IRAQ'S acceptance of stringent Security Council terms for ending the Gulf war has set the stage for a massive United Nations mobilization to restore peace and provide relief aid to the region. Ahmad Hussein Khudayer, Iraq's new foreign minister, notified the UN by letter on Saturday that Iraq reluctantly "found itself facing only one choice: to accept the UN resolution."
His letter came just hours after 160 out of 250 members of the Iraqi National Assembly voted to agree to what amounts to an Iraqi surrender.
Thomas Pickering, the United States ambassador to the UN, told the Security Council last week that the measures it approved would require "an unprecedented elaboration of the role of the UN in peacekeeping and peacemaking."
UN role crucial to peace
Mr. Pickering said that "the involvement of the secretary-general and the United Nations...is as essential to restoring peace as it was to defeating aggression."
This, he predicted, would involve "the demarcation of the Iraq-Kuwait border, the deployment of observers, the activation of a special commission to oversee the elimination of weapons of mass destruction, the creation of a compensation regime, the return of Kuwaiti property, and the control of arms sales to Iraq."
The Iraqi foreign minister complained in his letter that the Council's decision to impose a border agreement was unfair and unmindful of Iraq's sovereignty and independence under international law.
He charged that the maintenance of punitive economic sanctions showed no regard for the suffering of the Iraqi people, and that the restrictions on defensive weapons ignored internal and external threats to Iraq's security.
The minister also said that the Council's order to destroy Iraq's chemical and biological weapons and its nuclear-weapons-usable material - and all ballistic missiles with a range greater than 95 miles - was not matched by any effort to deal with Israel's arsenal.
He pointed out that Security Council Resolution 487, adopted in 1981 after an Israeli air raid destroyed an Iraqi nuclear reactor, required Israel to put its own nuclear facilities under international inspection - which has yet to be done. And the resolution permits Iraq to claim compensation for the Israeli attack.
But requiring Iraq to pay compensation for loss and damages resulting from the invasion of Kuwait, he claimed, would deprive Iraq to the advantage of already wealthy states. Moreover, he said, Iraq has valid counterclaims for the devastation inflicted by massive coalition air bombardment.
No withdrawal date set
The Iraqi official criticized the UN resolution for not specifying when coalition forces would withdraw from Iraq.
UN Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar revealed plans over the weekend for a UN Iraq-Kuwait Observation Mission (UNIKOM). If approved as expected by the Council this week, UNIKOM will start to deploy within days along the Iraq-Kuwait border.
Diplomats report that the Council's five permanent members - the US, Soviet Union, Britain, France, and China - are prepared for the first time to take part in the peacekeeping operation. But Iraqi diplomats at the UN have indicated that coalition allies on the Council - especially the US, Britain, and France - would be unwelcome on their side of the border.
Iraq may not be given a say in this, however, a European diplomat says. He points out that the UN chief had departed from the tradition requiring both parties consent. UNIKOM requires only their "necessary cooperation."
"That basically means 'take it or leave it,' " the diplomat says.
Mr. Perez de Cuellar has proposed to send 300 military observers, plus almost 700 infantry troops to protect the observers in a zone "where there is a risk that disorder would ensue" after the withdrawal of coalition troops. About 300 field engineers would clear any remaining mines from the border area.
The mission, budgeted at $123 million for its first year, will also include a medical and logistical unit, and an air unit operating both fixed-wing planes and helicopters, for about 1,500 people.
Perez de Cuellar reported that he was taking "urgent steps to arrange for the UN system to provide such humanitarian support as may be needed" for some tens of thousands of refugees and displaced persons being given shelter by coalition forces.
The secretary-general still has to come up with plans for a special commission to oversee the destruction of Iraq's most lethal weaponry. Another commission is to supervise the payment of a percentage of Iraqi oil earnings into a fund to pay war damages.
Iraq's financial burden
The UN chief argued "that the aggregate financial implications of the resolution are likely to be quite substantial."
Meanwhile, President Bush said he hoped Iraq's acceptance of the UN terms would ease the pressure on hundreds of thousands of people fleeing through mountainous regions toward Iraq's northern borders to escape advancing Army units.
After some hesitation over the propriety of interfering in Iraq's internal affairs, the Council told Iraq Friday to stop repressing its citizens and start an open dialogue to ensure respect for their human and political rights.
The Council insisted that Iraq give international humanitarian organizations immediate access to all parts of the country.
The Council decided it could act after Turkey and Iran, both facing an influx of up to 1 million refugees, warned that the actions of the Iraqi Army threatened international peace and stability.