Iraq Unwilling to Obey Tough U.N. Resolve; Gen. Tommy Franks Says U.S. Forces Are Ready to Do "Whatever We Are Asked to Do.".(PAGE ONE)
Byline: Joyce Howard Price, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
A defiant Iraq yesterday announced it would not comply with any unfavorable new United Nations resolutions, rejecting U.S. efforts to secure a tougher measure that threatens war with Baghdad if it does not give up chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.
Meanwhile, in neighboring Kuwait yesterday, Gen. Tommy Franks, commander of U.S. troops in the Persian Gulf and Afghanistan, said American forces are ready for military action against Iraq.
"We are prepared to do whatever we are asked to do," Gen. Franks said at a news conference in Kuwait City, where 10,000 U.S. troops are stationed. "We're prepared to undertake whatever action we may be directed to take by our nation."
In the brief statement yesterday, state-run Iraqi radio in Baghdad said: "American officials are trying, according to the media, to issue new bad resolutions from the [U.N.] Security Council. Iraq declares it will not deal with any new resolution that contradicts what has been agreed upon with the U.N. secretary-general."
Iraq's statement did not spell out the terms of that agreement. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan announced last Monday that Iraq had agreed to accept the unconditional return of international weapons inspectors, whom Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein kicked out in1998.
With its announcement yesterday, Iraq ruled out having the United Nations add expectations or consequences.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said in an interview on CNN yesterday that he was not surprised by Iraq's insistence that it will not follow new U.N. Security Council resolutions it finds objectionable.
"Anyone who has watched over the past decade has seen the Iraqis defy some 16 United Nations resolutions and change their position, depending on what they thought was tactically advantageous to them and then kind of jerk the United Nations around. So it is no surprise at all," Mr. Rumsfeld said.
Gen. Franks, head of U.S. Central Command, acknowledged increased military exercises in the Gulf. More U.S.-Kuwaiti amphibious ground, air and naval exercises were expected to begin this month.
But Gen. Franks stressed that President Bush has not decided whether to use military force to remove Saddam from power.
His comments follow published reports that, earlier this month, he gave Mr. Bush a detailed set of military options to topple Saddam and neutralize his arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. The highly classified plan will undergo refinements in the weeks ahead.
U.S. and British diplomats have tried to persuade other nations on the Security Council to approve a new resolution that threatens Iraq with war for non-compliance.
They have been trying to overcome resistance from Russia, China and France to such a resolution. As permanent members of the Security Council, each of those countries, like the United States and Britain, has veto power that could kill the resolution.
Reports yesterday indicated Moscow could be willing to compromise. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said the return of U.N. arms inspectors into Iraq would not prevent new Security Council resolutions "harsher than any previous ones."