- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 5, 2003

UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 5 (UPI) — Ten out of 14 members of the U.N. Security Council Wednesday called for the continuation and strengthening of weapons inspections in Iraq despite U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's dramatic 75-minute expose of Saddam Hussein's secret build-up of weapons of mass destruction.

At the same time, all called on Iraq to cooperate with the U.N. inspectors.

Powell was hoping to rally the members of the 15-member council with what on Monday he called "a straightforward, sober and compelling demonstration that Iraq is deliberately thwarting U.N. weapons inspectors." But the report embellished, with photographs, de-classified reports, and taped telephone intercepts, received the public support of only Britain, Spain, Bulgaria and Chile.

In their statements following Powell's speech, representatives of other permanent and non-permanent members said inspection procedures needed to be tightened and the inspections should continue.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw compared the current U.N. approach to Iraq to the inactivity of world powers between the wars that led to the rise of Hitler and World War II. Straw said the United Nations' predecessor, the League of Nations, "had the same high ideals as the U.N." but failed to take action. As a result, "small evils went unchecked, tyrants were emboldened, then greater evils were unleashed."

The League of Nations was founded in 1919 in the wake of World War I, but was disbanded in 1939, having failed to prevent World War II.

"At each stage, good men said wait; the evil is not big enough to challenge," Straw went on. "Then before our eyes the evil became too big to challenge. … We owe it to our history as well as to our future not to make the same mistake again."

Britain has strongly backed the Bush administrations' hard line in seeking to disarm what they cite as Saddam Hussein's chemical and biological arsenal. British troops are being deployed along side the massive U.S. military force in the Persian Gulf in preparation for an eventual attack on Iraq.

Straw stopped short of explicitly threatening armed action against a non-compliant Iraq. "Saddam must be left in no doubt as to the serious situation he now faces," he said. "If non-cooperation continues, this Council must meet its responsibilities."

French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin called for the inspections to be strengthened, and outlined procedures for making them more effective. "Why go to war if there still exists an unused space in Resolution 1441?" he asked.

The Security Council's Resolution 1441 of Nov. 8 was the basis for sending weapons inspectors back to Iraq after a four-year hiatus, and called on Iraq's full cooperation.

"With the choice between military intervention and an inspections regime that is inadequate for lack of cooperation on Iraq's part, we must choose to strengthen decisively the means of inspection," Villepin said.

The French foreign minister proposed doubling or tripling the number of inspectors, opening more regional offices, and setting up a clearing house of intelligence information to make it available to the inspectors in real time. He also suggested appointing a permanent U.N. coordinator for disarmament in Iraq, stationed in Baghdad and working under the authority of Hans Blix, the U.N. head of the inspection process.

Villepin said France was offering Mirage IV observer aircraft to boost the technical capability for monitoring and collecting information.

He also called on Saddam Hussein to cooperate actively by surrendering "documents on unresolved disarmament questions, in particular in the biological and chemical domains," and providing the inspectors "with answers to the new elements presented by Colin Powell."

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Ivaov and Syria's permanent representative to the U.N. Mikhail Wehbe were the only two speakers to raise the issue of a second Security Council resolution to gain time and put further pressure on the Iraqi regime. The Bush administration has not said it is opposed to a second resolution, but would want it to be a U.N. ultimatum authorizing an invasion of Iraq if Saddam Hussein did not disarm.

But Ivanov called for "a political settlement." He said Powell's evidence should be handed to the two organizations involved — the International Atomic Energy Agency, and UNMOVIC, the U.N. Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission — for verification.

"The activities of the international inspectors in Iraq must be continued," Ivanov said. "They alone can help the Security Council work out and adopt the best possible decisions."

Russia, with China, France, Britain and the United States, are veto-wielding members of the Security Council.

Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan urged Iraq "to adopt a more pro-active approach, make further explanations and clarification as soon as possible and cooperate with the inspection process." He also observed that "it is the universal desire of the international community to see a political settlement to the issue of Iraq within the U.N. framework and avoid any war."

Joschka Fischer, foreign minister of Germany, which currently holds the presidency of the Security Council, called the Saddam Hussein regime "inhuman and brutal," and said there was widespread belief that the Iraqis were hiding weapons of mass destruction, particularly chemical and biological weapons. But "by tightening the inspections, we are creating an opportunity for a peaceful solution," he went on. The United Nations needs "tough, intensive inspections that can guarantee the full, lasting, disarmament of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction."

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