Background: War or Diplomacy
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KWAME HOLMAN: Early today, as the U.N. Security Council awaited the new U.S. resolution on Iraq, Pres. Bush offered a challenge to the Council. He spoke before the nation’s governors at the White House.
PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH: It’s a moment to determine for this body, that we hope succeeds, to determine whether or not it is going to be relevant as the world confronts the threats to the 21st century. Is it going to be a body that means what it says? We certainly hope it does.
KWAME HOLMAN: Moments later in Berlin, the leaders of France and Germany declared their opposition to a new U.S.-backed resolution, which they say would set the stage for conflict.
CHANCELLOR GERHARD SCHROEDER, Germany (Translated): We consider, both of us, that peaceful disarmament of Iraq is possible. This is part of our common political position and we are going to do everything we can to ensure that Iraq respects, entirely, the U.N. inspectors.
KWAME HOLMAN: Instead, the two men said Germany, France, and Russia would submit their own proposal including a timetable to disarm.
PRES. JACQUES CHIRAC, France (Translated): We think that within this context this there is no reason to change our logic, which is a logic of peace and turn towards a logic of war.
KWAME HOLMAN: Late today, the Security Council met in closed session to consider the U.S. resolution, which is cosponsored by Britain and Spain. It restates several principles in last November’s Resolution 1441, including that Iraq will face “serious consequences” if it fails to disarm.
It notes that Baghdad’s weapons declaration last December contains “false statements and omissions,” and that Saddam Hussein’s regime “has failed to comply with, and cooperate fully” with the resolution. The U.S. resolution concludes by saying: “Iraq has failed to take the final opportunity afforded to it in Resolution 1441.” U.S. officials say they expect a vote on the new resolution in “short order,” perhaps in two weeks.
That time frame would take in two deadlines Iraq faces with respect to weapons inspections. On Saturday, U.N. inspectors say Baghdad must start destroying its al Samoud-2 missiles. And six days later, chief inspector Hans Blix will give the Security Council his next update on Iraqi compliance with the disarmament demands.