| President George W. Bush (right) speaks to reporters at the White House as secretary of state Colin Powell looks on. (AFP)
United Nations, Nov. 8 (Reuters): The United Nations unanimously approved a tough US-sponsored resolution today giving Iraq one last chance to disarm or face the consequences and ordering President Saddam Hussein to accept its terms within a week.
Even Iraq’s neighbour Syria, which had signalled it would not vote in favour, joined the other UN Security Council members for the 15-0 vote as US President George W. Bush warned Iraq it would face the “severest consequences” if it did not comply.
The new measure still leaves Washington free to attack Iraq without a formal second UN resolution authorising the use of force. But it requires the Security Council to assess any serious violation before a military strike.
Bush expressed pleasure with the vote, which came after two months of arduous negotiations around the world among nations, especially France and Russia, who feared the resolution could automatically trigger war. “The world has now come together to say that the outlaw regime in Iraq will not be permitted to build or posses chemical, biological or nuclear weapons,” Bush said.
French ambassador Jean-David Levitte signalled council members would hold the United States to its promises. He said France, Russia and China would issue a statement later on “the scope of the text we have just adopted.”
“I urge the Iraqi leadership for the sake of its own people and for the sake of world security and world order to seize this opportunity and thereby begin to end the isolation and suffering of the Iraqi people,” UN secretary-general Kofi Annan told the council. US ambassador John Negroponte told the council: “The resolution makes clear that any Iraqi failure to comply is unacceptable and that Iraq must be disarmed.”
“And one way or another Iraq will be disarmed,” he said. “If the Security Council fails to act decisively in the event of a further Iraq violation, this resolution does not constrain any member state from acting to defend itself against the threat posed by Iraq.”
British ambassador Sir Jeremy Greenstock, who co-sponsored the resolution, was more conciliatory and stressed there was no automatic trigger for action.
“If there is a further Iraq breach of its disarmament obligations, the matter will return to the council for discussion. We would expect the Security Council then to meet its responsibilities,” he said.