YES... says GEOFF HOON, defence secretary, NO...says FRANK ORMSTON, of York Against The War.

Geoff Hoon...In a recent written statement, the foreign secretary set out the Government's policy objectives for Iraq. These make clear our commitment to the disarmament of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and to the United Nations process.

They set out our vision that Iraq should become a "stable, united and law-abiding state, within its present borders, co-operating with the international community, no longer posing a threat to its neighbours or to international security, abiding by all its international obligations and providing effective and representative government for its own people".

The statement puts our policy on Iraq in the context of the Government's wider agenda: our efforts to resolve related issues, including the Middle East Peace process; political engagement with Arab countries; efforts to counter the spread of mass destruction weapons and eliminating terrorism.

These objectives restate the Government's absolute commitment to act in conformity with international law, including the United Nations Charter and international humanitarian law. In publishing these, the Govern-ment is restating its full and active support for UNMOVIC and the Inter-national Atomic Energy Authority.

Together, these organisations have about 110 inspectors working in Iraq and have already completed more than 200 inspections.

We are now looking for them to investigate urgently the gaps in Iraq's Declaration of its Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) programmes, which fails to give a satisfactory account of Iraq's activities. UNMOVIC and the IAEA will next report formally to the Security Council on January 27.

This is not necessarily a decision point. Under resolution 1441, UNMOVIC and the IAEA are required to report immediately to the Security Council any Iraqi interference or non-compliance. Non-compliance could be declared at any time.

We want Saddam Hussein to disarm voluntarily, but it is evident we will not achieve this unless we continue to present him with a credible threat of force. So we must continue with military planning and preparations.

I have made an order under Section 54 (1) of the Reserve Forces Act 1996 to enable the call-out of reservists for possible operations against Iraq. This does not mean a decision has been made to commit British forces. It is an essential enabling measure to ensure that if such operations become necessary they will be properly supported with the expertise our reserve forces provide.

In my December 18 statement I described the long-planned deployment of Naval Task Group 2003 to the Gulf and Asia Pacific regions. I have now ordered the deployment of a number of additional vessels and units later this month. which will conduct training in the Mediterranean with a view to proceeding to the Gulf region if and as required. The objective is to ensure the readiness of a broad range of military capabilities.

None of this means force is inevitable. But as long as Saddam's compliance with UN Security Council Resolution 1441 is in doubt... the threat of force must remain and it must be real.

Frank Ormston...

THE looming war on Iraq is one of the most unpopular wars in history - even before a shot has been fired.

Millions have demonstrated world-wide. They have blocked roads, occupied public buildings and gone on strike. Last September 400,000 took part in Britain's biggest anti-war demonstration. In November one million protesters thronged the streets of Florence.

We are told war is necessary because Saddam is a dictator, has weapons of mass destruction and is a threat to the West. Yet dossiers and inspections have failed miserably to prove Iraq has such weapons, or that it is even capable of producing them. American intelligence says Iraq does not pose a threat.

The head of the CIA wrote to Bush last October saying, "...the probability of Saddam Hussein initiating an attack in the foreseeable future would be low."

Contrary to Bush's claims, Iraq has no links with Al Qaida.

Attacking Iraq will have no effect on the so-called war against terrorism, except to dupe millions into believing that terrorism is an effective way of countering US power.

Iraq's reaction to United Nations resolutions provides no justification for war. Israel routinely ignores UN resolutions, and is rewarded with massive military and economic aid from the US.

Britain and the US financed and armed the Indonesian dictator Suharto for more than 20 years in defiance of UN resolutions.

The case for war is pitiful, so why are Bush and Blair determined to push ahead? Oil is an obvious answer, but it is only part of the picture. A wider aim is for the US to use its overwhelming military power to show it can enforce its will anywhere in the world.

With military dominance and control of oil supplies, the US will have its hands on a powerful lever to use against oil-dependent rivals, such as Europe, China, and Japan.

Bush's under-secretary of defence argues that the US should use its military power to discourage "the advanced industrial nations from challenging our leadership or even aspiring to a larger regional or global role".

"Full spectrum dominance" is Bush's declared aim. It's just a euphemism for what used to be called imperialism.

Star Wars is as much a part of that strategy as the war on Iraq, and Tony Blair's slavish support is useful, but not indispensable to Bush.

Blair thinks the "blood price" is worth paying.

It will be paid not with his blood, but with the blood of Iraqi soldiers and civilians and the blood of teenagers such as those we saw leaving Britain on the aircraft carrier Ark Royal at the weekend.

But resistance to the war is growing. George Galloway MP is to speak at a rally to be held at Le Meridien Hotel, York, (formerly the Royal York) next Monday at 7.30pm.

A global day of protest is planned for Saturday, February 15, including a big demonstration in London.

York Against The War is organising transport: ring 07769 703 166, e-mail or visit for more details.

Updated: 11:28 Wednesday, January 15, 2003