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U.S., Britain start new Iraq resolution

Dafna Linzer The Associated Press
Thursday September 19, 2002

UNITED NATIONS — Bucking an anti-war mood among their U.N. Security Council partners, the United States and Britain began crafting a toughly worded resolution Wednesday that would narrow the timetable for Iraqi compliance with weapons inspections and authorize force if Iraq fails to cooperate, diplomats said. 

The two allies plan to complete and circulate the draft next week to the three other permanent members of the Security Council — France, Russia and China — diplomats told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. France, Russia and Arab nations oppose a new resolution. 

“Nothing is on paper yet,” said Rick Grennel, spokesman for the U.S. mission at the United Nations, who confirmed American and British diplomats met on a resolution. 

Iraq’s surprise announcement this week that it would accept the return of international weapons inspectors nearly four years after they left has divided the council, with the United States stepping up preparations for war even as weapons inspectors planned their return to Baghdad. 

In Washington, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told Congress that it should authorize the use of military force against Iraq before the Security Council makes a move. 

“No terrorist state poses a greater and more immediate threat to the security of our people and the stability of the world than the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq,” Rumsfeld told the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday. 

President Bush, also speaking Wednesday, said Iraq would not “fool anybody” with its about-face and predicted the United Nations would rally behind the United States despite Iraq’s “ploy.” His administration disclosed plans for moving B-2 bombers closer to Baghdad, preparing for possible war to remove President Saddam Hussein. 

But at the United Nations, U.S. allies on the Security Council seemed determined to stave-off a resolution as plans moved ahead for the return of weapons inspectors. 

“We hope that this step ... will be the first step toward a comprehensive solution to the crisis in the relations between the United Nations and Iraq and the lifting of the brutal regime of sanctions which has been killing our people for 12 years,” Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri said late Wednesday after meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. 

In a statement, Annan said that Sabri had pledged his government’s full cooperation on finalizing arrangements for the swift return of inspectors. 

On Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said he saw no need for another resolution on Iraq. But in Moscow Wednesday, Vladimir Lukin, a deputy speaker of the Russian parliament’s lower house, who once served as Russia’s ambassador to the United States, said Russia would likely compromise. 

“We are certainly against that, but, being realistic, we understand that the United States would get something anyway,” Lukin said.