- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 19, 2003

The United States and Britain delayed a decision yesterday on a new U.N. resolution authorizing military action against Iraq, and a group of 60 Third World nations made a case to the U.N. Security Council against going to war.
The new resolution, a document with three key paragraphs, would find Iraq in "further material breach" of demands that it disarm.
In the morning, the White House said the U.S.-British draft could be introduced as early as today. But in the afternoon, officials said the new text may not be introduced at all.
"At this point, it's not clear we'll put a resolution down. We are really still testing the waters," one U.S. official said.
The official said the administration wanted to hear what the 60 U.N. members have to say during an open council meeting that began yesterday and is expected to end today.
President Bush said yesterday that Washington does not need another document because Saddam "could even care less about" Resolution 1441.
"The timing will be determined as a result of ongoing conversations within our government and our allies," White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said later at a press briefing. "I think it's going to be a relatively simple and straightforward resolution, not very lengthy."
"But we are working with our friends and allies to see if we can get a second resolution," he told reporters.
The group addressing the council comprises members of the Non-Aligned Movement and was led by South Africa's U.N. ambassador, Dumisani Kumalo, who said that "the inspection process in Iraq is working and that Iraq is showing clear signs of cooperating more proactively with the inspectors."
Meanwhile, Washington's military planning suffered a serious setback after Turkey, seeking to double its multibillion-dollar U.S. aid package, postponed a parliamentary vote to permit the deployment of tens of thousands of U.S. troops to open a northern front in a war with Iraq.
Yesterday's developments followed a weekend of global anti-war protests and a declaration by leaders of the 15-nation European Union giving Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein one "last chance" to disarm.
In describing the draft of the U.S.- and British-backed resolution, the American official said the document begins with a standard preamble followed by "three operative paragraphs." They state that Iraq is in "further material breach," using language taken directly from Resolution 1441, adopted unanimously by the Security Council on Nov. 8.
The draft also mentions "serious consequences," if Iraq does not disarm, language also used in the earlier resolution.
Nine Security Council votes are necessary to adopt a resolution, provided none of the five permanent members vetoes it.
But French President Jacques Chirac said in Brussels on Monday that his country would veto it if the text is introduced at this time. Two other permanent members, Russia and China, support France's position that inspections should be given more time.
A former top Iraqi scientist said in Manila yesterday that he believes Saddam had dismantled his nuclear program but was making chemical and biological weapons hidden deep underground.
"There is no way [the inspectors] can really find them, unless by pure accident," Hussain al Shahristani, a former chief scientific adviser to the Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission, said at a briefing organized by an association of foreign journalists in the Philippines. "These materials are hidden deep underground or in a tunnel system."
Mr. al Shahristani, who said he had been jailed by Saddam's regime for 11 years because he refused to develop banned weapons, said his information came from former colleagues and dissidents who had recently fled Iraq. He escaped from Iraq in 1991 and lives in London.
"There has even been discussion within [Saddams] circle to set up what they call a chemical belt around Baghdad using his chemical weapons to entrap the residents of Baghdad inside," he said.
"Based on contacts that we are having with the people inside Iraq, who are talking with the military all the time, the general understanding of the population now is that the army is not going to fight. The army is not going to defend Saddam."
In Turkey yesterday, the leader of the governing Justice and Development Party, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said Ankara would allow U.S. troops on its territory only after Washington substantially increases its aid offer to compensate Turkey for any losses during a war with Iraq.
"The other side must meet our demands, and if they do, we shall see. After this is finalized, the authorization will come to parliament," Mr. Erdogan was quoted as saying by the Anatolia News Agency.
According to reports from Turkey, the government is demanding $10 billion in grants and as much as $20 billion in long-term loans, but the negotiations have been about $4 billion to $6 billion in grants and $10 billion to $15 billion in loans.
"We are working closely with the Turks," Mr. Bush said yesterday. "We have great respect for the Turkish government. They have no better friend than the American government, and hopefully we can come up with an agreement that's satisfactory to both parties."
Mr. Fleischer said negotiations had reached a crucial stage and that the matter "will be settled one way or another rather soon."
"We continue to work with Turkey as a friend. But it is decision time," he said.
Also yesterday, 13 EU candidates endorsed the European Union's warning on Monday to Iraq that it has a "last chance" to cooperate fully with the United Nations if it wants to avoid war.
This article is based in part on wire service reports.


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