The United States and Britain are weighing whether to introduce a second resolution authorizing military force against Iraq in the Security Council. Meanwhile the United Nations debates the next step to take in the Iraqi crisis.
Despite indications from Washington that the United States and Britain could introduce a new Security Council resolution in the near future, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, John Negroponte, says they have not yet made up their minds. In his words, they have "not ruled it out, they have not ruled it in."
According to Mr. Negroponte, the issue remains Iraqi cooperation and Iraqi disarmament. "We think the measure of their performance has got to be whether they are immediately, unconditionally and proactively implementing this resolution and not whether or not they have made a few procedural gestures of one kind or another that do not really signify or imply full compliance with the resolutions."
Last week, chief U.N. Inspector Hans Blix and Mohammed ElBaradei of the International Atomic Energy Agency delivered their latest progress report to the Security Council, divided over whether to give the inspections more or declare Iraq in material breach of a U.N. resolution to disarm.
Since their report, Iraq has given permission for the inspectors to unconditionally use U-2 surveillance planes and allowed unmonitored interviews with some Iraqi scientists.
Meanwhile, non-Security Council members of the United Nations are also debating the next step in the Iraqi crisis. Many of Iraq's neighbors say they support continuing inspections and authorizing military force only as a last resort.
Iran's Ambassador said that his country understands the threat of Saddam Hussein all too well and continues to suffer the effect of deadly chemical weapons used by Iraq in the 1980s.
However, Iran along with nearly every one of Iraq's neighbors, warned of the serious consequences a war with Iraq could have on the region and on the Iraqi people.
"Jordan calls on the Iraqi government not to waste the available chance to take the initiative by cooperating proactively in the implementation of relevant Security Council resolutions," says Jordan's U.N. Ambassador, Prince Zeid Ra'ad Zeid al-Hussein. "This is to save Iraq, the region and its peoples from the scourge of war and the suffering that would inevitably follow."
Similarly, Kuwait, which was invaded by Iraq in 1990, leading to the Persian Gulf War, also expressed the hope that military action would be a last resort, but criticized Baghdad for continuing to challenge the international community.
Many Arab nations, including the spokesperson from the League of Arab States, described a "double standard," in which Israel is allowed to pursue a nuclear program and violate U.N. resolutions.
And Iraq's ambassador denied that his country has failed to cooperate actively with inspectors, saying the declaration of its weapons is complete and accusing the United States of aiming for "world hegemony." Australia, which says Iraq is in material breach of U.N. resolution 14-41, was one of a handful of the approximately two dozen envoys who backed the U.S. and British view that Iraq has had more than enough time to disarm.
The debate, which is scheduled to continue for a second day Wednesday, was convened by South Africa, the current chair of the non-aligned movement of developing countries. South Africa, which opposes military action in favor of inspections, announced that a team of inspectors was en route to Iraq to assist with the disarmament process.