The United States presented its proposals for Iraqi disarmament to the full U.N. Security Council Wednesday, hoping to get enough support to push its resolution to a vote.
U.S. diplomats say they have not decided when to press the Security council for a vote. But they concede it does not appear likely before next week. Key Security council members are opposed to what they still see as unacceptable elements of a revised U.S. resolution, which only the British appear to support.
The United States has made changes, dropping a demand for an outright authorization for the use of force should Iraq fail to comply with disarmament demands. But it uses certain terms, such as Iraq being in "material breach" of its obligations, and threatens serious consequences, all of which Russia says could provide legal cover for a U.S. attack.
Russian ambassador Sergei Lavrov says Moscow is against what would amount to giving the United States an automatic right to use force. He also says some of what Washington is seeking as tougher inspection guidelines is simply not workable. "So far we have not seen changes in the text which would take into account these concerns," said Sergei Lavrov. "And they are shared by France and China. I cannot speak for them, of course. But that is what we hear."
U.S. ambassador John Negroponte says Washington will only go so far in trying to meet the concerns of other Council members. "We think we need a strong resolution," he said. "We need credible inspections. And it has got to be clear that there will be consequences for Iraq if it does not comply with the resolution. And those are the principles that still inspire and guide the position of the United States."
The U.N. is trying to get the weapons inspectors back into Iraq, after an absence of nearly four years, to search for weapons of mass destruction. Iraq maintains it does not have any banned weapons but recently agreed to let the inspections resume. The United States wants Iraq to agree to give the inspectors unrestricted access to all sites.
The Security Council plans more closed door consultations on Friday, to give the 10 non-permanent members, who just received the U.S. draft, a chance to study the proposals.
A resolution needs nine positive votes to pass, and no veto from any of the five permanent members.