- The Washington Times - Monday, February 10, 2003

LONDON The United States and Britain are drawing up plans to give Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein as little as 48 hours to flee Baghdad or face war if U.N. weapons inspectors report this week that he is still refusing to disarm fully.
The proposals will form the framework of a long-awaited second resolution, which could be put before the U.N. Security Council by the weekend.
The deadline would be just long enough for Arab neighbors to make a last effort to persuade Saddam to leave the country, according to U.S. officials, or for a coup to take place. The shortest time frame to emerge from diplomatic discussions has been two days.
The phrasing of the new, deliberately concise U.N. resolution would deny Saddam another chance to say that he will comply with Security Council demands. Britain will put forward the resolution because Washington "does not want to be seen to need it," according to a senior council diplomat at the United Nations.
British Foreign Ministry officials confirmed that Saudi Arabia has offered to take Saddam if he goes into exile. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said last month that he would be "delighted" if Saddam fled Iraq.
"To avoid a war, I would personally recommend that some provision be made so that the senior leadership and their families could be provided haven in some other country," he said.
The passage of the new resolution would require the support of nine of the 15 council members, assuming France, China or Russia do not exercise their veto power. U.S. and British officials say they do not expect a unanimous vote in its favor but are confident a veto could be avoided.
"The resolution being discussed would declare that Saddam is in material breach of U.N. resolutions, which authorizes the use of all necessary means to disarm him," a senior council diplomat said.
The United States and Britain are, however, determined to avoid language in the new resolution that would enable Saddam to delay disarmament further. "The last thing they want is a decision which just starts the process toward another decision," the diplomat said.
France, Germany, Russia and China favor giving inspectors more time, raising the possibility of a showdown on Friday, when the Security Council meets to hear the latest report from Hans Blix, the chief weapons inspector.
While U.N. inspectors have now been granted private access to many Iraqi scientists, one of their prime targets an English-trained expert who used to run Saddam's lethal biological weapons program said she would not talk to them.
In an exclusive interview with the British Broadcasting Corp., Rihab Taha, who studied at the University of East Anglia and is known as "Dr. Germ," said she does not trust the inspectors. "It is a human right that if you don't want to speak to anyone, no one will oblige you or force you," she said.
Speaking of her work on biological weapons, Mrs. Taha added: "It is our right to have a capability to defend ourselves and to have something as a deterrent."
Getting a second resolution would be a relief for British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who will appeal for support at a conference of his Labor Party in Glasgow on Sunday the day after mass anti-war rallies there and in London.
He is facing serious rebellion from Labor constituencies. One party leader said: "We are getting in a huge amount of motions opposing the war."

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