U.N. Panel OKs New Iraq Resolution

Associated Press
Tallahassee Democrat


UNITED NATIONS - The Security Council unanimously approved a tough new Iraq resolution Friday, forcing Saddam Hussein to disarm or face "serious consequences" that would almost certainly mean war.

The vote came after eight weeks of tumultuous negotiations and was seen as a victory for the United States, which drafted the resolution together with Britain.

"This resolution is designed to test Iraq's intentions," U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Negroponte, said in remarks after the vote.

The broad support sends a strong message to Baghdad that the Security Council - divided for years over Iraq - expects full compliance with all U.N. resolutions.

"Iraq has a new opportunity to comply with all these relevant resolutions of the Security Council. I urge the Iraqi leadership for sake of its own people...to seize this opportunity and thereby begin to end the isolation and suffering of the Iraqi people," said U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Iraqi television did not broadcast the Security Council meeting live and there was no immediate reaction from Baghdad.

A breakthrough in negotiations came Thursday when France and the United States reached a critical agreement to address French concerns that the resolution could automatically trigger an attack on Iraq.

Negroponte said the resolution gives international inspectors broad authority to look for Iraq's weapons of mass destruction - to check "anyone, anywhere, anytime."

There are "no hidden triggers" for the automatic use of force against Iraq if it does not comply with the resolution, Negroponte said, emphasizing that should the inspectors report Iraqi violations, the matter would return to the Security Council. The resolution, he said, is "a new powerful mandate" for the weapons inspectors.

"This resolution does not constrain any member state from acting to defend itself from the threat posed by Iraq.... to the government of Iraq our message is simple: non-compliance is no longer an option.

President Bush, who spurred the council to action with a Sept. 12 speech to the U.N. General Assembly, said it was up to Saddam to cooperate with inspectors.

"When this resolution passes, I will be able to say that the United Nations has recognized the threat and now we're going to work together to disarm him," Bush said Thursday. "And he must be cooperative in the disarmament."

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said that the resolution's wording about the United Nations reconvening for "assessment" of any Iraqi violation "does not handcuff the United States from going with our friends and acting to disarm Saddam Hussein if he continues to defy the international community."

Chief U.N. weapons inspector, Hans Blix, was preparing to send an advance team to Iraq within two weeks, after a nearly four-year absence.

While the United States made some major concessions to critics, the final draft still meets the Bush administration's key demands: toughening U.N. weapons inspections and leaving the United States free to take military action against Iraq if inspectors say Baghdad isn't complying.

At the same time, it gives Saddam "a final opportunity" to cooperate with weapons inspectors, holds out the possibility of lifting 12-year-old sanctions imposed after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait, and reaffirms the country's sovereignty.

Washington and London spent eight weeks trying to get all 15 Security Council members to approve the resolution to send a united message to Saddam.

But Syria, Iraq's Arab neighbor, had been out of reach until Friday.

Syria had wanted the vote delayed until after an Arab foreign ministers meeting in Cairo this weekend. But the United States won in the end, convincing the council to vote Friday.

Russia too had remained a holdout, but only in an effort to obtain U.S. concessions.

Russia is Iraq's closest ally on the council.

The United States had tweaked its draft several times to account for French and Russian concerns over hidden triggers that could automatically launch an attack on Iraq.

In a key provision that would declare Iraq in "material breach" of its U.N. obligations, the United States changed wording that would have let Washington determine on its own whether Iraq had committed an infraction.

The new wording requires U.N. weapons inspectors to make an assessment of any Iraqi violations.

Iraqi state media called the draft resolution a pretext for war and urged the Security Council Thursday not to bow to American demands.

"America wants to use this resolution as a pretext and a cover for its aggression on Iraq and the whole Arab nation," the ruling Baath Party newspaper Al-Thawra said Thursday.

According to a strict timeline in the resolution, Iraq would have seven days to accept the resolution's terms and 30 days to declare all its chemical, biological and nuclear programs. Blix, the chief weapons inspector, said Iraq might have difficulty making a declaration of its large petrochemical industry in that time, but the United States decided against giving Baghdad more time.

Blix has said an advance team of inspectors would be on the ground within 10 days. Inspectors would have up to 45 days to actually begin work, and must report to the council 60 days later on Iraq's performance.

Inspectors will have "unconditional and unrestricted access" to all sites, including eight presidential compounds where surprise inspections have been barred.


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