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US makes progress on Iraq compromise measure at UN
( 2002-10-18 09:37 ) (7 )

The United States intends to introduce a new UN resolution that diplomats said made some compromises but would threaten "consequences" if Iraq blocked any renewed weapons inspections.

After being sharply criticized by nations around the globe, the new US proposals would soften an earlier draft that would have given Washington the right to attack Iraq for any disarmament violation it perceived Baghdad had committed.

Russia indicated some support of the US measures but France, which led resistance to the original US draft resolution, is still negotiating the fine points of the new proposals, diplomats said.

Both nations have veto power in the 15-nation UN Security Council, along with the United States, Britain and China.

The US measures would require Hans Blix, the chief UN arms inspector, to report violations by Iraq to the council, which would then consider "the need for full compliance," according to those familiar with the text.

But the United States does not commit itself to a vote or a second resolution in the council, as France wants, to authorize the use of force. It believes language in the first resolution would give it enough power to launch military action.

"We believe one resolution is appropriate," Secretary of State Colin Powell told reporters in New York, shortly after he spoke to Blix and before a scheduled dinner speech.

"But obviously the council can always go off and have other discussions any time it chooses," he said.

Powell said any resolution would be one that "preserves the authority and the right of the president of the United States to act in self-defense of the American people."

US Ambassador John Negroponte told an open council debate, in which US military action was sharply criticized, that he would "be placing before the council, in the near future, a resolution with clear and immediate requirements."

French Ambassador Jean-David Levitte in his council speech, still insisted on a "two-staged" approach but did not say if this included a second resolution as he has in the past.

But he warned that "given the gravity of the situation, in which nothing less than peace or war is at stake, it is essential for the Security Council to remain in charge of the process every step of the way."


Russia's Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov made conciliatory statements in Moscow after talking to Powell, saying he opposed an "automatic" use of force but "hoped that by joining forces we will be able keep the settlement of this situation within a political framework."

But his UN ambassador, Sergei Lavrov, sharply criticized any unilateral action and warned the United States not to use the Security Council as an excuse for a military strike or one that would lead to a "regime change."

"No council member could give its consent to that," he said.

Specifically, the new US proposals direct Blix " to report immediately to the council any failure by Iraq to comply with its disarmament obligations."

It would then convene immediately "to consider the situation and the need for full compliance with all of the relevant Security Council resolutions." This could mean a second resolution or merely a discussion.

British Ambassador Sir Jeremy Greenstock, whose country supports the United States, said London wanted a "detailed Security Council discussion" if the UN inspectors reported Iraq did not fully cooperate with them.

When the proposal is completed, US diplomats will call a meeting with the other four permanent members of the council -- Britain, France, Russia and China. The Bush administration now hopes this will happen on Friday but delays until next week are possible..

The Bush administration also appeared to have dropped provisions in its draft that would allow key council members to join UN inspections and have troops open any routes that may be barred to the arms experts.

Both demands are opposed by Blix as well as most Security Council members.

But US officials indicated that the new US proposals would be the last.

One Bush administration official said the United States was giving France "one last shot" after the White House, the Pentagon and State Department agreed on a common strategy this week after continuous divisions.

"The United States does not need any additional authority even now, if we thought it was necessary to take action to defend ourselves," Powell said.



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