MINISTER:

There isn't an agreement today! What has happened today is that we have set out - so that there may be no doubt about it - what terms we require of the Iraqis. That is the position; it is not negotiable; it is not an agreement. The Security Council Resolutions set out what was necessary a long time ago; they are not something that Saddam Hussein should play games with - he should obey them!

QUESTION:

Is the bombing to go on then, Mr. Major?

PRIME MINISTER:

The conflict continues until such time as Saddam Hussein stops it by announcing that he will meet the Security Council Resolutions and begin to withdraw.

QUESTION:

It has been suggested, Prime Minister, that napalm might be being used on the Allied side. Is that right?

PRIME MINISTER:

No. I have heard no such suggestion.

JOHN COLE (BBC TV)

Prime Minister, is 5 p.m. tomorrow, London time, when the land war can begin?

PRIME MINISTER:

It is analogous to the 15 January deadline that we had on an earlier occasion.

JOHN COLE (BBC TV)

You don't say that it will begin at that time?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, I don't say that it will begin at that time.

QUESTION:

Is the war on or off in your opinion now?

PRIME MINISTER:

That is a matter for Saddam Hussein to decide - I wish I knew the answer! We very much want it to be off. We have tried repeatedly to make sure it was off. I don't think we could, frankly, have done any more to ensure that this conflict ended. We have done all we can during the conflict to minimise casualties - that has been the consistent position of the Allies throughout the whole of this affair and it remains it - but the situation now is clearly in Saddam Hussein's hands; he can stop the war and he cannot any longer claim to be in the slightest doubt about what he needs to do to stop it.

QUESTION:

So it is on?

PRIME MINISTER:

That is for him to determine, isn't it?

QUESTION:

What precisely will you want to see at 5 o'clock tomorrow to be sure that the Iraqis are withdrawing?

PRIME MINISTER:

We want a clear and authoritative statement that he is prepared to withdraw, that he is prepared to meet the Security Council Resolutions and that he begins to do so.

QUESTION:

Does he, Prime Minister, actually have to start withdrawing or merely say that he will?

PRIME MINISTER:

We need the authoritative statement and then he will need to begin to withdraw very speedily.

QUESTION:

What is your reaction to the scorched action by the Iraqis?

PRIME MINISTER:

They have been damaging oil wells for some time. It does seem to have been accelerated by a very substantial extent over the last 48 hours or so. Precisely what the purpose is, one can only conjecture but clearly it is happening; it is undesirable and it is not something we would wish to see continue.

MICHAEL BRUNSON (ITN):

But clearly he has to stop doing that as well as the real danger is that if you give him any leeway at all he would continue to try and destroy those?

PRIME MINISTER:

I think that is self-evidently so.

QUESTION:

There is no lessening of any military activity between now and the deadline?

PRIME MINISTER:

None whatsoever. The military activity will continue until such time as a statement is made that he will obey the Security Council Resolutions and he then does begin to do so.

Thank you all very much indeed!