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Britain: New UN Resolution on Iraq Should Contain Threat of Force - 2002-09-25

Britain says any new U.N. resolution on resuming weapons inspections in Iraq will have to contain the threat of the use of military force if Baghdad does not cooperate. A resolution is being drafted and could be presented to the U.N. Security Council this week.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw says there are intensive private negotiations going on at the United Nations to hammer out a new U.N. resolution on arms inspections in Iraq.

He said there are detailed discussions under way between Britain and the United States on drafting the resolution. When this is concluded, he said consultations will begin with the other three permanent members of the Security Council, and then the 10 non-permanent members.

Mr. Straw told British radio it is not true that Washington favors a more aggressive military posture against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein than does London.

"Our priority, our strategy of choice, and this is also the strategy of choice of the United States, is to achieve this by peaceful means," Mr. Straw said. " By getting those weapons inspectors in. By assuring they have the clearest possible powers to do their job."

But Mr. Straw said the new U.N. resolution should leave no doubt that military action will follow if Iraq interferes with the U.N.'s search for weapons of mass destruction.

"In order to have any chance of resolving this matter by peaceful means, we have to make it clear to the Iraqis early and up front that if they don't resolve it by peaceful means, then they will face the use of force," he said. "And that is obviously something which we are trying to factor into the resolution before the United Nations."

On Tuesday, the British government published a report detailing Iraq's capability to deploy chemical and biological weapons, and its efforts to develop nuclear weapons. Later Tuesday, a senior Iraqi official said Iraq is willing to allow U-N weapons inspectors back in, without restriction, in order to discredit the British report.

Iraq had to let weapons inspections begin in 1991 as a condition for ending the Gulf war, when Iraqi troops were expelled from Kuwait. The inspections ended in 1998, when Britain and the United States bombed Iraq after complaints that Iraq was not letting the inspectors do their work.

In another development, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder met late Tuesday to discuss Iraq policy. Mr. Schroeder narrowly won re-election on Sunday in a campaign that heavily criticized the possibility of U.S. military action in Iraq.