- The Washington Times - Monday, March 17, 2003

WASHINGTON, March 17 (UPI) — Secretary of State Colin Powell Monday said the United Nations will survive the Iraqi crisis and the United States will remain an important member of the world body.

Briefing journalists at the State Department after the U.S. decision to withdraw the second resolution on Iraq from the Security Council, Powell said the United Nations would also play a key role in the reconstruction of Iraq.

"The United Nations is an important institution and it will survive. And the United States will continue to be an important member of the United Nations and its various organizations," he said.

But by not authorizing the use of force to disarm Iraq, the body has failed an important test of its ability to resolve international crises, he added.

"Clearly, this is a test, in my judgment, that the Security Council did not meet."

Powell said after Sunday's summit in the Azores that President George W. Bush also spoke of "his commitment to the United Nations and the role that we believe the United Nations will play in the aftermath of any conflict."

Powell said the United States had always felt that a second resolution was not needed to disarm Iraq but "there were some nations who insisted that a second resolution would be required."

He said Washington had agreed to work on the resolution because it felt it would have helped "some of our friends to show to their publics and to the world that we had taken one last step … to see if (Iraqi leader) Saddam Hussein would come into compliance."

Powell said that Res. 1441 had already mentioned "serious consequences" if Iraq failed to disarm and those who voted for it knew "those serious consequences meant the use of force to disarm Saddam Hussein."

"We believe, and … you have also heard an opinion from British legal authorities, that there is a sufficient authority in earlier resolutions, for whatever military action might be required," he said.

Powell reminded the international community that Res. 1441, which authorizes the use of force to disarm Iraq, was voted "15 to zero — not one member failing to raise a hand in its support."

He said Bush would speak of "a time frame" for Saddam and his cohorts to leave Iraq, adding: "Clearly, we would want to see Saddam Hussein depart, as well as immediate members of his family who are in positions of control and authority over the armed forces of Iraq.

"And there are a number of other individuals who we'd also like to see depart."

He said the United States wasn't alone in coming to the conclusion that seeking a vote on the second resolution would not serve any purpose.

He said after the Azores summit, he spoke with more than a dozen world leaders who all shared this view.

Without mentioning France, he said there were some permanent members of the council who would veto any resolution seeking the use of force against Saddam and that was why "we decided to not call for a vote on this resolution.

"We spent a great deal of time overnight and early this morning talking to friends and colleagues around the world about the resolution, and it was our judgment, reached by the United States, the United Kingdom and Spain, that no further purpose would be served by pushing this resolution. So we are not going to ask for a vote on the resolution," he added.

"The resolution will die anyway, because it had a built-in date of 17 March within the resolution, which has not been modified," he said.

He reiterated an assertion he made on one of the Sunday talk shows that French commercial interests have helped drive their position on the Iraqi issue.

"Of course, there are commercial interests that everybody has to consider. And the French have for years had difficulties with the inspection regime," he said.

Powell said the United States was "in the closest consultation" with the Turkish government to ensure that a war in Iraq does not lead to clashes between Kurds and the Turkish forces.

Kurdish opposition groups are striving to maintain the self-rule they have enjoyed for the past decade and more in northern Iraq. Turkey, however, fears that they will seek to set up an independent Kurdish state or at least a strong Kurdish entity along its border that would encourage separatist tendencies in its own Kurdish minority.

"We are very sensitive to Turkish concerns," said Powell. "We appreciate the fact that the Turkish government did take our request for deployments into their parliament at a difficult time for them."

On March 1, the Turkish parliament rejected a proposal for the deployment of U.S. troops in Turkey to create a northern front in Iraq.

Powell said the United States was consulting Turkey about the possibility of the proposal being re-submitted to parliament, something that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he would do.

The United States, he said, has assured the Turks that "in anything that the future might hold, we are committed to the territorial integrity of Iraq."

That meant, analysts said, the United States would oppose a Kurdish attempt to separate from Iraq.

Powell said he had no personal regrets that diplomacy failed to resolve the Iraqi crisis and the United States now appears certain to use force to disarm Saddam.

"No regrets, but you can always look and say you should have done this, you should have done that," he said.

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