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– Lord Des Browne
Vice Chairman, Nuclear Threat Initiative
Security Council Responds to Iraqi Intransigence
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On June 21, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution (S/1115) condemning Iraq's interference with UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) efforts to rid it of its weapons of mass destruction and proscribed missile programs. Demanding Iraq's full cooperation, the Security Council threatened to apply further punishment and postponed a review of sanctions (imposed on Iraq following its 1990 invasion of Kuwait) until October, when it will receive UNSCOM's latest progress report. The unanimous vote was also seen as a triumph for U.S. diplomacy, which overcame a Chinese veto threat and Russian and French intentions to abstain.

The council's latest action on Iraq followed a series of incidents in early June in which Iraq prevented UNSCOM from gaining access to requested inspection sites and Iraqi officials endangered the lives of UNSCOM personnel by attempting to wrest control of UNSCOM helicopters or flying their own helicopters on near-collision courses.

During his visit to Baghdad on July 21, Richard Butler of Australia, who took over for Rolf Ekeus as UNSCOM's executive chairman on July 1, said Iraq should see Ekeus' departure as an opportunity to make a fresh start with UNSCOM and comply with the UN mandate to eliminate its prohibited weapons programs. Butler warned that the unanimous Security Council vote in June shows that Iraq can expect no relief from sanctions until it cooperates fully with UNSCOM.