New U.S., British ultimatum to Saddam: March 17
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw on Friday presented a revised draft resolution giving Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein an ultimatum to disarm by March 17 or face the possibility of war.
Diplomats said the United States supports the proposal, an amendment to a U.S.-British-Spanish resolution that paves the way for war. But France, Germany, and other council members rejected the plan, saying it would automatically lead to military action, and France threatened to veto the resolution.
Straw distributed the new text, after his speech to the Security Council and said it would be introduced shortly.
"I am asking the (UN) secretariat to circulate an amendment we are tabling which will specify a further period beyond the adoption of a resolution for Iraq to take the final opportunity to disarm and to bring themselves into compliance," Straw said.
"He doesn't need more time to comply," Straw said of Saddam. "As he showed this week, he can act with astonishing speed when he wants to."
But France rejected the amendment. "We cannot accept an ultimatum as long as inspectors are reporting cooperation," Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin told the council. He said a deadline would be "a pretext for war."
"France will not allow a resolution to pass that authorizes the automatic use of force," he conveyed.
"To those who believe that war would be the quickest way to disarm Iraq, I would reply that it will drive wedges and inflict wounds that will be long in healing," the French foreign minister told the council.
He proposed another council meeting, but it wasn't clear when. During his previous appearance before the council, de Villepin suggested a March 14 meeting, but there was little support for the idea at the time.
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell told the UN Security Council on Friday that the UN report on arms inspections in Iraq was "a catalogue of noncooperation" by the Iraqis.
Pressing his case for a resolution finding Iraq in violation of UN disarmament requirements, Powell said Iraq had been shopping in an unnamed European country for aluminum tubes for use in weapons programs.
"Iraq's small steps are not initiatives. They have been pulled out or pressed out under the threat of force... Cooperation is often more apparent than real," he said.
He said the only question the council should examine was whether Iraq is in full compliance in disarming. Iraq has not made the strategic decision to disarm, he said.
Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said that Russia still saw no need for a second resolution.
Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan said Beijing saw no need for another resolution, "particularly one that authorizes force." Tang said: "We need resolve and determination and more importantly patience and wisdom. The road to peace has not been exhausted." (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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