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Powell Continues to Push for Tough UN Resolution on Iraq - 2002-09-17

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell says the United States will try to get a the U.N. to pass a tough new resolution on Iraq, even though Baghdad said Monday it would permit weapons inspectors to return, after a four-year absence. But, Russia, a key member of the U.N. Security Council, disagrees that a new resolution is needed.

U.S. officials say they do not see a change of heart in Baghdad but rather, a change of tactics. Secretary Powell, speaking to reporters in New York, says the U.N. Security Council should not just simply accept Iraq's word about the unconditional return of the arms inspectors.

"We didn't see Iraq suddenly acknowledging the error of its ways of the past 12 years, or suddenly realizing that they had been in the wrong," he said. "What we saw was Iraq responding to what happened last week when the president of the United States came before the international community and laid out the indictment clearly, and enormous pressure was put on Iraq as a result."

Secretary Powell says if the history of stormy U.N.-Iraq relations over the past decade is to be a guide, the international community needs to keep applying pressure.

"We have seen this game before and so in order to keep this pressure on, and in order to make sure if we start down this road, it is a new road, it is a different road than what we have seen in the past, with tough conditions, tough standards," he said.

The office of Hans Blix, the chief U.N. weapons inspector, says it could move a team into Baghdad almost immediately. But Secretary Powell wants the Security Council to adopt a new resolution first.

Russia's foreign minister Igor Ivanov, with Secretary Powell by his side, disagreed, saying Moscow does not believe a new resolution is necessary. He says the only way to prove whether Saddam Hussein is producing weapons of mass destruction is to send the inspectors back as soon as possible.

France, another key diplomatic player, has not ruled out a strong resolution but says the Security Council should first observe how the new round of inspections is proceeding.

Russia and France, along with Britain, China and the United States, have veto power in the 15-member Security Council.

Diplomats expect a lively discussion over the coming days, as Secretary Powell tries to persuade the Council to craft a tough new stand on Iraq.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said earlier, Saddam Hussein has proven that he cannot be trusted and has a history of playing games with the international community.