Exactly a month after U.S. troops took Baghdad, the United States and Britain introduced an eight-page resolution — in which the U.S. and Britain acknowledge for the first time that they are "occupying powers" in Iraq — to the Security Council.
In it, they asked the United Nations to lift sanctions on Iraq and allow oil revenues to pay for reconstruction. Some council members, like Angola and Chile, welcomed the resolution, while Russia and France raised questions.
During a news conference with Gen. Tommy Franks, Rumsfeld referred to the authorization timeline as "just a review period" in the overall postwar plan.
"Anyone who thinks they know how long it's going to take is fooling themselves," Rumsfeld said. "It's not knowable."
Some 135,000 U.S. troops are still in Iraq.
In other developments:
The U.S. resolution would lift economic and trade sanctions imposed on Saddam's government after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, and phase out the oil-for-food program instituted in 1996 to help ordinary Iraqis cope with the embargoes. An arms embargo would be maintained.
Lifting sanctions immediately and phasing out oil-for-food over a four months will take Iraq's oil wealth out of the hands of the United Nations and put it under the control of Washington and London.
Under the resolution, the money from oil sales would be used for humanitarian goods, reconstruction, civil administration and the continued disarmament of Iraq.
Russia and France, however, have made their own postwar proposals. Both want U.N. inspectors involved, the oil-for-food program continued and no end to sanctions until a legitimate government is operating. France calls for sanctions to be suspended in the interim.
The U.S. draft resolution, however, makes no mention of U.N. weapons inspectors. U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte reiterated Thursday that the United States is conducting its own searches and sees no role for U.N. inspectors "for the foreseeable future."
The council faces a June 3 deadline, when the current six-month phase of the U.N. oil-for-food humanitarian program expires. The program has been reaching up to 90 percent of Iraq's 24 million people.
The resolution also would endorse the authority of the United States and Britain to govern Iraq — and it apparently foresees a lengthy stay.
In a letter to the Council president, the United States for the first time referred to its role in Iraq as an "occupying power," a status governed by the Geneva Conventions that would entail wide-ranging responsibilities to look after the Iraqi people. Until now, Washington has avoided the term, calling itself a "liberating force."
Under the proposal, the 12-month initial authorization for the U.S. and British "authority" in Iraq would be renewed automatically unless the Security Council decided otherwise.
Since the United States and Britain both have veto powers, they could block any attempt to get them to leave Iraq — which is likely to be deemed unacceptable by other council members.
The United States also could face opposition from council members that want the United Nations to have a major role in creating an interim government for Iraq.
The American draft calls on Annan to appoint a U.N. special coordinator to work with U.S. and British authorities and the Iraqi people to restore and establish "national and local institutions for representative governance."
The coordinator also would promote the delivery of humanitarian aid, the return of refugees, reconstruction, human rights, legal and judicial reform and rebuilding of an Iraqi police force.