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U.N. Security Council confers on Iraq

U.S. ambassador: 'Diplomatic window is closing'

Chief nuclear inspector Mohamed ElBaradei said the inspection process in Iraq is
Chief nuclear inspector Mohamed ElBaradei said the inspection process in Iraq is "still in midcourse."

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President Bush spoke on the need to confront Saddam Hussein and disarm Iraq. (January 28)
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.N. Security Council gathered Wednesday for a closed-door session to hear more from weapons inspectors and to debate a course of action for Iraq.

The session is one of a series of critical meetings the council will have in the coming days.

On February 5, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell will seek to build support for war. Powell told a German television audience Wednesday that he will reveal more information to back up claims that Iraq is not complying with the dictates of U.N. Resolution 1441.

Chief weapons inspectors Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei presented the Security Council with a report Monday in which they said they had found no evidence of weapons of mass destruction in the first 60 days of inspections. But they also complained Iraq has failed to provide full cooperation.

Powell will further that argument, he said.

"My presentation next week will be for the purpose of presenting to my colleagues in the council more information, more intelligence, to back up what Blix has been saying about lack of performance on the part of the Iraqis in coming forward in disarming themselves," Powell said in an interview with Germany's ZDF television.

"We will also illustrate some of the things they have done to deceive the inspectors, and also show information concerning the programs they have had over the years to develop chemical weapons, biological weapons and nuclear weapons."

Powell said his presentation would emphasize "why it is so important that the world must insist that Saddam Hussein disarm."

"This is not just an American claim," said Powell, quickly adding that both current and previous U.N. inspections teams "have put this claim before the world."

During a break in Wednesday's Security Council session, John Negroponte, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, warned that "the time for diplomatic action is narrowing. The diplomatic window is closing."

Iraq insists it has no weapons of mass destruction and says it is cooperating fully with inspectors. Iraqi officials have also said the United States is looking for an excuse to launch a war so it can dominate the region and steal Iraqi oil.

At Wednesday's meeting, Blix and ElBaradei faced more questions from the council's 15 member nations.

The members are at odds over how much time inspections should continue before military action should be considered. U.S. officials have said waiting much longer is dangerous, and Britain has largely supported the U.S. position. France, Germany, Russia and China are among the members that oppose war at this time.

Sergei Lavrov, Russian ambassador to the United Nations, said Wednesday his country needs convincing evidence before it would support a war.

"We would like to see undeniable proof" that Iraq has prohibited weapons programs, he said. "We have not seen any reason so far to undercut the inspection process."

Munir Akram, Pakistan's U.N. ambassador, said the general view on the council "is that the inspections should be given a second chance."

Blix has not publicly asked the Security Council for more time, but ElBaradei has.

Blix said Wednesday that he welcomes any information Powell will provide.

"If they have some information, let them come to present it," he said.

U.S. President Bush said he still hopes Iraqi President Saddam Hussein will voluntarily disarm -- but he repeated that the United States is prepared to lead a coalition of nations to disarm the Iraqi leader with "the full force and might of the United States military."


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