- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 23, 2004

NEW YORK — Germany and Japan took their U.S. allies by surprise yesterday by throwing in their lot with India and Brazil in an all-or-nothing effort to join the powerful U.N. Security Council as permanent members.

The four nations, with a yet-to-be-chosen African country, have declared their intention to join the council together as permanent members.

The consortium, conceived as a way to add ballast to its members’ bid to expand the council, instead appears to have increased resistance.

“We have indicated support previously for Japan’s admission to the Security Council,” Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said yesterday.

“But we’re not prepared to make any further judgments now as to who should or should not be added to the Security Council beyond those we’ve already made.”

Mr. Powell neglected to mention Germany’s council aspirations, which the Clinton administration endorsed nearly a decade ago.

A senior administration official said yesterday that Japan’s candidacy could founder if it insists on bringing the others along.

The Bush administration has made little secret of its displeasure about Germany’s positions. Germany, serving a two-year term on the council, has backed France and Russia more often than Britain and the United States.

The Security Council has five veto-wielding permanent members — the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia — and 10 elected members, who represent their regions in two-year terms.

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer pressed his country’s case before the world body yesterday morning, noting that it should include nations that “can and want to make a particularly meaningful and sustainable contribution to maintaining world peace and international security.”

He said: “Just like Brazil, India and Japan, Germany is ready to take on the responsibility associated with a permanent seat in the Security Council.”

The body is responsible under the U.N. Charter for protecting international peace and security. In that role, the council can authorize peacekeeping missions, impose sanctions, and issue statements of condemnation or encouragement.

But the real power lies with the permanent members, who can veto any resolution they find unpalatable. To retain that edge, the five have indicated that new permanent members will not get veto power.

Council reform — an issue that could get a new life in December, when a widely anticipated study commissioned by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan is released — clearly preoccupies many of the world leaders who have been speaking at the General Assembly this week.

“The overwhelming majority of world’s population cannot be excluded from an institution that legislates on an increasing number of issues, with ever-widening impact,” said Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Expanding the council would require a two-thirds majority in the 191-nation General Assembly and the agreement of all five permanent members.

France and Britain said yesterday that they support having new permanent council members. Russia and China have not indicated their positions.

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