Iraqi Parliament Rejects U.N. Resolution; Saddam Has Final Say
Saddam’s son Uday, a member of parliament, had reportedly urged the assembly to accept the U.N. resolution. But parliament speaker Saadoun Hammadi said the 250-seat National Assembly at the end of a two-day emergency session, had unanimously rejected the new U.N. Security Council resolution calling on Baghdad to disarm or face “serious consequences.”
“Parliament recommendations are to reject the U.N. resolution in accordance with the opinion of our people, who put their confidence in us, and authorize the political leadership to take the appropriate decision to defend Iraq’s independence, sovereignty and dignity,” the parliament’s motion, read by a senior deputy, said.
“Parliament authorizes President Saddam Hussein to take the appropriate decision and will stand by our leadership in any decision it takes,” it said.
Iraq has until Friday to indicate its acceptance of the U.N. document. The final decision rests with Iraq’s Revolutionary Command Council, led by Saddam.
In Washington, Bush administration officials dismissed the parliament’s action as “pure theater.”
“There is only one voice that matters in Iraq under the regime of Saddam Hussein, and that’s Saddam Hussein,” spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters.
The president meanwhile underscored the U.S.’s willingness to enforce the U.N. regulations should Iraq refuse to comply.
“If Saddam Hussein does not comply to the detail of the resolution, we will lead a coalition to disarm him,” Mr. Bush said Tuesday. “We’re through [with] negotiations. There’s no more time … He said he’d disarm. He now must disarm.”
National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice echoed Mr. Bush’s sentiments in an interview with NPR Tuesday.
“What [the U.N.] resolution does is it gives us a chance to solve this problem by other means if in fact Saddam Hussein can be forced to cooperate,” Rice said. “But we should not really… try to avoid the circumstances if he does not cooperate.”
“The president has always said that war is not his … first choice — it’s his last choice,” Rice continued. “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.”
Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said he doubted Saddam would agree to give up his nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs. He said Saddam has already started hiding his banned weapons at secret sites across Iraq, including underground, and that finding all of them could take months.
According to an article in Tuesday’s New York Times, Iraq is also stockpiling supplies of antidotes for nerve agents, suggesting Saddam could be trying to protect his armies if he uses those weapons on the battlefield, the report said.
The Times reports that Iraq has ordered a million doses of atropine, a drug that can counter the effects of nerve gas, and autoinjectors for injection into the leg. The drug is not on the U.N.’s list of drugs that must be reviewed carefully before being sold to Baghdad. According to the Times, the drugs were ordered from a Turkish company and the U.S. is reportedly pressuring Turkey to stop the sale.
However, Turkish Health Ministry spokesman Ebubekir Akkaynak denied Baghdad had made such a request.
“There is no such a thing, there has been no such request from Iraq in our records, there has been no such demand,” Akkaynak said, according to the Associated Press.
The AP also reported that Mustafa Karpuzcu, general director the Turkish company that manufactures atropine, said his company has no business ties with Iraq and had not received orders from Saddam’s government.
The White House, meanwhile, did not confirm the report.
“I don’t think anyone needs proof that Saddam Hussein possesses biological and chemical weapons and has a willingness to use them.” McClellan said Tuesday.