Britain has presented an amendment to a U.N. resolution that would have the United Nations Security Council set a new deadline for Iraq to disarm or face war.
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw told a meeting of the 15-member Security Council Friday in New York that it must increase the pressure on Saddam Hussein and send him a clear message that the crisis will be resolved on the Security Council's terms.
But shortly after Mr. Straw put forth the proposal, French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin - whose country has veto power in the council - told reporters that France will not allow a resolution to pass that allows the use of force. He said the council should hold a meeting at the heads-of-state level to vote on the U.S. sponsored resolution.
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell dismissed the French minister's suggestion, telling reporters he did not see a need for a meeting at that level. He added that the United States will seek a vote on the amended draft resolution next week. Earlier, Mr. Powell told the U.N. Security Council that Iraq's performance on disarmament is "still a catalog of non-cooperation" and Iraq's actions do not constitute full and immediate cooperation, as set out in resolution 1441.
The United States, Britain and other allies on the Security Council still face strong opposition to a second amendment authorizing war if Iraq fails to comply with U.N. disarmament demands. The foreign ministers from permanent members France, Russia and China called today for more inspections, saying progress is being made. Council member Germany also said in light of inspections progress, it would not support a second resolution.
In a report delivered at the opening of Friday's session, chief United Nations weapons inspector Hans Blix said that Iraq has made "substantial" progress in real disarmament, but is not in full compliance with U.N. demands. Mr. Blix said even with Iraq's new cooperative attitude, inspection results cannot be instant and inspectors will still need several months to do their jobs.
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said Mr. Blix's report was "much of the same", meaning Iraq has not disarmed. International Atomic Energy Agency Chief Mohamed ElBaradei told the Security Council his teams have conducted more than 200 nuclear inspections in Iraq, but have found no evidence to indicate that Baghdad has revived its nuclear weapons program.
Meanwhile, Iraq's ambassador to the U.N. Mohammed Al-Douri told the council that the entire world, with a handful of exceptions, wants to see the Security Council fulfill its task of protecting peace and security.