Britain Backs French Demands for Two UN Resolutions


Straw and Blair Urge US to Embrace Chirac's Proposal for Separate Security Council Motions
on Inspection and Military Action

By Andrew Grice and David Usborne

The Independent
October 3, 2002
Britain backed French plans for two separate new United Nations resolutions on Iraq yesterday, in an attempt to reach an agreement in the Security Council. Tony Blair and Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, are urging the United States to embrace a proposal by Jacques Chirac, the French President, for one resolution demanding that Iraq give unfettered access to weapons inspectors and a second one allowing military force if the inspectors are frustrated.

The move came as Russia signaled for the first time some flexibility on British and American demands that a resolution be passed before Hans Blix, the UN weapons inspector, can send his teams back into Iraq. "If any extra resolutions are required for the effective work of the inspectors, we, of course, are ready to consider them," the Russian Foreign Minister, Igor Ivanov, said.

Under the compromise plan, the UN Security Council would reach agreement on both resolutions but only the first one would be formally tabled. This would help to allay the fears of France, Russia and China that the US is determined to launch military action whatever Saddam Hussein's response. However, the second resolution would be tabled for adoption as soon as there was evidence that the inspectors could not carry out their work properly, paving the way for the use of force.

British officials believe that a modified version of the French plan offers the best way to close divisions in the council. They hope a deal can be struck next week. It is far from clear, however, whether the US is ready to accept the two-stage approach.

Circulating in New York yesterday was a far tougher single resolution drafted by Washington, which includes a provision to declare Iraq in "material breach" of its obligations – a clear trigger for a military response – if it fails to abide by every letter of the text.

The American draft, which was not tabled formally, would surely fall foul of France and Russia. It calls for inspectors to be escorted by armed guards, who would have the right to interview Iraqis outside the country and to institute no-fly and no-drive zones around sites they were visiting.

Mr Straw said Britain would continue to press for a new UN resolution on Iraq, despite President Saddam's offer to re-admit the inspectors under existing UN resolutions and UN policy. Mr Straw said these were "defective" and not strong enough to stop the Iraqi leader playing games. "What we have to have is an upgraded weapons inspection arrangement where it is the international community – not Saddam Hussein playing games – which determines how these inspections take place and what the consequences will be for Saddam Hussein if he continues to play games," he said.

"The very fact that Saddam Hussein has shifted this far, but only under the threat of force, makes the case even stronger for a new comprehensive and tough security council resolution." Britain is determined, for example, to undo an existing UN resolution, adopted in 1998, that allows Iraq to impose special conditions for the inspection of eight "presidential sites" that cover about 20 square miles between them.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "The presidential sites are the mother of all dodges. Many of these so-called 'palaces' are large compounds which are an integral part of Iraqi counter measures designed to hide weapons material."

Mr Blix will brief the Security Council this morning on the details of the agreements reached on inspections arrangements with the Iraqis at talks in Vienna on Tuesday. Britain and the United States will restate their case that he should hold off deploying his inspections teams until the council agrees on a new resolution.

The Draft UN Resolution

Excerpts from the US draft of the United Nations resolution on Iraq

Iraq is still, and has been for a number of years, in material breach of its obligations under relevant resolutions.

Iraq shall provide to the Security Council prior to the beginning of inspections and not later than 30 days from the date of this resolution ... [a] full and complete declaration of all aspects of its programmes to develop chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, and unmanned aerial vehicles ... Iraq shall provide Unmovic [the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission] and IAEA immediate, unconditional and unrestricted access to any and all areas ... which they wish to inspect.

[Inspection] teams shall be accompanied at their bases by sufficient UN security forces to protect them; shall have the right to declare for the purposes of this resolution no-fly/no-drive zones, exclusion zones and/or ground and air transit corridors ... which shall be enforced by UN security forces or by member states ... False statements or omissions in the declaration submitted by Iraq to the council and failure by Iraq at any time to comply and co-operate fully in accordance with the provisions laid out in this resolution shall constitute a further material breach of Iraq's obligations, and such breach authorizes member states to use all necessary means to restore international peace and security in the area.

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