- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 16, 2003

NEW YORK — The U.N. Security Council grudgingly but unanimously adopted a resolution authorizing U.S. rule in Iraq yesterday, giving the Bush administration an unexpectedly decisive diplomatic victory.

The vote bolstered the international political standing of the U.S.-led coalition governing in Baghdad but seemed unlikely to result in major new contributions of troops and money. Several countries said they would not increase their commitments.

U.S. diplomats had worked around the clock this week to build support for the resolution, which went through countless minor revisions in the face of criticism from Russia, France, Germany, China, Pakistan and the permanent bureaucracy in the United Nations.

Passage with the minimum nine votes necessary had been expected as recently as Wednesday, but resistance crumbled overnight. Russia, France and Germany, all of which opposed the Iraq war, announced they would support the decision early yesterday and Syria, the council’s sole Arab member, quickly fell into line.

The vote allowed U.S. diplomats to claim a decisive victory while maintaining total military and economic control in Iraq.

“I think this is a great achievement for the entire Security Council to come together again in this manner,” said Secretary of State Colin L. Powell. “We have come together to help the Iraqi people and put all of our differences of the past in the past.”

John Negroponte, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, concurred: “I think this is a good day for Iraq, it’s a good day for the council and a good day for the future of Iraq,” he said. “I think that we’re very satisfied, obviously, with the outcome of a consensus vote, 15-0.”

Despite voting in favor, many council members said they were uncomfortable with the resolution because it did not give significant independence or responsibility to the United Nations.

The governments of France, Russia and Germany cited that shortcoming in a statement immediately after the vote, saying they still could not contribute troops or additional resources to Iraq.

They also objected that the text did not establish a firm schedule for coalition forces to leave Iraq and turn over sovereignty to an Iraqi government.

“The conditions are not created for us to envisage any military commitment and no further financial contributions beyond our present engagement,” the three governments said in their joint statement.

Pakistan also announced that it would not contribute troops to the multinational force as long as it remained under the command of the coalition.

Ambassador Munir Akram stressed that the decision could be reversed if the Iraqi people and other regional powers requested Pakistani troops.

U.S. officials played down the remarks, saying they believed some countries were waiting to see how the draft was received before they committed contributions.

Mr. Powell told reporters he did not expect the resolution to break open wallets or produce troops from governments that weren’t already inclined to do so.

“There are not only council members but others who have said they were waiting to see what kind of Security Council resolution was passed, and by what kind of majority, before they addressed the issue of troops or money,” said a weary but happy looking Mr. Negroponte.

“So I think now you’ve got to give it a little time, let the impact of the passage of this resolution, which I’m certain will be very strong in many parts of the world, let that sink in.”

The carefully worded four-page resolution invites the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council to submit to the council by Dec. 15 its own timeline for drafting a constitution and holding elections leading to sovereignty.

It also authorizes a multinational force under U.S. command, with that mandate to be renewed by the council every six months.

The resolution was co-sponsored by Cameroon, Britain and Spain, which will be hosting a conference on Oct. 24 and 25 for potential donors to Iraq’s reconstruction.

Spanish Ambassador Inocencio F. Arias said the unanimous vote should be helpful in securing pledges of money and expertise. “The countries were saying, ‘How can we go to Madrid without legal support?’ Now you have the best support, unanimously.”

He acknowledged “disappointment” at the reluctance of key council nations to pledge additional support. “If we are talking honestly about implementing the resolution and helping Iraqis, let us see the money,” Mr. Arias said.

Mr. Powell also was hopeful.

“I’ve had some pretty good conversations,” he told reporters. “I wouldn’t want to give out a number now, but I’m more optimistic than I was last week with respect to the donors’ conference in Madrid.”

David R. Sands contributed to this report in Washington.

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