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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Asks UN Body To Scold Baghdad

UNITED NATIONS -- The United States is asking the UN Security Council to condemn Iraq for not cooperating with American arms inspectors but appears willing to hold off on military force for the sake of international unity.


U.S. and British diplomats were drafting a resolution Tuesday that would condemn Iraq for its order to expel American members of the UN weapons inspection team and ban specific Iraqi officials from traveling abroad.


But the United States backed off from asking the council to declare Iraq in breach of the 1991 Gulf War cease-fire -- a step paving the way for military action.


A council diplomat, speaking on condition he not be identified by name or nationality, said the Americans and British also dropped their request for the council to warn Iraq of "serious consequences," as called for by Ambassador Bill Richardson, if Baghdad refused to rescind its order expelling Americans from the UN inspection team.


For the eighth time in nine days, Iraq banned a team of weapons inspectors Tuesday that included Americans. The United Nations did not attempt to send inspectors Monday, when a U.S. spy plane on a UN reconnaissance mission flew high over Iraq for three hours.


Diplomats said the Americans were mainly interested in getting all 15 council members to declare Iraq's Oct. 29 order expelling U.S. inspectors illegal. No vote was expected before Wednesday.


Last month, five council members -- France, Russia, China, Egypt and Kenya -- refused to agree to a travel ban to punish Iraq for noncompliance.


The council was expected to resume discussions later Tuesday.


Before the Monday meeting, Richardson said he would ask the body to adopt a "strong resolution" to condemn Iraq, demand full compliance with UN orders, impose a travel ban on Iraqi officials who interfere with inspections and warn of "serious consequences to follow."


Richardson said if the council refuses, "all bets are go; all options are open."


It was clear that the council was united in opposing Iraq's actions. But few of them appeared ready to threaten -- much less sanction -- military force.


In Washington, Defense Secretary William Cohen said Tuesday that he believed "there is inherent authority under existing United Nations authority to carry out such strikes, should it be necessary."


Cohen said he and U.S. Gen. Henry Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, postponed trips that had been scheduled for Asia this week so they would be available to advise President Bill Clinton on "any kind of contingency."


Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz wants to appear before the council to argue his government's case that the Americans are manipulating the UN inspection teams.


But Richardson said the United States opposes allowing Aziz to take part in the discussions because he is "unwilling to change the Iraqi positions ... All he does is deceive, all he does is move ahead with denials and all he does is move ahead with more delaying tactics."