- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 19, 2003

UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 19 (UPI) — Attention turned to the content of a second U.N. Security Council resolution to authorize force in Iraq after both the United States and Britain said Wednesday they would introduce the resolution by as late as next week.

"It certainly is not going to be a long one," an official at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations told United Press International in confirming Washington's plan. The United States previously has said a second measure was not necessary before launching an attack on Baghdad — that all that was necessary for the use of force was the Nov. 8 Resolution 1441.

Word on whether a deadline would be in the new draft measure came from another source, as the council for a second day in a row held an open Iraq debate, for non-members of the 15-member panel. The speakers overwhelmingly were for the continuation of inspections before deciding to take military action against Iraq.

When British Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock was asked, outside the council chambers if the panel would have to set a deadline for active Iraqi cooperation with Resolution 1441, he replied, "Explicitly or implicitly, yes. I do expect that because time will, I'm afraid run out, as time always does."

It was later learned from diplomats there were no immediate plans for the draft — apparently still being penned in consultations between London and Washington — to carry an explicit deadline.

Diplomatic sources in the council said that implicitly, it would be set when the duo tables the measure perhaps as early as Thursday and as late as next week, saying it has to be passed by or on Saturday March 1, a date marked on the calendar for the next report to the council by the chief U.N. weapons inspector, Hans Blix.

Asked if he had any requests to set council time aside, say, Feb. 28, for Blix, Ambassador Gunter Pleuger of Germany, this month's rotating council president said, "No." Guinea takes over the following month and that program of work will most likely be hammered out March 2 and 3.

Greenstock said he took from the two-day council debate "two main strands of view in almost everybody's presentation: One is that Iraq has obligations that it must fulfill under the Security Council resolutions and the other is 'Please do not do this by the use of force. Please do this peacefully,' and the United Kingdom subscribes to both those views.

"What we want and what is the overwhelming concept that people are putting forward is the peaceful, complete disarmament of Iraq," he said. "No member state, has put forward a proposition about how you achieve the complete disarm(ing) of Iraq unless the threat or perhaps the actuality of military enforcement is there."

London's envoy told reporters the test was, "Is there voluntary disarmament of Iraq? Is there that kind of cooperation being reported by the inspectors that will achieve complete disarmament by peaceful means? The answer so far is that the inspectors have not reported Iraqi voluntary disarmament. So the test for the Security Council is how do we deal with that defiance.

"They haven't begun the process of voluntary disarmament," Greenstock said. "If they're within weeks, not months, there isn't a report that the Iraqis have begun, then the Security Council has to come to a decision on what it does about that. A good debate, a predictable debate, in many ways."

Said the ambassador, "We will move into a debate about that in the next few days" and the "framework" for that upcoming debate would be on the "weeks, not months" scenario, "on a specific proposition that the council will then have to focus on," thus backing up diplomats who saw an implicit deadline coming.

The two days of debate just completed was requested by the Non-Aligned Movement, known as NAM, in order to give the wider U.N. membership an opportunity to express their views on the inspection process in Iraq to the council.

Echoing the sentiments of several delegations Tuesday, many of the 36 speakers Wednesday supported bolstering the ongoing inspections by the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, headed by Blix, and the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, headed by Mohammed ElBaradei, and opposed the use of military force.

They noted Iraq's cooperation with inspectors and urged that the inspectors should be given more time. Only as a last resort should armed action be considered, speaker after speaker pleaded.

Several also voiced concern about the unknown consequences for the region caused by the current Iraq crisis, particularly the humanitarian aspect of a military conflict. War would create a new catastrophe for the Iraqi people and their immediate neighbors, they said.

Many countries called on Iraq to comply immediately and unconditionally with council resolutions and to cooperate more proactively with the inspection process. Barring that, the council must not wait forever to confront the issue but move quickly to consider a new resolution that dealt decisively with Iraq's failure or risk losing credibility, many said.

The threat of force must be maintained in order to keep the pressure on Baghdad to bring about its disarmament, several speakers said.

Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990 led to the Persian Gulf War and sanctions imposed by the Security Council. Baghdad was found in non-compliance with U.N. resolutions mandating its disarmament, which followed a cease-fire agreement. Under that deal, Iraq agreed to rid itself of weapons of mass destruction.

Baghdad's refusal to cooperate with the previous inspection regime, known as UNSCOM, led to the withdrawal of inspectors in December 1998. That was followed by a four-day bombing campaign by Britain and the United States.

There were no inspections from then until U.N. inspectors returned Nov. 27, under a tough, new Nov. 8 council resolution. Resolution 1441 authorizes the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission led by Hans Blix, its executive chairman, as the chief U.N. weapons inspector.

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