The line in the sand
The U.N. Security Council has unanimously passed the U.S. resolution on Iraq today. Iraq has called the document cover for a U.S. attack.
“The objective of any draft resolution will not be to verify the situation about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction but to provide some causes for the United States to attack Iraq,” [Trade Minister Mohammad] Saleh told reporters asking about Iraq’s position on the resolution. “It is unfortunate that America and Britain have obstructed the return of U.N. weapons inspectors except with a new U.N. resolution that leads to a military aggression on Iraq under international cover.”
“This resolution is not meant to verify that Iraq is clear of weapons of mass destruction because Iraq has no such weapons,” he added.
What’s interesting is that Syria voted for the resolution despite its earlier objections. Reports were that Syria wanted to hold off the vote until Monday to give the Arab League time to hold a meeting. It also wanted to make the Middle East a nuclear free zone (which was a slap at Israel.) But in the end, the Syrians backed down and sided with the United States. What is also interesting is that the United States gave up its demand that it should be allowed to attack Iraq immediately at what it saw as any interference with the weapons inspectors. Instead, it will go back to the Security Council in the event of Saddam’s intransigence. (However, in the rose garden address, Bush said the United States wouldn’t wait on “unproductive debate” before attacking.)
Highlights from the resolution include:
… Iraq has been and remains in material breach of its obligations under relevant resolutions, including Resolution 687 (1991), in particular through Iraq’s failure to cooperate with United Nations inspectors and the I.A.E.A., and to complete the actions required under Paragraphs 8 to 13 of Resolution 687 (1991);
… False statements or omissions in the declarations submitted by Iraq pursuant to this resolution and failure by Iraq at any time to comply with, and cooperate fully in the implementation of, this resolution shall constitute a further material breach of Iraq’s obligations and will be reported to the Council for assessment in accordance with Paragraph 11 or 12 below;
… Iraq shall provide Unmovic and the I.A.E.A. immediate, unimpeded, unconditional and unrestricted access to any and all, including underground, areas, facilities, buildings, equipment, records and means of transport which they wish to inspect, as well as immediate, unimpeded, unrestricted, and private access to all officials and other persons whore Unmovic or the I.A.E.A. wish to interview in the mode or location of Unmovic’s or the I.A.E.A.’s choice, pursuant to any aspect of their mandates; further decides that Unmovic and the I.A.E.A. may at their discretion conduct interviews inside or outside of Iraq, may facilitate the travel of those interviewed and family members outside of Iraq, and that, at the sole discretion of Unmovic and the I.A.E.A., such interviews may occur without the presence of observers from the Iraqi government; and instructs Unmovic and requests the I.A.E.A. to resume inspections no later than 45 days following adoption of this resolution and to update the Council 60 days thereafter;
… the Council has repeatedly warned Iraq that it will face serious consequences as a result of its continued violations of its obligations;
The unity of the Security Council is in stark contrast to the disunity of the Iraqi opposition, which has quarreled over procedural details of a proposed Nov. 22 conference in Brussels. These are the guys the Bush wants to lead Iraq post-Saddam? I hope Gen. Tommy Franks has his viceroy outfit all picked out, and that it’s durable, since he’s going to be wearing it for a long time.
After the resolution passed, President Bush spoke from the White House rose garden, saying that Saddam Hussein “will face the severest consequences” if he does not prove his compliance with the UNSC and any interference will be seen as serious and
“The resolution presents the iraqi regime with a test — a final test,” said Bush. “Iraq must now without delay or without negotiations fully disarm. … The regime must allow immediate and unrestricted access to every site, every document and every person identified by inspectors. The old game of cheat and retreat — tolerated at other times — will no longer be tolerated.
“If Iraq fails to fully comply, the United States and the other nations will disarm Saddam Hussein,” he added.
Iraq must indicate by Nov. 15 that it accepts the resolution. By Dec. 8, it must hand over a list of any programs to Hans Blix, the chief weapons inspector. Dec. 23 will see the arrival of inspectors on Iraqi soil, and the inspectors must report back to the United Nations what they’ve found by Feb. 21. It’s important to note that the United States views March as the latest that it could comfortably wage war in the Iraqi desert. Expect a continued build-up of military forces in the Gulf and the Saudis eventually to roll over and allow the use of their air bases now that the U.N. voted unanimously for the resolution. Kuwait and the Kurds are no doubt rejoicing over the strength of the resolution, too.
Bush, in the rose garden, gave no doubt what he thinks will happen: “The outcome of the current crisis is already determined. The full disarmament of Iraq … will occur.” The choice of how, he said, lies with Saddam.