- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 5, 2002

The United Nation's chief weapons inspector said yesterday he saw a "growing convergence" of international support for a tough new resolution on Iraq, as Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said pressure was the only way to force Saddam Hussein to comply with demands to disarm.
Hans Blix, who heads the effort to monitor and destroy Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, said he would welcome a new U.N. resolution. He commented after private talks with Mr. Powell, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz.
"The Security Council resolution now being discussed is one that I think we would welcome," Mr. Blix said. "It could clarify further matters and it will also place before the Iraqis clearly the need to give a clear declaration of what they have."
Mr. Powell said he is "optimistic" but refused to give a time frame for getting a single new resolution through the still-divided Security Council. Pressure on Iraq, he said following an hourlong meeting with Mr. Blix, is essential.
Iraqi officials "are not doing this out of the goodness of their hearts or because suddenly they realized they had to come clean," Mr Powell said. "And one resolution keeps that pressure on."
Mr. Blix was accompanied to Washington by Mohammed El Baradei, who heads the Austria-based International Atomic Energy Agency, charged with monitoring Iraq's nuclear programs.
U.S. diplomacy appeared to make some headway yesterday in the bid to halt the return of U.N. inspectors until the Security Council approved a tough new mandate for the mission.
After Mr. Blix's briefing to the 15 members of the Security Council Thursday, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan yesterday seconded Mr. Blix's comment that it would be "awkward" for the inspection team to return to Iraq while the Security Council was rewriting its mission.
"As the Council is discussing further guidance, it would be appropriate for [Mr. Blix] to know that further guidance before he resumes, and I hope that will be forthcoming shortly," Mr. Annan said.
Council members say they must complete the text of a new resolution by the middle of this month to avoid delaying the inspectors' return.
"We think, want, expect, hope that the resolution will be done before that," said a French official at the United Nations. "We also hope it will be by consensus."
A senior Bush administration official said four of the 10 nonpermanent members of the Security Council spoke at Thursday's closed-door session in favor of a new U.N. resolution, and the official said the Bush administration expects many more to support a new mandate.
But agreement among the Council's five veto-wielding powers the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China remained elusive yesterday, with France and Russia still resisting the U.S. proposal for a single new resolution backed by a strong threat of force if Iraq resists.
Russia has questioned the need for any new resolution, while France has pushed for a two-step approach, with a first resolution defining the mission of the inspectors and a second, if needed, to authorize force if Saddam Hussein fails to comply.
A French "concept paper" obtained by The Washington Times backs the U.S.-British demand for immediate and unhindered access to all sites, people and information in Iraq sought by the international inspection team.
But the French proposal calls on the Security Council only to "convene immediately, in order to consider any measure to ensure full compliance," if Iraq defies the first resolution.
By contrast, the U.S.-British text warns Baghdad that any false statements, omissions or other acts of noncompliance "authorizes member-states to use all means necessary to restore international peace and security in the area."
Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri began yet another diplomatic tour of the region, seeking to rally opposition to a prospective U.S.-led military strike. Mr. Sabri, who traveled to Iran earlier this week, arrived yesterday in Manama, Bahrain, and will travel on to Oman.

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