President Saddam Hussein has rejected a U-S ultimatum to go into exile or face war, as the United Nations ordered its employees to leave Iraq.
Iraq's foreign minister announced the rejection late Monday, after Iraqi television quoted President Saddam as saying that although his country once possessed weapons of mass destruction, it has no such weapons now.
President Bush prepared to address the nation later Monday on the prospects for war against Iraq, after a White House spokesman said "the diplomatic window is closed".
Meanwhile, numerous countries ordered their embassies closed and their employees to come home. The United States and Britain pulled non-essential diplomats from Kuwait and Israel. Iraqi civilians began migrating from northern cities toward the Kurdish enclave in the northern part of the country protected by U-S and British air patrols.
At the United Nations, the United States, Britain and Spain said they would not seek approval of a U-N resolution that would authorize force against Iraq, amid certainty it would be vetoed by U-N Security Council members France, Russia and China. U-S Secretary of State Colin Powell said the Iraq crisis was a test that the U-N Security Council did not meet. But he said the United Nations is an important institution that will survive.
France said late Monday it regretted the decision by the United States and others to abandon diplomacy and warned that military action will cause"serious consequences" for the Middle East and the rest of the world.
In Britain, the leader of the ruling Labor Party in the House of Commons -- Robin Cook -- resigned in disagreement with his government's support of military action in Iraq.