- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 23, 2002

NEW YORK Resistance to the U.S. draft resolution on Iraq stiffened yesterday, as capitals had digested Washington's demands for an accelerated timeline and a warning of "serious consequences" if Baghdad refuses to cooperate fully with weapons inspectors.
Russian and French leaders yesterday signaled they could not sign on to the U.S. proposal, while China, a third veto-wielding member of the U.N. Security Council, indicated its discomfort with the language.
These three, along with the United States and close ally Britain, have the power to block a resolution with their vetoes.
The five ambassadors met twice yesterday, but appeared unable to bridge their differences.
"You're going to ask me to characterize these talks, and all I would say is that as is normal in discussions between the P-5, these are professional, businesslike and as you may have gathered they were quite long," said U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte after the morning meeting.
He said the envoys would consult with their capitals.
"I think everybody's got a lot of food for thought," he said.
In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said the U.S. draft resolution "does not answer the criteria which the Russian side laid out earlier and which it confirms today," the Interfax news agency reported.
Mr. Ivanov was speaking after a meeting with chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix, who was in Moscow for a nuclear disarmament conference.
The French, who have staked out the middle ground among the five permanent Security Council members, were also unimpressed by the new proposal.
"We have our own appreciation of things, and we tell [Washington] that," said French President Jacques Chirac, acknowledging "we don't say it in an aggressive way."
France, Russia and China maintain that two resolutions are necessary: The first to send inspectors from the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission and the International Atomic Energy Agency back to Iraq; the second to authorize force to punish noncompliance.
The newer U.S. proposal calls for the inspectors to have immediate and unconditional access to all sites, including the so-called presidential sites that had been protected from surprise inspections.
It calls for "serious consequences" if the inspectors meet with resistance.
The draft also outlines an accelerated timeline that still gives the Iraqis a four-month window to prove cooperation.
Specifically, the Iraqis will have 30 days to file a full declaration of all their proscribed weapons of mass destruction, including dual-use items.
The inspectors will have 45 days from the adoption of the resolution to resume their work, and 60 to report to the council on Iraq's cooperation.
The resolution also calls on inspectors to report obstructions or problems immediately.
Mr. Blix said that the inspectors will not return to Iraq without a resolution. He also urged Baghdad to cooperate fully, to avoid a war.
"I think that if Iraq helps create confidence that there are no weapons of mass destruction, then I think there will be no war," he told reporters in Moscow.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher yesterday warned against "overreacting" to the early criticisms of the new U.S. resolution as the Security Council tries to hammer out a compromise.
"This is going to be a complicated process, because it is a long text," he said. "It's probably going to be a messy process."
Mr. Boucher said the new proposed resolution ran to three single-spaced pages, and included a substantial amount of material unchanged from the first U.S.-British draft.
As part of the U.S. diplomatic push, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell talked with Mr. Ivanov, French Foreign Minister Domonique de Villepin, and British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, as well as with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan about the revised text.
David R. Sands contributed to this article from Washington.

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