By blocking access to presidential palaces, Iraq would seem to be in material breach of the cease-fire. Is it that simple? The problem is, not all Security Council members agree on the definition of material breach. One Russian representative to the United Nations said it would occur only if Iraq re-invaded Kuwait. Still, according to TIME U.N. correspondent Bill Dowell, the Security Council will likely pass a resolution confirming that Iraq is violating the cease-fire terms. That should make an attack easier to justify. "The Security Council agrees that Iraq should not be doing this whether you actually use the words 'material breach' or not," says Dowell.
Regardless of the opposition among certain Security Council members, international law indicates that spanking Saddam is perfectly legal. United Nations Resolution 687, passed on April 3, 1991, makes the Gulf War cease-fire contingent on Iraq's unconditional submission to the search for and destruction of its chemical and biological arms.