UNITED NATIONS – Britain will probably introduce a new resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq, a British diplomat said. The measure is likely to meet resistance from most of the U.N. Security Council.
The diplomat said the resolution would not be introduced for at least 10 days so the Security Council can hear from top weapons inspectors who will report to the body on Feb. 14 after they go to Baghdad for more consultations.
"We've made very clear we want a second resolution, but also all members of the council want to hear back from the inspectors on Feb. 14," the diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
"After that, the council will need seriously to grip the issue of Iraqi noncooperation. That's likely to mean work on a second resolution," the diplomat said.
A new resolution would have to authorize the use of force, the British diplomat said, but other questions would have to be negotiated, such as whether to include an ultimatum or deadline for Saddam to completely eliminate nuclear, chemical, biological and long-range missile programs.
A spokesman with Britain's Foreign Office refused to comment Friday on the possibility of a resolution.
The majority of Security Council members say they want more time for weapons inspections. Their position was unchanged after Secretary of State Colin Powell laid out the U.S. case against Iraq on Wednesday.
On Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said Russia opposes a new resolution that would authorize the use of force against Iraq.
"We always underlined that the use of force is an extreme measure, which involves grave consequences for the country and grave international consequences and it should only be applied in extreme situations," he said.
A U.S. diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Bush administration expects the British to put forward such a resolution. Britain is the United States' closest ally and would likely join any coalition against Iraq.
Jean-Marc de La Sabliere, France's ambassador at the United Nations, reiterated late Thursday that "the time has not come," for a second resolution.
The U.S. and British diplomats spoke shortly after President Bush said he would welcome a second U.N. resolution on disarming Iraq, following up on one approved unanimously last November, but only if it led to prompt action to stop Saddam Hussein.
Bush challenged the United Nations to support a new resolution. But whether the 15-member council would approve such a measure remains in serious doubt.
Top weapons inspectors Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei were in Vienna on Thursday, preparing for their weekend trip to Baghdad to press the Iraqis to fully cooperate and provide evidence about their weapons of mass destruction.
Blix said Friday that an Iraqi scientist's decision to be interviewed by U.N. inspectors on Thursday suggests that Baghdad "is making an effort" to cooperate
However, he added: "We want to see a lot more this weekend," when he and chief nuclear inspector Mohamed ElBaradei meet with senior Iraqi officials.
The inspectors' reports assessing Iraq's cooperation will be critical in determining council support for possible military action. One of the inspectors' key concerns has been that Iraqi scientists have refused to be interviewed without the presence of Iraqi officials.
A U.S. official said any timeframe for the Iraqis to disarm would have to be "very short."
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Friday that the hour for action to disarm Iraq is fast approaching. Rumsfeld is in Europe for two days of talks to press the American case against Saddam Hussein.
Security Council members discussed French proposals to bolster weapons inspections as a means of preventing war during a lunch Thursday. The ideas garnered support from key members, including Mexico and Germany -- but not from the United States.
Meanwhile, Mexico and South Africa -- which represent a large group of nonaligned nations -- are pushing for an open meeting on Iraq before the inspectors issue their Feb. 14 report, diplomats said.
Such a meeting would be designed to embarrass the United States by giving a public forum to dozens of countries that oppose war with Iraq.