The United Nations Security Council is set to vote today on a new resolution on Iraq. After months of opposition France has said it will vote for the resolution. How Russia will vote is less certain, but U.S. officials do not expect Moscow to use its veto power.
The resolution gives weapons inspectors QUOTE "immediate, unimpeded and unconditional" rights to search anywhere in the country for weapons of mass destruction, including President Saddam Hussein’s presidential compounds. It also allows inspectors the right to take interviewees outside Iraq for questioning.
The London Guardian is reporting negotiations continued up to the wire in New York last night over French and Russian fears that the text might contain a "hidden trigger" which would allow Bush to claim UN backing for a war on Iraq without the UN security council meeting again.
Now the text makes clear that if chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix encounters any obstruction from Iraq, the Security Council will be reconvened to assess the situation.
But the text also states that any Iraqi obstruction will automatically constitute a QUOTE "material breach." According to the London Guardian, this theoretically allows Washington to use any obstruction as a trigger for war regardless of how they are interpreted by the council. And nothing in the resolution specifically requires Washington to wait for the Security Council to pass a resolution before it can go to war.
- Dennis Halliday, ex-Director of UN Humanitarian Program for Iraq