- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 6, 2003

Britain Thursday said there was a "possibility" to amend the so-called war resolution to break the diplomatic deadlock at the U.N. Security Council, and President Bush said the United States would force a vote on the issue even if it did not have enough support to pass.

The comments came a day before chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix was scheduled to deliver an update on Iraqi disarmament to the 15-member council, and as Iraq said it had destroyed six surface-to-surface missiles that the world body has deemed illegal.

In a news conference at U.N. headquarters, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw was asked about reports amendments were being considered to the draft tabled Feb. 24. He said Britain was open to suggestions on the resolution.

"There is certainly a possibility of an amendment and that's something we are looking at," he said.

In Washington, Bush said the United States was in the "final stages" of diplomatic efforts to disarm Saddam.

He said the United States would seek a vote "to see people stand up and say what their opinion is about Saddam Hussein and the utility of the United Nations Security Council."

"No matter what the whip count is, we're calling for a vote," he said. "It's time for people to show their cards, let the world know where they stand when it comes to Saddam."

Six elected members of the council — Angola, Cameroon, Chile, Guinea, Mexico and Pakistan - are undecided about how they will vote and Straw's move is see as a bid to win them over.

The five permanent, veto-wielding members of the Security Council are split on how to disarm Saddam. The United States and Britain say the Iraqi leader has had enough time to disarm and favor a military approach. France, Russia and China favor more inspections.

France, Germany and Russia, supported by China, have offered a "memorandum," rather than a formal resolution, that calls for establishing a "program of action" for inspectors setting out remaining tasks; reinforcing inspections; asking for timelines for inspections and an assessment, in effect giving Baghdad at least four more months to comply.

The diplomatic maneuvering comes a day before Blix, head of the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, was scheduled to deliver an update on Iraqi disarmament to the council. He was to be accompanied by Executive Director Mohammed ElBaradei of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy.

Their presentation is expected to highlight Iraq's dismantling of several dozen al-Samoud 2 missiles, deemed by UNMOVIC experts to have the capability of exceeding the 92-mile limit imposed by the council.

The presentation will be attended by foreign ministers of each of the permanent five seats, five others among the rotating seats, two deputy foreign ministers and three permanent representatives to the United Nations.

Also Thursday, chief U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard told reporters there have been "numerous violations of the demilitarized zone between Iraq and Kuwait since March 4 by personnel in civilian clothes, in four-by-four vehicles, at least some of who were armed and identified themselves as U.S. Marines"

In Baghdad Thursday, Iraq said it had destroyed six al Samoud 2 missiles, increasing to 34 the number of such rockets destroyed since Saturday.

An Information Ministry spokesman said the operation was supervised by UNMOVIC inspectors. The spokesman said more missiles would be destroyed Friday, but did not say how many. Blix has said Iraq has 120 such missiles.

UNMOVIC and IAEA inspectors also searched nine sites Thursday suspected of producing weapons of mass destruction. Two were two factories run by Iraq's department of military industries and a private company in a Baghdad neighborhood.

Nuclear experts conducted a survey of the region of Husseinieh, 16 miles east of Baghdad, and a chemical inspection team surveyed a gas factory in the oil city of Kirkouk, 180 miles north of the capital.

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