CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Showdown Iraq: U.N. Debate Likely to Continue Another Week
Aired November 1, 2002 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: It's now apparent that if and when the Security Council passes a new Iraq resolution, it won't happen before the U.S. elections next Tuesday. That's not to say that Iraq is not a burning issue in many of the state and local races. It certainly is in some of those very close contests. And the president is making his case at virtually every stop along the way.
His latest stop, in New Hampshire, and that's where we find CNN White House Suzanne Malveaux -- Suzanne.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the president on every campaign stop is saying that if the United Nations Security Council cannot come up with its own U.N. resolution supporting the U.S. version, to make sure that Saddam Hussein is held to account, that he disarms Iraq, that the United States will lead its own international coalition to do so.
But a senior administration official says that they are getting very close. They're much more confident in this. They believe that they have the votes to get this U.N. resolution passed without the French and without the Russians.
Now, here's where we are in the state of play in all of this: The U.N. Security Council gave that resolution back to the United States. State Department officials, White House officials are working on another draft of this resolution. We expect they're going to hand it back over to the U.N. Security Council members sometime next week, but as you mentioned, perhaps and most likely after the elections.
Here is the sticking point: It is really the language right now, and it is very fine details of the language but very significant to the U.N. Security Council members. It is a phrase, "material breach." The U.S. would like to see in the resolution that Iraq is in material breach of previous U.N. resolutions, meaning it has broken previous past promises.
It would also like to see Iraq is in material breach of current U.N. resolutions. Even Russian officials are willing to go along with this.
But the sticking point, Wolf, is if it says Iraq is in further material breach of U.N. resolutions -- that meaning if Saddam Hussein does not comply with these weapons inspections -- that he would be in material breach. French and Russian officials, as well as some of the other U.N. Security Council members, see this as a possible hidden trigger that would actually authorize the U.S. to use military force against Saddam Hussein. That is really the fear. This is all minutiae, but it is very significant minutiae. The bottom line is that the United States will have that draft in all likelihood sometime next week.
They also believe that they're not talking about vetoes but abstentions for these U.N. Security Council members who, perhaps, do not necessarily approve of the U.N. version of the resolution. But, yes, they do think they'll get the passage -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Suzanne, as you cover the president on the campaign stump for Republican candidates in the House and Senate, the governors' races across the country, he mentions Iraq almost at every stop, as you say. Does he sense that the Iraqi stance he's taking is a winning issue to help these Republican candidates?
MALVEAUX: Well, absolutely. And it's very interesting, because there's been a lot of talk of Iraq, a lot of talk of the war. Generally speaking, Republicans do much better when they talk about security issues; Democrats doing better on economic issues. That's what they have been trying to get the president and the Republican Party on, and making their case that the president has not done enough to in terms of dealing with the economy.
But another interesting point, Wolf, is the fact that the White House, to a certain extent at this point, this stage of the game, acknowledges that it is not so much about war talk or tax cuts or even these big financial fund-raising dollars. Right now, the most important thing is voter turnout.
BLITZER: Suzanne Malveaux in New Hampshire, an important state. There will be a close Senate race there as well. We'll be watching that -- of course, all of these races here on CNN next Tuesday.
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