- The Washington Times - Friday, February 7, 2003

NEW YORK The chief U.N. weapons inspectors, a day after Secretary of State Colin L. Powell's presentation to the Security Council, told Iraq yesterday to expect a negative report next week unless there is a "drastic" improvement in its cooperation.
Such a report could be crucial in persuading council members to accept a second U.N. resolution whose wording is now being considered declaring Baghdad in material breach of its obligations and perhaps authorizing military action.
"Iraq is not cooperating fully. They need to show drastic change in terms of cooperation," said International Atomic Energy Agency head Mohamed ElBaradei during a London stopover on the way to Iraq.
"Our mission in Baghdad this weekend is crucial," he said of meetings that will include Hans Blix, chief of the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, also known as UNMOVIC. "We hope we will secure full, 100-percent cooperation on the part of Iraq."
Mr. Blix made a similar appeal for Iraqi cooperation.
"We hope at this late hour they will come to a positive response. If they do not, our reports next Friday will not be what we would like them to be," he said.
Hours later, an Iraqi arms expert for the first time submitted to a private interview with weapons inspectors, addressing a key complaint of Mr. Blix. A U.N. official said the interview with a biologist lasted more than 3 hours.
President Bush maintained the heat on Baghdad yesterday, pledging yet again to see Iraq rid of its weapons of mass destruction, with or without a new Security Council resolution.
"The United States would welcome and support a new resolution which makes clear that the Security Council stands behind its previous demands," Mr. Bush said.
"Yet resolutions mean little without resolve. And the United States, along with a growing coalition of nations, is resolved to take whatever action is necessary to defend ourselves and disarm the Iraqi regime."
The United States says the council's Nov. 8 resolution provides all the international approval needed for military action if Iraq does not cooperate with inspectors.
But many allies in Europe and the Middle East have said they will not join a military coalition that does not have the council's explicit authorization.
Britain, the closest U.S. ally on the council, has begun to draft a resolution that would declare Iraq in "further material breach" and may impose a final deadline for Iraq's compliance with its previous commitments.
British Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock said late on Wednesday that he wasn't worried about a veto from Russia, China or France permanent Security Council members who either oppose military action or feel it should be a last resort.
"I will take a risk. I do not think anybody is actually going to veto this time around out of the permanent members," he said on PBS' "The Charlie Rose Show."
Diplomats said yesterday that any deadline contained in a second resolution would be probably less than two weeks.
Mr. Powell, who on Wednesday offered the administration's most detailed analysis of Iraq's violations, said yesterday that a second resolution, while unnecessary in the U.S. view, would provide useful political cover for allies.
"Many members of the council would not only welcome it, but some of them would say we require one for participation in whatever might come, or to provide authority," he said. "We understand the traction of having a second resolution, and we'd welcome it, and we'll work toward one, if that's what comes to pass."
The draft probably would be circulated shortly after Mr. ElBaradei and Mr. Blix next report to the council, on Feb. 14.
The key to any second resolution remains the threat of a veto by France, which is still unconvinced of the need for war after Mr. Powell's address Wednesday.
"We refuse to think that war is inevitable," French President Jacques Chirac was quoted as saying. And the French ambassador to the United Nations, Jean-Marc de La Sabliere, repeated yesterday that "the time has not come" for a second resolution.
Germany, which holds the rotating chairmanship of the Security Council this month, backed France but was irked by a comment late Wednesday from Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who lumped it together with Cuba and Libya as opponents of military action.
German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer played down the remark during a visit to Rome, saying, "I didn't get the impression [in New York] that this is the position of the American government."
Mexico and South Africa which represent a large group of nonaligned nations are pushing for an open meeting on Iraq before Feb. 14, diplomats told the Associated Press, to allow for a public forum for dozens of countries that oppose war with Iraq.

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