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UNSC discusses latest draft resolution on Iraq

Security Council discusses latest draft resolution on Iraq, plans further talks

6 November – As the Security Council continued closed-door consultations today on a proposed resolution aimed at enabling United Nations weapons inspectors to return to the country, Secretary-General Kofi Annan voiced hope for a consensus outcome.

Emerging from the meeting mid-morning, the Secretary-General said the discussions were carrying the issue forward. "I think we are making progress," he said.

Asked whether there would be "resounding" support for the resolution, he said, "I have always maintained that it is important that the Council speaks with one voice, and I hope everyone will be seeking a broad consensus - I would prefer to see a unanimous decision, 15 to zero."

Speaking to the press after the consultations concluded, Hans Blix, the Executive Chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), said in response to a question that the current text reflected UNMOVIC's concerns. “There are some modifications which have taken into account what we have said, yes,” he added, noting that talks were continuing and further revisions might be expected.

On the timetable for action, he said that following the adoption of the resolution, inspectors would return to Iraq in 7 to 10 days.

Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock of the United Kingdom, which cosponsored the draft with the United States, said both countries had been pleased to present a "clear, firm" revised text which set out Baghdad's disarmament obligations, the terms for dealing with those requirements, and the "choice for Iraq in responding to this resolution."

Noting that discussions would continue tomorrow, he said, "we are close to a point when we want decisions from all members of the Council on the propositions that we are putting [forward.]" The central aim is to achieve disarmament "peacefully and effectively through enhanced inspections."

Ambassador Greenstock voiced hope that a vote would be taken within 48 hours, adding, "we are now ready to move to closure on this."

If Iraq did not comply with the terms of the text, he said, "we will deal with that in the second stage."

Asked about the automatic use of force, he said, "this is not about triggers, this is not about automaticity, this is not about the use of force - this is about the choice for Iraq in going the UN route to disarmament."

US Ambassador John D. Negroponte said that during today's meeting "there was a general sense around the table that we had come a long, long way from the situation that existed seven weeks ago in terms of the evolution of this text, yet at the same time it preserves what we think are essential ingredients," including the point that if Iraq does not avail itself of this final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations, it runs the risk of facing very serious consequences.

He stressed that the resolution was not intended to be employed by the US for the immediate use of force. “President Bush has said on numerous occasions that as far as he’s concerned the use of force – war – would be a last resort,” Ambassador Negroponte said. “He wants to give the United Nations a chance, and we believe that the resolution that we the cosponsors laid down this morning is the best way to achieve the disarmament of Iraq by peaceful means, obviously provided that Iraq complies fully with those obligations.”

Following further discussions tomorrow, he said, "it is our intention to have the resolution put to a vote sometime during the course of the day on Friday."

"There is a sense, clearly, that we are in the endgame with respect to the passage of this resolution," he added.

Ambassador Jean-David Levitte of France said his country’s highest authorities would study the revised text. “Since the very first day of this long negotiation, we’ve said that we want to give a last chance to Iraq to disarm through UN inspections,” he said. “For that, we need an enhanced regime, and for us, we’ve said right from the beginning that what is accepted and endorsed by Chairman Hans Blix will be supported by France.” Mr. Blix had provided useful comments this morning which France supported, he added.

France had also maintained that "the key issue was to preserve the role of the Security Council - that's what we call the two-stage approach, and in that respect, I can say today that very important progress has been achieved," he said.

France hoped for a unanimous adoption of the resolution "simply because we must be united on such an important issue if we want to succeed," he stressed. "We'll see tomorrow, through the consultations, if we are nearing that goal."

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