US to Offer Resolution to End Sanctions


By Karen DeYoung and Colum Lynch

Washington Post
April 25, 2003

The Bush administration plans to introduce next week a U.N. Security Council resolution that would lift more than a decade of international sanctions on Iraq, while limiting U.N. involvement in Iraq's foreseeable future to a consultative role, senior administration officials said yesterday. The resolution would direct U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to name a special representative who can work with U.S. officials in Baghdad on humanitarian and reconstruction programs, and on the formation of an Iraqi Interim Authority, officials said. But it would firmly endorse control by the United States and its military allies over international involvement in Iraq until a permanent, representative government is in place.

President Bush said last week that the United Nations should lift the sanctions "now that Iraq is liberated," but the Defense and State departments were divided over how to accomplish it. The resolution decision, made at a meeting of top Bush national security advisers on Wednesday, essentially adopted the Pentagon's proposal for a broad elimination of all U.N. control over Iraq, rather than the State Department's preferred step-by-step approach. In his Belfast summit early this month with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Bush pledged a "vital" U.N. role in Iraq. The decision to offer only modest concessions to countries that have argued that the United Nations must have a defining part in the reconstruction effort could spark a new confrontation at a time when many council members are trying to repair their relations with the United States.

But the administration is banking on a lack of council desire to again challenge U.S. power after the wrenching war debates early last month, on a recognition of the established new facts on the ground, and on a reluctance to obstruct urgently needed assistance to get Iraq back on its feet. While still being drafted, current versions of the resolution offer specific plans for the Iraqi oil industry, moving its profits from U.N. control to an Iraqi Central Bank fund to be spent on reconstruction activities designated either by the Pentagon-run Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance headed by retired Army Lt. Gen. Jay M. Garner or by the Iraqi Interim Authority (IIA), once it is in place, according to officials involved in discussions over the wording.

Distributions from the fund would be monitored by an international financial authority, perhaps the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank. The need to settle internal administration disagreements over dealings with the United Nations became more urgent when France, following Bush's public call to end the sanctions, called for them only to be suspended pending further developments in Iraq. Although the move was seen as a step back from outright French opposition to ceding U.N. control, administration officials also suspected that the French were trying to preempt a sanctions-lifting resolution. "We thought, we need to fill in the blank here and start talking about the end stage" before others move in on the council, an official said. "Had France not done what they did . . . we might have waited a week or two." The perception that the administration risked being overtaken by events pushed the decision in the direction of the Pentagon proposal, officials said. But at the Wednesday meeting, chaired by national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, the Pentagon agreed to a separate, State Department-backed interim compromise for dealing with the existing U.N. Oil-for-Food Program while the resolution is being debated in the council. The council yesterday approved, with U.S. support, a Mexican proposal to extend until June 3 a postwar authorization giving Annan control over the program. On that date, the program's overall mandate will expire, and it has become an internal U.S. deadline for the complete lifting of U.N. control.

In a strategy that depends on a number of difficult pieces simultaneously falling into place, the administration expects that the U.N. debate and consultations on the resolution will take several weeks. While that is underway, it hopes to be able to set up the Iraqi Interim Authority (IIA) in time to take control of Iraq's trade, primarily its oil exports. Formation of the authority has been complicated by the refusal of clergymen representing at least a portion of the Shiite Muslims making up 60 percent of Iraq's population to participate in leadership meetings being held under U.S. auspices in Iraq. The largest Shiite organization refused to send a representative to an initial meeting, held last week in Nasiriyah, and it has not responded to an invitation to a second gathering set for Monday.

Annan has also been asked to send a representative, an invitation that administration officials said fulfilled Bush's pledge to involve the United Nations in the formation of the IIA. Although he has named a special "adviser" on Iraq, Annan has declined to send him to Baghdad, saying that he has no Security Council authorization to do so. Under the proposed resolution, a special "representative" would have such authorization to consult and coordinate with Garner and his staff, officials said. Initial Pentagon postwar plans, drawn up long before the start of the military campaign that ousted Saddam Hussein, called for Garner's operation to administer Iraqi oil funds to pay for the reconstruction effort. The new resolution, according to diplomats who have seen some of the proposed text, endorses U.S. authority, presumably until that authority is turned over to the IIA. Russia, a permanent Security Council member that opposed the war, yesterday introduced a proposal calling for the speedy return of U.N. staff to Iraq to resume management of the Oil-for-Food Program. It also called for granting Annan authority to sign contracts for export of the oil that Iraq in recent days has resumed pumping.

Although it is still not clear how France will react to the new resolution, it has indicated in recent days that it would like to begin resolving its differences with the administration. A number of key countries that opposed the war, including Chile, Mexico and Germany, in addition to France, say they want Iraq to resume trade with the outside world. But in addition to seeking a primary postwar role for the United Nations, most council members note that the sanctions resolutions adopted in the early 1990s first call for the destruction of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, to be certified by U.N. weapons inspectors. The administration opposes the return of the U.N. inspectors to Iraq, saying they would get in the way of U.S. military and other officials already hunting for the banned chemical and biological weapons whose elimination was given as a justification for the war. No unconventional weapons have yet been found, and officials said the new resolution contains no mention of them.

More Information on the Disagreement in the Council
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