US unyielding on Iraq's future

The US is promoting a revised resolution on Iraq that aims to lift sanctions on the country and erases all references to the need to find weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

    The draft resolution gives the US
    significant freedom of maneuver
    in Iraq

    The revised US-backed resolution promoting a blueprint for reconstructing post-war Iraq gives the UN a marginal role and stalls on scheduling Iraq’s debts to international creditors.


    The need to find WMDs – Washington's key justification for the war – is absent from the new US draft.


    The war, carried out without UN sanction, followed several months of futile searches by the international body to unearth chemical or biological weapons.


    Russia and France have called for sanctions to be suspended – not lifted – because under Security Council resolutions, UN weapons inspectors must certify that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction have been eliminated.


    The US has banned UN inspectors from returning after the end of hostilities and deployed its own teams instead. This has opened it to criticism that it is not allowing an independent body to verify the status of Iraq’s military programme.


    Iraq’s oil profits


    According to the new text, the US and Britain will run the country for at least a year – with the option of renewal – and control a development fund in which money from oil sales would be deposited.


    The draft resolution lifts the embargoes imposed after Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion of Kuwait and phase out over four months the UN oil-for-food humanitarian program, designed to help ordinary Iraqis cope with sanctions.


    Iraq's oil profits will be managed
    by the US and Britain for at least
    one year

    Council approval would end UN control over the country's vast oil wealth and allow the US and its allies to use the money to pay for the country's reconstruction.


    The banning of legal cases involving the country's oil and natural gas in the original draft raised the ire of several council members – several of whom have outstanding contracts with the deposed government.


    The US has justified the ban, saying it was necessary to hold off creditors who were owed $400 billion by Iraq from claiming oil or tankers as payment. Washington appears to have sidestepped the issue in the revised draft by passing the debt issue on to "appropriate international mechanisms such as the Paris Club," an organization of creditor countries that negotiates debt deals with debtor nations.


    The draft also puts a time limit on the immunity from legal cases involving oil and natural gas – "until an internationally recognized representative government of Iraq is properly constituted and the debt-restructuring process ... is completed."


    Dealing with debt


    Richard Grenell, spokesman for US Ambassador John Negroponte, claims that the new US draft contains more than 25 changes in a bid to accommodate all council members. The revision however does not significantly change two key concerns of many council members – the limited role of the UN in postwar Iraq and the powerful role of the US and Britain as occupying powers.


    "There are some things that are positive," said Syria's deputy UN Ambassador Fayssal Mekdad, "but the most sensitive issues are still here and we have not gone through them."


    The revised resolution beefs up language used to describe what a new UN coordinator for Iraq will do but does not increase the UN's role in forming a new Iraqi government.


    Reflecting the view of many nations, Pakistan's Foreign Minister Kursheed Kasuri, whose country currently holds the Security Council presidency, said greater UN involvement in postwar Iraq would make conditions more transparent.


    Pakistan and other countries are ready to help coalition forces, but only if the United Nations plays a bigger role in forming a new government, he said in Washington. 


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