- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 4, 2003

The United Nations said yesterday that Iraq would submit a new report on VX nerve gas and anthrax stocks in a week, but the Bush administration insisted that only full and immediate disarmament can help Baghdad avert war.
"Iraq is not cooperating," White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer told reporters. "Despite whatever limited head fakes Iraq has engaged in, they continue to fundamentally not disarm."
According to the United Nations, Iraq scrapped an additional six of its banned al Samoud 2 missiles, whose range violates the 93-mile limit allowed by U.N. resolutions. Reports from Baghdad also indicated that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's regime sliced casting chambers, unearthed bombs and sent scientists to talk with weapons inspectors.
Chief inspectors Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei are scheduled to report to the Security Council on the inspection process Friday, in what some U.S. officials consider the last such briefing before a war decision is made.
Mr. Fleischer said Saddam, in an effort to get a positive report, was doing the bare minimum, "finding things that he said he never had and apparently destroying small amounts of things that he said he never possessed."
"How do you know this is not the mother of all distractions, diversions, so the world looks in one place, while he buries them in another?" Mr. Fleischer asked.
Even French President Jacques Chirac, who repeated his opposition yesterday to a new U.S.-backed U.N. Security Council resolution paving the way to war, said Baghdad must cooperate more actively with the inspectors.
"Iraq must do more, cooperate more, and do so more actively," Mr. Chirac said in his address to the Algerian parliament. "We must keep up the strong pressure in order to achieve, together and peacefully, the goal on which we are agreed: to eliminate weapons of mass destruction in Iraq."
Mr. Fleischer, asked whether a full disarmament by Saddam before any conflict would satisfy U.S. demands for a "regime change," said: "Let's first see him completely, totally and immediately disarm, and see if that takes place."
"Nobody should think, not even for a second, that military action could be possibly taken to disarm Saddam Hussein that would leave Saddam Hussein at the helm to rearm up later," he said. "No, that's not an option."
Both Mr. Fleischer and State Department spokesman Richard Boucher would neither confirm nor deny a London newspaper report during the weekend that the U.S. government was bugging the phones of Security Council members in New York, hoping to learn their intentions regarding the new resolution.
Soon after the inspectors' Friday report, the United States, Britain and Spain, all of whom tabled the new draft last week, are expected to put the text to a vote.
Guinea, a rotating council member and its president in March, said yesterday that it had not decided how to vote. Guinea is one of six swing votes in the tug of war between France and the United States.
"The government has not yet given its official position on this matter," Foreign Minister Francois Fall told Reuters news agency. "We are still waiting for the inspectors' report."

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