- The Washington Times - Friday, November 8, 2002

NEW YORK The United States and France reached agreement yesterday on a new resolution to disarm Iraq after weeks of debate. Immediately thereafter, the U.N. Security Council announced there would be a vote early today, with approval expected.
The U.S.-British resolution gives Iraq a last chance to disarm or face war.
"It's been agreed in the council there will be a vote in the morning," British Ambassador Sir Jeremy Greenstock announced yesterday.
He said he hoped for a 15-0 vote, but conceded that not every council ambassador had declared yet how his country would vote.
A telephone conversation between President Bush and French President Jacques Chirac yesterday ended weeks of gridlock at the United Nations.
French officials said the two leaders resolved differences, and that France would support the U.S.-sponsored resolution in a Security Council vote today and would urge other council members to do likewise.
"A positive dynamic has been launched, and we hope that a consensus will be reached in the Security Council at Friday's vote," Mr. Chirac's spokeswoman, Catherine Colonna, told the Agence France-Presse news service.
The U.S. draft resolution requires that Iraq accept international weapons inspectors and declare all of its chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.
In negotiations this week, the Bush administration reluctantly amended several sections of the draft, raising the bar for Iraq to be declared in "material breach" of the Security Council. From Washington's viewpoint, the term provides the legal basis for military action.
The Bush administration also agreed to discuss Iraqi violations with members of the Security Council, although it maintains it reserves the right to use force without first seeking explicit council authorization.
The measures were necessary to address opposition from France, China and Russia.
The resolution requires nine "yes" votes in the 15-nation council and no vetoes from its five permanent members the United States, Britain, China, France and Russia.
Diplomats said last night that they do not expect Moscow to veto the resolution, and they said it was possible that Syria, the only Arab nation on the council, would abstain instead of voting "no."
Once the new resolution is approved, U.N. weapons inspectors could return to Iraq for the first time in four years. If there is no new resistance from Baghdad, the inspectors could be back at work by mid-December.
Syria yesterday asked the council to delay the vote until Monday, to allow it to consult with foreign ministers at the Arab League meeting in Cairo this weekend.
But U.S. officials dismissed the request, saying that Syria had had eight weeks to consider the matter.
Mr. Bush also spoke yesterday with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"Both leaders agreed on the need to reach agreement on a strong new resolution that could lead to peaceful disarmament of Iraq through cooperation with U.N. and [International Atomic Energy Agency] inspectors," White House spokesman Sean McCormack said.
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell also worked the phones yesterday, speaking with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin and Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov in the rush to nail down a deal.
Mr. Powell told the Associated Press that a confrontation with Baghdad could still be months off, even with the return of inspectors.
But, he added: "If they don't intend to cooperate, I think that will become obvious rather soon, and the U.N. will have to make its judgment as to whether they want to participate in a charade with the Iraqi government or whether they want immediately to convene to see if something else should be done."
David R. Sands contributed to this report from Washington.

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