Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 238

As the United States and Russia moved to mend their bilateral relations following the air strikes on Iraq, maneuvering continued this week among permanent UN Security Council members over future policy toward Baghdad. On December 22 Moscow launched an initiative aimed at jumpstarting that process. The Russian effort reportedly includes two elements. One involves a call for UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to submit an assessment of the situation in Iraq. The other is a proposal that Annan call a meeting next month of the twenty-two commissioners who oversee UNSCOM–the UN Special Commission responsible for disarming Iraq. The United States, which has long been at loggerheads with Moscow over UN policy toward Iraq, has apparently not come out against the Russian effort. But U.S. diplomats reportedly have a number of questions regarding the means by which the Russian proposals would be implemented.

Washington has apparently nixed another Russian proposal–one which would have the Security Council express its “regret that force has been used against Iraq.” U.S. ambassador to the UN Peter Burleigh said that the proposal was “not acceptable” to Washington (Reuters, AP, December 22). The United States has, meanwhile, rejected a proposal being discussed by France which would reorganize the weapons inspection system in Iraq. Moscow and Paris have each been sympathetic to Iraqi criticism of UNSCOM, and the two countries have also joined Baghdad in seeking the removal of UNSCOM chief Richard Butler (International agencies, December 22). The Russian proposals outlined above–which would seek to get the UN secretary general and the twenty-two commissioners more involved in the process of disarming Iraq–will be seen by some as yet another effort by Moscow to make an end-run around UNSCOM.