The United Nations Security Council set out punishing terms for an unconditional Iraqi surrender in a resolution adopted Wednesday by 12 out of 15 Council members. If Iraq accepts the terms, which include destruction of its chemical and biological weapons and ballistic missiles, it will gain a formal cease-fire, the gradual withdrawal of the United States-led coalition forces occupying nearly one-fifth of Iraq, and the progressive lifting of mandatory economic sanctions.
US Ambassador Thomas Pickering went further, and offered Iraq possible future reconstruction assistance - now effectively prohibited by the Council - in exchange for its cooperation.
If Iraq refuses, ``it can perpetuate the suffering and damage for a further period until it becomes intolerable,'' Britain's ambassador, Sir David Hannay, told the Council.
He said that ``if the rulers of Iraq opt for the second choice, they will once again have shown that they put personal ambition and the lust for domination at home and abroad above the welfare of their own people. It will be yet another tragic mistake in a long series of such mistakes.''
Arab diplomats at the UN have predicted that Iraq has no choice but to accept the terms, though with reservations. However, diplomats from most Arab countries, including several major coalition partners, feel that the resolution goes ``too far'' in punishing Iraq.
An Iraqi diplomat said privately that at the bottom line he could admit there were at least two positive aspects to the resolution. It reaffirmed the commitment of member states to maintaining the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and political independence of Iraq. And it effectively affirmed the importance of maintaining Iraq as a regional power.
Abdul Amir al-Anbari, Iraq's ambassador to the UN, announced in Wednesday's Council session that he had problems with four aspects of the measure:
The decision to impose a boundary agreement disputed by Iraq.
The imposition of reparations on Iraq alone.
The order to destroy Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.
The continuation of the land, sea, and air blockade, and the freeze of Iraqi assets.
Mr. Anbari said that Iraq reserves its rights on the boundaries under terms of international law, and reserves the right to ask for reparations for all Iraqi losses incurred from the excessive use of coalition force. He accused the US, Britain, and France of violating the four Geneva conventions protecting civilians and POW's in time of war, and also nuclear conventions and the UN Charter.
Anbari told the Council that 88,500 tons of explosives had been dropped on Iraq and cited a US military official's estimate that 70 percent of the bombs had missed their mark. This had claimed the lives of ``tens of thousands'' of Iraq's women, children, and elderly, he said.
The resolution calls on UN Secretary-General Javier P'erez de Cu'ellar to submit a plan to the Council within three days for the immediate deployment of UN military observers in a demilitarized zone extending 10 kilometers inside Iraq and five km (about three miles) inside Kuwait.
Within 15 days, Iraq is to submit lists of its chemical and biological weapons, any nuclear-weapons grade material, and any related research and development support or manufacturing facilities, as well as all its ballistic missiles with a range greater than 150 km (95 miles). All items in these categories are to be destroyed within three months, under the supervision of a special commission to be established by the UN chief.
Ambassador Pickering volunteered US participation in the commission. He told journalists later that ``several of the Council's permanent members indicated serious interest.... We feel we have real strength in our backgrounds that could be used in dismantling some of those weapons.'' Only the US and the Soviet Union are said to have expertise in disposing of chemical or nuclear weapons.
In a country where exact figures for statistics such as oil production have previously been regarded as a military secret, Iraq will have to open up to international inspection to ensure that it will not develop these prohibited weapons in the future.
It will also have to put its economic output under international supervision, and pay a percentage of its exports into a fund to compensate other nations for loss and damages resulting from its invasion of Kuwait.
A last-minute modification of the text - at Soviet insistence - permitting Iraq to keep its short-range ballistic missiles has frightened several of Iraq's neighbors who remain vulnerable within the 150-km limit. (Israeli coastal cities are out of range.)