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Friday, 14 February, 2003, 10:37 GMT
Analysis: Iraq resolution 'unclear'
Iraqi family in Baghdad
If Iraq is in breach of 1441, war could follow

There are rival interpretations of Security Council resolution 1441, which gave Iraqi President Saddam Hussein a final opportunity to give up weapons of mass destruction.

The US and Britain have been hammering away at a key point.

Resolution 1441 demands that Iraq comply with its disarmament obligations.

An anti-war activist prepares posters in London
London and New York will witness anti-war rallies
It does not say it is up to the inspectors to uncover forbidden weapons.

That much is true. On the other hand, the resolution does give the inspectors a central role in the process.

It is a point emphasised by France, Germany and Russia.

They say the inspectors are the ones with the job of assessing whether Iraq is complying or not, and of reporting any violations to the Security Council.

1441 sets a test for whether Iraq has significantly violated and materially breached the resolution.

There must be both a full statement or omission in its weapons declaration and a failure to co-operate in other ways.

Those opposed to military action argue that the inspectors should have all the time they need to complete their work.

The resolution does not say that. But it does not set any time limit either.

Omissions

In fact, what the resolution does not say is at least as significant as what it does.

The Germans emphasise that 1441 does not pave the way for any automatic use of force.

That is true: it does not say that force can be used if Iraq is in breach.

On the other hand, it does not rule out force.

It reminds Iraq that serious consequences may follow.

1441 does not say that another resolution would be necessary to authorise military action, and the Americans and the British maintain that they already have all the authority they need.

Why is Resolution 1441 so unclear?

Because the governments that negotiated it could not agree on so many things and simply left them out.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Greg Barrow
"All eyes once again are on Hans Blix"
The BBC's Gillian Ni Cheallaigh
"Some sort of showdown appears to be looming"

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14 Feb 03 | Middle East
14 Feb 03 | Middle East
13 Feb 03 | Middle East
13 Feb 03 | Middle East
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13 Feb 03 | Politics
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