Russia and the United States worked together last week to draft a Security Council statement acknowledging progress by Iraq in dismantling its clandestine nuclear arms program. The statement promised that the Council would consider reducing or ending spot inspections on atomic weapons and move on to less intrusive long-term monitoring as long as Iraq responds to remaining queries from the International Atomic Energy Agency. (Reuter, May 14)
Last week’s statement would appear to resolve, for the time being, a disagreement between Russia and the United States over how the Security Council should treat nuclear arms monitoring of Iraq. In late April, on the eve of a Security Council review of the sanctions imposed on Iraq, Moscow introduced a resolution that would have formally “closed the file” on Iraq’s nuclear weapons program. Moscow said that its draft resolution, which was also backed by France and China, was aimed at providing “incentives” for Iraq to comply with UN weapons inspection operations. The United States strongly opposed the resolution. On April 27, the Council decided to set aside the document for later consideration. (See the Monitor, April 27-28) Last week’s joint Russian-U.S. statement apparently grew out of Washington’s admission last month that Iraq had in fact made some progress in the area of nuclear disarmament. The United States continued to argue, however, that the progress was not enough to justify closing the “nuclear file.”
KREMLIN REACTS CAUTIOUSLY TO LEBED VICTORY.