UN passes tough Iraq resolution

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ENDING days of highly charged debate, the United Nations Security Council last night papered over its differences and unanimously passed a resolution endorsing the peace package negotiated by the Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary General, with the leadership of Iraq in Baghdad just over a week ago.

Mr Annan told members that it was now up to the Iraqis, "to comply in practice what they have signed on paper. Commitments honoured are the only commitments that count".

The Council's action marks the climax of a weeks-long diplomatic effort to defuse a crisis provoked by Iraq's refusal to give UN weapons inspectors access to eight separate presidential complexes in the country and which brought US and Britain to the brink of military engagement.

Under pressure from Washington particularly, the UN now is expected to move within days to test Iraq's commitment under the Annan accord to open the gates of the presidential complexes to the inspectors. If Iraq resists, the resolution stated, it will face the "severest consequences".

Reflecting deep differences within the Council, the resolution is vague on whether Washington and London would be expected to return to the UN to seek formal authority for any bombing campaign should the Annan deal fail to stick. France, Russia and China favoured such a restraint.