Remarks by CPA Administrator L. Paul Bremer, III
Mine Action Management Course Graduation
Prepared for Delivery 31 July 2003
Half of all Iraqis people have never known the simple pleasure of walking the countryside without fear. At least since the Iran-Iraq War began 23 years agobefore most Iraqis were bornIraqis have faced the threat of landmines and other unexploded military ordnance.
Todays ceremony marks a preliminary but indispensable step towards the obvious goal of making all of Iraqs territory physically safe from the aftermath of so many years of war. The men and women standing before us will lead the Iraqi national effort to remove the lurking death represented by undiscovered and unremoved ordnance. These munitions are a menace for every man, every woman, every child who walks the land of Iraq. Even farm animals are threatened by unexploded munitions.
Yes you, as the leaders of the Iraqi National Mine Action Program, face months, perhaps years of early mornings and late nights. But take heart from the fact that you will have the unquestioned support of every Iraqi. You also have my guarantee of personal support as you undertake your duties.
I would like to direct myself for just a moment to the people of Iraq:
Years of conflict have left Iraq strewn with land mines and unexploded military ordnance of all sorts.
Sadly, no one knows how much unexploded ordnance there is, let alone where it is. We believe that the former government laid some unmarked minefields; we do not know what minefields the Iranians may have laid during the Iran-Iraq War; some unexploded munitions may remain from the First Gulf War and undoubtedly some munitions remain from recent actions.
The National Mine Action Authority, which is moving toward full operational independence and autonomy, eventually will remove them all. As soon as telephone systems permit, they will publish a nationwide toll-free number so that anyone can report unexploded mines and munitions.
Let me spend just a moment speaking about unexploded ordnance from Coalition Forces:
· We have constructed no minefields, set no booby traps anywhere in Iraq.
· Nevertheless, Coalition Forces may have fired rounds or dropped bombs which did not explode.
· Regrettably, we do not know the location of all unexploded ordnance, including our own
Meantime, please take the following steps if you know where mines are located or see material you believe might be dangerous:
· Do not touch anything you think could be a mine or bomb or shell.
· Immediately move away from the object.
· Inform any municipal authority, any police officer, Coalition Provisional Authority office or any Coalition military personnel.
Parents: Please speak to your children and make sure they understand the danger these materials can present. Children, especially young boys are often fascinated by military hardware. Help prevent a tragedy by making sure they understand the dangers involved.
Please, help us rid Iraq of these dangerous relics of bygone conflicts. It is obvious that honorable people may disagree on many things; clearly many honorable people (and a few others) disagree on many things concerning Iraq. But at least on this issue there is no conceivable reason for disagreement.
These munitions are the exact opposite of the so-called smart bombs. They know no nationality, no friend, no foe, no politics, no sex, and no age. If disturbed these munitions may well explode and kill everyone in the area.
The Coalition Provisional Authority places a high priority on locating and rendering safe unexploded munitions. That is why we have worked with Cranfield University to set up this program and why the Coalition Provisional Authority offers our complete support to the Iraqi National Mine Action Authority. They will bring closer the day when all Iraqis can walk in peace and freedom, not just metaphorically, but literally.
Drafted: Don Hamilton temp phone 1.914.360.4910
Version of 0900 Thursday 31 July 2003