U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan is urging the United States to not take military action against Iraq unless it is sanctioned by the U.N. Security Council. Mr. Annan spoke on the issue a day before President Bush addresses the United Nations about the Iraq crisis.
Mr. Annan says the next few days at the U.N. will be crucial in the showdown with Iraq over its weapons of mass destruction.
Mr. Annan discussed the crisis on British radio Wednesday, a day before President Bush speaks at the U.N. General Assembly on the threat he sees from Iraq, and how to deal with it.
Mr. Annan said that it would be a mistake for the United States to go to war against Iraq without Security Council backing.
"I think that it is extremely important that it should be multilateral, which also means sanctioned by the Security Council," he said. "I think if one does it unilaterally, or with one or two countries, we don't know what happens at the end."
Mr. Annan said he believes the Security Council should have the political will to deal with what he called Iraq's recalcitrance and defiance of U.N. resolutions stemming from the Gulf War of 1991.
In the same program, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Jon Bolton said the United States cannot rule out unilateral military action against Iraq.
"I think that people understand that when you face a threat, you don't have to wait for a mushroom cloud before you take appropriate action," Mr. Bolton said.
Mr. Annan said he continues to hope that Iraq will allow U.N. weapons inspections to resume without any conditions attached. He says he will discuss the issue again this week with the Iraqi foreign minister, Naji Sabri Hadithi.