- The Washington Times - Monday, February 24, 2003

BEIJING The Bush administration plans to give the U.N. Security Council a "short" period of time to decide whether to adopt a new Iraq resolution after the chief weapons inspectors' next report to the council on March 7, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said yesterday.
Mr. Powell, who will try in Beijing today to persuade China not to veto such a resolution, also suggested that other council members might join the United States and Britain when they introduce the document in the next couple of days.
Senior administration members are fanning out to the capitals of other key Security Council members, warning their leaders they risk "paying a heavy price" if they fail to vote with the United States, the Associated Press reported.
Iraqi officials said yesterday they were studying "in a serious and comprehensive way" a demand from chief inspector Hans Blix for the destruction of its al-Samoud 2 missiles, which have been found to exceed their permitted range by about 30 miles.
"We hope that this issue will be resolved through agreement and cooperation and without interference from the Americans and the British," said Iraqi Gen. Husam Mohammad Amin. Iraq arranged a test-firing for the inspectors yesterday to try to disprove claims that the al-Samoud 2 exceeds the allowed range of about 93 miles.
Mr. Powell, speaking to reporters in Tokyo before he flew to Beijing yesterday, said the United States, "working with the United Kingdom and other nations, would be tabling a resolution sometime early [this] week."
Referring to the resolution unanimously approved Nov. 8, he said the new resolution "will ask the United Nations to take note of the fact … that Iraq is not taking advantage of the one last chance given to it by U.N. Resolution 1441."
"It isn't going to be a long period of time from the tabling of the resolution until a judgment is made as to whether the resolution is ready to be voted on or not," he said.
In a hint that President Bush may have to decide on military action around or soon after the middle of March, Mr. Powell appeared to attach considerable importance to the next report by the U.N. inspectors, Hans Blix and Mohamad ElBaradei, expected on March 7.
"I would assume that once [they have] made that report, everybody will have one last opportunity to make a judgment," he said. "And shortly after that, judgment will have to be made as to what the Security Council should do."
Washington and London need nine votes to pass the resolution, but so far only Spain and Bulgaria, two of the 10 rotating council members, have expressed support. The other three permanent members with veto power France, Russia and China have said that war is premature, and that inspections should continue.
China plays a significant role in Bush administration strategy, which is to secure the votes of seven non-permanent members and then dare Paris, Moscow and Beijing to veto the resolution.
Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman and Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations Kim Holmes recently visited another council member, Mexico, whose diplomats complained of a hostile tone from the Americans.
"They actually told us: 'Any country that doesn't go along with us will be paying a very heavy price,'" one told the Associated Press.
Assistant Secretary of State Walter Kansteiner was diverted from a trip to South Africa to meet with the leaders of non-permanent members Angola, Guinea and Cameroon, all of which rely heavily on foreign aid.
"In Africa, the message is simple: Time is running out and we think they should support us," said one U.S. diplomat, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The Bush administration has recruited the leaders of Britain, Australia and Spain to help push for votes.
"The order from the White House was to use 'all diplomatic means necessary,'" another U.S. diplomat told AP. "And that really means everything."
In Damascus, Syrian Foreign Minister Farouq Shara issued a statement yesterday saying he had turned down a telephoned request from Mr. Powell to support the resolution.
And in London, a spokesman said Prime Minister Tony Blair called Moscow to lobby Russian President Vladimir Putin, who had sent former Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov to Baghdad on an unexpected mission. Officials said Mr. Primakov delivered a message but would not say what it was.
Mr. Powell had meetings scheduled today with Chinese President Jiang Zemin, Vice President and Communist Party leader Hu Jintao and Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan, senior U.S. officials said yesterday.
"He expects to discuss how the Security Council can stand by its resolutions to disarm Iraq," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said. "He will consult with the Chinese on the new U.N. resolution."


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