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Two plans presented to Security Council for next steps in disarming Iraq

Two plans presented to Security Council for next steps in disarming Iraq

Council President Gunter Pleuger
The Security Council today was presented with two plans on how to proceed with the disarmament of Iraq, with one calling for bulked up and continued inspections by the United Nations while the other would find that Iraq has failed to take the “final opportunity” afforded to it in resolution 1441.

The President of the 15-nation body, Ambassador Gunter Pleuger of Germany, told reporters that during its closed-door consultations, the Council received a “memorandum” from France, Germany and the Russian Federation calling for continued UN inspections, as well as a draft resolution co-sponsored by Spain, the United Kingdom and United States that referred to “serious consequences” mentioned in resolution 1441 if Baghdad did not comply.

He said the Council will hold further consultations Thursday on the two documents after delegations have had a chance to consult with their capitals.

The text introduced by the UK would decide that Iraq “has failed to take the final opportunity afforded to it in resolution 1441,” which was adopted unanimously last November acknowledging that Iraq “has been and remains in material breach” of its disarmament obligations and gave the country a last chance to comply.

“There needs to be United Nations action if there is serious doubt about Iraq’s cooperation,” Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock of the United Kingdom told reporters.

US Ambassador John D. Negroponte said it was now apparent that instead of seizing this opportunity, Iraq has tried to continue business as usual. “We have not seen what this Council has insisted on seeing, a strategic decision by Iraq to disarm,” he said. “That is the bar set by resolution 1441, and Iraq is immensely far from reaching that bar, and we all know it.”

The document circulated by France notes that the conditions for using force against Iraq have not been fulfilled since, while suspicions remain, no evidence has been given that Iraq still possesses weapons of mass destruction. The text also stresses that the Council must step up its efforts to give a “real chance to the peaceful settlement of the crisis.”

Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sablière of France told reporters there is no reason for the time being to discuss or to adopt a new resolution. “Our common goal, which is a goal very clearly identified in resolution 1441, is that Iraq should be disarmed,” he said. “And it is very clear that the priority is that Iraq should be disarmed peacefully. Now, the time has not come to discuss if all of these options have been exhausted. The time has not come to discuss a military option.”

For his part, Ambassador Sergey Lavrov of the Russian Federation said he did not think that the chance for the peaceful disarmament of Iraq has been lost or missed. “We are convinced, on the contrary, that the inspections are proceeding effectively and that Iraq is responding to the demands of the international community and to the pressure exerted on it,” he said. “We think that this should continue on the basis of the unity of the Council, which we very strongly support.”