U-S Secretary of State Colin Powell says the United Nations must begin considering serious consequences for Iraq following the latest status report on its required disarmament.
Mr. Powell told other members of the U-N Security Council on Friday Iraq is playing tricks on the world body and not cooperating to disarm. White House officials said President Bush remains hopeful Iraq will disarm on its own, averting the need for force.
Earlier, chief inspector Hans Blix said Iraq has not accounted for many suspected weapons it was ordered to destroy.
Meanwhile, International Atomic Energy Agency head Mohamed ElBaradei said inspectors have found no evidence Iraq is pursuing a nuclear weapons program. Mr. ElBaradei also called an Iraqi presidential decree issued on Friday banning weapons of mass destruction a step in the right direction. But the White House says it does not see any credibility in the decree.
Other members of the Security Council with veto power -- France, China and Russia -- called for the inspections to continue. France says war is not yet justified and that a meeting of foreign ministers should be held on March 14th to review the matter.
Britain said Iraqi President Saddam Hussein needs to quickly change his attitude if war is to be avoided.
Iraqi ambassador to the United Nations Mohammed Aldouri said there has been no material breach of U-N resolutions. He said Iraq has nothing to hide. Mr. Aldouri said his country has, in his words, "proactively" cooperated with the inspectors.