UNITED NATIONS (FinalCall.com) –The United States and France are close to a compromise draft resolution that would set new guidelines for United Nations inspectors investigating Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, and how force could be authorized in the event of Baghdad’s resistance, Security Council delegates said as the council concluded a two-day open debate on Iraq.
Speaking in New York on Oct. 17, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said the U.S. is working with “our Security Council colleagues who are hoping to bridge the gap that exists between our view and their view. In due course, when these consultations are completed, the whole world will know what the position of the council is.”
On the question of how military action could be triggered in the event of Iraqi defiance of the inspections, the delegate said the new draft drops the phrase “all necessary measures”–diplomatic language for the use of force–and says that, should inspectors report that Iraq is not cooperating, the council would then meet “to consider the situation and the need for full compliance.”
Mr. Powell said the U.S. still wants the issues dealt with in a single resolution, while French Ambassador Jean-David Levitte told the Security Council on Oct. 17, that France’s two-resolution approach–one resolution on the rules of inspection and the second one on enforcement if Iraq is found not to be in compliance–is “the choice for cohesion.”
The public speeches by the five permanent members of the council–the United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia and China–did not give any indication of a meeting of minds, with all five repeating the positions they have held since discussions on a new draft resolution began five weeks earlier.
After more than 60 speakers from UN member states spoke, the 10 non-permanent members of the Council took the floor to make their first official statements on this issue. They all wanted the inspectors to return but also want the decision on the use of force to stay within the domain of the Security Council.
But the 114-member Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), the largest political grouping in the UN, said it does not want a war with Iraq. Speaking on behalf of NAM was South African Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo. He said the matter should be resolved peacefully.
“Contrary to the stand taken by the United States, NAM wants the Security Council to allow UN arms inspectors to return to Iraq without further delay,” he added.
Addressing the “open meeting” of the Security Council, Mr. Kumalo said that the 11 years of sanctions have brought “endless suffering to the ordinary people” in Iraq. The Security Council meeting is customarily confined to its five permanent and 10 non-permanent members, but was opened to all 191 members, specifically to debate Iraq. A fact not widely covered in the media was the proposal for the open meeting was initiated by South Africa, on behalf of NAM.
“My dream would be for all 191-member states to speak,” Mr. Kumalo told reporters.
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan was in China at the time of the “open meeting.” His deputy, Louise Frechette, read his statement. Mr. Annan said Iraq’s failure to comply with Security Council resolutions since 1991 “is one of the gravest and most serious problems facing the international community.”
He warned Iraq that inspectors must have “unfettered access,” adding, “This council will expect nothing less.”
He added that the “council may well choose to pass a new resolution strengthening the inspectors’ hands, so that there are no weaknesses or ambiguities.”