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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S., Inspectors Put Pressure on Iraq

WASHINGTON — U.S. President George W. Bush sharpened his threats to take action to disarm Iraq if the United Nations fails to summon "the will or the courage" to do so, while UN weapons inspectors said they want Iraq warned of consequences if it obstructs their work.

The United States, backed by Britain, has been trying for seven weeks to convince the UN Security Council to adopt a new resolution aimed at ridding Iraqi President Saddam Hussein of any chemical, biological or nuclear arms, with dire consequences threatened for any failure to comply.

U.S. officials have called this week decisive, but set no precise deadline for giving up on the United Nations. One official said it was remotely possible the matter could slip to next week.

"It's conceivable, but our clear preference is to get it done this week," said the official, who asked not to be named.

"If the United Nations doesn't have the will or the courage to disarm Saddam Hussein, and if Saddam Hussein will not disarm, for the sake of peace, for the sake of freedom, the United States will lead a coalition and disarm Saddam Hussein," Bush said at a rally Monday.

At the United Nations, the two men poised to lead the efforts to uncover any Iraqi weapons of mass destruction endorsed the idea of warning Saddam of consequences for failing to cooperate with UN weapons inspectors.

Chief UN arms inspector Hans Blix and Mohammed El Baradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, in charge of inspecting any Iraqi nuclear arms, met with the Security Council as it continued its debate on Iraq.

"I think it helps us if Iraq is conscious that noncooperation will entail reactions by the council," Blix told reporters.

Asked whether a resolution warning Iraq of consequences helped the inspectors, Blix said, "Yes, I think it is desirable that Iraq understands that any lack of cooperation or violation of the provisions of the resolution will call for reactions on the part of the council."

Blix and El Baradei, however, questioned whether Iraq could comply with all U.S.-British demands. And they said that inviting scientists and others out of the country for interviews without Iraq's consent, as the draft resolution suggests, would prove difficult.

The proposed U.S. resolution would declare Iraq in "material breach" of UN resolutions if it obstructs inspections. That concept, omitted in the French and Russian drafts, could nullify the cease-fire pact with Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War, raising fears that the United States would use it as UN authorization for war.