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Britain Challenges UN to 'Meet Its Responsibilities' in Disarming Iraq - 2003-03-10

Britain says the time has come for the United Nations Security Council to meet its responsibilities and disarm Iraq, even if it must be through military force. British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw issued the challenge as the diplomatic showdown builds over how to deal with Iraq.

The British Parliament got another report from Mr. Straw Monday on Iraq-related diplomacy at the U.N. Security Council.

The foreign secretary said he and Prime Minister Tony Blair continue to push for a U.N. resolution that would set a short deadline, with clear disarmament markers for Iraq to fulfill, or face military attack.

And Mr. Straw said the deeply divided Security Council must meet its obligations to enforce the U.N. Charter in the face of what he described as Iraqi defiance.

"Everybody in the United Nations has responsibilities under the charter," he said. "Not just the United States and the United Kingdom, amongst the permanent representatives, but all the other permanent and non-permanent members of the Security Council, all of whom have signed up to the charter and including to chapter seven, which spells out where there is defiance of the clear obligations under chapter seven, then sometimes force is necessary. And sometimes in the case, force may indeed be necessary."

In a separate speech to military experts, British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon said Iraqi President Saddam Hussein would have a one week deadline to fulfill his disarmament promises.

"Saddam Hussein will have one last opportunity, the next week, to demonstrate his unconditional compliance with Security Council Resolution 1441," he said. "No one wants war. The use of force is always a last resort. We would much prefer to achieve our objective by peaceful means. But we cannot allow Iraq to string us along with minor concessions and endless delays."

British Finance Minister Gordon Brown also spoke out Monday on the Iraq crisis. He said the whole country should support Prime Minister Blair's efforts at the United Nations.

The cabinet officers spoke after one of their colleagues, International Development Secretary Clare Short, blasted the Blair Iraq policy as "reckless." She has threatened to resign if Britain goes to war against Iraq without U.N. support.