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Powell: Security Council Warming Up to Tougher UN Resolution on Iraq - 2002-10-08

Secretary of State Colin Powell says the U.N. Security Council is moving closer to agreement on a new resolution giving more power to arms inspectors in Iraq. Mr. Powell has been leading the U.S. diplomatic effort with telephone appeals to his counterparts from other Security Council member countries.

The U.S. drive for a new resolution has clearly taken longer than the administration expected. But Mr. Powell and his spokesmen are now talking about a "convergence" of views on the Security Council for a new resolution giving inspectors unimpeded access in Iraq.

The secretary of state went to Congress Tuesday to brief Senate and House leaders on his efforts with the U.N., telling them a congressional measure authorizing the use of American force against Iraq would "definitely" strengthen his hand in the diplomacy in New York.

"War is a last resort," said Secretary Powell. "But we have seen what happens if you're not prepared to go to war. You will get this kind of violation of international law. We cannot let Saddam Hussein walk away this time without there being consequences for continued violation of international obligations. As the president has said, we will not turn away from this challenge. We will not ignore this problem. It has to be dealt with, and it is going to be dealt with now."

Nearly a month has elapsed since President Bush appealed for U.N. action in an address to the General Assembly September 12.

Despite reporting "movement" in the U.N. negotiations, a Powell spokesman said he could not predict when a draft resolution would be ready for formal submission to the Security Council.

The United States wants a single new resolution demanding unfettered access to suspected weapons sites in Iraq, and authorizing the use of "all necessary means" against Iraq it refuses to comply.

France has been holding out for a two-resolution process providing for the use of force only if Iraq fails to abide by tougher inspection rules.

In an interview with international news agency reporters here, Mr. Powell said he is concerned Iraq might use the French approach as a way to "frustrate the will" of the international community, and that the United States sees an "all-in-one" resolution as the way to keep pressure on Baghdad.

A spokesman said the work at the United Nations has prompted Mr. Powell to postpone a trip to Central America later this week. The secretary had planned to visit Honduras and Nicaragua for talks on trade and security issues Thursday and Friday.