Click here for more current events lesson plans matched to national standards.
How to use this story in a classroom...
Special report: The debate over whether to intervene in Iraq
Debating the News: Iraq Learn more about the arguments and make your own decision... 08.07.02
Attack Iraq? Should American forces remove Iraq's dictator? 08.05.02
Sanctions Overhaul Margaret Warner reports on the United Nations' decision to modify sanctions against Iraq. 05.14.02
Iraq Under Pressure Margaret Warner analyzes Iraq's decision to meet with the U.N. regarding weapons inspections with four experts. 03.07.02
at the U.N.
Iraq Says "Yes" Posted:11.13.02
Saddam Hussein accepts a United Nations resolution demanding that Iraq allow open and complete access to weapons inspectors.
The international community has decided that the time has come to force Iraq to get rid of its weapons of mass destruction. The United Nations Security Council voted unanimously on Nov. 8 to approve Resolution #1441 that forces Iraq to disarm or face serious consequences.
Iraq unconditionally accepted the resolution on Nov. 13, while asserting that the country does not have weapons of mass destruction.
The terms of the resolution
The terms of the resolution, written by the United States and Britain, demand that Iraq give U.N. weapons inspectors immediate and free access to suspected weapons sites, including the Iraqi presidential palaces and other sensitive areas previously declared off-limits.
The resolution also demands that inspectors have the right to interview anyone, anywhere and anytime while investigating. Iraq has refused to allow weapons inspections since 1998.
Syria, the only Arab nation on the 15-country Security Council, initially opposed the resolution. Syria was expected to abstain from voting on the resolution, declaring disapproval but not stopping the outcome of the vote.
The French were able to soften Syria's position by insisting on language in the resolution that prevents the automatic use of force against Iraq if it defies U.N. demands.
If U.N. weapons inspectors report that Iraq is disobeying the resolution, the document says the matter will return to the Security Council for further discussion and evaluation.
Russia, a close ally of Iraq, also insisted on this "two-tiered" approach, hoping that diplomatic talks can avert war and that one day Iraq will be able to pay back several billion dollars of debt owed to Russia.
However, there is nothing in the resolution forbidding the U.S. from attacking without Security Council approval.
The resolution also offers the possibility of lifting 12-year-old sanctions in Iraq, imposed after the end of the Gulf War in 1991. The trade restrictions prevented Iraq from selling its oil on the world market. Another condition of the sanctions forbids Iraq from importing anything other than food, medicine and health supplies.
Iraq has claimed that the sanctions have ruined its economy and caused the deaths of more than 1.2 million children due to inadequate health care and food shortages. The U.S. counters that the Iraqi government has spent its money on palaces and improving its military, not on helping its people.
Iraq's acceptance came in a letter to the Security Council delivered by U.N. ambassador Mohammed Aldouri.
Aldouri said Baghdad has accepted the resolution in an effort to avoid war. "This is a part of our policy that is to protect our country, to protect the nation, to protect our region also from the threat of war which is real," he said.
U.N. weapons inspectors are expected to arrive in Baghdad on Nov. 18 to set up communications, transportation, offices and laboratories.
By Dec. 8 Iraq must declare any programs that that could develop or deliver weapons of mass destruction, including civilian programs that could be used militarily. Weapons inspection teams must be ready to begin their work by Dec. 23. From there, inspectors have three months--until Feb. 21, 2003-- to give a full report to the Security Council.
U.S. prepares for war
In the meantime, President Bush says the United States is prepared for war. "There's a zero-tolerance policy now," President Bush said. "If Saddam Hussein does not comply to the detail of the resolution, we will lead a coalition to disarm him."
National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, in an interview with NPR, said war is not the president's "first choice -- it's his last choice."
"Nonetheless, you have to note that the threat of the use of force is why we are where we are today. It's the only reason that the Iraqi regime is considering cooperation and we have to keep maximum pressure on this regime. We have to keep, in a sense, a gun pointed to the head of the Iraqi regime because that's the only way that they cooperate."
Army General Tommy Franks, who would command any U.S. military action in Iraq, stated that the decision to go to war has not been made by President Bush. According to Franks, the decision is up to Iraq.
Franks said that the military is slowly preparing for the possibility of war. "We won't be quick. We will be prudent," he said.
-- By Annie Schleicher, NewsHour Extra
Copyright © MacNeil-Lehrer Productions All Rights Reserved