- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 12, 2003

NATO "is breaking itself up" over Iraq, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said yesterday as the alliance plunged deeper into crisis by again failing to order preparations to defend Turkey against Iraqi attack.
During a Senate Budget Committee hearing, Sen. Ernest F. Hollings, South Carolina Democrat, asked the secretary whether it was worth breaking up Washington's alliances "just to get" Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
"Who is breaking up the alliance?" Mr. Powell replied. "Not the United States. The alliance is breaking itself up because it will not meet its responsibilities."
Meanwhile, U.S. diplomats began consultations with fellow U.N. Security Council members on a new resolution that would find Baghdad in "further material breach" of its obligations and say the time had come for "serious consequences" threatened in Resolution 1441.
National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice traveled to New York to meet with chief weapons inspector Hans Blix, who must report to the Security Council on Friday about Iraqi cooperation with his inspection teams.
France, Germany and Belgium again yesterday blocked any preparations to defend Turkey against Iraqi retaliation, arguing that such a decision would send an improper signal that war was imminent.
The three countries want the U.N. inspections to continue, as do Russia and China, both permanent Security Council members.
Yesterday's meeting of the 19-member NATO alliance came in response to an unprecedented request from Turkey on Monday for protection under Article 4 of the 1949 Washington Treaty. The article allows a member to request help if it feels threatened.
"I think this is time for the alliance to say to the fellow alliance member, 'We agree with you, and if you are concerned, we are concerned,'" Mr. Powell said. "That's what alliances are all about, and I hope NATO will be doing the right thing with respect to Turkey within the next 24 hours."
However, a second day of intense negotiations at the NATO headquarters in Brussels failed to end one of the worst crises in the alliance's 54-year history.
The North Atlantic Council, comprising ambassadors from the member states, first postponed its meeting from midmorning to early evening and then ended the session after 20 minutes. Talks were scheduled to resume this morning.
"Right now, we do not have a conclusion," NATO spokesman Yves Brodeur told reporters last night. "It is a serious issue, and everyone is committed to work hard to try to find a solution to it."
NATO Secretary-General George Robertson said on Monday that the division "is a matter of enormous consequences for the alliance."
Mr. Powell said the United States is prepared to work with the 14 NATO members who support the U.S. proposal to help Turkey if the alliance cannot reach a unified decision.
The U.S.-backed plan would involve preparations to provide Turkey with AWACS early-warning planes, Patriot anti-missile batteries and units trained to counter chemical and biological weapons.
The White House said yesterday there was a reasonable chance that the United States could persuade the Security Council to adopt a new resolution on Iraq.
"At the end of the day, the president would like to believe the United Nations will be relevant," spokesman Ari Fleischer said at the daily briefing.
At the United Nations, U.S. diplomats began talks with other members of the Security Council on a new draft, actively pursuing such a document for the first time. Until last week, the administration had allowed Britain to take the lead, saying another resolution was desirable but not necessary.
"It's a little more specific than what we had said before because the president decided we should go forward and get one," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Monday.
China aired its support for the French and Russian positions yesterday, with President Jiang Zemin telling his French counterpart, Jacques Chirac, in a telephone conversation that inspections should be given more time.
"The inspection in Iraq is effective and should be continued and strengthened," China's official Xinhua news agency paraphrased Mr. Jiang as saying. "Warfare is good for no one, and it is our responsibility to take various measures to avoid war."
In Paris, French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin toasted visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin by praising the partnership between the two countries against a war in Iraq.
"It is up to us … to do everything possible to prevent a conflict that could seriously threaten regional and international stability," he said.
This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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