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Security Council President predicts adoption of new resolution on Iraq in days ahead

Security Council President predicts adoption of new resolution on Iraq in days ahead

Amb. Belinga-Eboutou speaking to press
Following intensive discussions on Iraq in the Security Council today, the President of the 15-member body predicted the adoption in the coming days of a new resolution aimed at returning weapons inspectors to the country following a nearly four-year absence.

Speaking to reporters after the closed-door meeting, Ambassador Martin Belinga-Eboutou of Cameroon said Council members had received input from the Executive Chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

“The information that they have given us will enable Council members to study the text [of a draft resolution circulated by the United States and United Kingdom] and to look for a consensus, and I can tell you in this respect that that is close to being reached.”

“We intend to have consultations as long as it takes to get to the bottom of the text,” he added, predicting that “in the days to come in fact the Council will be able to adopt a resolution” giving UN weapons inspectors the guidelines that they require to operate in Iraq.

Also addressing the press following the consultations, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he was still hopeful that the Council would come up with a resolution that all members “can sign on to, or a vast majority.”

Underscoring the gravity of the issue, he said, “It is a question of war and peace and I think it is appropriate that the Council goes about it in a deliberate manner.”

In his remarks to the press, UNMOVIC chief Hans Blix stressed the need for broad unity in the Council. He predicted that there would be a resolution, adding, “we look forward to that; we want to get [into Iraq] as soon as we can.”

Mr. Blix was joined by IAEA Director-General Mohammed ElBaradei, who agreed on the importance of “unified Council support behind us.” He called for “explicit authority, good practical arrangements and information from all Member States as to how and where to go to ensure that Iraq has completely disarmed.”

“In our discussion with the Security Council,” he added, “both Dr. Blix and I emphasized the importance of having the inspection operation be completely impartial, completely objective, and that we maintain fully our independence.”

Asked about a new resolution’s potential to strengthen the inspectors’ hand, Mr. Blix said, “it is desirable that Iraq understands that any lack of cooperation or violation of the provisions of the resolution will call for reactions on the part of the Council.”

The Council’s influence on the situation “has to be not only the first month, but it has to be on a continuous basis,” he stressed.

To a question on whether Iraq is in “material breach” of its obligations under Council resolutions, Mr. Blix said that depended on how the term is defined, but added, “it is clear that Iraq has not admitted inspectors since 1998, although it obligatory for them to do so.”

Mr. ElBaradei recalled that by its resolution 707, adopted in 1991, the Council had already declared Iraq to be in material breach of its text.

“Our role is to establish the facts,” he explained. “It is for the Security Council to evaluate the facts and determine whether these facts constitute material breach and what is the next step to be taken by the Council – this is the Council’s prerogative.”

“We are to inspect and we are to report, objectively and independently as a UN force, and it is for the Council to decide what’s going to happen,” agreed Mr. Blix. “They are the highest organ of the UN system, and they will have that decision in their hands.”