- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 10, 2002

NEW YORK U.N. diplomats say the United States, under pressure not to act alone against Baghdad, is committed to pursuing a Security Council resolution that would lay the groundwork for a military action against Iraq.

Diplomats said yesterday they expect the Americans to seek a resolution that effectively sets an ultimatum for Baghdad to cooperate fully with international weapons inspections or risk the consequences.

They said it was not yet clear whether council members all of whom support the return of inspectors would go so far as to authorize a war.

"The common denominator is that we want the inspectors back," said one council envoy, confirming that work would begin on the draft after the U.N. general debate which President Bush will address on Thursday.

"There is plenty of sense that we need to increase the pressure to get the inspectors back, and we need to be very creative."

The council diplomat said that, judging from public statements, it is clear that some members would not accept a deadline or an explicit threat of military action.

"We will still need to discuss what happens if Iraq does not let the inspectors back, and how explicit you can be," he said.

The British are expected to draft the document, possibly in collaboration with the French. The work is not expected to begin until after the general debate ends on Sept. 20, several envoys said.

However, Iraq's intransigence and the possibility of a military assault are expected to dominate both the speeches from the podium and scores of private bilateral meetings scheduled for the next two weeks.

U.S. officials said most of the substantive discussions are being held in foreign capitals.

Mr. Bush and senior administration officials have repeatedly said that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein must go, by military force if necessary.

Mr. Bush will lay out the evidence against Iraq, including Saddam's efforts to build weapons of mass destruction, in his General Assembly speech. He will also meet with key leaders, as will Secretary of State Colin L. Powell.

The administration's demands for "regime change," made with increasing frequency and force over the past two months, have unnerved the Arab world and many of Washington's European and Mediterranean allies.

Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder are among Washington's closest allies who have publicly demanded that the United States act through U.N. channels against Iraq.

"My position is that I want him to go and have an international coalition, convince others @ the United Nations," Mr. Chretien told reporters yesterday after meeting with Mr. Bush in Detroit.

"We'll see on Thursday what he has to do what he has to say."

Mr. Chirac, in an interview published yesterday, repeated his government's refusal to participate in or condone any military action that has not won U.N. approval.

"As soon as one country claims the right to take preventative action, other countries will naturally do the same," Mr. Chirac told the New York Times in Paris. "If we go down that road, where are we going?"

Mr. Chirac suggested adopting a three-week deadline for Baghdad to admit inspectors again. After that, he said, the council could draft a separate resolution authorizing the use of force.

U.S. officials have heard the message, said diplomats, and will try to seek a new U.N. resolution.

The Clinton and Bush administrations have long claimed that no new council authorization is necessary after the scores of resolutions adopted since the Persian Gulf war calling on Iraq to cooperate with inspections as a matter of international peace and security.

"It's clear, from reading the papers and hearing comments from ministers, that people want to see this go through the U.N.," said one envoy.

Seeking council approval is "a win-win situation" for Washington, he said, because that means the United States "can't be accused of not trying to gain international support."

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan yesterday said the council should be involved.

"I think it is important to stress that the council, which has been seized with the Iraqi issue for so long, should have something to say," said Mr. Annan. "I think it is appropriate that the council pronounces itself on the issue."

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