U.N. close to new Iraq policy, Holbrooke says UN close to new Iraq policy, Holbrooke says
The Nando Times, Nov. 03, 1999

WASHINGTON (November 3, 1999 10:39 a.m. EST - Though the U.N. Security Council is very close to charting a new policy for Iraq, the United States will object to any arrangement letting Saddam Hussein permanently remove sanctions "through various devices and tricks," says U.N. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke.

Holbrooke also questioned whether Saddam would accept any new resolution that would resume weapons inspections in his country.

"Right now we don't have a resolution. Most experts think if there is one, Saddam would turn it down anyway. My view is that if he accepted it he would try to cheat," Holbrooke said.

Speaking at the National Press Club Tuesday, Holbrooke said a key factor in the success of any new inspections regime would be selection of "a very strong person" to follow Richard Butler in heading the commission that oversaw the weapons inspections.

Butler's agency lapsed last summer and efforts to come up with a replacement have been unsuccessful.

U.N. inspections in Iraq were suspended last December. Shortly afterward, the United States and Britain waged a bombing campaign against Iraq for refusing to cooperate with the search for illegal caches of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons ingredients, as demanded in U.N. Security Council resolutions.

The Security Council has been deadlocked on developing a new policy toward Iraq, one that likely would include easing economic sanctions if Iraq met certain disarmament commitments.

"Intensive negotiations are going on in New York," Holbrooke said. "We're very close to a solution. We're being held up by, basically, a very small but very critical issue, which is the United States' determination not to agree to any arrangement at all that doesn't allow the United States to make sure that Saddam cannot get the sanctions permanently suspended through various devices and tricks."

He declined to answer whether the United States would support dropping sanctions if Iraq complied with a new weapons inspection program. "That's a hypothetical question in a hypothetical world," Holbrooke said.