Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 43

Members of the UN Security Council unanimously approved a resolution on March 2 that warned Iraq of the "severest consequences" should it fail to comply with the February 23 agreement brokered by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. In what was at least a partial defeat for the United States, however, the resolution did not contain the language sought by Washington and London that would have authorized an automatic military response against Iraq in the event of Baghdad’s noncompliance. Opposition to any formal threat of an automatic response was led by Russia, China and France. (International agencies, March 2-3)

U.S. officials later observed that the resolution contains no language specifically forbidding the launching of unilateral military reprisals against Iraq. They also repeated Washington’s belief that the United States already has sufficient legal ground for conducting such attacks. Russia’s Foreign Ministry, on the other hand, yesterday underscored the absence in the resolution of any wording whatsoever authorizing an "automatic" attack against Iraq. (AP, Reuter, Russian agencies, March 3) During the long negotiations that ended with the February 23 agreement, Moscow insisted on a diplomatic rather than a military solution to the crisis in Iraq. Since the signing of the February 23 agreement, Moscow has insisted that military reprisals launched against Iraq for noncompliance require Security Council approval.

Yeltsin Decree Strengthens Russian Security Council.