Global Policy Forum

U.N. Security Council Debates New Policy on Iraq

New York Times
April 8, 1999

United Nations, April 7 - The United Nations Security Council began today what is expected to be a lengthy debate on a new Iraq policy, despite deep divisions over lifting economic sanctions and continuing air strikes. Highlighting the tension among council members, the chief weapons inspector, Richard Butler, was excluded from the council meeting at Russia's request, diplomats said.

United Nations efforts to rid Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction have been stymied for the past seven months. And after the United States and Britain launched air strikes in mid-December, Iraq barred inspectors from the United Nations Special Commission from returning.

As a first modest step to break the diplomatic impasse, the Security Council established three panels in January to make recommendations on re-establishing a disarmament program, on improving the availability of food and medicine in Iraq, and on what to do about more than 600 people who disappeared after Iraq's 1990 invasion and looting of Kuwait.

Last week, Brazil's Ambassador to the United Nations, Celso Amorim, who was chairman of all three panels, issued the panels' reports. Today, Mr. Amorim made a presentation to the council. Afterward, diplomats said Russia France backed Iraq in demanding a lifting of sanctions - a position vehement opposed by the United States, which insists sanctions will end only when Iraq is disarmed.

Despite the differences, Mr. Amorirn said that he was "encouraged" by the "positive spirit' in the council to consider the reports' recommendations. In his presentation, Mr. Amorim said the disarmament panel stressed the urgency of returning inspectors to Iraq, noting that their absence "was seen as substantially increasing the risk that Iraq might try to reconstitute its proscribed weapons programs." He stressed the panel's key recommendation - that there are outstanding disarmament issues but these can be resolved through a reinforced system of monitoring Iraq's banned weapons programs.

But Iraq's Ambassador. Saeed Hasan, said last week that Baghdad would probably reject any plan for renewed United Nations relations that does not end the sanctions imposed after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

More Information on Sanctions Against Iraq

More Information on the Iraq Crisis


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