Greenpeace confronts US military escort ship leaving for the Mediterranean

Press release - 13 March, 2003

Inflatables from the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior protesting alongside the US Coast Guard vessel

At 0900 CET today, activists in inflatable boats from the Greenpeace flagship 'Rainbow Warrior' confronted the US Coast Guard ship 'Dallas' as it left the Rota naval base in Spain armed with guns, torpedoes and harpoon missiles. Four activists brandished banners saying "No War" and chased the Dallas for two miles before being intercepted by three police boats and a helicopter. There were no arrests. The Rainbow Warrior remains anchored near the port's entrance on the edge of an exclusion zone established by the military authorities overnight to prevent the ship from entering the port.

"President Aznar is dragging this country into a war that the Spanish people don't want. Day and night tanks and helicopters are streaming though our ports as part of the build up of the military machine in the Gulf. Greenpeace is determined to do all it can to stop this headlong rush into a war that will only make the world a more volatile and dangerous place," said Greenpeace campaign in Spain, Carlos Bravo, from the scene.

Greenpeace considers that President Aznar and the Spanish Popular Party are making a serious mistake by ignoring the overwhelming public opposition to an impending war against Iraq. It is urging the Spanish government to pursue a peaceful solution to the Iraq crisis and to promote this position in the UN Security Council, as well as in other international fora.

"The Security Council meeting is the Spanish government's last opportunity to stand for democracy, listen to the majority of Spanish people and oppose this illegal war. If Foreign Affairs Minister, Ana Palacio, wants to avoid political suicide she will veto the new resolution, stop supporting the Bush Administration's march to war and stop allowing Spanish ports to be used as arteries to war," said Bravo.

Greenpeace is calling on all members of the United Nations to prevent Spain, the UK and the US from undermining the UN Charter by waging an illegal war on Iraq. Greenpeace said all 191 members of the UN General Assembly should use UN resolution 377, known as 'Uniting for Peace', to call an emergency session because the Security Council is split on the issue of how to maintain international peace and security. (1)

"The UN must fully exercise its mandate and unite as a whole to defend its founding principles to preserve international law and multilateralism. It's now up to all the world's countries to avert this war," added Bravo.

Since its inception in 1971, Greenpeace has advocated global disarmament through peaceful means and has challenged the testing and proliferation of nuclear weapons around the world. The international environmental organization is opposed to all wars, including a war in Iraq because, as well as tragic loss of life, war causes environmental degradation and pollution and leads to the use of weapons of mass destruction. (2)

"If the United States is motivated to war by Iraq's oil reserves then the solution is to reduce dependence on oil through the development and use of clean energy, such as hydrogen, wind and solar energies. If the motivation is to disarm Iraq, then the US, the UK and Spain must work for peaceful disarmament, and disarm at home as well. The world must recommit itself to multilateral global arms control and peaceful disarmament to promote real global security," concluded Bravo. (3)

Notes: (1) A General Assembly can be convened within 24 hours to consider and recommend, measures to UN members. The resolution has been invoked ten times in the past 50 years. The full text of Resolution 377 can be found at http://nowar.greenpeace.org/ufp/(2) The United States pulled out of the Anti-Ballistic Missiles treaty in June 2002, which was considered the foundation of global arms control and disarmament. The US has also said it wants to use potentially lethal chemicals against Iraq - despite the fact that this would contravene international law. The US Secretary of Defence, Donald Rumsfeld, even said he considered the Chemical Weapons Convention to be "a straightjacket", limiting US options in war (The Guardian, 12th March, 2003). In addition, arms control advocates say the Bush administration is exploring a new class of bunker-busting nuclear bombs and threatening nuclear retaliation for a chemical or biological weapons attack. (Reuters, February 25, 2003).(3) Oil is a motivating factor behind the Bush Administration's moves to attack Iraq. The U.S. has become increasingly dependent on foreign oil. In 2001, it imported 54 % of oil, compared to only 2 % in 1950. The US 25 % of the world's oil consumption is attributed to the US, which only possesses 3 % of the known oil reserves. The Persian Gulf provides for a third of the world's oil.The White House believes this war will cost between 90.000 and 250.000 million dollars. Many analysts indicate it will cost as much as 200.000 million dollars. 90.000 million dollars could provide clean, renewable energy to 1.600 million people, a fourth of the world's population.