United Nations, 8 November 2002 (RFE/RL) -- The UN Security Council has unanimously approved a resolution setting tough conditions for renewed Iraqi arms inspections and warning Baghdad of "serious consequences" if it does not cooperate. The resolution requires Baghdad to give arms inspectors "immediate, unimpeded, and unconditional" rights to search anywhere for chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons, including in Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's presidential palaces.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan called the vote by the full 15-member Security Council an opportunity for Iraq to end its isolation.
"I urge the Iraqi leadership, for the sake of its own people and for the sake of world security and world order to seize this opportunity and thereby begin to end the isolation and suffering of the Iraqi people."
Chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix said after the vote that he expects to send an advance team of inspectors back to Baghdad on 18 November.
Baghdad has yet to accept the new resolution. Iraq's UN ambassador, Muhammad Al-Douri, said Baghdad will study the resolution. But he told Reuters he is "very pessimistic" because the resolution, "is crafted in such a way to prevent inspectors to return to Iraq."
U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Negroponte, speaking at the UN Security Council after the vote on the Iraq resolution. "If the Security Council fails to act decisively in the event of further Iraqi violations, this resolution does not constrain any member state from acting to defend itself against the threat posed by Iraq, or to enforce relevant United Nations resolutions and protect world peace and security."
British Premier Tony Blair said in London, "Failure to be open and honest in helping the inspectors to do their work is every bit as much a breach as failure to allow access to the main sites. I may find this regime abhorrent -- any normal person would. But the survival of it is in his [Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's] hands. Conflict is not inevitable, but disarmament is."
Blair continued: "In the event of Saddam refusing to cooperate or being in breach, there will be a further UN discussion, as we always said there would be. To those who fear this resolution is just an automatic trigger point without any further discussion, paragraph 12 of the resolution makes it clear this is not the case. Defy the United Nations' will and we will disarm you by force. Be under no doubt whatever of that. Whatever happens, the territorial integrity of Iraq will be absolute. Whatever happens, we will work with you [Iraqi people] for a fairer and better future for the Iraqi people."
U.S. President George W. Bush, speaking at the White House following the UN Security Council vote on Iraq, said: "The United States has agreed to discuss any material breach [by Iraq of the resolution] with the Security Council, but without jeopardizing our freedom of action to defend our country. If Iraq fails to fully comply, the United States and other nations will disarm Saddam Hussein. The resolution sets out, in clear terms, Iraq's obligation to cooperate with the United Nations in ensuring the full and final disarmament of its weapons of mass destruction. It leaves no doubt as to what these obligations are, nor as to how they must be fulfilled. If Iraq's defiance continues, however, the Security Council must face its responsibilities."
Annan added: "Whenever the council is united, it sends a very powerful signal and I hope that Iraq will heed that signal. The road ahead will be difficult and dangerous but, empowered by this resolution, the United Nations Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and the International Atomic Energy Agency stand equipped to carry out their vital task."
He continued: "This is a time of trial for Iraq, for the United Nations, and for the world. The goal is to ensure the peaceful disarmament of Iraq in compliance with Security Council Resolutions and a better, more secure future for its people. How this crisis is resolved will affect greatly the cause of peace and security in the coming years in the region and the world."