- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 9, 2003

WASHINGTON, March 9 (UPI) — Secretary of State Colin Powell said Sunday that the United States had no plans to extend a March 17 deadline and would use "military force" if Iraq did not disarm by then.

In interviews with various television networks, Powell also that a French U.N. Security Council veto of the second resolution on Iraq would have "very serious" impact on Washington's relations with Paris.

Last week, the United States, Britain and Spain presented a resolution in the Security Council seeking its endorsement for the use of force to disarm Iraq and its leader Saddam Hussein. France, Russia and Germany oppose the use of force and France has indicated that it may use its veto to prevent a possible U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Powell said the new resolution clearly says that "by March 17th (Hussein) will be seen to have lost his last chance to comply and I think everyone knows what that means… it's time to force compliances with the use of military force."

He said the United States had "no plans to change" the deadline and so far "no one (even) has suggested" that it could be changed.

There are a lot of people, he said, who would like to "see this drag on and on" but not the United States.

Powell said if France vetoed the U.S. resolution on Iraq, it will have serious effect on France's relations with the United States.

"I think, it would be unfortunate if France were to veto this resolution, in the presence of a positive vote that would pass the resolution," Powell told Fox News.

"I think France would not be looked upon favorably in many parts of the world. I think it will have serious effect on bilateral relations at least in the short term," he added.

Powell said that of the 15 Security Council members, at least nine or 10 would vote in favor of the use of force against Iraq. But to achieve this target, he said, the United States would be engaged in "intense negotiations over the next couple of days.

"A lot of diplomacy will be taking place but I think we're in striking distance of nine or 10," Powell said.

Asked whether France still veto the second resolution if nine or 10 members voted for it, Powell said: "I would not be surprised if they vetoed because they've been pretty clear that they want to stop the resolution. I don't think they've hidden their hand on this one."

He said the United States expects the French to "do everything they can to stop it, possibly a veto even, though they haven't used the 'veto' word."

Asked what would be the U.S. reaction if Saddam complied with the terms of resolution by March 17, Powell said: I think it's very unlikely."

He said U.N. inspectors have given "a mixed report" on the Iraqi efforts to disarm, "with almost 200 pages showing all Saddam's misbehavior over the years…all the unanswered questions."

"For Saddam Hussein to stand up now and say 'I've complied' … would be outrageous."

He said that every member of the Security Council should be offended if "Saddam Hussein show's this brazen attitude to the international community."

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