The United States and Iraq agreed today on the text for a draft Security Council resolution that condemns Israel's attack on Iraq's nuclear reactor. The language is perhaps the hardshest ever endorsed by Washington for a U.N. resolution addressed to Israel.
While the text criticizes the attack, it makes no reference to sanctions against Israel. As a result, the United States is to join the other 14 council members in what will probably be unanimous adoption at a meeting scheduled for Friday morning.
The compromise resolution emerged from three days of intense negotiation between U.S. Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick and Iraqi Foreign Minister Saadoun Hammadi -- neither of whom would comment on the accord.
The fact that agreement could be reached was widely regarded here as a triumph for U.S. diplomacy that could ease much of the strain between Washington and the Arab world caused by the June 7 destruction of the Osirak reactor near Baghdad by U.S.-made Israeli jets.
The resolution declares that the Israeli attack threatens the international system of safeguards against nuclear proliferation and calls on Israel to place its nuclear facilities under these safeguards of the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency.
Although Iraq has shield away from any call for payment of damages, the resolution "considers" that it is entitled to "redress."
It also calls on the Israelis to refrain from such acts in the future and reaffirms the right of Iraq and all nations to a program of nuclear technology. But in addition to removing even the most oblique reference to sanctions, the United States, according to sources familiar with the negotiations, was able to dispose of phrases censuring Israel and calling the raid an aggressive act.
One indication of the achievement was the pique of the Soviets, who demanded a one-day delay in voting. "They can't be very happy about this new love affair between America and Iraq," said an Arab delegate.
The Iraqis have been edging away from Moscow in recent months, but relations with Washington has been broken since the 1967 Middle East war. Baghdad initially criticized the U.S. role in supplying Israel with the arms used in the attack.
For this reason, most diplomats had assumed when the council debate began one week ago that Iraq would want to isolate the United States and force it to veto a resolution demanding an arms embargo against Israel.
Much of the credit for the accord is being given Kirkpatrick even by those who have criticized her in the past as unwilling to deal with Third World diplomats. One such critic said, "She did a beautiful job all week -- the timing, the substance, all of it."
Another participant in the talks said, "She was amazing. She charmed and persuaded, and Hammadi -- a tough customer -- was genuinely impressed. The chemistry was there."
The final obstacle reportedly was overcome at their meeting this morning when Iraq and the United States agreed to drop a paragraph on which neither could accept the other's wording.
The Israelis, who had been informed of the text and the tentative agreement just before the announcement, withheld public comment. Privately, some Israeli diplomats recognized the value of the differences between the final text and its even harsher alternatives.
"Perhaps Prime Minister [Menachem] Begin and the American Jewish organizations will protest the American vote tomorrow," one Israeli source said. "But you do that because you have to. You know in your heart it could have been worse. We would have preferred an American veto, but whether it was realistic is another story."
The Israelis, however, joined U.N. officials and many diplomats in calculating that the overall tone of the resolution is the harshest stricture on Israel that the United States has endorsed here.
Even the controversial resolution adopted on March 1, 1980, which was later disavowed by President Carter, merely "deplored" Israel's actions in the occupied Arab Territory.
That resolution was viewed by Israel as undermining a vital position on Jerusalem and on recognition of Palestinian rights. The current text, through far stronger in its tone, provides no major departures from past American policy.
The call for "redress," for example was identical to language used in a resolution condemning an Israeli raid on the Beirut airport in 1968.