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US, Britain and Spain Submit Modified UN Resolutions - 2003-05-20

At the United Nations Monday, the United States, Britain and Spain have submitted a modified draft resolution lifting sanctions against Iraq. The Security Council could vote on the measure as early as Wednesday. After days of tough negotiations, U.S. officials say the draft resolution is a final version of their proposal to lift the trade and financial sanctions imposed by the United Nations on Iraq in 1990. The measure, provides further clarifications on the U.N. role in a post-war Iraq, which had been a sticking point for several council members, particularly France, but also Russia and Germany. Several members had also expressed concern about the United Nations role in the political process in the country.

The resolution calls for the U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to appoint a new special representative for Iraq, who will support the formation of an Iraqi interim authority.

U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte says the revised resolution also extends the phasing out period of the U.N.'s Oil-For-Food program, which expires on June 3, by two months. "The resolution defines a vital role for the Secretary General and the United Nations," he says. "It lifts sanctions and it phases out, over a six month period, the Oil-For-Food program."

Although no date has been set for a vote, the resolution is expected to be adopted.

In addition to establishing an international development fund, the proposal also authorizes the U.S. led coalition authorities to use oil revenues for reconstruction in Iraq. The extent of the coalition's control over Iraq's natural resources had been a source of debate in the council.

The proposal stresses quote "the right of the Iraqi people freely to determine their own political future and control their own natural resources." It also says the day when Iraqis govern themselves must come quickly.

British Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock explains that in the draft, the "occupying powers" must meet the needs of the Iraqi people as obligated by international law and will ultimately transfer authority to a new Iraqi government. "This draft now quite interestingly defines the end of the occupation in effect as the coming into being of an internationally recognized representative government of Iraqis whenever they are ready to take that step, with the help of both the authority,the coalition on the ground and the United Nations," says Mr. Greenstock.

The modified draft resolution does not abandon the U.S. stance that the coalition has sole responsibility for the search for weapons of mass destruction. But it leaves the door open for a possible return of U.N. arms experts by intending to revisit the international inspectors' mandate.

Earlier, Russia had proposed suspending, rather than permanently lifting the sanctions until U.N. weapons inspectors declare Iraq free of weapons of mass destruction. The head of the U.N.'s Atomic Energy Agency Mohammed El Baradei also appealed to the United States in a statement Monday to return to Iraq, warning of a possible emergency due to the continued looting at atomic sites.