Menu

British Foreign Secretary Claims Iraq in 'Material Breach'

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said Tuesday that Iraq is in "material breach" of a United Nations resolution requiring that Baghdad give up alleged weapons of mass destruction.

Straw also said that Monday's report by weapons inspectors to the U.N. Security Council showed war with President Saddam Hussein was more likely than previously thought. The report said that Iraq had not genuinely accepted the resolution.

"The chances of this being resolved by peaceful means are less than they were," Straw told the British Broadcasting Corp. Earlier this month, he had said the chances of a war with Iraq taking place were 40 for, 60 against.

"The time is up for Iraq to comply. As of today, according to the reports we've received, Iraq is in further material breach" of U.N. resolution 1441. The resolution requires that Baghdad make no false statements or omissions in a declaration on its weapons, and that it comply with the implementation of the resolution. Iraq says it has no weapons of mass destruction.

Inspectors are due to update the Security Council again on Feb. 14, but Straw said that date shouldn't be taken as a deadline for Iraq to comply. A finding by the Security Council that Iraq was in "material breach" of its resolutions could open the way to war.

"There aren't ultimatums being talked about at the moment," Straw said. "However, Iraq would be making the most profound mistake if it thought it could go on with its game playing any longer."

Britain has been the United States' most vocal supporter in Europe in demanding that Saddam disarm.