Avec AFP et Reuters
published 25.02.03 | 02h15
The American President, George W. Bush, stated Monday that the UN's response to a new resolution presented to the Security Council Monday evening authorizing the use of force against Iraq will allow the U.N.'s relevance to be determined.
The second UN resolution that was submitted to a closed session of the Security Council Monday night, affirms, according to a copy of the text, that, "Iraq missed the last chance that was offered to it in UN resolution 1441, adopted in November of 2002.''
This proposed resolution was presented simultaneously by the U.S., Great Britain, and Spain. The proposal contains a dozen paragraphs, the first of which enumerates the list of Security Council resolutions concerning Iraq; including the famous 1441. The text goes on to note that Iraq's statement about its weapons of mass destruction "contains false statements and omissions''. Iraq "failed in its obligation to comply and fully cooperate with the implementation of resolution'' 1441. Another paragraph "recognizes that the refusal of Iraq to comply with the Security Council's resolutions and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles pose a threat to international peace and security.'' The proposed resolution also recalls that, "the Council has repeatedly warned Iraq that if it continues to violate its obligations, it will have to face serious consequences.'' This expression "serious consequences''-which also figures in resolution 1441- is generally understood as a diplomatic euphemism meaning war. The proposed resolution emphasizes, finally, that the Council "has decided to make sure its decisions are completely implemented'' also its determination to "restore international peace and security in the region.''
The text does not fix any specific deadline for a military operation in Iraq. A new meeting of the Council, also closed, was announced for Thursday by the German ambassador. According to the British, a vote will not occur before March 7. For its part, the White House has insisted that the UN has only a limited time to decide on this proposed resolution. "It is impossible to specify an exact date I can't predict the number of days, but it won't be many'', declared Presidential spokesperson, Ari Fleischer. The American President himself, increased the pressure on the U.N. "This is the moment for this organization, which we hope it will survive, to determine whether it remains relevant to face the threats of the Twenty-first century'', he proclaimed during a White House speech to the state governors.
The French memo to the UN. "We are aware of the proposed resolution. In fact, we see nothing in the present situation that justifies a new resolution'', stated President Jacques Chirac following a working dinner with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in Berlin, at an inn, appropriately named ''The Last Chance''. Somewhat earlier Monday, during a press conference associated with a meeting of his European counterparts in Brussels, the French foreign Minister, Dominique de Villepin, announced the delivery that day to UN headquarters in New York, of a second memorandum, designed to "make credible and concrete' the UN inspectors' work in Iraq. The French memorandum, cosigned by Russia and Germany, and supported by China, reaffirmed that the military option was to be implemented only as a "last resort'' and judged that'' for the moment, the conditions for the use of force in Iraq have not been met''. "Iraq must disarm and its complete and active cooperation is necessary'', reads the text, which insists on the fact that the inspections "may not go on indefinitely''. This new French initiative follows a first memorandum in which France already proposed to reinforce the resources and personnel at the inspectors' disposal.
The head of German diplomacy, Joschka Fischer, for his part, indicated that ''for the moment, we don't see the point of a second resolution.'' "It is not a question of finishing with resolution 1441 and replacing it with another resolution, but rather of applying'' 1441. "We want and we must achieve by peaceful means, which is to say through inspections'', clarified the head of German diplomacy, expressing a position very close to that of his French counterpart. At the heart of the European Union, the proposed second resolution is firmly supported by Great Britain and Spain.
Like France and Germany, the non-aligned movement, which includes 116 countries, also opposed Monday the prospect of armed conflict in Iraq and declared itself in favor of pursuing UN inspections. Six of them (Syria, Cameroon, Pakistan, Chili, Angola, and Guinea) presently sit on the Security Council.
The Russian Camp. Moscow expects to "use all the resources of its diplomatic arsenal'' to resolve the Iraqi crisis by political means, the Russian Foreign Affairs Minister indicated in a communique. The head of Russian diplomacy, Igor Ivanov, informed his American, British, French, and German counterparts over the phone, added the text. Mr. Ivanov reminded that "the use of force against Iraq would clearly be counter-productive and would push the international community far away from its objective'', which is to disarm Iraq, according to the communique. "Russia means to use every resource in its diplomatic arsenal to resolve the present critical situation in Iraq by political means'', declared the Russian Minister, whose country holds veto power over the UN Security Council's resolutions. In his message to his Western counterparts, Igor Ivanov judged that the Security Council has "succeeded in obtaining a decisive advance in Baghdad's attitude and in convincing the Iraqi authorities to agree to reinstate unconditional cooperation with the UN. Russia, which is a partisan of pursuing inspections to disarmament, judges that, thanks to the inspections, there is, "a real opportunity to definitively answer the question of Iraqi potential weapons of mass destruction'', according to the minister's communique.
New diplomatic maneuvers. In Beijing, the American Secretary of State, Colin Powell, tried without success to convince China- which has veto power as a permanent UN Security Council member- to support a second resolution. The Chinese number one, Hu Jintao, reiterated that the Iraqi crisis must be politically resolved within the UN, but that Baghdad must "fully, strictly, and honestly implement the Council's resolutions, and keep its word on the declaration to not possess weapons of mass destruction.'' Signal that they might be content to abstain on a vote of the American-British resolution; the Chinese authorities always add that they do not intend to alter the "positive direction'' of Sino-American relations.
In Turkey, the President of the Parliament, Bulent Arinc, declared himself opposed to a Parliamentary vote on the question of American troop deployment in the country in the absence of "the conditions required for international legitimacy'' of war against Iraq. Ankara et Washington are presently negotiating the conditions of American troop deployment in the country and the Turkish government confirmed it would ask for a Parliamentary decision on the question once an agreement will have been reached with the Americans.
On the Ground. Parallel to the intense diplomatic activity, the UN experts pursue their mission in Iraq. Monday, Hans Blix, head of the UN Commission of control, verification, and inspection (Unmovic), ordered Baghdad to begin by Saturday to destroy its Al Samoud 2 missiles, the range of which exceeds by thirty kilometers the 150 kilometers authorized by the UN. The Iraqi authorities have indicated they will comply with this injunction. But the White House already warned that the destruction of these missiles would not change in any way its opinion that the inspections were doomed to failure. "It's like taking one bullet out of a gun barrel and leaving the rest of the barrel loaded ", opined Mr. Fleischer. However that may be, the United States continues with its military deployment around Iraq. Two large ships crossed the Suez Canal Sunday night on their way to the Gulf.
Translation: TruthOut French language correspondent Leslie Thatcher
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