Leading Article: UN must go further against Saddam

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The Independent Online
IT IS now clear that Saddam Hussein's military manoeuvres have created a new situation in the Gulf. Until they started, the United Nations could proceed on the assumption that, somewhere down the line, President Saddam would either comply with the conditions for lifting sanctions or be overthrown, in which case his successor would comply. Either way, some kind of stability might be achieved in the area.

This assumption must be revised. Not only has the Iraqi leader neither complied nor been overthrown, but he has deliberately challenged the UN to a confrontation. Therefore, even if he withdraws, the UN and the allies who fought the Gulf war will be faced with the prospect of remaining indefinitely on military alert to prevent another attack on Kuwait.

This is not a tolerable prospect. In the words of Madeleine Albright, US ambassador to the UN, steps must be taken to ensure President Saddam 'cannot continue to mess with us all the time'. But what steps? The legal situation is that Iraq must comply with UN Resolutions 687, 688 and 833, which require him to accept the 'destruction, removal or rendering harmless' of weapons of mass destruction, end repression of the civilian population (meaning primarily Kurds in the north and Shias in the south), recognise the territorial integrity of Kuwait within the UN-defined border, and satisfy the Red Cross on the fate of Kuwaitis missing since the Gulf war.

After prolonged obstruction, President Saddam has allowed the weapons monitoring system to be put in place but it has not been tested over time. Nor will it inspire full confidence among those who remember how well concealed was Iraq's main nuclear facility at al- Atheer until well after the end of the war. The rest of the conditions remain unfulfilled.

The first step is to make clear to Iraq and to wavering members of the UN that all the conditions must be fulfilled so that President Saddam does not continue trying to manoeuvre for concessions. The next step is to reinforce military security, perhaps, as has been suggested in Washington, by making the no-fly zone a no-troops zone as well.

Third, the political reality must be faced that President Saddam is unlikely ever to comply with UN conditions. Real peace will come only with a rational government in Baghdad. The UN must, therefore, start looking at how far it is entitled to enforce its decisions against a government that is neither legitimate (being heir to the Baathist coup of 1968) nor representative of its people.