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Iraq Diplomacy Developments - 2003-02-27

The United Nations Security Council remains deeply divided on the issue of using force to disarm Iraq. George Dwyer has the latest.

On Monday, the United States, Britain and Spain submitted a draft resolution to the Security Council that declares that Baghdad is in material breach of UN resolutions requiring disarmament and has missed its "final opportunity" to disarm. The resolution did not set a deadline.

In response, France, Germany and Russia put forward a proposal that calls for intensified inspections of Iraq's weapons. France and Germany said the priority should be to disarm Iraq peacefully. The Security Council plans to meet Thursday to discuss both proposals. A vote is not expected for at least two weeks.

President Bush said Tuesday that approval of the U.S. backed resolution would be "useful" but was not essential, and that Iraq could avert a war only by fully disarming. He said Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein would likely only pretend to disarm.

"He may play like he's going to disarm, but he hasn't disarmed and for the sake of peace and the security of the American people he must disarm."

Mr. Bush spoke soon after the chief U.N. arms inspector, Hans Blix, said that Iraq had given his team about 100 documents concerning the disposal of weapons of mass destruction in 1991.

"Yes, there are some elements that are positive and need to be explored further. There is one letter in which they tell us they have found a R-400 bomb containing liquid in a site which is known to us and (at) which they did dispose of biological weapons before."

In Iraq, U.N. inspectors continued their inventory of Iraq's missile program, visiting two factories that make the missiles' engines and guidance systems.

Meanwhile, Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has indicated in an interview that he has no plans to comply with a U.N. order to begin destroying Iraq's al-Samoud-Two missiles by March 1st. CBS newsman Dan Rather says the Iraqi leader denied that the missiles can fly beyond U.N. established limits.

In the CBS interview Saddam Hussein also challenged President Bush to a live televised debate on the possible U.S.-led war to disarm Iraq. The White House dismissed the challenge.

And in Turkey, the Parliament delays a vote on the deployment of 62,000 U.S. troops in Turkey who would open a northern front for a possible U.S.-led war against Iraq.