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British Foreign Minister Confident of Tough UN Action on Iraq

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw says he is confident the U.N. Security Council will agree on a single, toughly worded resolution threatening military action if Iraq does not cooperate with weapons inspectors.

Secretary Straw says discussions among the 15 members of the Security Council have been cordial and productive, and he believes an agreement will emerge on how to ensure Iraq is free of weapons of mass destruction.

Britain and the United States are on a diplomatic push to try to convince the other three Security Council members with veto power to approve a single new resolution that would authorize military action if Iraq interferes with U.N. weapons inspections.

Mr. Straw told British radio the United States and Britain believe Iraqi President Saddam Hussein will only comply with weapons inspections when confronted with the threat of force contained in a single U.N. resolution.

"We all want the removal of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, an end to this threat, the enforcement of the will of the international community, and if it is at all possible, to do this by peaceful means, not by the use of military action," insisted Mr. Straw. "The best way of doing that, given the nature of this regime, is really to be very, very tough and upfront and point out to Saddam Hussein in the first resolution, so there is no room for him to wriggle, that there are a series of steps he's got to take, and at each one he's got a choice."

Mr. Straw would not rule out the possibility of Britain joining the United States in military action against Iraq if the Security Council fails to act. But he says that possibility is speculative and he believes the U.N. approach will succeed.

Mr. Straw said any British military action would be in accordance with international law and the United Nations charter.

Mr. Straw said he would talk by phone on Tuesday with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, as the intensive diplomacy continues. Russia is questioning the need for a new resolution.

France favors a two-stage approach. First, a new resolution would spell out the terms for inspections in Iraq to resume. If Iraq defied the rules, the French proposal would have the Security Council vote again on whether to authorize military strikes.

The United States and Britain are also lobbying China not to veto any Security Council action.