The US has again gone back to the drawing board in an effort to win broad UN support for its draft Security Council resolution ending international sanctions on Iraq.
Rather than bring the measure to a vote yesterday -- as it initially had hoped -- Washington put off the vote until today, at the earliest, after members of the 15-nation Security Council suggested dozens of changes in the 12-page draft during a four-hour closed-door debate on Tuesday.
"Some questions have arisen that just require a little more work, and in fact that is what we are going to do right now," US Ambassador John Negroponte told reporters.
British UN Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock, a co-sponsor of the measure along with Spain, predicted the new version -- the fourth so far -- would be released yesterday morning and would incorporate some but "not very many" of the changes proposed by other delegations.
The current plan for a vote today was "a timetable the co-sponsors wish to stick to," Greenstock said. "Our hopes are quite high that there will be a large number of votes for this resolution."
The resolution would end nearly 13 years of UN sanctions, imposed on Iraq after its 1990 invasion of oil-rich Kuwait, as well as strict UN controls on the Iraqi economy.
It would give the occupying powers broad authority to run the shattered nation and use its oil revenues for rebuilding, until a new Iraqi government was in place.
Despite the unprecedented powers granted to Washington and London, the other Security Council powers -- eager to mend the rifts created by Washington's failed campaign for UN approval for its invasion of Iraq -- have refrained from veto threats and the measure is widely expected to be adopted.
A key question is whether France, which infuriated Washington by leading the charge against UN authorization for the war, would vote "Yes" or abstain.
Diplomats said Paris, concerned about the lack of a deadline for installing an Iraqi government, wanted the resolution to lapse after a year, at which time the council could renew it.
But Negroponte said later that Washington would not agree.
Diplomats said one way around the apparent impasse might be to provide automatic renewal for the resolution after 12 months unless the council were to vote otherwise.
Russian UN Ambassador Sergei Lavrov said Moscow hoped the new draft would clarify the Security Council's role in overseeing Iraqi reconstruction and satisfy demands in earlier resolutions -- now opposed by the US -- that UN weapons inspectors certify Iraq's destruction of all chemical, biological and nuclear arms.