The Bush administration says Iraqi attacks on U.S. and British warplanes over the country's "no fly zones" violate the new U.N. resolution to disarm Iraq. Most recently, coalition planes came under fire Monday over northern Iraq.
Deputy press secretary Scott McClellan said the Iraqi attacks constitute a "material breach" of the resolution, which says Baghdad should not threaten forces from any member state taking action to uphold U.N. decisions.
"The United States believes that firing upon [American or British] aircraft in the no-fly zone ... is a violation. It is a material breach. What the U.N. resolution allows us to do is, it gives us the option if we choose, to take that to the Security Council," he said.
Asked if President Bush would take that option and report the breach, Mr. McClellan said simply, "We have that option."
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says attacks in the no-fly zone are "unacceptable," but that Washington is currently holding back on going to the U.N. because it is waiting for the emergence of what he calls "a pattern of behavior" that people will then use to judge Iraq's compliance.
U.S. and British jets have patrolled the no-fly zones since the end of the Gulf War. Iraq says those flights violate its sovereignty.
When fired on, coalition jets have responded by striking air defense sites. Mr. McClellan says those planes will continue to respond "in the manner that they have in the past."
Coalition jets Monday bombed Iraqi air defenses for a second day after coming under anti-aircraft artillery fire over the northeast of the country.