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UN Security Council Debates, but Does Not Set Date for Vote on US Iraq Resolution - 2002-10-31

The U.N. Security Council had a debate Wednesday, but set no date for a vote on a U.S. draft resolution to disarm Iraq.

After listening to the views of all 15 members of the U.N. Security Council, Great Britain, the co-sponsor of the controversial U.S. draft said further revisions are expected in an effort to reach an agreement. Britain's Ambassador to the United Nations, Jeremy Greenstock addressed reporters following a three-hour closed-door debate on the issue. "There is going to be no precipitous rush to conclusion," said Jeremy Greenstock. "We have a lot to talk about, a lot to consider. I just want to make the point that we have now heard the views of all our Council colleagues and we are going to consider those views and see how we respond to them and that is the stage we have reached."

The diplomats remain divided on the wording of the U.S. draft that warns of "serious consequences" should Iraq fail to comply with U.N. demands for the destruction of its chemical and biological weapons. Also at issue are two references to Iraq in, quote, "material breach" of U.N. resolutions since the end of the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

France, which is one of five permanent members with veto power, has led the opposition, arguing that certain language in the text could allow the United States to launch a possible military strike against Iraq without U.N. Security Council approval.

The spokesperson from France's Mission to the United Nations, Ginette de Matha, says the solution is to change the wording of the section in question. "We see in this paragraph the possibility of 'hidden triggers' to the automatic use of force and what we want to avoid any ambiguity in the text which could be used to trigger the use of force," said Ginette de Matha.

The United States has said it will consult with the Security Council before initiating any attack. But the Bush Administration insists that it is willing to act alone against Iraq if a tough weapons inspection program is not implemented following a nearly four year hiatus.

The Security Council is not expected to vote on the resolution before next week.