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Security Council Votes Air Embargo against Iraq, Occupied Kuwait

September 26, 1990

UNITED NATIONS (AP) _ The U.N. Security Council voted 14-1 Tuesday to impose an air embargo against Iraq in an effort to force Iraqi occupying forces to quit Kuwait. Iraq’s envoy called it ″an act of war.″

The council warned Baghdad it may take further punitive action and hinted at sanctions against nations that fail to observe U.N. measures against Iraq.

Cuba cast the only vote opposing Resolution 670, which directs all states to bar use of airspace by any passenger or cargo flight to or from Iraq or occupied Kuwait, except for approved mercy missions.

Iraqi Ambassador Abdul Al-Anbari, who attended as an interested party, stalked out after the vote, saying, ″You know, boycotting a country by enforcing a naval embargo as well as an air embargo is an act of aggression, an act of war.

″But up to now we have been practicing self-restraint because we know that if war were to break out, it would destroy everything in the region.″

Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze, who presided, said in response that ″even if this resolution is not observed, there are certain other things that can be done short of war, because this is not yet a full blockade of Iraq.″

Shevardnadze said war ″is not a desirable option, but it is one of the options contained in the U.N. Charter. Anyway, I hope that peaceful ways will be found to find a way out.″

He spoke in Russian through a translator.

Tuesday marked the ninth time the Security Council has condemned Iraq’s Aug. 2 invasion of Kuwait and demanded immediate withdrawal.

The resolution prohibits use of force, but calls for searches and detention of aircraft; for halting Iraqi shipping, and freezing Iraqi assets overseas.

The council warned it would consider ″serious action″ if Iraq continued to flout international will, hinting at a U.N. military operation. It said countries that evade the U.N. embargo against Iraq may themselves face secondary sanctions.

At a breakfast meeting with journalists Tuesday, British Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd remarked, ″I don’t see much in the way of next steps except against sanctions-busters.″

The presence of 13 foreign ministers among the council’s 15 member states underscored the determination of the international community to compel Iraq to quit Kuwait.

U.N. spokesman Francois Giuliani said it was the first time in the United Nations’ 45-year history so many foreign ministers attended a meeting to vote on a substantive issue.

On only three previous occasions have the foreign ministers of all five permanent members - the United States, the Soviet Union, Britain, China and France - attended a Security Council meeting.

″Rarely has the international community been so united and determined that aggression should not succeed,″ U.S. Secretary of State James A. Baker III told the council.

″Iraq has been quarantined because its brutal actions have separated it from the community of nations. There can be no business as usual. In fact, there can be no economic exchanges with Iraq at all.″

The Security Council earlier adopted a trade embargo against Iraq that includes a ban on air traffic. The new resolution makes the air embargo explicit and gives states the power to enforce it.

Cuba has said it is against any sanctions on Iraq.

Earlier resolutions authorized ships to implement a maritime embargo and to stop and search vessels that may be violating trade sanctions.

Other resolutions repudiated the annexation of Kuwait, demanded the release of hostages and condemned Iraqi raids on foreign missions in Kuwait.

Baker warned, ″Each day that Iraqi officials flout norms of elementary decency makes it that much more difficult for Iraq to resume its place in the international community.″

The resolution did not spell out the mechanics of implementation. Diplomats said lawyers would be studying the text.

Baker said the council puts Iraq on notice that continued failure to obey the international community could lead to further action under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which provides for U.N. military intervention.

Shevardnadze said earlier: ″This (Iraqi invasion) is a major affront to mankind. . . . The United Nations has the power to suppress acts of aggression. There is ample evidence that this right can be exercised. It will be, if the illegal occupation of Kuwait continues.″

The foreign ministers of all but Cuba and the Ivory Coast attended.

Beside the five permanent members with veto power, the council includes Canada, Colombia, Cuba, Ethiopia, Finland, Ivory Coast, Malaysia, Romania, Yemen and Zaire.

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