AMMAN, Jordan -- Five weeks after the United States and it allies drove Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's army from Kuwait, Iraq said yesterday that it will accept United Nations terms for a formal cease-fire in the Persian Gulf war.
In accepting the conditions, the National Assembly in Baghdad, which follows Mr. Hussein's dictates, called the arrangement "unjust," but it acknowledged that Iraq had little choice if it was to avert further degradation.
The message of Iraqi acceptance was delivered in New York to the offices of the U.N. secretary-general and to the chairman of the Security Council by the Iraqi representative at the United Nations, Abdul Amir al-Anbari. He told reporters that Iraq
accepted the terms "without conditions" but added that he considered the resolution "one-sided and unfair."
[Kuwait's ambassador to the United Nations, Mohammad Abulhasan, said he was worried the letter contains too many conditions and said he will ask the Security Council to reject it, the Associated Press reported. Mr. Abulhasan did not specify what problems he had with the Iraqi letter.]
Under the terms of the resolution, adopted Wednesday, the Iraqi acceptance automatically activates a permanent cease-fire between the opponents in the gulf war. But the Pentagon did not immediately issue orders to U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf region proclaiming a formal end to hostilities.
A White House spokesman, Roman Popadiuk, said the Bush administration was waiting for formal notification from the United Nations.
The Iraqi acceptance clears the way for a series of steps to ensure the peace. Those include the establishment of a U.N. peacekeeping force, the destruction of Iraq's biological and chemical weapons and its long-range missiles, and the payment of Iraqi reparations to Kuwait for damage suffered after the invasion Aug. 2.
The acceptance sets in motion the 120-day timetable for carrying out those steps -- spelled out in Security Council Resolution 687, the measure adopted Wednesday.
Following the schedule, Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar presented a plan yesterday for sending a U.N. military observer force to monitor a demilitarized zone along the Iraq-Kuwait border.
As soon as the secretary-general certifies that this force has been successfully deployed, Resolution 687 provides for the allies to complete their withdrawal from the zone they occupy in southern Iraq.
U.N. officials said that they expected the Security Council to approve the proposed force tomorrow or Tuesday.
Yesterday's action in Baghdad will also clear the way for the eventual end to the economic embargo against Iraq.
The formal acceptance of the cease-fire comes a day before Secretary of State James A. Baker III is to arrive in the Middle
East for a new round of talks with regional leaders.
The Iraqi acceptance is a major diplomatic milestone in the campaign begun by the United States and its allies last August to expel Iraqi forces from Kuwait and strip Mr. Hussein of the military power that made his army the most feared in the Arab world.
But the allied campaign against Mr. Hussein has not ended the Iraqi leader's hold on power. He still appears firmly in control, and his army has apparently quashed rebellions by Kurds in the north of Iraq and Shiite Muslim dissidents in the south.
The vote in the 250-seat Iraqi parliament accepting the Security Council resolution was said by Iraqi officials to be 160-31, although the numbers, like the assembly itself, represent little more than window-dressing for decisions of the the Supreme Revolutionary Command Council, which met under Mr. Hussein's chairmanship last night.
"While declaring that this resolution is unjust, they have found there was no other choice than to accept it in order to defeat the American-Zionist plot," said parliamentary Speaker Saadi Mehdi Saleh, referring to what Baghdad depicts as an American and Israeli plot to destroy Iraq.
Drawing on Koranic texts, he said, "We must sometimes, for our own good, accept that which displeases us."
The allied air war that preceded the ground offensive into Iraq and Kuwait in late February destroyed much of Iraq's infrastructure -- including roads, bridges, oil refineries, water-purification plants, electricity-generating stations and communications networks.
To rebuild them and thus try to restore the regime's credibility, Iraq needs to free itself of the economic and other sanctions imposed after Baghdad's invasion of Kuwait.
But Security Council Resolution 687 makes economic regeneration conditional on the destruction of Baghdad's chemical, biological and nuclear weapons potential under U.N. supervision.
Until those capabilities are destroyed, the trade embargo remains in force.