U.S. Pushes for Quick Vote on Postwar Plan in Iraq

The United States is pressing for a vote as early as Wednesday to lift U.N. sanctions (search) against Iraq (search), a measure the Security Council seems virtually certain to approve.

The resolution would let the U.S.-led coalition run Iraq, but it's not clear whether Washington will get the unanimous vote it wants.

Russia, France and China, which expressed serious concerns about the first two drafts, were studying the third version introduced Monday. U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte (search) insisted the resolution is in its "final form."

Even if they can't support the final draft, none of the three permanent council members has talked about using a veto against the resolution. Instead, they would likely abstain, a possibility raised Monday by French President Jacques Chirac.

The new draft gives the United Nations a clearly defined role in establishing a democratic government and increases the stature of a U.N. envoy in Iraq. But it also leaves the United States and Britain, as occupying powers, firmly in control of Iraq and its oil wealth until "an internationally recognized, representative government" takes office.

Pakistan's U.N. Ambassador Munir Akram, the current council president, scheduled a closed-door meeting Tuesday to discuss the new draft and said he expects "fairly intensive discussion."

Changes can be made in the draft until the vote takes place.

The council was trying to avoid another diplomatic blowout like the one over the U.S.-led war, which the majority of members opposed. France, Russia, China and Germany, which refused to authorize military action, were being more circumspect about their concerns with the current resolution.

"We are now examining ways and means to rebuild Iraq, to restore peace and security in Iraq, and the approach of all members is a constructive role toward that end," Akram said.

Nonetheless, there was some grumbling at U.S. efforts to push through a new, complicated resolution in 48 hours.

Russia's U.N. Ambassador Sergey Lavrov said the new draft "contains a lot of technical things" that need to be studied and some issues still need further clarification -- including how long the occupation will last.

The final draft makes a number of substantive changes, trying to address many countries' concerns that the United Nations was being relegated to coordinating humanitarian aid, helping with reconstruction and having a very limited political role.

The new text asks Secretary-General Kofi Annan to appoint a special representative with "independent powers" to work with the United States and Britain "to facilitate a process leading to an internationally recognized, representative government of Iraq." The previous texts referred to a U.N. "special coordinator," a lower status.

Akram said his country believes the U.N. role has been strengthened.

The final draft leaves out an explicit endorsement of U.S. and British occupation of Iraq for an initial 12 months. Some council members did not want to have the United Nations legitimize the results of a war that the majority of the council did not support.

The Security Council resolution that imposed economic sanctions after Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion of Kuwait called for U.N. inspectors to certify that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction have been eliminated before they could be lifted. But the United States has refused to allow the inspectors back and instead is deploying its own search teams.