Letter: Gulf crisis

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THE following considerations seem to us of vital importance in the present Gulf crisis.

First, air strikes against Iraq are unlikely to achieve their objective, whether this be the elimination of chemical weapons production capacity, or the removal of Saddam Hussein from power.

Second, military action will be illegal without explicit authorisation from the UN Security Council. It has given no such authorisation to date, and is unlikely to do so. A Security Council decision requires an affirmative vote of nine members, including the concurring votes of all five permanent members.

Third, we cannot expect others to abide by international law if we do not do so ourselves.

FRANK BARNABY, former Director, Stockholm International Peace Institute; FRANK BLACKABY, former Director, Stockholm International Peace Institute; MORRIS BRODIE, Ex-Services CND; JAMES DICKENS; Dr DOUGLAS HOLDSTOCK, Secretary and Editor, `Medicine, Conflict and Survival', MEDACT; Professor G HUTCHINSON; Professor JAKE JACOBS; REBECCA JOHNSON, Director, The Acronym Institute; Air Commodore A C L MACKIE; MARGARET QUASS; MARC WELLER, Deputy Director, Centre for International Studies, University of Cambridge; and others

London N7