U.S., U.K., Spain introduce new Iraq resolution
'Serious consequences' vs. beefed-up inspections
UNITED NATIONS (CNN) – The United States, Britain and Spain proposed a U.N. resolution Monday designed to clear the way for military action against Iraq on the grounds that it "has failed to take the final opportunity" to disarm.
The resolution was presented in a closed Security Council session Monday afternoon. It does not include deadlines or an explicit threat of military force, but it states that the government of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has failed to comply with previous U.N. resolutions that warned of "serious consequences" if it refused to give up its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction.
The White House said it wants action on the document "in short order." (Full Text)
Iraq "has made the wrong choice" and refused to meet its obligations to disarm, Britain's U.N. ambassador told the Security Council on Monday.
Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock told the council Iraq had offered "no semblance of whole-hearted cooperation" with U.N. weapons inspectors since their return in November, according to talking points obtained by CNN.
Germany, France and Russia presented a rival initiative, in the form of a memorandum, not a competing resolution. A text of that proposal says "the military option should only be a last resort" and calls for "full and effective disarmament" of Iraq to be achieved "peacefully through the inspection regime." (Full story)
"Disarmament should be done in a peaceful way," French President Jacques Chirac said after meeting with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in Berlin. "War is always the worst of solutions. It's always a failure. ... Everything should be done to avoid it."
A vote on the proposed resolution is not expected before chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix briefs the council March 7 on Iraqi cooperation. The White House is pushing for a vote on the new resolution the next week.
Council members skeptical
Passage of the resolution would require nine votes and no vetoes from the council's five permanent members, which include Russia, France and China, all of which have expressed strong opposition to military action.
A spokesman for Chirac said a new resolution was "neither useful nor necessary." France's foreign minister said talk of using its veto was "not an issue" as so many countries were opposed. (Full story)
Syria -- which currently hold's one of the revolving seats on the 15-member Security Council -- said Tuesday it would vote against the resolution.
"There is no justification for suggesting any draft. The inspectors are doing their work in implementation of resolution 1441," Vice President Abdel-Halim Khaddam told Reuters.
But Australia's Prime Minister John Howard backed the new resolution Tuesday, saying if it was not carried then the credibility of the Security Council would be weakened.
"I find it hard to believe that, logically, any party or nation that voted for Resolution 1441 15 weeks ago, would not now vote for this resolution," Howard told a media conference in Canberra.
Australia, along with the United Kingdom, has contributed troops, fighter aircraft and ships to the U.S.-led military build-up in the Persian Gulf.
The United States says Iraq is violating U.N. resolutions by refusing to fully account for its chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs. Iraq insists it has no such weapons and that it has fully complied with the resolutions.