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Iraq - Before the Next UN Report - 2003-03-06

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell is in New York at this hour, to consult with members of the United Nations Security Council just a day before Chief Weapons Inspector Hans Blix delivers his latest status report on the inspections in Iraq.

Amy Katz has more on the efforts to disarm Iraq and to get the Security Council to approve a new resolution, paving the way for the use of force to disarm Iraq.

Iraq continues to destroy its al-Samoud-Two missiles, scrapping 6 more on Thursday, complying with the demands of the UN’s top arms inspector, Hans Blix. On Wednesday, Dr. Blix said Baghdad has been more cooperative lately, but he said he has not been able to determine conclusively whether Iraq has accounted for all of its banned chemical and biological weapons, which it says were destroyed in 1991.

The U.S. believes Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein is still hiding weapons of mass destruction, which U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell says is a test of the effectiveness of the Security Council and of the will of the international community.

“Are we going to allow an individual such as Saddam Hussein to continue to develop these weapons of mass destruction or deceive us into believing that he isn’t when we know he is, because it’s too hard to face the consequences of dealing with the truth.”

Mr. Powell made the comments in testimony to lawmakers Thursday, before traveling to New York, where he meets with fellow foreign ministers from the Security Council, and is to attend the Friday Iraq briefing by Hans Blix.

But Mr. Powell seems to be facing an uphill battle, in convincing his counterparts that a new UN resolution is needed, authorizing the use of force to disarm Iraq.

In Beijing Thursday, the Chinese Foreign Minister told reporters that UN weapons inspectors are still working under the previous resolution to disarm Iraq, and it is not necessary right now to put that aside and introduce a new measure. He said his country supports the position taken by France, Russia and Germany, that they will not allow a new resolution.

Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw is in New York, trying to work out a compromise, so a new resolution, laying the groundwork for the use of force, could be approved.

In Baghdad Thursday, Saddam Hussein said if the U.S. launches military action against Iraq, U.S. President George W. Bush would be committing an act of, as put it, “absolute stupidity.”