Russia, France Criticize Iraq Draft


By Edith M. Lederer

Associated Press
October 22, 2002

In a troubling sign for U.S. efforts to push a tough new Iraq resolution through the Security Council, Russia said Tuesday that it was not satisfied with a revised draft that warns Baghdad of "serious consequences" if it fails to cooperate with weapons inspections.

"The American draft resolution, which was presented yesterday, does not answer the criteria which the Russian side laid out earlier and which it confirms today," Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov was quoted as telling Russian journalists after he met with Hans Blix, the chief U.N. weapons inspector.

Russia — one of five veto-holding members of the council — could block the U.S. draft resolution in a council vote. Like France, it has opposed the U.S. push for a resolution that would allow a military response if Iraq obstructs the inspectors.

On Tuesday, France also said it was disappointed with the United State's latest position.

"There is still a lot of work to do," French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said Tuesday in Luxembourg "There are some points that need to be discussed among us before we have an accord."

The new U.S. proposal, drafted with British support, includes phrases that could be interpreted as triggering military action, wording that has caused conflict with France and Russia.

Some diplomats argue that a threat must be in place in order to make clear to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein that if he fails to comply he will face consequences.

President Bush, campaigning for Pennsylvania Republicans, said the United Nations "must be resolved to deal with this person (Saddam), must resolve itself to be more than just a debating society, must resolve itself to help keep international peace."

Instead of one reference, the new U.S. proposal now includes two references to Iraq being in "material breach" for violating U.N. resolutions, a phrase some legal experts say could open the door for military action.

Another reference recalls Security Council warnings that Iraq would face "serious consequences," as a result of its continued violations of its obligations, according to excerpts of the draft obtained by The Associated Press Tuesday.

Meanwhile, ambassadors from the five permanent Security Council members negotiated on the draft in New York Tuesday.

France, backed by Russia and China, has led opposition to a U.S. resolution that would authorize the use of force without first giving Iraq another chance to meet its U.N. disarmament obligations. It favors a two-stage approach that would give Iraq a chance to comply and only authorize force in a second resolution if Baghdad obstructed inspections.

The United States, supported by Britain, has circulated a single resolution that it says will allow the use of force if Saddam fails to comply.

Last week, Washington backed down from its demand that the resolution authorize the use of "all necessary means" if Iraq failed to comply and agreed instead to let inspectors go to Iraq and report any violations to the Security Council.

The new U.S. draft would then have the council convene immediately to discuss the situation — but U.S. officials have said that does not commit the Bush administration to wait for council action before it acts.

As in the original U.S. draft resolution, the new one demands that Iraq accept the new resolution within seven days of its adoption and declare its programs to develop nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and related capabilities within 30 days.

In order for a resolution to pass, it needs a minimum of nine "yes" votes from the 15 council members, and no veto by a permanent member.

The 10 elected council members have not yet seen the text.

Council diplomats said they expect negotiations in the full council to focus on new terms for inspections.

The new U.S. text keeps a key American demand, requiring Iraq to provide inspectors with immediate and unconditional access to all sites — including presidential complexes which are currently exempt from surprise searches, according to the excerpts.

A proposal to let inspectors take Iraqis and their families outside the country for interviews remained in the resolution, though current inspectors say it poses problems, for example if an Iraqi being questioned wanted asylum.

The new draft also keeps a proposal for U.N. security forces or U.N. member states to protect inspectors in no-fly, no-drive zones — but leaves it in brackets as it was in the original draft, meaning it is still being debated, the diplomats said. Many current and former U.N. inspectors oppose being accompanied by security forces and diplomats predict the provision will be dropped.

The new draft dropped a proposal to let the five permanent council members to be represented on inspection teams, the diplomats said. Many U.N. officials said this would politicize inspections.

Inspectors must certify that Iraq's chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs have been destroyed before sanctions imposed on Iraq after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait can be lifted.

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