The United States has called on the U.N. Security Council to vote Thursday on a U.S. and British-sponsored resolution aimed at ending sanctions against Iraq. The draft is expected to get a majority of the council votes.
The vote comes after a new round of changes to the draft resolution. The latest version would allow the Security Council to review how the resolution has been implemented in one year.
The revisions are designed to ease concerns that the U.S. and British-led coalition's occupation of Iraq would be open-ended.
But British Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock said that does not mean the occupation of Iraq will end in a year. "The occupation will end when there is an internationally recognized, representative government," he said. "That could happen in three months, or six months, or 18 months, or 24 months. But that is the criterion. Nothing in this resolution sets a time criterion other than that."
Ambassador Greenstock said the new draft is a big improvement over previous versions.
The draft resolution puts the United States and Britain in control of Iraq and its oil revenue until an internationally-recognized government is formed.
It gives the United Nations a voice in post-conflict Iraq through a new special representative appointed by Secretary General Kofi Annan. The U.N. envoy would help coordinate humanitarian efforts and help restore Iraqi legal and judicial institutions.
Sanctions imposed after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990 would end under the resolution, except for an arms embargo. The draft also phases out the oil-for-food program that has fed most of the Iraqi population since the mid-1990s.
U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte said he is optimistic that the resolution will pass. "Our impression is that the council members have welcomed this resolution and that it enjoys strong support but I would hesitate to predict for you at this moment exactly what the precise vote count is going to be," he said.
The draft resolution does not require U.N. weapons inspectors to certify Iraq is free of weapons of mass destruction. But it said the Security Council will reexamine the issue. Previous versions made no mention of the weapons inspectors. U.S. officials and the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency are currently discussing returning a small number of inspectors to Iraq.