The announcement by Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock of the United Kingdom came just minutes before the Council was due to meet in a closed session on diplomatic efforts to rid Iraq of weapons of mass destruction.
"We have had to conclude that Council consensus will not be possible," Ambassador Greenstock told reporters after a weekend of discussions were held on a British compromise setting strict disarmament tests for Iraq to meet within a strict timetable or else face serious consequences.
"One country in particular has underlined its intention to veto any ultimatum 'no matter what the circumstances,'" he said. "That country rejected our proposed compromise before even the Iraqi Government itself and has put forward suggestions that would roll back on the unanimous agreement of the Council in resolution 1441, and those suggestions would amount to no ultimatum, no pressure and no disarmament. Given this situation the co-sponsors have agreed that we will not pursue a vote on the draft UK-US-Spanish in blue."
Ambassador Greenstock noted that the communiqués and press statements issued at the Azores summit between the US, UK and Spanish leaders yesterday explained the countries' position on the way forward. "The co-sponsors reserve their right to take their own steps to secure the disarmament of Iraq," he said.
In associating himself with Ambassador Greenstock, US Ambassador John D. Negroponte said: "I would just make the further point that it has been nearly four and a half months since the Council unanimously adopted resolution 1441, which found Iraq in material breach and gave it a final opportunity to disarm or face serious consequences.
"The Government of Iraq has clearly failed to comply. Our governments believe that through acts of omission and commission Iraq is now in further material breach. We advocated a second resolution because a united Council would have shown it was intent on enforcing resolution 1441 and disarming Iraq. We believe that the vote would have been close. I regret that in the face of an explicit threat to veto by a permanent member, the vote counting became a secondary consideration."
Echoing the UK and US views, Spanish Ambassador Inocencio F. Arias said: "Resolution 1441 established in an unequivocal way that any false statement or omission or the sheer fact of not cooperating fully would constitute a further material breach. We believe that the Government of Iraq was given a last opportunity and it has squandered it."
Reacting to the announcement, Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sablière France said the resolution's cosponsors realized that the majority in the Council was against a text authorizing the use of force. "This is the position of the huge majority on the Council. During the last days members of the Council repeatedly stated that, and it is a majority in the Council, that it would not be legitimate to authorize the use of force now while the inspections set up by the resolution are producing results," he said.
"And now I understand that the cosponsors made some bilateral consultations last night and this morning and the result is that the majority of the Council confirms that they do not want to authorize the use of force. The majority considers that it would not be legitimate."