Accessibility links

Breaking News

Iraq: U.S. Would Consult U.N. Before Attack, But Positions Still Differ

Washington, 10 March 1998(RFE/RL) -- The White House says Washington would consult with the U.N. Security Council -- though not necessarily seek a new mandate -- before it undertakes a military strike against Iraq.

Spokesman Michael McCurry told reporters Monday that in the event Baghdad breaks its U.N. arms inspection agreement, the U.S. would expect urgent deliberations to take place by council members.

"Consultations are consultations," McCurry said. "We would of course be consulting with members of the Security Council."

Asked whether President Bill Clinton believes he already has authority from previous U.N. resolutions to move against Iraq militarily, McCurry said: "That is exactly our position."

Earlier on Monday, McCurry said the White House and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan had differed about the Iraq matter.

"I wasn't completely familiar with the secretary-general's remarks," McCurry explained. "The question was posed that somehow or other we'd be required to go (to the U.N.) for an additional resolution, and I was indicating that we'd have a different view on that."

The United States and Britain have said they would favor a military option if Iraq again bars U.N. weapons inspectors from surveying sites. Russia, China and France have been reluctant to support such a move.

The weapons inspections have resumed in Iraq. No problems have been reported.

Annan is scheduled to visit Washington Wednesday to discuss the Persian Gulf situation with Clinton. Another topic is U.S. debts to the world organization.

Annan says the United Nations is virtually "bankrupt" because the U.S. has failed to pay 1,300 million dollars in back dues.

In an article published Monday by The New York Times, Annan writes that the Iraq crisis has demonstrated that a renewed partnership between the world body and the U.S. is in the interest of America and the United Nations. And he says this partnership must be paid for.

Annan notes that the U.S. has not paid its U.N. dues in full and on time for several years. Clinton has proposed paying the back dues but the U.S. Congress has refused to appropriate the money. Key members of Congress have demanded reforms from the world body, including cuts in its bureaucracy, and have tied the issue to international family planning and abortion.

"We would strongly suggest that they (sex education) not be linked," McCurry said. "They are separate questions."

In the article, Annan says he has undertaken top to bottom organizational reforms, including cutting back 1,000 jobs at the U.N. and bringing the staff size to 9,000.

Annan says: "There is an American saying that all politics is local. But increasingly, all local politics has global consequences. And those global consequences, in turn, affect the quality of local life everywhere." It is now up to the U.S. to pay up its debt, Annan says. .