Iraq Plan Gets Unanimous OK

US Ambassador John Negroponte, right, speaks as Secretary General Kofi Annan looks on after the Security Council unanimously approved a U.S.-backed resolution for help in postwar Iraq at United Nations headquarters in New York Thursday, Oct. 16, 2003.
After more than a month of negotiations, the United States claimed diplomatic victory Thursday as the Security Council gave unanimous support to an American plan for rebuilding Iraq.

The U.S. won the support of war opponents France, Germany, Russia and Syria after circulating five drafts of the proposal. All four countries made their support known only hours before the vote Thursday morning.

The U.S. effort was aimed at getting more international funding and troops to ease the American burden in Iraq. But German and French officials said their support for the resolution did not mean such help would be forthcoming.

The resolution gives U.N. authority to a multinational, U.S.-led force in Iraq. The United States retains full control over the country. Iraq's interim Governing Council has until Dec. 15 to draft a timetable for writing a new constitution and holding elections.

To get more troops and funds into Iraq, the resolution would authorize a multinational force under U.S. command and call for troop contributions as well as "substantial pledges" from the 191 U.N. member states at a donors conference in Madrid, Spain, on Oct. 23-24.

The successful diplomatic push by Secretary of State Colin Powell and other envoys comes almost a year after a similarly intense campaign resulted in Security Council Resolution 1441, the measure passed Nov. 8, 2002 that authorized a new weapons inspection regime in Iraq.

Five months later, the U.S., Britain and Spain had to abandon an effort to get a second Security Council vote backing the war because of a veto threat from France and opposition from other members, led by Russia and Germany.

The same countries that resisted the war initially opposed the American reconstruction proposal, asking for a larger U.N. role and a timetable for the U.S. to turn over control to the Iraqis.

Neither France nor Russia, permanent Council members, had threatened to use their veto to block the resolution. But the U.S. had faced the prospect of winning Council approval of the new resolution, but having the vote marred by abstentions. That lack of consensus could have undermined the U.S. position.

The U.S. yielded ground on the U.N. role, specifying responsibilities in economic and political development, but did not budge on a timetable for transferring power.

The U.S. agreed, however, to include new provisions urging the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority "to return governing responsibilities and authorities to the people of Iraq as soon as practicable" and calling on the Iraqi Governing Council to provide the Security Council with a timetable for drafting a new constitution and holding elections by Dec. 15.

On Wednesday, U.S. diplomats had been optimistic about a "yes" from Russia and hopeful that Germany might come on board, but were not sure about France. Syria — the only Arab nation on the council and an opponent of U.S. policy on Iraq — had voiced strong opposition.

Secretary of State Colin Powell launched a final diplomatic offensive Wednesday to win broad support for the resolution, talking by telephone to the presidents of Pakistan and Angola, the foreign ministers of China, Russia and Britain and twice to Dominique de Villepin of France.

Council diplomats said Washington asked what Moscow wanted and it submitted three ideas Wednesday morning. Less than 12 hours later they were accepted "99 percent by the sponsors" and included in a fifth draft of the resolution, said Russia's U.N. Ambassador Sergey Lavrov.

The amendments would give U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan greater scope to participate in the drafting of a new Iraqi constitution and the political transition, and would state for the first time that the mandate of the multinational force authorized by the resolution would expire when an Iraqi government is elected.

The vote, originally scheduled for Wednesday, was delayed so the leaders of Russia, France and Germany could talk Thursday morning.

After a 45-minute conference call, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said he had agreed with French President Jacques Chirac and Russian President Vladimir Putin to support the plan.

"We agreed that the resolution is really an important step in the right direction," he said.

That had left only Syria's vote in doubt. A well-informed U.N. diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Syria had notified the United States, which holds the Security Council presidency this month, that it would support the resolution.

But in a blow to Washington's hopes that the resolution would attract troops and money for Iraq to ease the burden of American forces, the German and French leaders said all three ruled out any military commitments for now.

French diplomats said France and Germany have agreed to train Iraqi police either in the country or in Europe, but declined to say how much their financial contribution would be to that training program.

"Really the goal is to try to get something more than a piece of paper, to try to get money and troops. We hope the resolution combined with the upcoming donor conference will help," a U.S. official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.