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U.S. push for Bosnia arms set

Published Oct. 8, 2005

The United States will propose an automatic lifting of the U.N. arms embargo against Bosnia if there is no settlement of the war in six months, Secretary of State Warren Christopher said Friday.

However, the U.S. proposal, expected to be circulated by the end of next week, may not even get enough votes in the Security Council to force opponents to exercise their veto power, diplomats said.

While the Muslim-led Bosnian government gets secret shipments of small arms, it wants the embargo lifted to purchase heavy weapons such as tanks for its battle against the Serbs. However, the government fears withdrawal of U.N. peacekeepers if the embargo is lifted now and prefers it be done next spring.

President Clinton said the United States would not act on its own to arm the Bosnians if the resolution failed.

The administration had promised Congress to propose a lifting of the embargo against the Bosnian government by Oct. 15. Subsequently, Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic suggested a six-month delay.

France and Britain, which have peacekeepers in Bosnia, have resisted U.S. pleas to lift the embargo. Russia, with historic ties to the Serbs, also has raised objections.