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News Briefs

Rift Grows Between United States, Some Allies

NEWSDAY -- WASHINGTON

The split between the United States and some of its allies widened Thursday as they battled over the meaning of news that Iraq has missiles with a longer range than allowed under United Nations sanctions.

On the eve of another report by U.N. weapons inspectors Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei, the United States and Britain say the finding by a U.N.-convened panel of arms experts shows that Iraq is in “material breach” of a Nov. 8 resolution ordering Baghdad to disarm or face “serious consequences.”

“This is a serious matter,” Secretary of State Colin Powell told the Senate Budget Committee Thursday. “It shows continued Iraqi noncompliance.”

In London, Prime Minister Tony Blair added that the existence of the missiles “would be not just a failure to declare and disclose weapons but a breach” of the U.N. resolution.

U.S. allies who oppose military action against Iraq disagreed. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Yuri Fedotov called the arms panel’s finding a “technical violation” that was a victory for the weapons inspection program. The missiles “should be regarded not as Iraq’s violation of its disarmament commitments, but as proof of its cooperation with the inspectors and the fact that the inspections are effective,” Fedotov said in New York.

President Bush, addressing troops at Mayport Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, Fla., showed little patience for such talk.

He urged the Security Council to show the “backbone and courage” to enforce the resolution and not “fade into history as an ineffective, irrelevant debating society.”

Administration officials also voiced displeasure with individual nations, particularly Germany, France and Belgium. The three NATO members have blocked a U.S. request for the alliance to aid Turkey should it come under attack by neighboring Iraq.

U.S., Britain Preparing Second Resolution on Iraq

LOS ANGELES TIMES -- UNITED NATIONS

Friday’s progress report to the U.N. Security Council by chief weapons inspectors Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei marks the beginning of the end of efforts to disarm Iraq though inspections, diplomats say.

The United States and Britain are prepared to present a second resolution declaring Iraq in “material breach” and authorizing military force as early as Saturday, but more likely early next week after a final round of lobbying of council members.

On Tuesday, the Security Council will allow delegates from the U.N.’s 191 members to express their views on whether Iraq has failed the tests of Security Council Resolution 1441, which was passed in November, to declare any weapons of mass destruction and to cooperate with inspectors to destroy them. The session, supported by Germany, which holds the presidency of the Security Council this month, amounts to a diplomatic filibuster, and could continue through Wednesday.

The inspectors are expected to report that while Iraq has shown more cooperation in recent days, it is still not enough for inspections to be effective. Blix might also describe Iraq’s refusal to destroy Al-Samoud 2 ballistic missiles that a panel of international experts found to exceed U.N.-imposed limits of 93 miles, as a violation of Resolution 1441.

House Passes Bill to Require More Welfare Recipients to Find Jobs

NEWSDAY -- WASHINGTON

Saying they hope to build on the success of the 1996 welfare overhaul, House lawmakers passed a measure Thursday that would require more recipients to find jobs and work longer hours.

The bill, which passed 230-192 in the Republican-controlled House, is similar to one approved last year. That measure, however, died in the Senate.

The House rejected two Democratic welfare measures, including one proposed by Rep. Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.) that would provide more money for child care, allow states to provide more education and training, and require recipients to work fewer hours than proposed in the Republican measure.

A more intense battle is expected in the Senate, where lawmakers are likely to debate child care funding, work requirements and controversial issues such as whether to fund programs to promote marriage and sexual abstinence and to provide benefits for legal immigrants. Unlike last year, Republicans now control the Senate by a slim majority.

The House bill, modeled after President Bush’s proposal, would require recipients to work 40 hours a week, up from 30 hours. It would also require states to increase from 50 percent to 70 percent within five years the number of recipients who must be working.