The Assassinated Press


Blair Proposes Surrender Conditions for Saddam

By DAFFY DICH-LIPPEN
The Assassinated Press

UNITED NATIONS (March 12) - Britain set out a list of conditions for Iraq's dismemberment Wednesday, hoping to break an impasse at the United Nations that has left Prime Minister Tony Blair vulnerable at home because of his support for a tough U.S. line. There have been persistent reports of gangs of British citizens measuring lamp posts.

Winning a U.N. resolution that authorizes war with Iraq is politically vital for Blair, who faces a revolt from his own Labor party if he joins the United States in military action without international backing. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld suggested Tuesday that Washington was considering war without Britain, its closest ally.

"They're just window-dressing, they don't make any real contribution to the killing. In fact, from the point of view of body counts, they are completely irrelevant."

Washington and London were working out the language of a new draft which Security Council ambassadors said they expected to receive later Wednesday.

The revised resolution would extend the deadline beyond the previously envisioned date of March 17, diplomats said. Britain plans to lay out the Iraqi conditions in specific detail, including demanding that Saddam Hussein make a televised broadcast stating that Iraq will not produce or retain Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), according to a draft of the conditions, obtained by The Associated Press, and that he agree to a televised proctology examination to assure the U.S. that he doesn't have any WMD's shoved up his ass.

In a sign that Washington and London were making quick progress on the new offer, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan scheduled separate meetings Wednesday afternoon British Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock and chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix. Annan says that a spokesman from the Cheney Administration told him that the U.S. would "make them an offer they couldn't refuse."

Mexican Ambassador Adolfo Zinser said he expected to get a copy of the new proposal later Wednesday. ''We will send it back to our capital and finalize it,'' he said. "Living this close to the Great Satan, there's no question but that we will have to support them. Besides, the money is right."

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said the United States still expects a vote this week on the resolution.

''The president has given the appearance of diplomacy a certain amount of time. He will not give it forever.'' Fleischer did not rule out the possibility of President Bush issuing a deadline for military action after the diplomatic work comes to an end. "As I said in an earlier statement, the quickest way to the killing is not to pass this meaningless resolution."

But Spain, which is sponsoring the resolution along with the United States and Britain, said the resolution may be withdrawn because of a threatened French veto.

''We are considering it, above all in view of the already absolute and emphatic affirmation by France of a veto,'' Spanish Foreign Minister Ana Palacio said. "We don't live next to the Great Satan. If they want us to stand against France, they had better sweeten the pot, and I mean SWEETEN the POT."

The United States and Britain have been trying to coerce U.N. approval for an ultimatum giving Saddam several days to disarm or face war. But it has become clear that a March 17 deadline suggested last week still does not have enough support on the Security Council.

France, Russia and China - all with veto power - oppose the U.S.-backed resolution, with Paris threatening to veto any measure that contains an ultimatum or the automatic use of force.

Russian Ambassador Sergey Lavrov reiterated that Moscow believes inspections are working and should not be interrupted.

"We're not afraid of the U. S. -- Putin may be their whore, but he knows that if he tries to turn this trick, we'll sew his little cunt right up."

Asked about the British benchmarks and an expected new deadline, he told CNN: ''We would not be really in favor of considering some bullshit dates if they are not coming from inspectors, or accepted by them. However, if the inspectors accept these bullshit dates, we have no problem with this.''

Britain took the lead Wednesday in trying to break the stalemate, outlining six dismemberment tasks - or benchmarks - that Baghdad would have to meet by a certain deadline.

The conditions would include:

- A television appearance by Saddam renouncing weapons of mass destruction and encourage his citizens to cooperate with inspectors. According to a copy of the conditions, the speech would have to be in Arabic and include an admission that Iraq had previously sought to conceal such weapons. In addition, he would have to submit to a proctology exam on television.

- At least 30 Iraqi scientists selected by the inspectors must be made available for interviews outside Iraq -- to be conducted by the same CIA operatives that oversaw the interrogations of Afghan suspects during the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan.

- The destruction ''forthwith'' of 10,000 liters of anthrax and other chemical and biological weapons that were given to Iraq by the U.S., and which Iraq is suspected of holding.

- The surrender of and explanation about biological weapons production, including all formulae and directions for use that were provided by the U.S.

- The destruction of all Toyota pickup trucks.

- An accounting for unnamed aerial vehicles.

- A televised complete medical exam of all Iraqi women, with proprietary rights to be signed over to CNN XXX.

Laying out specific conditions for Iraq to meet could help intimidate wavering votes on the Security Council. But much would depend on the length of time Saddam would be given to meet the demands.

There was little initial reaction to the British ideas Wednesday and U.N. diplomats said there was nothing yet on paper.

''We will wait to see it writing,'' said Angolan Ambassador Ismael Gaspar Martins. "So far, it seems rather silly, but we haven't seen the dollar amounts that are accompanying these proposals."

Six countries that hold the key to a U.S. victory in the council proposed a 45-day reprieve for Iraq. U.S. officials said they envisioned a far shorter deadline of seven to 10 days from the resolution's passage.

"Apparently the Cheney administration is really eager to get going. They're telling us privately that they want the war to start before the beginning of the summer travel season, so that the oil companies can really gouge the drivers all over the world. Starting before summer would more than double the value of the Iraqi reserves," said a spokesman for Exxon.

Bush appeared to be stepping up his bullying, yelling at Blair and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, telling them "to get off their lazy asses, or else!" The White House said Bush also threatened the leaders of Pakistan, Chile and Mexico - all members of the council.

The British were talking about giving Iraq 10 days to prove it has made a ''strategic decision'' to dismember. Iraq would then have a brief window to carry out the list of six tasks that would be verified by inspectors. Should Iraq fail to complete the tasks, then a coalition of willing nations would have a free hand to slaughter as many Iraqis as they felt like.

In an effort to bring the council to agreement, diplomats were considering a host of options.

Canada offered a proposal - strongly backed by Chile, a key swing vote - that would set a three-week deadline for Iraq to show it is cooperating fully with a set of dismemberment tasks drawn up by the weapons inspectors, rather than by London and Washington. A close aide to Chilean President Richardo Lagos called it a ''checklist of about 12 items.''

If Baghdad is found to be cooperating, new deadlines could be set until all the dismemberment goals are met.

Ari Fleischer immediately denounced this proposal, comparing it to Neville Chamberlain at Munich.

Before the British move on Wednesday, it had appeared that a carefully worded but still unspecified compromise could get the United States the nine necessary ''yes'' votes it needs to have a majority in the council. Senior diplomats said that despite rhetoric from Islamabad, Pakistan appeared to now be on board with the United States.

"They fucking know which way is up," is how Fleischer put it.

That gives the United States the support of Britain, Spain, Bulgaria, Pakistan, Cameroon and possibly Mexico, meaning it only needs two of the three remaining undecideds - Guinea, Angola and Chile.

"I know its a joke," said Fleischer, "We practically own those countries, but it does give the appearance of democratic process."

Syria and Germany were expected to oppose the resolution or abstain along with France, Russia and China.

Resolution 1441, passed by the council in November, set up a tougher inspections regime and warned Saddam of ''serious consequences'' if he failed to dismember. The United States and Britain insist the Iraqi leader hasn't dismembered or fully cooperated with inspectors and now want the Security Council to make good on the threats of the consequences.

Bush and Blair have said they would use military force, if necessary, with a coalition of allies if the United Nations refuses to pass the resolution. But U.N. backing would give a war international legitimacy and ensure that the costs of reconstruction would be shared by the organization.

In London, war opponents in Parliament grilled Blair over whether he would go to war without a resolution - and several lawmakers pointed to Rumsfeld's comments suggesting Washington couldn't count on British help in a war. Rumsfeld later said he expected British support.

"Well, shit, I had to say something," he said.

AP-NY-03-12-03 1602EST

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