International Reactions to US Strikes on Iraq

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December 17, 1998

The Taliban militia said that the US-British air strikes were an act of “international terrorism” intended to divert attention away from impeachment proceedings against US President Bill Clinton.[1]

Prime Minister John Howard called the strikes on Iraq “unavoidable and inevitable.”[1]

Prime Minister Jean Chretien said, “Saddam Hussein brought this crisis on himself.”[2]

President Jiang Zemin sent a message to US President Bill Clinton on 17 December 1998 asking for a “halt to military action against Iraq.” Zemin said that the US attack on Iraq would cause “severe consequences” to the Gulf situation.[1] Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Sun Yuxi said, “this is a violation of the UN charter and the principles of international law, and we condemn this.”[2]

Foreign Minister Niels Helveg Pedersen said that Denmark supports the action against Iraq and that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein “bore full responsibility” for the attacks.[3]

The French government issued a statement saying that it “deplores the escalation which led to the American military strikes against Iraq and the grave human consequences which they could have for the Iraqi people.”[4] Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine said on 17 December 1998 that France was “not convinced” that the strikes would be effective but that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein “bears the initial responsibility” for failing to cooperate with UN inspectors.[5]

The German government said that the Iraqi leadership “had been warned” of the consequences of its lack of cooperation with UN weapons inspectors.[2]

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and newly-appointed Bundesnachtrichtendienst (foreign intelligence) chief August Hanning stated that Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction also pose a danger to Germany.[8] German Defense Minister Rudolf Scharping said that Iraq was “fully responsible” for the military action, while the Green Party’s military spokesman said that the attack was understandable.[9] On Thursday evening Scharping also said that the US had the right to use its military bases in Germany to support the military action against Iraq, but ruled out German military involvement.[10]

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee called for an immediate halt to military action against Iraq and the “resumption of diplomatic efforts under the auspices of the UN.”[1]

The Indonesia government said that it regrets the use of violence against Iraq and called for an immediate halt to bombings.[1]

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi urged Iraq to cooperate with the United Nations and said that the events will cause “even more pain and misery for the people in that country.”[2]

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said “Israel is outside the dispute, and in any case will take care of defending itself if the need arises.”[2]

Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi said that Japan supports the raids and urged Iraq to accept UN inspections. Obuchi said, “Given such past developments, our country supports actions this time by the United States and Britain.”[1]

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said of the strikes, “We are against it. We do not think they should use force.”[1]

New Zealand
A government statement expressed support of the US-British air strikes.[1]

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said the air strikes were unfortunate and that they would increase the suffering of the Iraqi people. [1] The Pakistani Senate passed a resolution condemning the strikes, calling them an “attack on humanity and the Islamic world.”[2]

President Joseph Estrada said, “It’s rather unfortunate that this happened. I hope we can avoid the loss of innocent lives.”[1]

President Boris Yeltsin said that the air strikes “crudely violated” the UN charter and called on the United States and the Britain to “put an immediate end to the military actions, show restraint and prudence, and not allow a further escalation of the conflict.”[4] Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov called for an immediate halt to the US air raids and for UN chief inspector Richard Butler to be replaced as he “bears personal responsibility” for the air strikes against Iraq.[6] According to Ivanov, “Nobody has the right to act on their own in the name of the United Nations and even less to pretend to be the judge of the entire world.”[2]

South Africa
Foreign Minister Alfred Nzo said that South Africa supported the UN Security Council resolutions, but that it did not believe that the use of force would resolve the matter.[7]

South Korea
Government officials said that they “understood and accepted” the strike.[1]

Foreign Minister Surin Pitsuwan said that Thailand would not provide material support for the bombings.[1]

Foreign Minister Ismail Cem said that Turkey was disappointed by the attack, and called on Iraq to comply with UN inspections.[2]

The Vietnamese government called for an immediate halt of the air strikes and for a peaceful settlement of the dispute.[1]


[1] “China Slams US Strikes on Iraq As Other Asian Nations Voice Concern,” Yahoo News, 17 December 1998, <>.
[2] “Traditional Allies Support Attack on Iraq: Others Express Anger,” New York Times, 17 December 1998, <>.
[3] “Danish Nationals Still in Iraq,” Copenhagen Post, 17 December 1998, <>.
[4] William Drozdiak, “Opposition to Airstrikes Voiced in Key Capitals,” Washington Post, 17 December 1998.
[5] “France Skeptical about Effectiveness of Strikes,” Yahoo News, 17 December 1998, <>.
[6] “Russia Demands Dismissal of UN Weapons Chief Butler,” Yahoo News, 17 December 1998, <>.
[7] “Iraqi Air Strike Would Not Resolve Crisis-South Africa,” Panafrican News, 17 December 1998, <>.
[8] Martin S. Lambeck, “Irak-Raketen k�nnten uns bedrohen, ” Die Welt, 18 December 1998, <>.
[9] “Regierung und Opposition unterstuzen US-Vorgehen gegen Irak,” DPA, 17 December 1998, <>.
[10] “Scharping schliest Bundeswehreinsatz gegen Irak aus,” AP, 18 December 1998, <>.

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