The Bush administration is determined to present a second U.N. resolution demanding that Iraq disarm, despite the threat of a possible veto by France.
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said the president is continuing to consult with allies on the "timing and wording" of a second U.N. resolution. He said the measure will be introduced either this week or next regardless of the opposition it may face in the Security Council.
"The president has made repeatedly clear that the preferable outcome is for the United Nations to act. If the United Nations Security Council fails to act, the president, along with a coalition of the willing, will enforce resolution 1441 by disarming Saddam Hussein," Mr. Fleischer said.
France, Russia, and China all have veto power on the Security Council and all say weapons inspectors should have more time before the U.N. authorizes the use of force.
Earlier this month, French President Jacques Chirac said he would decide whether to use the veto when the question is raised, taking into account "the circumstances of the moment."
Mr. Fleischer said additional Security Council action on Iraq would be "welcome," but "not mandatory" before the use of force. He said it is a question of U.N. credibility in the face of a country that has defied more than a decade of resolutions demanding that it give-up suspected stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons.
"If the United Nations Security Council does not choose to do anything other than have prolonged inspections after it has been demonstrably proven that Iraq is in possession of prohibited weapons, then you have to ask yourself what is the purpose of having the United Nations Security Council pass resolution after resolution prohibiting the possession of such weapons," Mr. Fleischer said.
No matter how France votes on the expected U.S. resolution, Mr. Fleischer says he is confident that "good relations" between President Bush and President Chirac will remain.