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rumsfeld takes aim at annan (english)
20 Nov 2002
is annan getting out of control, thinks rumsfeld?
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Tuesday took aim at U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who said the Security Council did not back a U.S. charge that Baghdad was already violating a new U.N. resolution on Iraq.
And Rumsfeld criticized what he said was long inaction by the U.N. on Iraq until the world body was prodded by President Bush to order Baghdad to finally end development of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.
"I don't know that he (Annan) necessarily reflects the U.N., the center of gravity of the Security Council, on any particular issue at any particular time," the secretary told reporters flying with him from Chile to Washington.
The White House and Pentagon have said that continued firing by Iraqi defenses at U.S. and British jets policing "no-fly" zones over northern and southern Iraq was a direct violation of the Nov. 8 U.N. resolution on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.
But Annan, responding to questions in Pristina, Yugoslavia, said on Tuesday that he did not think the Security Council would agree if Washington took the matter to the U.N.
"Let me say that I don't think that the council will say this is a contravention of the resolution of the Security Council," Annan said.
'COMPROMISES' AND 'AMBIGUITIES'
Rumsfeld, asked about the comment, said he was not surprised about the controversy.
"Whenever resolutions are passed, they tend to be compromises, and there tend to be calculated ambiguities written into them to gain votes," Rumsfeld told reporters in an interview on his aircraft. "So it (the differing views) does not come as a surprise to me."
Rumsfeld noted that "he (Annan) certainly is the secretary general, and he has a voice and a role."
But he pointedly stressed that the world body had for years done nothing about what Washington says are repeated violations by Iraq of U.N. resolutions passed after the 1991 Gulf War.
"Until President Bush went to the U.N., the U.N. was quite happy the way things were, it seems. And once he went and they voted unanimously, that marked a considerable sort of departure for the United Nations," Rumsfeld said.
Russia on Tuesday attacked the U.S. charge regarding the no-fly zones.
"Recent claims that Iraq's actions in the no-fly zones can be seen as a violation of the U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441 have no legal ground," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in Moscow.
NOT A TRIGGER FOR WAR
With U.N. arms inspectors now in Iraq with Baghdad's permission, neither Rumsfeld nor the White House have suggested that Washington is ready to go to war over tit-for-tat exchanges of fire in the no-fly zones, which have gone on for more than a decade and escalated in recent months.
And they have not said whether the complaint might be formally carried to the U.N.
"Oh, I have no idea what the reaction of the members of the council would be," Rumsfeld said in response to questions before his plane landed in Washington on a refueling stop en route to Prague for this week's NATO summit meeting.
"I have been careful to say that it's not for me to make those judgments -- it's up to the Security Council and individual members to come to conclusions."
Rumsfeld said that two key questions remained on Iraq: whether or not Iraqi President Saddam Hussein would finally decide to disarm, and what the U.N. would do about it if he did not.
"The United Nations sat there for years with 16 resolutions being violated. So, just as we've seen a pattern of behavior on the part of Saddam Hussein, we've seen a pattern of behavior on the part of the United Nations," he told reporters.
"Only time will tell what it -- that is to say the (U.N.) membership -- will conclude. And I have no idea what they will conclude."