Wreckers Target West's War Plan; Franco-German Pact May Sink Blair and Bush's 'Last Chance' Resolution on Iraq
Hughes, David, Daily Mail (London)
Byline: DAVID HUGHES
THE West was at war with itself last night as an attempt by George Bush and Tony Blair to bring Iraq to heel split the United Nations from top to bottom.
Their new UN resolution paving the way to war was tabled in New York as the Gulf crisis entered its final phase.
Britain, the U.S. and Spain joined forces to put before a sceptical UN Security Council an ultimatum declaring Saddam Hussein is in breach of resolution 1441 which demands Iraq's disarmament.
The French and Germans immediately tried to trump the ultimatum with their own antiwar ' memorandum', which would give Saddam more than four months to disarm.
The move left Washington and London seething u and Saddam Hussein laughing.
The French 'memorandum' was drafted with help from Germany and Russia and supported by China. It was made public minutes after the U.S. and Britain circulated their new draft resolution.
The 12-paragraph resolution from America and its two leading allies says Iraq has 'failed to take the final opportunity' offered by 1441 to get rid of its weapons of mass destruction.
Formally introducing the new resolution, British Ambassador Sir Jeremy Greenstock said: 'The cardinal point is that there is no semblance of wholehearted cooperation, nothing like voluntary and active disarmament, nothing like a regime with nothing to hide.' The resolution will not be voted on until after chief weapons inspector Hans Blix delivers his latest report next week.
The vote will come by March 14 at the latest.
If approved, military action is expected within days. If it is vetoed, the war will begin anyway, as Mr Bush and Mr Blair have both made it clear they will not be deflected from disarming Saddam.
In Berlin, France's Jacques Chirac met Germany's Gerhard Schroeder at a 17th-century tavern, aptly named The Final Appeal, to co-ordinate tactics for wrecking the new resolution.
The two leaders u dismissed as the Old Europe by U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld u came up with their memorandum aimed at giving the weapons inspections far more time. It sets a step-bystep timetable designed to force Saddam to disarm.
One report last night suggested Saddam would get 17 weeks under the Franco-German plan u taking the deadline into the Gulf summer when fighting is near-impossible.
It proposes bringing in additional inspectors and giving them more sophisticated equipment while requiring them to report regularly to the Security Council.
'We are, with France, of the opinion that within the bounds of 1441 we have enough possibilities to support the progress that the inspectors are making,' Mr Schroeder said.
'That is why, at the current time, that is the common position u a new resolution is not necessary.' Mr Schroeder said their opposition to war was rooted in Europe's 20th century history of two world wars and a decade of Balkan conflicts.
'What distinguishes good, old Europe is the deeply embedded consciousness of what war really means.' President Chirac added: 'We see no reason in this context to change our logic, which is a logic of peace, and to switch to a logic of war.' Last night, Mr Blair's spokesman said Saddam had been warned 12 years ago that he had just days to disarm.
The British and Americans had gone to the UN six months ago to force the issue and 1441 demanding disarmament had been passed 15 weeks ago.
'Saddam is getting the message loud and clear that this is his final chance,' the spokesman said.
The Franco-German position was eroded by Dr Blix who signalled he had lost patience with Saddam's game of cat and mouse.
The mild-mannered Swedish diplomat gave Iraq just five days to destroy its stock of al-Samoud missiles. Their range exceeds limits set by the UN in 1991.
The new resolution …
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Publication information: Article title: Wreckers Target West's War Plan; Franco-German Pact May Sink Blair and Bush's 'Last Chance' Resolution on Iraq. Contributors: Hughes, David - Author. Newspaper title: Daily Mail (London). Publication date: February 25, 2003. Page number: 8. © 2007 Daily Mail. COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group.
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