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Blix Tells UN Iraq Has Made Substantial Progress in Disarming - 2003-03-07


Chief United Nations weapons inspector Hans Blix has told the Security Council that Iraq has made "substantial" progress in disarming, but is not in full compliance with U.N. demands.

In a key report delivered to the 15-member Security Council Friday, in New York, Mr. Blix said Iraq has increased substantive cooperation in the past few weeks. He said it has come only recently, but it is welcome. He sited destruction of Al-Samoud 2 missiles as one instance of Iraqi cooperation.

U.N. resolution 14-41 calls for Iraq's full, total and immediate compliance with U.N. calls for its disarmament.

Mr. Blix's report comes as a deeply divided Security Council prepares to consider a new resolution proposed by the United States, Britain and Spain that would support military action if Baghdad fails to fully comply with U.N. demands to disarm.

The draft resolution needs nine votes from the Council and no vetos from permanent members in order to become a resolution. In private meetings Thursday and this morning, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell vigorously lobbied opposing and undecided council members for their support.

France, Russia and China, which all have veto power in the Council, do not support a new resolution. They favor - along with Council member Germany - more time for inspectors to carry out their work.

But U.S. and British officials say the text of the resolution could be amended to gain more support, and President Bush has called for a vote by early next week, whether or not the resolution has enough votes to pass.

President Bush remained resolute Thursday night that the time for diplomacy is drawing to a close. He said in a televised news conference that the world must face the possibility of military action after 12 years of failed diplomatic efforts to disarm Saddam Hussein.

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