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Iraq: UN Security Council Members Question U.S. Resolution

United Nations, 9 May 2003 (RFE/RL) -- The United States faced numerous questions but no outright opposition from UN Security Council members after introducing a draft resolution seeking authority for U.S. control of Iraq for the next year.

French and German ambassadors told reporters they have requested a number of clarifications about the resolution introduced today, particularly about the UN role and the handling of Iraqi oil revenues.

France has called for a greater political role for the United Nations in postwar Iraq than envisioned by the draft, which authorizes the United States and Britain to decide how to spend funds on humanitarian and reconstruction needs.

French Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere said the position of UN special coordinator proposed in the resolution should have an "enhanced" role in political developments in Iraq. The post is currently described as mainly advisory.

German Ambassador Gunter Pleuger questioned whether the four-month period proposed the phase-out of the oil-for-food program was sufficient.

"The resolution contains some very difficult and complicated legal arrangements so far as economic reconstruction, the disposal of the oil and its revenue is concerned and that will have to be reviewed by experts," Pleuger said.

Ambassadors also raised questions about the role of UN weapons monitors, who are not mentioned in the draft.

The United States and Britain have assumed responsibility for finding and destroying Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. But diplomats said it was significant that the resolution spells out the obligations of occupying powers. It cites the Geneva Conventions of 1949, which describes the responsibility of an occupying force to protect civilians and treat prisoners of war humanely. It also cites The Hague Regulations, which explain the occupier's obligations in maintaining civil administration.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, speaking to reporters at the State Department, urged the council to quickly approve the resolution.

"It's a resolution that will ultimately result in the lifting of sanctions so that the world can again trade with Iraq," Powell said. "It also makes it clear that the coalition that is in Iraq now will be responsible for the governance of the country until we can put the governance of the country into the hands of the Iraqi people."

After nearly three hours of talks today at UN headquarters, a number of diplomats described a "constructive" mood in the council toward the resolution. Britain's UN ambassador, Jeremy Greenstock, called the session a "good start."

"So far in the council, there has been a decidedly constructive atmosphere. [There are] plenty of questions, particularly legal questions, about what the language means, plenty of queries as to what the political framework really is going to be. That's entirely to be expected."

Experts from the 15 council states will discuss the technical aspects of the resolution on 12 May. The council has scheduled consultations at the ambassadorial level for 14 May.