- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 29, 2002

The leaders of two main international weapons inspection agencies urged a divided U.N. Security Council yesterday to spell out consequences of "any lack of cooperation" by Iraq in destroying its biological, chemical and other deadly weapons.
Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix and Mohammed El Baradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), yesterday bolstered demands by the United States and Britain for a tough resolution threatening military action against Baghdad in the event of violations.
"I think it is desirable that Iraq understands that any lack of cooperation, or violation of the origins of the resolution, will call for reactions on behalf of the council," Mr. Blix told reporters after briefing the council yesterday morning.
The appearance by Mr. Blix and Mr. El Baradei came as the council entered its seventh week of talks, which have been deadlocked over the terms of the resolution.
Of the five permanent veto-wielding council members, France, Russia and China remain reluctant to threaten Iraq, while the United States and Britain say that any new inspection effort would be useless without the threat of force.
President Bush continued to cajole and threaten the United Nations into acting, saying yesterday that the world body would become irrelevant if it accepts a weak resolution.
Saddam Hussein "is a person who has defied international bodies time and time again. This is a person who has made the United Nations look foolish," the president said at a campaign event in New Mexico.
The United States wants the United Nations to declare Iraq in "material breach" of more than a dozen U.N. resolutions and to threaten "serious consequences" should Saddam resist U.N. demands.
The two phrases would give the United States a legal basis to attack if Iraq blocks inspectors from finding and destroying weapons stockpiles.
Mr. El Baradei urged the council to use the language sought by the United States and Britain.
"This is not the first time the council declares Iraq in material breach," Mr. El Baradei said.
"It is our role to establish the facts. It's up to the Security Council to evaluate the facts and determine whether these facts constitute material breach and what is the next step to be taken by the council," he said.
Even if France, Russia and China refrain from exercising their vetoes, the United States still faces an uphill task to obtain nine "yes" votes on the 15-nation council, most of whose members remain opposed.
None of the ambassadors from the council-member states yesterday admitted to feeling a change of heart.
"Mexico wants a resolution of unity and clarity, not a source of future conflict," said its ambassador, Adolfo Aguilar Zinser. "The statements today show room for improvement."
French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said yesterday that Paris would not accept any resolution with language threatening automatic exercise of force.
"We reject any clause on automatic recourse to force because recourse to force can only be the last resort," he said.
U.S. officials are calling for a yes-or-no vote by the end of the week, and Mr. Bush reiterated yesterday that the United States would lead a coalition to disarm Saddam, regardless of the backing of the council.
"This is coming down to the wire. The United Nations debated this long enough," Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer said.
"The time has come for people to raise their hands and cast their vote to either announce they will return to the way of the '90s a weak, ineffective system of inspections or recognize that Saddam Hussein is taking advantage of weakness and the world needs to do something different," he said.
Mr. Blix and Mr. El Baradei, while supporting demands for a tough resolution, did not embrace some parts of the U.S. proposal.
Diplomats said that both officials criticized as unfeasible U.S. demands that any Iraqi official or scientist could be taken outside Iraq for questioning, with family members, to avoid being punished by Saddam.
They also questioned whether Iraq could be reasonably expected to make a full disclosure of all its chemical weapons production activities within 30 days, as demanded by the U.S.-British draft.
Still, both officials stressed the need for a strong and sturdy mandate to send teams back to Iraq, where U.N. inspectors have not worked since December 1998.
"We need unified council support behind us, we need explicit authority, good practical arrangements, and information from all member states about how to go and where to go to ensure that Iraq is completely disarmed," Mr. El Baradei said.
Mr. Blix said that there were no legal obstacles to starting inspections without a new resolution but that it would be "inconceivable" to start working when the council remained divided over the wording of the resolution.
He headed the IAEA in 1998 when it and U.N. weapons inspectors were kicked out of Iraq after years of stonewalling by Baghdad.
He said yesterday: "I think the intention is, in the draft resolution, to give very clear signals as to what we can do and to avoid what people have referred to as cat-and-mouse play."
Betsy Pisik contributed to this report from New York, and Joseph Curl contributed from New Mexico.


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