Straw says Iraq not entitled to presumption of innocence

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Indy Politics
The stand-off with Iraq is entering its "final stage" and Baghdad deserves to be given no quarter even if the UN inspectors find no irrefutable proof of weapons violations, the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, will say today.</p>In a new argument for the use of force even without proof that Iraq is concealing its weapons capability, he will say: "Iraq was found guilty in 1991. Twelve years of defiance later, they are not entitled to any presumption of innocence. It is for them to prove that they have, once and for all, given up what we know they have had."</p>Opponents of the use of force across Europe have cited the presumption of innocence as a reason for giving Baghdad the benefit of the doubt, unless clear evidence of arms violations is found. The Government is now spelling out a rationale for its view that no further proof is necessary, using the same language of the courtroom as that used by its critics.</p>Mr Straw's remarks are from a speech he will deliver today at the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London. The pre-released excerpts were part of an intense round of British diplomacy that is accompanying joint American and British efforts to draft a second UN Security Council resolution.</p>Their hope is that they can find a form of words that will authorise the use of force without attracting a Russian or French veto.</p>While the tone of Mr Straw's speech was among the harshest and most urgent he has adopted in recent weeks, the official British objective appeared to have been reduced to the single one of disarming Iraq, not necessarily by force. </p>