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US Continuing to Prepare for Iraq War, But Hopes Iraq Will Comply with UN Resolution - 2002-11-10

Top Bush administration officials say they want the new U.N. resolution on Iraq to work, but stress the United States is not halting contingency planning for possible military action. They say the bottom line remains the same: Iraq must cooperate with U.N. weapons inspectors and disarm.

Secretary of State Colin Powell said if Iraq does not comply with the United Nations, the Security Council will immediately meet to take up the matter. He said the United States will take part, but makes clear Washington remains willing to act against Iraq, if necessary, with or without the United Nations.

"The United States will be participating in that debate in the Security Council. But at no time have we given up our authority if we find that debate is going nowhere and the U.N. chooses not to act, we have not given up our authority to act with like-minded nations who might wish to join us in such an action," he said.

During an appearance on the CBS television program Face the Nation, Mr. Powell said Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein should not underestimate the resolve of the United States, or the strong message sent out unanimously by the Security Council.

"Nobody came to his assistance this time. It was not like the last resolution four years ago when Russia, China and France abstained. Everybody was there this time, including the only Arab member of the Security Council, Syria," Mr. Powell said.

He went on to say Saddam Hussein knows that the United States is planning for possible military action, although he stopped short of confirming press reports U.S. President George W. Bush has approved a detailed war plan.

"Sure, the Pentagon is hard at work. My military colleagues and their civilian leaders are working on contingency plans and the one thing I am absolutely sure of is that the plan they will come up with will do the job," Mr. Powell said.

The Secretary of State would not predict if Iraq will comply with the new U.N. disarmament resolution. White House National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, however, told the Fox television network that she is very skeptical. "This is a regime with a very long history now of deception and deceit. And we do not need to waste the world's time waiting around to let them prove over and over again they do not intend to cooperate," she said.

During an appearance on the Fox News Sunday program, she said this time Iraq must realize that if it does not comply with the United Nations, it will face tough consequences. "The next material breech by Saddam Hussein has got to have serious consequences. I think it is pretty clear what that may mean," she said. Under the terms of the new Security Council resolution, Iraq has until next Friday, November 15, to declare its willingness to cooperate. Ms. Rice emphasized there will be no negotiations.