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Wednesday, 25 September, 2002, 07:46 GMT 08:46 UK
US stands firm on ousting Saddam
US forces on exercise in the Arabian Sea
US forces are on exercise in the Arabian Sea
US Secretary of State Colin Powell has refused to rule out the possibility that the United States might still try to oust the Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein, even if he complies with UN resolutions on weapons inspections.

Colin Powell
Colin Powell: Wait and see
The United States is expected to table the draft of a new resolution on Iraq within the next few days.

The resolution is expected to warn Iraq that it will be hit by military strikes if it does not fully comply with inspections.

In an interview with the BBC, Mr Powell said disarmament of Iraq was the main priority.

But asked whether Saddam Hussein could stay in power if he complied, Mr Powell refused to commit himself.

"I think we'll have to wait and see," he said.


The US continues to believe that the best way to disarm Iraq is through a regime change

Colin Powell
"We'll have to see how he responds to the pressure he is under from the international community.

"That pressure has to be maintained on Iraq until the UN is satisfied that he has got rid of these weapons or allowed inspectors in to make sure of that.

"That's the only way to do it, and then we will see whether or not that is adequate or whether more action is required."

He added: "The US continues to believe that the best way to disarm Iraq is through a regime change."

Crucial vote

The BBC's State Department correspondent, Jon Leyne, says Mr Powell's comments highlight the big difference over Iraq policy between the United States and even its closest allies, including Britain which are less hardline on the issue of regime change in Iraq.

US officials say a draft Security Council resolution on Iraq could be circulated to council members later on Wednesday in the hope that a vote could be held before the UN weapons inspectors hold their next meeting with the Iraqis on Monday in Vienna.

Open in new window : Dossier at-a-glance
Iraq and weapons of mass destruction

But the BBC correspondent at the UN says tough negotiations still lie ahead on the resolution because it is by no means certain that France and Russia will support it.

Another permanent member of the Security Council - China - on Wednesday urged Iraq to co-operate fully with the arms inspectors.

Saddam Hussein
Defiant: Saddam Hussein on Iraqi TV on Tuesday
A strongly-worded editorial in the China Daily newspaper said this was "the last chance for Saddam Hussein to deprive the Americans of a legal case against himself".

"An Iraqi failure to satisfy the inspectors' requests might give Bush the excuse he craves to forcefully carry out his coveted 'regime change' in Iraq," it said.

Our correspondent says that on an issue as sensitive as this, Washington will want to get as close as it can to a unanimous vote.

In London, the UK parliament ended an emergency debate on Iraq with about 70 MPs opposed to war voting against the government.

In Baghdad, Saddam Hussein's chief adviser on weapons, General Amer al-Saadi, said Iraq was ready to give unfettered access to UN arms inspectors so that they could establish the truth about whether his government was developing weapons of mass destruction.

He was speaking after the UK Government published a dossier alleging that Iraq still possesses chemical and biological weapons and is working to produce a nuclear warhead.



 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Robert Parsons
"Outside the US, the sceptics aren't impressed"
US Secretary of State Colin Powell
"If Iraq was serious they would welcome every inspector imaginable"
Iraqi representative in London Dr Mudaffa Amin
"British inspectors can come to Iraq with their dossier"
Mark Gwozdecky, Intnl Atomic Energy Agency
"There were some pieces of the dossier that were new to us and some that weren't"

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See also:

25 Sep 02 | Middle East
25 Sep 02 | Politics
24 Sep 02 | Politics
24 Sep 02 | Politics
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