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U.S., U.K., Spain Withdraw Draft Disarmament Resolution

By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 17, 2003 – President Bush will address the world tonight and issue a final ultimatum to Saddam Hussein, the top American diplomat said today.

Secretary of State Colin Powell said Bush will speak on "the situation as we now see it." He will tell Hussein the only way for Iraq to avoid serious consequences is for the Iraqi dictator and his closest advisors to leave the country.

Powell said Hussein's leaving would lead to "the peaceful entry" of international forces to disarm the country.

"Nevertheless, the president's determination will be made clear tonight that this matter cannot continue indefinitely, that Saddam Hussein is guilty of the charges that have been brought against him," the secretary added.

The United States, Britain and Spain have decided it's impossible to get U.N. Security Council consensus on a proposed resolution regarding disarmament of Iraq and have decided not to seek a vote on the proposal.

The March 7 proposal included three key elements: "tough, but realizable tests"; a tight timetable for Iraq's completion of those tests, and an understanding that Iraq faces "serious consequences" if it failed to meet these benchmarks, Britain's U.N. ambassador, Jeremy Greenstock, said today.

Greenstock and his counterparts from the United States and Spain briefly addressed the media in New York this morning to announce the three countries' decision to not seek a Security Council vote on their proposal. Their comments came as the trio was heading into a council meeting to discuss the evolving situation.

France has said it would veto any proposal that calls for use of force if Iraq fails to meet international demands. U.S. officials have said repeatedly that it is only the very real threat of force provided by international troops massing on its borders that has gotten any progress toward disarmament out of Iraq to date.

"Without that possibility of the use of force, you won't get anything out of Saddam Hussein," Powell said March 16 in a Fox television news interview.

Spanish Ambassador to the U.N. Inocencio Arias said his government believes Iraq "squandered" its last chance to peacefully disarm.

"The government of Iraq has clearly failed to comply," U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Negroponte said. "Our governments believe that through acts of omission and commission, Iraq is now in further material breach."

Powell noted today the world has seen "some grudging movement and some process improvements on the part of Saddam Hussein, (but) certainly not the kind of compliance and total cooperation that (Security Council Resolution) 1441 required."

He expressed disappointment that the Security Council couldn't reach an agreement on the March 7 proposal, but added that British legal authorities have determined Resolution 1441, approved unanimously by the Security Council Nov. 8, 2002, already provides sufficient legal authority for use of force in the face of Iraqi defiance and noncompliance.

"We believe that our actions now are supported by international law," Powell said.

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