[FOUNTAIN]What ‘going to the UN’ really meansOn Nov. 8, 2002, the representatives of the 15 members of the United Nations Security Council gathered around a table to vote on Resolution 1441, a final warning to Iraq before war. The council unanimously voted for the resolution, which warned Saddam Hussein he would face serious consequences unless he complied with the disarmament process. The phrase “serious consequences” had replaced “all necessary means,” at request of then-U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell.
There was a history behind the phrase “all necessary means.” In 1991, the United States secured a UN resolution allowing the use of force against Iraq 45 days before the first Gulf War. With China abstaining, it passed 12 to 2. It gave the United States and its allies the right to use “all necessary means” against Iraq. From that moment, the phrase meant going to war. But “serious consequences” essentially meant the same thing. War began four months after the Security Council passed Resolution 1441.
Washington began seriously considering United Nations involvement in resolving the Iraq issue seven months before the war. On August 5, 2002, President George W. Bush presided over a meeting at the White House at which General Tommy Franks, head of U.S. Central Command, ran through his newest plan for war. After the briefing, Secretary Powell said there was a lot more to be done besides military planning. When the president asked what he meant, Mr. Powell said Washington should use the United Nations.
On Sept. 12, President Bush gave a speech at the UN General Assembly and urged the United Nations to adopt new resolutions. If not, he said, “action will be unavoidable.” According to journalist Bob Woodward’s book “Plan of Attack,” President Bush later admitted that if the United States hadn’t had a plan, he wouldn’t have been able to make such a statement. Based on past examples like these, we can assume that when the United States brings a matter to the United Nations, it means the situation is quite serious.
With little progress made on resolving the North Korean nuclear issue, Washington is talking about bringing the matter to the UN Security Council. In the case of Iraq, the United States had to depend on vague evidence of weapons of mass destruction. With Pyongyang having publicly stated that it has nuclear weapons, Washington has a far easier case now. Moreover, the masterminds of the Iraq war still have great influence in the administration. Dovish Mr. Powell is no longer on the scene. Is Pyongyang aware of the gathering dark clouds?
by Ahn Sung-kyoo
The writer is a deputy political news editor at the JoongAng Ilbo.