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Security Council Votes on Iraqi Sanctions

Aired May 22, 2003 - 10:10   ET


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Iraq's path to economic recovery is being charted right now at the United Nations. The U.N. Security Council taking a vote to lift the U.N. sanctions against Iraq. Michael Okwu live in New York to tell us more about it. Good morning, Michael.
MICHAEL OKWU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Carol, good morning to you. You are looking at live pictures of the Security Council. That is the Security Council president, Munir Akram from Pakistan. We expect this historic vote to happen momentarily. The United States put this resolution before Security Council members within the past two weeks. And miraculously, those are the words of some Security Council diplomats, this thing is actually going to a vote this morning.

The U.S. is hoping to get all 15 members of the Security Council on board, although, we are told, the Syrians are not present at this time, the Syrian ambassador was dispatched to Damascus to get some more instructions and for consultations, but it appears that Syria may sit this one out. The foreign ministers, of course, of France, Russia and Germany all announced yesterday that they will come on board -- Carol.

COSTELLO: And tell us more about Syria. Syria just needed more time, or were they against lifting those sanctions?

OKWU: Well, that is really unclear at this point. Certainly, this is a very important sweeping mandate that the Security Council is all set and poised to vote on. You can see the Security Council now. Let's pause and listen.

MUNIR AKRAM, SECURITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT: Those against? Abstentions? The result of the voting is as follows: the draft resolution received 14 votes in favor, none against, and no abstentions. One member of the council did not participate in the voting.

The draft resolution has been adopted as Resolution 1483, 2003. I have a list of speakers for those wishing to explain their vote after the vote. The first speaker on my list is the United States of America. I give the floor to Ambassador Negroponte.

OKWU: Well, there you have it, 14 nothing in favor of this resolution. You see John Negroponte, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Syria, apparently, did in fact sit this one out.

This is a historical moment, the Security Council essentially giving broad powers to the United States and to Great Britain to essentially run Iraq, certainly until an elected representative government is in place.

The United States, as far as they are concerned, made some major concessions on this. They say that they made draft changes numbering more than 90, including having the Security Council go back at some future date to review this broad mandate. Now, including allowing the U.S. and Great Britain to run the country of Iraq, it also, of course, lifts sanctions on the country, sanctions that have been in place for almost 13 years.

In addition to that, it phases out the U.N. Oil for Food program. It essentially puts all of the oil revenues into an Iraq development fund that would be monitored by an advisory board. But make no mistake about it, the United States and Great Britain would be in control of disbursing those funds. Let's listen to the U.S. ambassador.

JOHN NEGROPONTE, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: My government called for this vote this morning because we firmly believed that each additional day of debate over the language of this important text would further hinder recovery. The gas lines are long, despite blessedly little damage to Iraq's residual infrastructure. After more than a decade of being frozen out of the world economy, it is time for the Iraqi people to benefit from their natural resources. President Bush and Prime Minister Blair said last month at Hillsborough that the United Nations should play a vital role in rebuilding Iraq. In passing this resolution, we have achieved much for the people of Iraq. By recognizing the fluidity of the political situation and that decisions will be made on the ground, the Security Council has provided a flexible framework under Chapter 7 for the coalition provisional authority, member states, the United Nations, and others in the international community to participate in the administration and reconstruction of Iraq, and to assist the Iraqi people in determining their political future, establishing new institutions, and restoring economic prosperity to the country.

The resolution affirms our commitment to the development of an internationally-recognized representative government of Iraq. It creates a robust mandate for a special representative of the secretary-general, including -- to work with the people of Iraq, the authority, and others concerned, including neighboring states, to help make this vision a reality.

The resolution establishes a framework for an orderly phase-out of the Oil for Food program, thereby preserving, for a transitional period, what has become an important safety net for the people of Iraq. The resolution establishes transparency in all processes, and United Nations participation in monitoring the sale of Iraqi oil resources and expenditures of oil proceeds.

In that context, I am pleased to announce the creation of the development fund for Iraq in the Central Bank of Iraq. As the resolution underlines, the authority will disburse the funds only for the purposes it determines to benefit the Iraqi people. The resolution lifts export restrictions to Iraq with the exception of trade in arms and related materiel not required by the coalition provisional authority. Aviation restrictions are also lifted, but Iraq's disarmament obligations remain, and member states remain barred from assisting Iraq in acquiring weapons of mass destruction, proscribed missile systems, or proceeding with civil nuclear activities so long as those restrictions remain in effect.

The resolution provides Iraq with adequate time to recover capacity eroded during the sanctions years, yet it preserves its obligations to Kuwait and others who suffered from Saddam Hussein's aggression dating from 1990.

It addresses Iraq's sovereign debt, protection of Iraqi antiquities, and accountability for serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law by the previous regime. It also directs member states to act quickly to seize and return to the Iraqi people money stolen by Saddam Hussein's regime.

But Mr. President, we cannot be complacent. Now that we have adopted this resolution, the work must begin on implementing it. The secretariat and the new special representative of the secretary general must prepare for their work on the urgent humanitarian, reconstruction, and political tasks to which it will contribute.

Member states must work to fulfill the obligations and provisions contained in the resolution. For our part, in addition to our responsibilities in Iraq, as leaders of the coalition provisional authority, we will undertake to inform the council on a quarterly basis of progress in implementing the resolution in the spirit of Operational Paragraph 24.

The United States is appreciative of the constructive spirit with which the council has considered and strengthened the provisions of the text we put forward with our cosponsors. We look forward to working closely with all of you to implement this important decision.

Thank you very much, Mr. President.

AKRAM: I thank Ambassador Negroponte, and I give the floor to the representative of France.

JEAN-MARC DE LA SABLIERE, FRENCH AMBASSADOR TO U.N. (through translator): Thank you, Mr. President. Sir, secretary-general, the Iraqi people must now take control of its future of domestic (UNINTELLIGIBLE) where a representative and sovereign government is to be restored as soon as possible by the Iraqis themselves and within the international community. to which Iraq must soon return.

There are many challenges. The situation in the country is still unstable. Security has not yet been fully restored. The humanitarian situation of the people remains precarious. Economic and social reconstruction will take time and will require the energetic, ongoing mobilization of the international community. A political process leading to the establishment of representative institutions that respect the rights of each Iraqi has yet to be (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

The resolution that we have just adopted is not perfect. Significant improvements were, however, introduced at each stage of the negotiations. We believe that it now provides credible framework within which the international community will be able to lend support to the Iraqi people.

This is why we supported it. Now, all of the potential must be fully used in order, without further ado, to get down to the effort of building -- rebuilding Iraq in all areas. Security needs to be restored as soon as possible throughout the territory of Iraq. The resolution reaffirms the commitments of the occupying powers in this area, in keeping with their obligations under humanitarian, international law.

There resolution also recalls that the verified disarmament of Iraq remains our shared objective, and in this area, preserves the role of UNMOVIC and of the IAEA. The international inspectors alone can, in due course, reassure the international community that that objective has been attained.

With the lifting of civilian sanctions and the forthcoming reassumption of the exports of oil, Iraq should have the necessary resources to rebuilt its economy and improve the humanitarian and social situation of its people. The resolution recalls that these resources that belong to the Iraqi people should be used exclusively for their benefit, and in the greatest possible transparency. The international advisory and monitoring board of the development fund for Iraq, established in the resolution, will serve as guarantor of this. The resolution also provides for a gradual winding down of the oil for food program.

OKWU: This is Jean-Marc de la Sabliere, the French ambassador to the United Nations. There is a long list of speakers after him. All 14 members of the Security Council -- I say 14 because Syria is not present. It's safe to read this as some sort of a protest. We understand that the deputy ambassador was going to be here today, but that he was not going to vote if he did not get instructions from Damascus. It appears, certainly, that that was not the case. Now, Jean-Marc de la Sabliere, the French ambassador to the U.N., saying that they support this resolution, albeit somewhat reluctantly.

The French, along with the Russian and the German foreign ministers announced yesterday in Paris that they would, in fact, support this resolution -- Carol.

COSTELLO: But no doubt a victory for President Bush, a diplomatic victory, I should say. Michael Okwu, many thanks. Live from New York.

For perspective, we turn to Ambassador Richard Murphy, a veteran diplomat and now senior fellow in Middle East studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. Good morning.


COSTELLO: A bit of intrigue here about Syria. Why do you suppose they weren't there? MURPHY: I think they didn't know how to vote. They didn't want to -- I presume they didn't want to oppose 14 members on the council, and yet they didn't want to say in any that, We, as the only Arab member, endorse what has gone on, and at the same time they didn't want to say Iraq shouldn't be out from under sanctions, so I think they were in a quandary.

COSTELLO: Why would they be so against lifting these sanctions, though? What is behind this? Make people understand that.

MURPHY: I don't think it was the issue of the sanctions at all, which was the point of resolution. That was the historical aspect of the resolution, closing the sanctions, which have been in effect for nearly 13 years, stopping them. But, associating themselves with a vote which would appear to give authorization to the coalition, to the U.S., to the U.K. to go ahead now and lead the reconstruction of Iraq, I think they just felt uncomfortable with that.

COSTELLO: I understand, that the United States and Great Britain would be in charge of that. The French ambassador said the resolution wasn't perfect. What did he mean by that?

MURPHY: Well, I think the French and perhaps the Russians, to a degree also, you'll be hearing from the Russians shortly, didn't want to appear to be endorsing an expanded authority for the coalition. I think it's probably as simple as that. They did get the U.S. to say we will come back and report to the council and review implementation of this resolution in a year's time. In fact, John Negroponte has just said we will be reporting on a quarterly basis, so that sort of flexibility on the American side, I think, went a long way to bringing the French on board.

COSTELLO: Tell us what this will mean to the average Iraqi citizen.

MURPHY: Nothing immediate, perceptible on the street. But as they see the freeing up of imports, with the ending of sanctions, with the restriction that there will not be authorization for military or, at least not for anything to do with weapons of mass destruction, trade will be restored to normal. It will become like any other country in the world, with peaceable, open relations with its neighbors, and engaged in world trade.

COSTELLO: Understand. Ambassador Richard Murphy, thanks for bringing some understanding to a very complicated issue for us. Many thanks for joining us live this morning.


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