- The Washington Times - Monday, March 17, 2003

UNITED NATIONS, March 17 (UPI) — The United States and its allies are no longer seeking a vote on a U.N. resolution authorizing force if Iraq does not disarm, opening the way for war against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

Jeremy Greenstock, the British representative to the U.N., said the countries who tabled the draft resolution in the Security Council — the United States, Britain, and Spain — "reserve the right to take their own steps" to disarm Baghdad.

Almost simultaneously with Greekstock's announcement, the White House announced that President Bush would address the nation at 8 p.m. EST. The announcement heightened the likelihood among diplomats that the United states was on the brink of war.

The White House said Bush, in his speech, would say that Saddam must leave Iraq to avoid military confrontation.

Without mentioning France, Greenstock said the resolution was withdrawn because one country had said it would veto the resolution. France is one of five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council with power of veto. The others are Russia, China, Britain and the United States.

President Jacques Chirac has said all along that France would oppose the U.S.-British-Spanish draft resolution and favored giving the U.N. weapons inspectors in Iraq more time.

The French representative to the U.N. Jean-Marc de la Sabliere, told reporters minutes later that as late as Sunday night "the majority" of members of the Security Council has "confirmed that they did not want war."

Greenstock's announcement came as something of a surprise to observers following Sunday's summit in the Azores islands. At the end of his 90-minute meeting with leaders of his closest allies — Britain, Spain and Portugal — when Bush said, "Tomorrow is the day that we will determine whether or not diplomacy can work."

Not seeking a vote was always an option for the United States and its allies. Observers had said the Bush administration had never been keen on a second resolution and had agreed to it to help British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who is perceived to be in deep political trouble at home.

However, the second thought was that — as Secretary of State Colin Powell said Monday — "no further purpose would be served by pushing this resolution."

This was because the Bush administration became convinced that the resolution was dead in the water for two reasons. First, it didn't have the required nine votes in the 15-member council. second, because France remained adamant in its determination to exercise its veto.

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