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Friday, 25 October, 2002, 21:33 GMT 22:33 UK
US presses for tough Iraq text
UN Security Council in session
Five Security Council members have veto power
The US has formally proposed its draft resolution aimed at disarming Iraq to the United Nations Security Council.

BBC UN correspondent David Bamford says the move is an attempt to prevent the council from considering alternative, less forceful, proposals introduced by Russia and France in surprise moves earlier on Friday.


Russia is also concerned about some provisions which, albeit camouflaged, could be used to justify the use of force against Iraq

Yuri Fedotov, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister
Correspondents at the UN in New York say the French and Russian proposals are an attempt to water down American demands that Iraq complies with weapons inspectors or face "serious consequences".

But now that the US has formally proposed its draft first, Washington's version must be voted on first before there can be any consideration of the alternative texts or proposals.

'Common ground'

The Security Council has spent much of Friday in a closed session locked in deep discussion on the draft resolution which Washington put forward on Friday.

UN weapons inspectors destroying sarin gas rockets in Iraq
The new draft insists on the right to inspect all and any sites

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said on Friday that he expected a vote on a resolution to be "unanimous".

"There are hard discussions going on and I hope in the end they will be fruitful and that inspectors will go back to Iraq with the support of the united council behind them," he said.

UN diplomats quoted by the Associated Press news agency said that the Russian text seemed to be more strongly opposed to the US draft resolution.

The French proposals, however, tried to find common ground between the American and Russian positions.

Both Russia and France - as two of the five permanent members of the Security Council - have the power to veto the US draft plan, as does permanent member China.

US President George W Bush, currently engaged in talks with Chinese President Jiang Zemin at Mr Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas, has urged the Chinese leader to support a tough new UN resolution on disarming Iraq, however Mr Zemin did not give a response.

China has spoken out against a war with Iraq but is expected to abstain on any resolution the council may adopt.

Military 'trigger'

France and Russia are unhappy about language which could act as a trigger for a US military strike if inspectors complain about Iraqi co-operation.

Washington's already softened seven-page draft resolution is backed by the UK.

On Thursday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Yuri Fedotov said the US draft contained provisions which "could be used to justify the use of force against Iraq," he told the Itar-Tass news agency.

However, America says that inaction is a greater threat to world peace.

Washington has warned that it is willing to act alone against Iraq if the Security Council fails to agree.

Iraq agreed to allow arms inspectors to return unconditionally last month, nearly four years after they left.

On Monday, the chief UN weapons inspector, Hans Blix, and Mohammed al-Baradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, will give the council their views.

A vote is not expected until after that.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's David Bamford at the UN in New York
"The pressure is on the Russians and the French not to veto this"

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24 Oct 02 | Middle East
23 Oct 02 | Middle East
22 Oct 02 | Middle East
18 Oct 02 | Middle East
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