U-S Secretary of State Colin Powell says the crisis over Iraq will be brought to a conclusion in a matter of weeks and indicated Washington could wage war against Iraq without a second U-N resolution.
Mr. Powell said the international community must soon decide what to do about Iraqi arms violations. He said the Security Council knew when it approved the Iraqi disarmament resolution last year that Baghdad would be subject to military action if it failed to comply.
Mr. Powell made the comments Thursday to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee -- one day after presenting what he called "irrefutable" evidence of Iraqi arms violations to the U-N Security Council. Iraq dismissed the report.
Mr. Powell told the senators a key to winning Security Council support for action against Iraq will be this week's trip to Baghdad by chief weapons inspectors Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The two are heading to the Iraqi capital with three demands: that Iraq pass a law forbidding any citizen to work with weapons of mass destruction, that U-2 spy planes be allowed to fly over suspected weapons sites and that Baghdad allow Iraqi scientists to be interviewed by weapons inspectors in private.
Mr. ElBaradei and Mr. Blix briefed British Prime Minister Tony Blair in London Thursday and expressed dissatisfaction with Iraq's disarmament efforts.
Mr. ElBaradei says Iraq needs to show a "drastic change" of attitude toward U-N inspectors before he and Mr. Blix report to the United Nations on February 14th.
Chief U-N inspector Hans Blix says he is not satisfied with all of Iraq's responses about its weaponry.
Thursday's developments came as the 101st Airborne Division of the U-S Army, one of the primary U-S ground force divisions, was ordered to the U-S Central Command area of operations -- which includes the Persian Gulf region.