UN council to consider next step on Gulf peace

The UN Security Council begins discussions this week of what steps to take next to try to enforce its demand for a cease-fire between Iran and Iraq. Last Thursday, the UN Secretary-General called for ``a fresh and resolute impulse by the council,'' and offered his cooperation. Council members say he indicated that his current peace efforts had reached an end.

Under the July 20 cease-fire demand, the council must consider enforcement measures if either or both combatants fail to comply.

Yet, the signal coming from Washington after the superpower summit is that no agreement was reached on the next step. United States' diplomats suggest that if the council's five permanent members begin discussing a second resolution on sanctions, that alone may pressure Iran to initiate a more productive negotiating position. But the Soviets see the US naval presence in the Gulf as a stumbling block.

The holiday season and a Jan. 1 change of nonpermanent council members will slow negotiations, diplomats say. And political problems remain. The UN chief did not blame either country for the stalemate, but some council members say two Iranian positions were damning:

Iran would not commit itself to accept any conclusion from an impartial investigation other than one that named Iraq as the aggressor.

Iran insisted that an investigation determine the amount of war reparations Iraq owed, which must be met before Iran would withdraw.

Other council members say that Iraq renewed its insistence on a strict sequential interpretation of the resolution - which the council had agreed to waive to accommodate Iran.

Diplomats expect the council to agree on a preliminary statement next week, perhaps warning the parties, and to discuss a second resolution. Diplomats say it is unclear how the sanctions issue will be handled: The Soviets will only agree to sanctions if the US concedes to cut its Gulf fleet. The US will only make such a concession if there is progress on a cease-fire.

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.