U.N. Needs To Issue New, Tougher Inspection Rules to Disarm Saddam
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 2, 2002 The U.S. government remains committed to achieving regime change in Iraq, regardless of recent Iraqi offers to allow U.N. weapons inspectors back into the country to look for weapons of mass destruction, senior State Department officials said yesterday.
U.N. envoy Hans Blix announced yesterday that Iraq agreed to allow in U.N. arms inspectors. Iraq kicked out the inspectors in 1998. The U.N. personnel were charged with verifying that Saddam Hussein was complying with U.N. resolutions calling for him to eliminate his weapons of mass destruction arsenal. Blix said inspectors could be back in Baghdad within two weeks.
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell yesterday dismissed the Iraqi offer, noting that the Iraqis are singing the same old song. Any new inspections, Powell pointed out, must be backed with U.N. resolve that all sites are subject to search, with clearly stated consequences if Iraq doesn't comply.
"As the Secretary (Powell) said yesterday, it's not so much what the Iraqis say; it's what the Security Council says," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher noted yesterday, adding, "The Security Council needs to take charge of this."
The United Nations is now working to craft a tougher resolution or resolutions to force Saddam to disarm and give up his weapons of mass destruction; if approved, it's expected that they would become active upon any new inspections in Iraq.
During a Sept. 30 interview on the Jim Lehrer News Hour television program, Powell acknowledged, "Dr. Blix has done a very good job in pulling together a cadre of inspectors ready to go, and that team would be expanded but I think also he will have to wait and see whether or not the United Nations Security Council comes up with new guidance or additional resolutions that might require him to modify his plan.
"I'm pleased that he is in that state of readiness, and we'll have to see how things develop over the next couple of weeks with respect to a (new UN) resolution with new requirements," Powell added.
Powell noted in the broadcast that he's "pleased with the way the negotiations have been going" at the UN for new resolutions against Iraq. The United Nations Security Council, he pointed out, has to examine three elements in any resolution or set of resolutions:
- Acknowledgement/agreement that Iraq has broken all of its previous commitments under the 16 previous UN resolutions.
- A much tougher set of conditions are required if there are going to be renewed inspections in Iraq.
- Consequences: What should the international community do if Iraq frustrates weapons inspectors again? Should the United Nations then take some action?
"The debate we're having with some of our Security Council colleagues is whether those consequences should be indicated or spelled out in this first resolution, or whether there should be a second resolution," Powell explained, adding that "the French and others believe that there should be a second resolution." This, he added, is an issue that is being discussed at a political level.
The United States believes "it would be better to put this in one resolution. But since this is a consultation, we want to hear what our friends have to say," Powell said.
In Vienna, the Iraqis agreed to allow UN inspectors back into their country, but only under a prior agreement that disallows searches at Saddam Hussein's numerous palace complexes scattered around the country. U.S. officials think Hussein could be hiding weaponry outlawed after the Gulf War at those complexes. Blix is slated to report results of conversations with the Iraqis to the U.N. Security Council tomorrow.
Blix and the inspectors "will need to have certain procedural understandings and arrangements made so that they can fly in and do their work, but the instructions, the authority and the confidence of the Security Council is what they need most to carry out thorough inspections," Boucher added.
The main fly in the ointment, Boucher remarked, is the U.S. government is fed up with Saddam Hussein. Due to Saddam's dismal track record regarding weapons inspections, the chances of success of any renewed searches is "hypothetical," at best, he emphasized.
"Our stated objective is to achieve regime change," Boucher pointed out. "The point that we've often made is that the United Nations goal is one of disarmament of Iraq, Iraqi compliance with the resolutions that require disarmament, as well as many other things, an end to the behavior of the Iraqi regime vis--vis its own people and accounting for assets and Kuwaiti prisoners and things like that."