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Saturday, 12 October, 2002, 00:28 GMT 01:28 UK
Security Council poses US headache
President George Bush addresses the UN general assembly
The Bush speech did not prompt action

It is now a month since President George W Bush came to the United Nations and said he was prepared to go through the UN Security Council to get disarmament in Iraq.

But the Security Council still hasn't passed any new resolution - it doesn't even have any proposed text on the table.

The Council continues to meet, to discuss the Democratic Republic of Congo, Croatia, the treaty on small arms, and a host of other issues.

Hans Blix
Hans Blix brought Iraq back onto the agenda
But apart from the day when the Chief Weapons Inspector, Hans Blix, came to give an account of his meeting with Iraqi officials, Iraq hasn't even been on the agenda.

America knows very clearly what it wants.

A wish list - in the form of a draft resolution - was widely leaked, and virtually everyone at the United Nations has a copy.

But it soon became clear that if that text was put forward it was likely to get vetoed.

France in particular made it clear that it wouldn't accept any resolution which gave individual countries, such as the United States, the automatic right to go to war if they thought Iraq was in breach of its obligations.

To-ing and fro-ing

And so - since no Security Council member wants to have its resolutions vetoed - the search is on for a text which the Council will at least discuss, and hopefully accept.

Discussions are going backwards and forwards between Paris and Washington, London and Moscow.

American diplomats say they are still confident they will get a new resolution, one which makes it clear to Iraq that it has to accept a much tougher inspection regime and that there will be consequences if it does not comply.

But they have stopped talking about some of the things on their original wish list - the plan to send some kind of armed United Nations security force with the inspectors, for instance, or, if Iraq doesn't comply, the idea of authorising member states to use all necessary means to restore peace and security.

Gradually, France and the United States seem to be drawing closer to an acceptable form of words - although one diplomat here described progress as 'incremental' - diplomatic code for very, very slow.

Only when they are sure that they have a text which none of the five permanent members is going to veto, will the Americans come forward and put their draft resolution on the table.

Inclusive discussion

Even that doesn't guarantee their draft a quick or easy passage.

Iraqi guard at UN headquarters in Baghdad
Weapons inspectors are still not back in Iraq
The promised tougher guidelines for weapons inspections are likely to be spelled out in considerable detail, and there is certain to be a lot of discussion about the fine print.

But at least when the resolution reaches this stage all the members of the Security Council will be involved.

The 10 elected members have so far been forced to sit and wait while the permanent five go into their private huddles to decide the fate of the resolution.

Other countries, not currently on the Council, have been getting even more frustrated.

South Africa, on behalf of the Non Aligned-Movement, has asked for a general debate.

But although a general debate will give UN member countries the chance to express their feelings about Iraq, the decision lies with the Security Council, and the Security Council alone.


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11 Oct 02 | Europe
11 Oct 02 | Middle East
11 Oct 02 | Americas
02 Oct 02 | Americas
01 Oct 02 | Middle East
01 Oct 02 | Politics
30 Sep 02 | Politics
02 Oct 02 | Politics
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