- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 18, 2003

UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 18 (UPI) — Opening Tuesday's resumption of U.N. Security Council debate on Iraq, the representative of the 115-member Non-Aligned Movement, Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo of South Africa, said inspections were continuing apace, receiving renewed cooperation from the Iraqi government and so the NAM saw no need to resort to war.

Non-members of the council began delivering their views on Iraq to the 15-member panel as a follow-up to Friday's session in which the top U.N. weapons inspectors delivered their positive reports on the resumed searches in Iraq, while Washington and London considered a new resolution to authorize the use of force. Council members and Iraq spoke Friday.

Western diplomatic sources in the council said a British-U.S. draft resolution could come as early as Wednesday but thought it more likely later in the week, and possibly even next week. While London's and Washington's envoys met in New York over Iraq and discussed the possibility of a new measure, it was clear from the diplomats that Washington was making the decision on what would go into it and when it would be proposed.

This session was requested by the NAM with more than 60 nations listed to speak Tuesday and Wednesday.

"Resorting to war without fully exhausting all other options represents an admission of failure by the Security Council in carrying out its mandate of maintaining international peace and security," Kumalo said, who opened the debate in late afternoon. The opening was postponed from the morning by a massive snowstorm through the United States' Northeast.

Kumalo called for the body to redouble its efforts to bring about a peaceful resolution to the situation.

Speaker after speaker were against a military move on Baghdad, none more so than Iraqi Ambassador Mohammed Aldouri, who was the first in line behind Kumalo and said his country's record of compliance with Security Council resolutions is "unprecedented in this international organization or in the history of international relations."

Expressing his thanks to Kumalo for seeking the open session, Aldouri said the debate came as members were seeking to manage "the current crisis and resolving it peacefully at the time when the United States of America and Britain continue their feverish efforts to launch an aggressive war against my country which has been subject of an unjust and comprehensive embargo for the past 12 years."

Iraq's active cooperation since agreeing last October to the return of U.N. inspectors had resulted in the refutation of all allegations from the United States and Britain, he said.

"Reason and wisdom make it incumbent upon us to ask if there is any justification for the United States and Britain to launch war against Iraq under the pretext of their concern about Iraq's possession of weapons of mass destruction, even at a time when Iraq is under an ongoing monitoring and verification system," Aldouri said.

He called on all U.N. members to shoulder their responsibilities under the U.N. Charter to put an end to what he termed an unjust embargo, eliminate the unilaterally imposed no-fly zones and heed the call for peace expressed in demonstrations around the world over the weekend.

However, the NAM was not totally aligned against aggression, Australian Ambassador John Dauth said, "Given the amount of time that has passed, we had hoped Resolution 1441 would be the final step in resolving this issue; … we had hoped that the government of Iraq would finally get the message. But sadly, 11 years and now 10 months after the Security Council first demanded Iraq disarm, (Iraqi President) Saddam Hussein still has not understood the message."

He said Iraq was "in further material breach of its obligations. The question today is what the Security Council, as the primary multilateral instrument of international peace and security, is going to do about it."

The council has "a fundamental responsibility to assert its authority," said Dauth. "Is the Security Council now saying Iraq should be given yet more opportunities, and forget about the serious consequences? What message does this send to other states prepared to thumb their noses at international law and international norms?

"Delays and divisions in the Security Council will only play into Iraq's hands," said Canberra's envoy, referring to the French-led objection to military action without continued inspections.

"We cannot allow a tyrant to evade Council decisions," Dauth said. "The Security Council must stand united — but united around what is fundamental, not on distractions. The Security Council must act decisively to ensure that, after 12 years, Iraq finally meets its obligations."

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