Britain says it is trying to work out a compromise to gain U.N. Security Council approval of a new resolution that would lay the groundwork for the use of military force against Iraq.
Reports indicate the compromise might allow Iraq a little more time to disarm peacefully, but will set a final deadline for Iraq to comply or face military action. The United States said Thursday it is open to modifying the resolution.
The move toward a compromise comes after France, Russia and China said they will oppose any U.N. resolution calling for war against Iraq. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell consults Thursday with officials from other Security Council members, ahead of Friday's crucial report on U.N. weapons inspections in Iraq.
In a policy speech Wednesday in Washington, Mr. Powell said Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has still not made a strategic decision to disarm, and that he is trying to divide the international community. Mr. Powell said U.S. intelligence information shows that the Baghdad government is actively concealing weapons from U.N. inspectors.
Iraq worked on destroying six more of its banned al-Samoud 2 missiles Thursday, as demanded by U.N. inspectors. But President Saddam says there is no justification for the United Nations order to destroy the missiles. In another development, the United States has ordered the expulsion of two members of Iraq's U.N. mission by Friday. The State Department says the two Iraqis, described as attaches, were engaged in activities harmful to the security of the United States. It says the activities were outside their official duties - a term that in diplomatic language usually refers to spying. Iraq's U.N. ambassador, Mohammed al-Douri, says the two men are security personnel at the mission.
Meanwhile, U.S. and British warplanes Thursday attacked two air defense targets about 400 kilometers west of Baghdad. Military officials said warplanes also dropped hundreds of thousands of leaflets over 11 locations southeast of the Iraqi capital.