UN Council Chastizes
Iraq and Extends
Sweeping Trade Sanctions
By Evelyn Leopold
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council Thursday maintained sweeping trade sanctions against Iraq and told Baghdad its continued refusal to work with U.N. arms inspectors was ``totally unacceptable.'' But the council, at a closed-door session, decided to postpone any resolution or other action against Iraq until it hears a report next week from Indian diplomat Prakash Shah, the special envoy for Secretary-General Kofi Annan who just visited Baghdad in an unsuccessful attempt to resolve the stand-off. Instead, members authorized Council President Danilo Turk of Slovenia to say that ``the decision by Iraq to suspend cooperation with the U.N. Special Commission and the International Atomic Energy Agency is totally unacceptable.'' ``They view with extreme concern the continuing refusal by the Government of Iraq to rescind its decision,'' Turk said. As expected, the council for the 40th time made no move to ease or lift punishing sanctions against Iraq, imposed in August 1990 shortly after Baghdad's troops invaded Kuwait. The embargoes can be eased only when the council is satisfied that Baghdad's weapons of mass destruction have all been accounted for and cannot be rebuilt. ``The sanctions review showed that the necessary conditions do not exist for the modification of the regime.'' Turk said. The 15-member council is at odds with Baghdad over its Aug. 5 decision not to cooperate with the U.N. Special Commission (UNSCOM) in charge of disarming Iraq until the commission is restructured to eliminate alleged American influence. Iraq claims all its nuclear, chemical, biological and ballistic missile systems were eliminated long ago and that sanctions, including a ban on normal Iraqi oil sales, should have been lifted. It accuses the UNSCOM of bowing to U.S. wishes by prolonging the disarmament process, ensuring that sanctions continue indefinitely. U.S. Ambassador Bill Richardson said the decision to continue sanctions was ``virtually unanimous'' and that ``Iraq's actions have backfired.'' ``They are in a box. They can't get out of it and they are digging themselves further into a box that may not be able to be opened,'' he said. Diplomats said, however, that Richardson failed to get unanimous support in the council for a reference to a previous resolution that threatened Iraq with ``severest consequences'' if it did not honor its commitment to Annan in February to allow unfettered access by U.N. inspectors. The United States, which has not threatened military action at this point, wants Annan to take the lead in resolving the dispute, which violated an agreement he himself negotiated with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in February. But diplomats contend the secretary-general may be reluctant to take a leading role without a unified Security Council behind him or threats to back up his diplomacy. ``The next step is the secretary-general,'' Richardson said.. ``We want to see his active diplomacy and skills used in this issue and we believe very strongly that what is most important here is council unity and that has happened here today.'' Earlier Thursday, Iraq turned down a fresh appeal by UNSCOM chairman Richard Butler to resume cooperation with his inspectors, who have been unable to carry out their mandates for the last 10 days. ``We do not trust Butler and those who are controlling the Special Commission and we think that it is futile to work with them,'' Iraq's deputy prime minister Tareq Aziz told the Iraqi news agency. But China's representative, supporting some of Iraq's complaints, told reporters the Security Council should exercise greater control over U.N. arms inspectors in an effort to resolve the standoff. ``There is a lack of trust between UNSCOM and Iraq. The Council should exercise greater control of UNSCOM,'' said Shen Guofang, the deputy Chinese ambassador. He said the council should speak to Iraqi officials directly, conduct a comprehensive review of its policy toward Iraq and ``reflect on the root causes of such difficulties.'' He also said the council should acknowledge areas in which Iraq had made progress, particularly in nuclear facilities destruction in order to provide Baghdad with hope that sanctions could eventually be lifted.