Tue, Feb 25, 2003 - Page 1 News List

US, UK table new Iraq resolution

DIVIDED ALLIES The US and Britain were to submit a new Security Council resolution yesterday, but France said it has proposals to resolve the crisis without a war

REUTERS , UNITED NATIONS

The US and Britain intended to introduce a new UN Security Council resolution yesterday that would set the stage for war in Iraq by declaring Baghdad in violation of UN demands, council diplomats said.

Britain's UN ambassador, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, was to make the formal introduction, which a spokesman for British Prime Minister Tony Blair has said he hoped would be voted on by mid-March, a signal there would be no invasion of Iraq before that time.

Getting approval will be difficult in face of opposition from France, Russia and China, who have veto power on the 15-member council.

So far only Spain and Bulgaria support the US and Britain while the other nations have spoken in favor of France's position for continuing arms inspections or are uncomfortable in having to make a decision.

To counter the US, French President Jacques Chirac's spokeswoman, Catherine Colona, said France would put forward proposals immediately for more intrusive inspections.

"There is no reason today to interrupt the inspections and go over to another logic that would lead to war," she said.

France earlier this month circulated proposals to Security Council members calling for a tripling of inspectors and UN guards to "freeze" suspected weapons sites, and more spy plane overflights. These proposals are expected to be refined, probably in the form of an informal draft resolution.

The US has been sending senior officials to lobby council nations. Two have already visited Mexico and another went to Africa to talk to officials in Angola, Cameroon and Guinea.

At the same time US President George W. Bush has been making telephone calls to his counterparts in various nations, including Chilean President Ricardo Lagos, whose government has publicly leaned toward the French position but is still undecided.

"It is true that President Bush called President Lagos, another thing is how you interpret that," a Chilean government spokesman said.

"Chile couldn't accept pressures because it has a sovereign and autonomous foreign policy," the spokesman added in Santiago.

He said Chile would have to study the resolution.

On the other side, Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder were scheduled to meet yesterday evening in Berlin to discuss their strategy.

Before the resolution is adopted or rejected Iraqi President Saddam Hussein faces a test on whether or not he will destroy dozens of missiles by this Saturday as ordered last Friday by chief UN inspector Hans Blix.

Destruction of the al-Samoud 2 missiles, which have a range that exceeds UN limits, would be a blow to Iraq as it prepares for a possible invasion by US forces.

If it does not destroy them, the US and Britain could use this as proof Iraq is not cooperating with the UN and that war is justified.

Blix said Iraq's al-Samoud 2 missiles exceeded by 33km the 150km range set by the Security Council in a 1991 resolution.

He ordered Iraq to destroy not only the missiles, but their SA-2 engines, auto-pilots, guidance and control systems, launchers, fuel, oxidizer, casting chambers, equipment and components designed for production and testing as well as software and research used to construct the missiles.

Blix was scheduled to deliver yesterday and today a list of more than 30 unresolved questions about Iraqi disarmament to his advisory board -- called a College of Commissioners -- and composed of some 16 government officials and technical experts from around the world.

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