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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Wake-Up Call: Iraq's Change of Heart?

Aired February 10, 2003 - 06:37   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: We also put in a "Wake-Up Call" to our State Department producer, Elise Labott. She's on the phone right now from Washington.
Good morning -- Elise.

ELISE LABOTT, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT PRODUCER: Good morning, Carol.

COSTELLO: So, talk more about this. Donald Rumsfeld in an Italian newspaper called the latest move by France, Germany and Belgium "shameful."

LABOTT: Well, Carol, those countries might say what the U.S. is doing is shameful. You know, when we talk about high-stakes diplomacy, this is what we mean. It's a game of diplomatic hardball. You have these countries like France, Germany Belgium, who are playing for more time, want to give diplomacy more of a chance. And by not agreeing to start this contingency planning for Turkey, it means they're not ready to say war is inevitable.

And it puts the U.S. in a real difficult position. Are they ready to push for war with Iraq right now and risk attack by Iraq on one of its key allies in the war, and in the eyes of the international community bear responsibility for Turkey's defense?

You know, the bottom line of the NATO charter is clear: An attack on one member is an attack on all members. Or the alliance crumbles. And look at what happened after September 11. Everyone, including NATO, fell behind the U.S.

So, you know, the U.S. really has to ask itself some hard questions about what to do with the large number of countries around the world opposed to a war right now, playing for more time.

COSTELLO: Well, Elise, the administration might have something on its side. If Hans Blix goes to the U.N. Security Council on Friday and says Iraq is just now cooperating fully, don't know what else to do, that would give the administration more ammunition to use diplomatic efforts with France, Germany and Belgium.

LABOTT: That's absolutely true. France, Germany, Russia, all of these countries are not saying that we're opposed to war by any means. They're saying that we want to give diplomacy a chance, we want more time.

You know, you heard from Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei saying this week that the Iraqis are beginning to have a change of heart. You know, of course, the U.S. is saying that's too late, and the U.S. is continuing to insist that Iraq must make a complete and full accounting.

But you know, everyone wants to hear a little bit more. Everybody wants to give diplomacy more of a chance. We heard from France and Germany over the weekend for inspections -- for a plan to tighten inspections.

And you know, the administration could find itself in a quandary here. They say the goal is disarming Iraq, disarming Saddam Hussein, they want to avoid a war. Here, you have countries on the Security Council trying to find, you know, what they would call creative solutions, tightening inspections, trying to force disarmament. And the U.S. keeps saying no, trying to move everyone in the direction of military force.

And over the weekend, you know, the administration was really criticized even by members of Congress for trying to treat the Security Council as a block -- treating them that they're a blocking mechanism, rather than, you know, an organization for international security that's trying to find solutions to the problem -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Well, it should be a very interesting day in Washington.

LABOTT: It sure will be.

COSTELLO: That is an understatement from me. Elise Labott, thanks for waking up early with DAYBREAK.

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