Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 148

Differences over policy toward Iraq among permanent members of the UN Security Council–and particularly between Russia and the United States–were highlighted yet again last week. On July 29, the United States and Britain stopped the Council from taking action on a Russian resolution that would have declared Baghdad in compliance with UN demands to destroy Iraq’s nuclear weapons program. The draft resolution also declared that it was time for the UN to move from its current regime of inspections of the Iraqi nuclear weapons program to a less intrusive form of long-term monitoring.

According to the U.S. ambassador to NATO, however, “there is absolutely no reason…for the Security Council to take any action favorable to Iraq.” Bill Richardson also said that a report by a representative of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) made it “absolutely clear that Iraq has made no progress, that it has failed to provide information on weapons design, on uranium enrichment, or on nuclear exports.” (New York Times, July 30)

The IAEA is responsible for investigating Iraqi nuclear weapons programs. The country must be declared free of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, as well as long-range missile systems, before international sanctions against Baghdad can be lifted. Russia, together with France and China, have long urged the Council to declare Iraq in compliance with requirements to end its nuclear weapons program–i.e., “to close the file” on nuclear weapons inspections. Moscow has argued that such a step is justified by the IAEA investigations and would serve as an incentive for Baghdad to work more closely with the UN in its chemical, biological and missile inspections. Moscow also said that the closing of each of these “files” should move the UN closer to lifting its sanctions on Baghdad.

Those viewpoints were stated once again by Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Vladimir Rakhmanin on July 31. He suggested that Russia would continue to push the Security Council members to declare Iraq in compliance with requirements on nuclear weapons and would urge the UN Security Council chairman “to adopt a brief resolution or to make a statement” to that effect. He also expressed the hope that the Security Council would discuss the lifting of the oil embargo on Iraq as early as this October, when the Council is scheduled again to hear IAEA and UNSCOM reports. (Russian agencies, July 31)