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Saturday, 9 November, 2002, 23:40 GMT
Short's warning over Iraq attack
Tony Blair and Clare Short
Ms Short wants the Security Council to take the lead
The United Nations Security Council alone must decide whether military action is taken against Iraq if President Saddam Hussein fails to disarm, Clare Short has warned.

The international development secretary's comments appear to again emphasise tensions within the cabinet over policy on Iraq.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell and President Bush
Mr Bush: Delay will not be tolerated
Since the new UN resolution was passed, Prime Minister Tony Blair and US President George W Bush have insisted they cannot rule out the possibility of taking unilateral action should Saddam breach it and the Security Council not act.

The resolution calls on Baghdad to give up weapons of mass destruction but does not specify the automatic use of force if Iraq fails to comply.

Ms Short's comments came as Iraq praised the UN for "thwarting" American attempts to use the Security Council as a cover to attack Iraq.

It still called the resolution "'unjust" but - with a meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo on Sunday expected to urge acceptance - said it will consider the Security Council's demands.

Unanimous decision

Ms Short told Saturday's Channel 4 News: "It is essential to keep the international community together and to operate through the United Nations.

"I am absolutely delighted that after a long period of negotiation there is now a unanimously agreed resolution."

Open in new window : Iraq Weapons
Iraqi chemical and biological weapons

The resolution, passed by all 15 members of the Security Council on Thursday, gives Iraq seven days to accept unlimited access for inspectors to suspected weapons sites.

Ms Short urged Saddam Hussein to co-operate with chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix and the team of inspectors.

If he does not, Mr Blix will report back to the Security Council who would then decide on further action.

Ms Short has on several occasions publicly urged the US and it allies not to go it alone in undertaking military action against Iraq.

'Funk or fudge'

In contrast to Ms Short, Britain's ambassador to the UN, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, said the Security Council would be given the opportunity to come up with a resolution if there were problems with compliance.

"But if there is a funk or a fudge, then we are not going to allow Iraq to escape disarmament because the Security Council can't handle it," he said on Saturday.

Main points of resolution
Iraq has breached UN resolutions
Tough inspection regime to be set up
Baghdad given deadlines to comply
Inspectors to have immediate access to all suspected sites, including palaces
Inspectors to report immediately any Iraqi breaches
Iraq to face "serious consequences" if it continues to violate its obligations

Mr Blair has already insisted that if Saddam does not comply, "the international community must act to enforce its will".

"Failure to do so would mean, having stated our clear demand, we lacked the will to enforce it," he said.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri minister said the authorities were studying the resolution and "Iraq's position will be announced later".

Speaking in Cairo, he said the resolution showed the international community did not share the "unlimited appetite of the evil American administration for aggression, killing and destruction".

The chief UN inspector said his team will go to Iraq on 18 November.

Meanwhile Mr Bush reiterated his position that any delay in admitting the inspectors would be regarded as a breach of Iraq's obligations.

"Iraq can be certain that the old game of cheat and retreat, tolerated at other times, will no longer be tolerated."

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See also:

09 Nov 02 | Middle East
01 Oct 02 | Politics
09 Nov 02 | Media reports
09 Nov 02 | Europe
08 Nov 02 | Americas
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