Analysis: United States Tries To Win Security Council Approval For Its Iraq Resolution
All Things Considered: October 25, 2002
JACKI LYDEN, host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Jacki Lyden.
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
And I'm Robert Siegel.
At the United Nations today, France and Russia floated their own proposals about Iraq in an attempt to water down a US draft resolution. The United States responded by formally submitting its resolution to force the Security Council to vote first on the American draft. UN weapons inspectors are on hold until the UN agrees on language to spell out their mandate. And as NPR's Michele Kelemen reports, the Bush administration says time is running out.
MICHELE KELEMEN reporting:
Soon after French and Russian diplomats circulated their proposals, the United States formally submitted its resolution to step up the pressure on the Security Council to wrap up the discussions and get to a vote. The US deputy ambassador to the UN, James Cunningham, hopes there will be a vote by the end of next week. But with the US facing continued opposition and Security Council members considering various proposals, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he expects serious debate.
Secretary-General KOFI ANNAN (United Nations): I think there's going to be quite a lot of discussions among the members, and it's appropriate because we are dealing with a very serious matter. It's democracy in practice. It takes a bit of time, but with patience, we get an optimal decision.
KELEMEN: US patience, though, is growing thin. Bush administration officials have said there still could be minor changes to their draft resolution, but certain parts are non-negotiable. The resolution, they say, must spell out that Iraq is in material breach of its UN obligations. And it must warn of serious consequences should Iraq fail to comply with UN weapons inspectors.
The French and the Russians fear that language could trigger US military action. One US official countered that the failure to pass a resolution would more likely be a trigger for a military solution to the Iraq crisis. The idea behind the resolution, the US argues, is to make sure UN inspectors have the authority they need to disarm Saddam Hussein.
Despite the tough talk, UN Secretary-General Annan sounded optimistic that some sort of compromise would be reached and that there would be a resolution to strengthen the hands of weapons inspectors. Annan wants to preserve Security Council unity on Iraq.
Secretary-General ANNAN: There's hard discussions going on, and I hope in the end it will be fruitful and that the inspectors will go back to Iraq with the support of a united council behind them.
KELEMEN: Council members do agree on the need to get weapons inspectors back to Baghdad after a four-year hiatus. Under the US draft resolution, they'd have the right to inspect all presidential sites and even take Iraqi scientists out of the country and away from Iraqi minders to interview them. That's another controversial point in the US draft. The chief UN weapons inspector who is due to address the council on Monday has said his team will go to Iraq only once the council agrees on the new mandate. The US needs nine of the 15 council members to vote for its draft resolution, and the Bush administration needs to make sure that France and Russia don't exercise their veto power to block it. Michele Kelemen, NPR News, Washington.
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