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News ::
U.S., Britain, Spain Propose Deadline for Iraqi Compliance (english)
07 Mar 2003
(U.N. weapons inspectors give mixed reports) (1930)
By Judy Aita
Washington File United Nations Correspondent
United Nations -- Reports from the two chief U.N. weapons inspectors
March 7 have failed to resolve the fundamental differences among the
veto-holding members of the Security Council about Iraqi disarmament.

The United Kingdom, United States and Spain introduced an amendment to
the draft resolution on Iraq that they put forward last week that
would set March 17 as a deadline for Iraqi compliance, but France
rejected the compromise before the public ministerial-level meeting of
the 15-nation council had even adjourned.

China and Russia, two other permanent members of the council with veto
power, as well as elected members Syria and Germany, said they would
not accept any further resolutions. Bulgaria said it would support the
amended resolution. The other six elected members of the council have
urged the permanent members to find a compromise.

After the meeting U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said that
"there is a fundamental difference of opinion as to what Iraq is
doing, and I think a number of us tried to make the case today that
Iraq still is not fully complying, unconditionally complying,
immediately complying."

"That was the standard of [Security Council Resolution] 1441. We knew
what we were doing when we passed that resolution. It does not take a
long time to comply. Just get on with it. Don't keep confusing the
world. Don't keep handing out little bits of information. Don't keep
grudgingly responding to what the inspectors ask for and what they
need," Powell told journalists outside the council.

Powell also rejected a proposal made by French Foreign Minister
Dominique de Villepin that the council meet at the level of heads of
state and government next week, saying that he didn't see "a
particular need" for such a meeting.

"There have only been two such high level meetings in recent history,
primarily for ceremonial purposes," the secretary said. "I think we
have all had good opportunity over the last month to express our views
openly and candidly with each other here in the council, at the
ministerial level, and our heads of state and government are in
constant touch with each other. They have a solid understanding of
each others' positions," Powell said.

"Iraq knows what it is supposed to do. It was made clear in 1441.
There are those of us who believe, therefore, that it is time to deal
with that basic reality that Iraq is not complying," the secretary
said. "Others believe in continuing the inspections. But they never
quite say how long. For months? How many months? For what purpose,
with what additional inspectors?

"Can anyone commit to me and guarantee the international community
that we will achieve disarmament just with more inspections without a
fundamental change on the part of Iraq to come into full compliance
and full cooperation?"

The amendment to the allies' resolution, which was presented by
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, would set a specific date of
March 17 for Iraq to give the inspectors all the weapons, delivery,
support systems and structures, as well as all information regarding
the destruction of such items, for its chemical, biological and
nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

The original draft resolution submitted February 24 recalls that
council resolution 1441, passed unanimously in November 2002, declared
Iraq had been and remained in material breach of its disarmament
obligations and gave Iraq "a final opportunity to comply."

The new draft says that "Iraq will have failed to take the final
opportunity afforded by resolution 1441 unless on or before March 17,
2003, the council concludes that Iraq has demonstrated full,
unconditional, immediate and active cooperation with its disarmament
obligations."

Powell said that "sometime next week that resolution ought to be
brought to the council for a vote and let's see where everyone is.
This just can't continue on and on and on."

In their remarks to the council, both Powell and Straw stressed that
the reason there has been any Iraqi compliance at all is because of
the large number of U.S. and U.K. forces in the region, not diplomatic
pressure.

Addressing comments made by the French foreign minister, Straw said
that "that diplomatic pressure was there every day for 12 years. ...
Let us be blunt. It is the presence of over 200,000 United States and
United Kingdom young men and young women ready to lay down their
lives" that has brought the regime of Saddam Hussein to cooperate with
the inspectors.

"Dr. Blix told us that there has been an acceleration of Iraqi
cooperation in recent weeks," the U.K. foreign secretary said. "But
there is all the difference in the world between cooperation extracted
by threat and cooperation freely given."

"If the pressure on Saddam Hussein eases, cooperation will disappear.
The fact is that he has given up only what he can get away with,"
Straw said. "... Saddam then trickles out concessions, calibrated
exquisitely to the pressure he is under, and in a cynical attempt to
divide the council."

Powell said that "the inspectors have their jobs to do. We have put
out powerful resolutions, expressed political determination, but it is
also the presence of military force that is causing Iraqi compliance.
We have to keep that pressure up."

"We have got to let them know it is going to come to a head in the
very near future," Powell said.

Even before Powell and Straw spoke, Villepin said that "we cannot
accept an ultimatum as long as inspectors are reporting cooperation."
Outside the council he continued saying that "there is the idea of an
ultimatum, the 17th of March. This is the logic of war. We don't
accept this logic."

The report from Hans Blix, executive chairman of the U.N. Monitoring,
Verification, and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), updated his written
report to the council of a week ago. Mohamed ElBaradei, director
general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), presented
the agency's quarterly report, as required under resolution 1284.

Blix said "One can hardly avoid the impression that, after a period of
somewhat reluctant cooperation, there has been an acceleration of
initiatives from the Iraqi side since the end of January."

"But the value of these measures must be soberly judged by how many
question marks they actually succeed in straightening out," he said.
"This is not clear."

He gave the council a list of 29 clusters of unresolved disarmament
issues, and said that UNMOVIC would have a draft work plan on those
issues ready by the end of the month.

With "proactive Iraqi cooperation" and continued outside pressure "it
would not take years, nor weeks, but months" to resolve those
remaining disarmament tasks, Blix said.

Blix attributed the "relatively few difficulties" in conducting
private interviews with seven Iraqi scientists to "strong outside
pressure." But he added "that is not to say that the operation of
inspections is free from frictions, but at this juncture we are able
to perform professional no-notice inspections all over Iraq and to
increase aerial surveillance."

"It was a disappointment that Iraq's Declaration of 7 December did not
bring new documentary evidence," he said. "I hope that efforts in this
respect, including the appointment of a governmental commission, will
give significant results."

"Iraq, with a highly developed administrative system, should be able
to provide more documentary evidence about its proscribed weapons
programs," Blix said. "Only a few new such documents have come to
light so far and been handed over since we began inspections."

The UNMOVIC chief noted that lately Iraq has provided the names of
people who took part in the various phases of the unilateral
destruction of biological and chemical weapons in 1991. He suggested,
however, that if Iraq had such detailed information on those who took
part, then "surely there must also remain records regarding the
quantities and other data concerning the various items destroyed."

If the witnesses are available, he added, it is even more important to
conduct interviews in ways and locations outside of the reach of Iraqi
"minders" and eavesdropping equipment. Blix said that UNSCOM will soon
ask for interviews to be held outside of Iraq.

The papers Iraq recently provided on anthrax, VX, and missiles, "have
been found to restate what Iraq already has declared, and some will
require further study and discussion," he said.

Blix said that the inspectors have found no evidence yet of
underground facilities or mobile laboratories for chemical and
biological weapons, but work is continuing and UNSCOM is trying to
develop ways to conduct random checks of ground transportation.

Since March 1, there have been 24 Al Samoud 2 missiles, 2 combat
warheads, 1 launcher and 5 engines destroyed under UNMOVIC
supervision. The legality of the Al Fatah missile is still under
review, Blix said.

IAEA Director ElBaradei said that "after three months of intrusive
inspections, we have to date found no evidence or plausible indication
of the revival of a nuclear weapons program in Iraq," but the agency
will continue inspections.

IAEA inspectors have found no indications of resumed nuclear
activities in buildings that satellite imagery showed as being
reconstructed or newly erected since 1998 or at any of the 141 sites
inspected, he said.

ElBaradei said that IAEA investigators found that documents showing
Iraqi attempts to buy uranium from Niger in recent years were false
and there is no indication that Iraq has attempted to import uranium
since 1990.

On the aluminum tubes Iraq was reportedly trying to import, he said
that Iraq provided credible documents showing that the tubes were to
be used for rocket development. In addition, "it was highly unlikely
that Iraq could have achieved the considerable re-design needed to use
them in a revived centrifuge program," ElBaradei said.

While IAEA is still reviewing issues related to magnets and magnet
production, he said that there is no indication to date that Iraq
imported magnets for use in a centrifuge enrichment program. But the
training and experience Iraq acquired before 1991 makes it likely that
Iraq possesses the expertise to manufacture high-strength permanent
magnets suitable for use in enrichment centrifuges.

In the past weeks, Iraq has accelerated its pace of cooperation,
ElBaradei said, but IAEA intends to request interviews in another
country with scientists and others involved in nuclear programs.

Powell said that despite some progress, the reports were "a catalog
still of non-cooperation."

"If Iraq genuinely wanted to disarm, we would not have to be worrying
about setting up means of looking for mobile biological units or any
units of that kind. They would be presented to us. We would not need
an extensive program to search for and look for underground facilities
that we know exist," the secretary said.

"The very fact we must make these requests seems to me to show that
Iraq is still not cooperating," Powell said.

The Security Council must not walk away from its responsibilities,
Powell said.

"We must not find ourselves here this coming November with the
pressure removed and with Iraq once again marching down the merry path
to weapons of mass destruction, threatening the region, threatening
the world."

"If we fail to meet our responsibilities, the credibility of this
council and its ability to deal with all the critical challenges we
face will suffer," he said.

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