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UN Set to Vote on Iraq Draft Resolution - 2003-05-21


The United Nations Security Council is expected to vote Thursday on a draft resolution that not only lifts sanctions but also defines the powers of the U.S. and British led coalition in Iraq and clarifies the role of United Nations in reconstruction.

The draft resolution submitted Monday was modified in an apparent aim to quell some of the the misgivings of council members, including France, Germany and Russia, which had pressed for greater U.N. involvement in Iraq's political process.

However, after a closed-door debate on the issue Tuesday, Russia's Ambassador Sergey Lavrov told reporters that he expects co-sponsors, the United States, Britain and Spain, to answer remaining questions on the U.N. role and the mandate of U.N. arms inspectors for Iraq. "We think that the role of the Security Council in overseeing the reconstruction of Iraq should be clear," he says. "We think that the criteria for phasing out some of the measures which are proposed as temporary measure should be the creation of legitimate and internationally recognized government and we also believe we have to have an understanding how we close the disarmament files of Iraq."

The draft resolution continues to give the coalition broad control of Iraqi oil revenues for reconstruction while simultaneously expanding some aspect of the United Nations role.

U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte, who had described the third and latest draft resolution as a final version, indicated that further changes would not be extensive. He says that he believes that mechanisms have been incorporated to ensure that Iraqi oil revenues will be spent for reconstruction in "a transparent manner."

Ambassador Negroponte says now, co-sponsors are examining the points raised in the debate and after making additional, possibly technical revisions, they plan to bring the proposal to lift the U.N. sanctions imposed in 1990 to a vote on Thursday. "I think there is strong support for this resolution," he says. "As you know, it is quite long, it has 25 operative paragraphs, a number of them are rather legal and technical in nature and some questions have arisen that just require a little bit more work and that is what we are going to do right now."

Diplomats describe the atmosphere of the Security Council debate as constructive.

In the draft resolution text, the authority, the U.S. and British led coalition, maintains broad control over Iraqi oil revenues for reconstruction costs until an internationally recognized, representative Iraqi government takes office.

The resolution also clearly defines the U.N. role in establishing a democratic government and expands the status of a U.N. envoy called a special representative with "independent powers" to be appointed by the Secretary General.

It also phases out the the Oil-For-Food program over six, rather than four months.

While the resolution does not authorize U.N. weapons inspectors to return to Iraq, something the United States strongly opposes, it says the Security Council will revisit the international inspectors' mandates for Iraq, opening the door for a future role in the search for weapons of mass destruction.

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