While Washington had the firm backing of Britain, the other three veto-wielding Security Council members – France, China, and Russia – remained steadfast in their view that weapons inspections by UN specialists must first take place.
President Jacques Chirac of France resisted the diplomatic overtures from Washington and told President Bush by telephone that wide UN backing on disarming Iraq was the only way forward.
”The president [Chirac] also reiterated that France remains more than ever in favor of a two-step approach and that this is the view of the majority of the international community, given the seriousness of the decisions to be taken and their consequences,” Chirac spokeswoman Catherine Colonna said.
France’s approach involves two UN resolutions – one on readmitting arms inspectors and a second spelling out the consequences only if Baghdad does not let inspectors work freely.
Russia said any delay in the return of UN inspectors to Iraq would be ”unforgiveable,” while China said a military attack without UN backing would have ”incalculable consequences.”
In the latest of 32 strikes in Iraq’s southern no-fly zone this year, US and British jets bombed two Iraqi surface-to-air missile sites south of Baghdad after Iraqi forces fired on Western aircraft, a Pentagon spokesman said yesterday. Baghdad said the warplanes had attacked civilian targets in southern Iraq.
Three US congressmen arrived in Baghdad yesterday to plead for unfettered access for UN arms inspectors. Meanwhile, President Saddam Hussein’s eldest son, Uday, accused Washington of behaving like an ”arrogant cowboy” eyeing Iraqi oil reserves.
UN inspectors and Iraqi arms specialists meet next week in Vienna to discuss the return. The inspectors left Iraq in 1998. The United States and Britain say that the inspectors did not find Iraq’s entire weapons stock and that Baghdad has acquired new ones. Iraq says it has no weapons of mass destruction.
Washington sent Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Marc Grossman to Paris yesterday as part of its diplomatic drive.
Despite Chirac’s talks with his presidential advisers and with Foreign Ministry officials, his comments indicated France’s position had not changed.
Russia’s foreign minister, Igor Ivanov, said yesterday there was no clear proof in Britain’s dossier on Iraq published this week that Baghdad had chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons.
Hussein agreed last week to permit UN inspectors without conditions. But the United States, whose declared policy is to seek the Iraqi leader’s removal, said he could not be trusted.
Yet Russia and France believe his sincerity must at least be tested with an attempt to undertake the inspections. ”It would now be an unforgiveable error to delay the dispatch of international monitors to Iraq,” Ivanov said.
Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji, speaking after meeting French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin in Paris, said Beijing wanted Baghdad to comply with UN disarmament resolutions without restriction. ”At the same time, we have to respect Iraq’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Zhu said. ”If the weapons inspections do not take place, if we do not have clear proof, and if we do not have the authorization of the Security Council, we cannot launch a military attack on Iraq – otherwise, there would be incalculable consequences.”
The US draft resolution would find Iraq in violation of previous UN resolutions, specify what it must do, and determine what consequences will flow from Iraq’s failure to take action.
No text is expected to be unveiled to the 15-nation Security Council until Monday.
This story ran on page A8 of the Boston Globe on 9/28/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.