Draft resolution warns Iraq of 'very severe' consequences
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February 27, 1998
Web posted at: 8:49 p.m. EST (0149 GMT)
UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- Britain and Japan submitted a draft resolution to the U.N. Security Council late Friday that warns Iraq of "very severe" consequences if it prevents U.N.
inspectors from searching for weapons of mass destruction.
The wording is a change from an earlier draft calling for "the severest consequences," and comes after two days of wrangling among council members.
Britain and the United States favored "the severest consequences" as a kind of semantic trip-wire that could be construed as justification for launching a military strike should Iraq break an agreement reached last weekend with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
There was also a move earlier in the day by Russia and France to add language specifying that only the Security Council could authorize military action.
But the new text does not say whether the council must determine if there has been a violation by Iraq, or
whether its approval is required before a strike can be launched.
Sources say Britain and Japan hope a vote can be taken Monday after the council members have consulted their governments. But depending on the responses, adoption could be delayed until Tuesday, diplomats said.
China, France blocked earlier draft
France, Russia, China and Brazil said earlier in the day that the document should make clear that the use of force against Baghdad would not be automatic and would require another council decision.
That there is no such wording in the resolutions suggests that there may have been compromises made before Japan and Britain completed the draft.
At issue is an agreement negotiated in Baghdad by Annan that sets up special procedures for U.N. arms inspectors searching for dangerous arms and related materials in so-called "presidential sites." The draft expresses appreciation for the pact and stresses that Iraq must comply with the terms of the agreement.
While it is not necessary for the council to approve the agreement with a resolution, the U.S. and Britain wanted something on record that would spell out the consequences should Iraq violate the agreement.
Sir John Weston, Britain's ambassador to the United Nations, tried to submit a draft with "severest consequences" in it to the Security Council earlier Friday, but was prevented from doing so by China and France.
Diplomats from Russia and France said they would accept the earlier phrasing only if it also specifies that the security council would be the only body that can authorize military action.
A Chinese diplomat said his country would not accept the phrase under any circumstances.
Non-aligned nations oppose U.S., Britain
Brazil also entered the fray by introducing an amendment that would require the Security Council to decide whether Iraq had violated the agreement, thus preventing the U.S., Britain and others from launching a military strike on their own.
Russia, China and France also briefed seven non-aligned nations on the council Friday, and sources at the meeting said the countries agreed that the resolution should:
The U.S. and Britain have a large military force in the Gulf now, and are not expected to move them for the foreseeable future.
- Endorse Annan's agreement.
- Call for its quick implementation
- Strengthen language on the eventual lifting of
- Contain no language about the use of force, or even hinting of it.
Early in the day, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Bill Richardson said: "The American position is that there should be an unmistakable sign to Iraq that if they fail to comply there will be the severest consequences. That is a phrase that we find acceptable."
Tariq Aziz says Iraq will comply
It was not clear Friday night what the U.S. position was on the changed wording, but Britain has been its strongest ally in the controversy and is sure to have consulted with the United States before making the change.
Also Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said the United States wants the inspectors to resume their work as soon as possible to test the promise that they will go into "more sites than ever before."
But in Paris, Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz said the fuss at the United Nations is unnecessary.
"The agreement we signed was also our agreement," he said. "It was not imposed on us."
Aziz said Iraq would "fulfill its commitments correctly and seriously," adding, "We want to finish this very soon."
Asked if he trusted the arms inspectors and diplomats who will visit the presidential sites, he said, "I have to be frank: my answer is no. But we will work with them because I have trust in the United Nations secretary-general."
Correspondent Brian Jenkins and Reuters contributed to this report