- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 27, 2001

The United States said yesterday that it has the authority to respond to recent terrorist attacks with military force and other measures without first seeking approval of the United Nations.
"At the moment, notwithstanding all of the coalition building we have been doing, President Bush retains the authority to take whatever actions he believes are appropriate in accordance with the needs for self-defense of the United States and of the American people," Secretary of State Colin L. Powell told reporters.
That authority, he said, is based on Article 51 of the U.N. Charter, which gives member states the right to self-defense.
At the same time, Mr. Powell said, the Bush administration plans to work with the United Nations in its battle against global terrorism.
Should U.N. authorization be needed, Mr. Bush will be the one to make that "judgment," Mr. Powell said after a meeting with Irish Foreign Minister Brian Cowen.
Mr. Cowen said Ireland, which assumes the presidency of the U.N. Security Council Monday, will work to ensure that U.N. resolutions are "respected and implemented."
Both the Security Council and the General Assembly adopted resolutions on Sept. 12 demanding that the organizers of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon be brought to justice.
In a separate resolution last week, the 15-member council called on Afghanistan's ruling Taliban to hand over suspected terrorist leader Osama bin Laden "immediately and unconditionally." The Taliban regime has sheltered bin Laden for years as a "guest."
The State Department also announced yesterday that the United States would introduce another Security Council resolution aimed at cutting off terrorist funding.
"The resolution would impose an obligation on states to cooperate in the fight against terrorism on the financial side," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said at a press briefing.
The resolution, circulated among U.N. Security Council members in New York, is unlikely to include references to sanctions or other punishments, council sources said.
The measure might be brought to a vote early next week.
The proposed resolution would not have any bearing on the deployment of U.S. troops or Washington's right to retaliate against the perpetrators of the Sept. 11 attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center, diplomats said.
However, the measure comes as a direct result of the terrorist attacks, which have been condemned by every nation except Iraq.
The resolution is expected to urge governments not to sponsor terrorism, and to prosecute those who harbor or finance terrorists.
It also calls on all nations to better share intelligence and coordinate law-enforcement efforts to prevent terrorist attacks.
The United Nations already has a dozen anti-terrorism conventions, or treaties, in addition to regional agreements.
Many address airline security while others prohibit support for terrorist groups. The agreements also prohibit hostage taking, assaults on diplomatic staff, theft of nuclear materials and similar crimes.
But many of these treaties have not been ratified by enough nations to take effect.
Council members and U.N. officials stressed that the council would not usurp the legislative function of the General Assembly.
But they said the existing conventions are not providing a sufficient framework for the global fight against terrorism.
"In the meantime, we have to plug the loopholes," said one council diplomat. "Better information sharing depends on common understandings and trust. And post-Sept. 11, there should be more cooperation."
The new resolution, in effect, would accelerate anti-terrorism efforts inside the international organization. This is especially true if the council agrees to authorize it under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which is binding upon nations to fight threats to international peace and security.
Washington has been working with its council allies, France and Britain, on the wording of the draft. Diplomats said the remaining permanent members, China and Russia, were consulted formally yesterday afternoon.
It is unlikely that the proposed anti-terrorism resolution will mention explicitly bin Laden, the millionaire Saudi exile who has been named as the prime suspect in the Sept. 11 attacks.
Washington said it had conclusive evidence that bin Laden's al Qaeda organization planned and executed the attacks.
Italian Foreign Minister Renato Ruggiero, who stopped by the United Nations after a visit to Washington yesterday, welcomed the U.N. anti-terrorism efforts, including a proposed comprehensive convention that would combine and clarify elements of the dozen other agreements.
"We need a world coalition under the aegis of the United Nations," Mr. Ruggiero told reporters yesterday.
"What we need is not just a military answer to the problem of the international terrorism," he said.

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