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U.S., Britain Soon to Present Council Disarmament Policy

By Maggie Farley

and Robin Wright
LOS ANGELES TIMES -- UNITED NATIONS

The United States and Britain will present a resolution to the Security Council “in the next few working days” authorizing force to disarm Iraq along with a deadline for the council to vote on it, U.S. and British officials said Wednesday.

British Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock said that the draft resolution also would set a cutoff date for Iraq’s compliance, “implicitly or explicitly” to force the Security Council to limit how much longer inspections should continue without Baghdad’s full cooperation.

The resolution, which the administration had been expected to unveil days ago, has been held up by haggling between the United States and its key partner Britain on its timing and the content, as well as the growing antiwar movement worldwide and opposition within the Security Council.

Diplomats said that even this week’s East Coast massive storm slowed the pace, with officials slogging through snow-covered streets to reach a secure location to discuss the language.

But after a 30-minute phone conversation between President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Wednesday, they agreed that a new resolution should compel the council to take action sooner rather than later.

The three basic elements of the proposed resolution are that Iraq is in material breach; that it was given one final chance and failed to fully comply, which amounts to a further breach; and that it is time for members of the international community to move forward with the “serious consequences” spelled out in Resolution 1441, which returned weapons inspectors to Iraq late last year, U.S. officials said Wednesday.

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell urged Germany and the veto-holding council members who oppose war -- France, Russia and China -- not to be “afraid” to take responsibility for enforcing the U.N. resolutions that call on Iraq to disarm.

“It cannot be a satisfactory solution for inspections just to continue forever because some nations are afraid of stepping up to the responsibility of imposing the will of the international community,” Powell said in an interview with Radio France released Wednesday by the State Department.

Powell confirmed that the process will continue to unfold until chief weapons inspector Hans Blix makes another progress report at the end of the month -- and, he hinted, possibly once again in mid-March. But the United States is reluctant to make a decision on a further report from the inspectors, as the French have demanded, until it finds out what the next report concludes, he said.

“We can’t just keep meeting as foreign ministers to listen to reports about how Iraq is thinking about cooperating or is cooperating on process,” Powell told Radio France. “It is not process that we are looking for. It is compliance.”

The White House said Wednesday that the tone and content of the resolution are not “finally settled” and that Bush will work closely with allies to press for a resolution that will satisfy the common denominator on the deeply divided Security Council.

The goal is a “straightforward, simple resolution that enforces Resolution 1441,” White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said.