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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Amendment to Second Resolution for British Politics

Aired March 7, 2003 - 14:51   ET

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

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Back here on the street, Andrea Koppel traveling with the secretary of state, Colin Powell. A short time ago, essentially came out and said, We know what noncompliance looks like, and we know what compliance looks like, and to this point, we have not seen that.
Knowing that Richard just said about this vote coming next week, as you size it up, with the 15 members of the Security Council right now, do they come close to getting them at this point?

ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: At this point, it's unclear, Bill. Going into to -- to -- today's session, the U.S. thought it had either eight, maybe nine, votes, but according to a senior administration source that I spoke with just a short time ago, he said this really isn't about just getting to nine. This was about -- this new language that they put into the resolution, making it an amendment, was all about the British government.

This is what, according to U.S. sources, Tony Blair needed, the British prime minister, in order to prove to his constituency, which is strongly, to say the least, opposed to going to war right now without U.N. approval, this is what Tony Blair needed to show the British people that every last opportunity had been exhausted, and so the language that is reflected in this amendment is British language.

It is also in the hope that they would be able to convince other Security Council members, those undecided six, to come on board, but we already heard from Tony Blair yesterday that if it is vetoed, if it is vetoed by France, by Russia, or by China, that he will join the U.S. -- his military will join the U.S. in going outside of the U.N. to war with Iraq -- Bill.

HEMMER: You used the phrase earlier "a high-stakes diplomatic dare." Is that what the U.S., the Brits, and the Spanish are doing right now?

KOPPEL: Absolutely.

HEMMER: In challenging France, challenging China, challenging Russia?

KOPPEL: This is, as one source told me, this is damn the torpedoes, damn the vetoes. The deal is done, they are going to war with or without the United Nations. It is the ultimate standoff.

Again, one U.S. source speaking about this said it is to see who blinks first, the French -- we've also heard the Russians, and to a lesser degree, the Chinese, have all hinted they have thrown down the gauntlet, saying that they would use the authority afforded to them as permanent members of the Security Council. That is a veto. They didn't say the word, but they implied it. And the U.S., for its part, and Great Britain and Spain are saying they are going to call a vote next week and they are going to see whether or not France, Russia, China join them.

HEMMER: Andrea, thanks. Andrea Koppel, we'll be here to see it whenever it does go down.

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