JOHN HUMPHRYS: America and Britain have
drafted a new resolution for the United Nations that would mean war with
Iraq unless Saddam Hussein accepts a deadline of seven days to allow UN
arms inspectors to go about their job and another thirty days to tell them
where all his nasty weapons are stored. But the other three permanent members
of the Security Council (Russia, China and France) are uneasy. It needs
a veto of only one of them to halt the resolution in its tracks. By this
weekend the draft should have been agreed - and it hasn't been. As Iain
Watson reports, America is piling on the pressure ... offering carrot AND
IAIN WATSON: While George Bush and
Tony Blair say they want a peaceful solution to the Iraq crisis, it's becoming
clear that preparations for war are continuing. The Americans are stepping
up their presence in the Gulf, while both the UK and the US want agreement
from the united Nations that Saddam will face military action if he doesn't
disarm. but as memories of the 1991 Gulf War fade, the International
Community appear reluctant to fall into line behind the Anglo American
This trophy of war
was captured in 1991 during Desert Storm. But British intelligence have
found that it has a rather chilling modification. Down here, a barrel
of chemicals could be attached; the chemicals would then be sucked up through
this pipe which runs the full length of the vehicle; the chemical agents
would then be expelled through the system's exhaust as the tank cut through
enemy lines. Now no-one should be surprised that Saddam has the capacity
to wage chemical or biological warfare, but many in the International
Community remain to be convinced that he poses a clear and present danger
AHMED ABOUL GHEIT: We do not feel at all threatened
by any, anything I mean anything for, for from Iraq. I think the episode
of 1990 is behind us.
WATSON: And a former Foreign Secretary
is warning that Saddam may be a greater danger if he's provoked
SIR MALCOLM RIFKIND: If the whole purpose of
American intervention is regime change, getting rid of Saddam, then he's
got nothing to lose. You can't deter him from using any of the powers at
his disposal, because the alternative from his point of view is even worse.
So the risk has to be, and it's more than a possibility, it's I think
a likelihood, is that faced with defeat he would launch an attack on Israel
with chemical missiles, the Israelis would feel obliged to respond, and
what was an American Iraqi war would become a Middle Eastern war
WATSON: In 1991 more than thirty
nations joined the coalition against Iraq, but this time not nearly as
many countries are keen on military action. The US and UK want to broaden
support. and are putting a resolution before the UN Security Council which
would give Saddam one last chance to allow weapons inspectors unfettered
access to his country. But agreement is far from certain.
Although British officials
have told On The Record that the wording of the US and UK resolution is
designed to maximise support, it appears to be too hard-line in its present
form to get backing from Russia, France and China - the three remaining
permanent members of the UN Security Council.
The Draft Resolution would
give Saddam seven days to declare what weapons he has and to give a commitment
to disarm, and thirty days to allow UN weapons inspectors back into the
country. Failure to comply with the resolution will lead to the use of
'all necessary means' against Iraq -a euphemism for military action. The
Iraqis have already said they'll oppose the US and UK resolution as currently
drafted, but the British government say tough talking is the best way
to ensure a peaceful outcome.
MIKE O'BRIEN MP: The paradox of this is
that the tougher the resolution, the greater the chance of avoiding war
because if he gets a clear message from the UN that you must not breach
international law or else there will be consequences, then hopefully he
will allow the inspectors in, and he will disarm, he will get the message
in other words.
WATSON: But the hawks in the US
administration see the resolution more as a means of giving a green light
to military action; if Saddam doesn't declare - within a week of the resolution
being passed - what weapons of mass destruction are in his armory, they
say there's no point in even sending in weapons inspectors - it's time
to send in the troops instead.
RICHARD PERLE: Saddam must give up
his weapons of mass destruction immediately. And if he doesn't then, we
will be free, the International Community or those members who are willing
to bear that burden, we would be free to take action against him for that
reason. Now we know that he has weapons of mass destruction, so if such
a resolution passes, and then Saddam continues to deny that he has any
weapons of mass destruction, he would be in clear violation of that UN
WATSON: But the French have told
US officials they would veto any resolution directly linking Iraqi non
compliance on weapons, to the threat of military action. they want a
two stage approach - a new UN resolution compelling Saddam to re-admit
weapons inspectors , and then a further resolution on military action
if, and only if, it was clear Saddam wasn't complying. The British Government
aren't ruling this out.
O'BRIEN: The French are saying
they want to see two resolutions, we would prefer to see one resolution,
we'll be discussing with the French how we work our way through these issues,
the important thing though is that the resolution is a tough one because
we must get the message over to Saddam Hussein and moving to a two resolution
approach may actually enable us to do that
WATSON: But the Americans are holding
out for one clear uncompromising UN resolution; and are trying to convince
other Security Council members it could be in their economic interest
to back regime change in Iraq. This could mean guaranteeing French companies
a share in rebuilding a battered Baghdad, while the Russians might like
to see some hard cash; they're owed around five billion pounds by Saddam's
PERLE: No two countries ever have
identical interests and the Russian interest is a little different from
ours. Parts of it is similar but they would like to be sure that the
significant debt, Iraq's significant debt will be repaid, that may be something
that they insist upon. Frankly, I think they're a lot more likely to be
repaid by a liberated Iraq than by Saddam who's chosen not to pay them
all these years.
SIR MALCOLM RIFKIND: Mr Putin will have his price
in terms of something he will wish from Washington, I've no doubt Washington
will be able to provide that price, and therefore the Russians at the end
of the day will acquiesce. The more difficult one to predict is China,
if the Arab countries as whole are deeply hostile, then China will join
them. If the Arab countries have come in to line, the Chinese will be more
likely to abstain.
WATSON: A few days ago George Bush
senior was in Britain to commemorate the us and UK standing shoulder to
shoulder during World War Two; during his presidency, the two countries
built a Gulf War coalition encompassing an impressive number of Arab States.
The British now believe progress in the Middle East peace process is a
way to re-establish these harmonious relations.
O'BRIEN: The Arab countries in
the Middle East want to know that the United Kingdom and the United States,
regard these issues as important, do see international law here as indivisible,
that there are UN resolutions in relation to Palestine and Israel, which
do need to be complied with.
WATSON: To help build an anti-Saddam
coalition the Foreign Secretary Jack Straw will raise the prospect of a
new Middle East peace conference during his tour of the Gulf States next
week. Arab nations are angry that, in their view, Israel has gone unpunished
for ignoring the UN by demolishing the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's
compound in the West Bank. They want to see the UN's will enforced here
before considering a new front against Saddam.
GHEIT: There is a resolution
from the United Nations calling for Israel to stop all activities and all
measures that are applied in Ramallah and around the compound of President
Arafat and that is a problem that has to receive priority and I think the,
the Arab group within the United Nations would be doing particularly that,
during the next few days.
WATSON: During the Gulf War George
Bush senior saw American troops joined in combat by several Muslim nations
but a highly influential Labour backbencher who has just returned from
the Gulf is sceptical that George Bush junior will take a strong enough
line with Israel to ensure a repeat performance.
CLIVE SOLEY MP: It actually is quite
difficult to see whether the United States has the political will to deal
with the Israeli question, particularly in issues of fundamental importance
like the Israeli settlements in Arab lands, that sort of thing ought to
be a very clear no no from the whole International Community, including
the United States and they don't seem to be able to deliver that.
WATSON: If in the end the price
demanded by UN Security Council members to agree a tough resolution on
Iraq is just too high for the Americans, then those close to the US Defense
Secretary and the US Vice President - the so-called hawks -say it's time
to by pass the united nations entirely and take on Iraq in their own right.
PERLE: If we cannot get the United
Nations to recognise that the United Nations itself is on trial, having
failed to insist on implementation of its own resolutions, then I think
the United States in its self defence, will have to take whatever action
is appropriate to limit the threat from Saddam Hussein.
WATSON: Military action?
PERLE: Military action.
WATSON: If that's the line the
US does pursue the ranks of the anti war movement in this country may grow
if Britain opts to remain shoulder to shoulder with the US, rather than
The real danger to Tony Blair's
position doesn't come from die hard anti war protestors but from more
moderate elements in Labour's ranks- those who would countenance military
action against Iraq just as long as the UN gives its approval.
The wider electorate
seem to share the same concerns of many within the Labour movement; recent
polls suggest two thirds of voters would make common cause with these demonstrators
if action were taken only by the US and UK, without wider international
SOLEY: Military action without
the United Nations support and without movement on Palestine, would produce
a major problem for the prime minister and for the Labour Party, there
is no doubt about that. Frankly I would very very strongly advise don't
do it, because I think the situation could get dramatically worse and you
could end up with the situation in the Middle East being infinitely worse.
WATSON: This fly past is in honor
of US and UK victories in war; but the battle both countries are now fighting
is a diplomatic one, to convince the United Nations to take a tough line
on Iraq. If they fail, and America then decides to go it alone, Britain
may have to choose between the special relationship, or damaging relations
with the wider International Community.