- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 9, 2003

President Bush is increasing pressure on reluctant United Nations Security Council members to set a March 17 deadline for Iraq to disarm or face military action, as French President Jacques Chirac yesterday called for an "emergency summit" to try to reach a compromise.
The president and other senior officials are expected to resume an intensive telephone campaign this week before the Security Council votes Tuesday on a new resolution proposed by the United States, Britain and Spain that would give Saddam Hussein eight more days to destroy his weapons of mass destruction.
In a statement yesterday, Mr. Chirac's office said the "ultimatum resolution is not acceptable and, therefore, will not be accepted by France" in a Security Council vote.
Instead, his office said, Mr. Chirac has been consulting with heads of state it did not identify to rally support for a summit, where members of the 15-nation Security Council can work through the debate on how to disarm Iraq.
Mr. Chirac said yesterday Mr. Bush should attend the proposed summit to discuss the issues.
The call for an emergency summit initially was made Friday at the United Nations by French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin after rejecting the deadline of the proposed Washington-London-Spain resolution.
But Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said then there was no need for a summit because there had been sufficient debate.
The White House yesterday had no comment on Mr. Chirac's latest statement.
Mr. Bush, Mr. Powell and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice reportedly were making phone calls yesterday to undecided members of the Security Council seeking support for the resolution. But a White House spokesman denied Mr. Bush and Miss Rice made such calls.
Joanne Moore, a State Department spokeswoman, could not confirm that Mr. Powell did so, either. She said Mr. Powell will be appearing on three news talk shows today to discuss the situation.
"We are doing everything we can to avoid war in Iraq. But if Saddam Hussein does not disarm peacefully, he will be disarmed by force," Mr. Bush told Americans yesterday in his weekly radio address.
In comments directed at those who oppose war with Iraq, the president said: "Our goal is peace … but people of good will must recognize that allowing a dangerous dictator to defy the world and build an arsenal for conquest and mass murder is not peace at all; it is pretense."
While Saddam has made a public show in recent weeks of destroying some missiles, Mr. Bush said yesterday, "Even as [Saddam] is destroying these few missiles, he has ordered the continued production of the very same type of missiles."
Mr. Bush added that, "Iraqi operatives continue to play a shell game with [U.N. weapons] inspectors, moving suspected prohibited materials to different locations" every day or two. What is more, he said, Iraqi weapons scientists "continue to be threatened with harm, should they cooperate" with inspectors.
"These are not the actions of a regime that is disarming. These are the actions of a regime engaged in willful charade," Mr. Bush said.
The president is seeking U.N. support for a military offensive against Saddam if he refuses to disarm fully. But Mr. Bush has made it clear the United States and other allies will invade Iraq "within days" if the Security Council rejects the resolution.
Mr. Bush made an unsuccessful direct telephone appeal Friday to President Ricardo Lagos of Chile, which is a member of the 15-nation Security Council. Chile had been seen as wavering in support of the resolution.
But Mr. Lagos told Mr. Bush the March 17 deadline was too short and that U.N. weapons inspectors should be given more time.
"Destroying the weapons could take two, three or four months," Mr. Lagos told Chile's Radio W.
The only call Mr. Bush made yesterday to a foreign dignitary was to Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai to discuss Mr. Karzai's recent visit to Washington, said Taylor Gross, a presidential spokesman.
The president's involvement in a telephone diplomacy campaign to persuade undecided members of the Security Council to support the new resolution is expected to resume tomorrow, Mr. Gross said.
At a briefing Friday, a senior White House official said the uphill diplomacy effort could involve travel. Aides told Reuters news agency that Mr. Bush may send Miss Rice to Russia to personally lobby President Vladimir Putin. Russia is opposed to war with Iraq and has said it sees no need for another U.N. resolution.
White House aides said Mr. Bush also might consider having Mr. Powell visit leaders of other countries with swing votes on the Security Council.
France, Russia and China are all permanent members of the 15-member Security Council, and, as such, have veto power over any resolution the body considers. All oppose war with Iraq and the content of the new resolution sought by Washington.
Mr. de Villepin, who opposes the U.S. goal of regime change in Iraq, threatened such a veto last week. The French foreign minister is to leave Paris late today to visit officials of Angola, Cameroon and Guinea in hopes of getting them to oppose the resolution that would give Saddam little more than a week to eliminate all weapons of mass destruction.
The United States needs the votes of nine of the 15 Security Council members for the resolution to pass.
Only Bulgaria supports in general the U.S.-British-Spanish position on Iraq. Before yesterday, six council members remained undecided about the new resolution Chile, Angola, Cameroon, Guinea, Mexico and Pakistan.
Mexican President Vicente Fox made a firm anti-war statement in a radio address yesterday, but did not address the new resolution.
This article is based, in part, on wire service reports.


Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide