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Monday, 17 February, 2003, 15:16 GMT
US warns UN against Iraq delay
President Bush with Condoleezza Rice (centre) and other advisers
Condoleezza Rice is Mr Bush's right-hand woman
The US National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice, has warned the United Nations against allowing Iraq more time to disarm.

Speaking on NBC television's Meet the Press programme, Ms Rice said the world must keep up the pressure on Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

It is time for this to end. Enough is enough

Condoleezza Rice

"Tyrants only respond to toughness. The world needs to pull itself together," Ms Rice said.

She said Washington was prepared to work to get a second UN Security Council resolution authorising the use of force, but that diplomatic efforts could last "weeks, not months".

"We don't want a Security Council resolution that somehow is a delaying tactic," Ms Rice told Fox News. "The Security Council cannot continue on this path for much longer."

'Diplomatic window'

Several countries on the 15-member Council - including veto-wielding France, Russia and China - want the UN inspectors to have more time to search for alleged weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

NEXT STEPS
17 February - EU holds emergency meeting with Kofi Annan in Brussels
18 February - Turkish parliament votes on allowing foreign troops on its soil.
UN Security Council meets
19 February - UN Security Council meets in private
22 February - Arab League may hold emergency summit in Cairo
1 March - Hans Blix presents quarterly report at UN on progress of weapon inspections
3-4 March - New moon gives optimum conditions for night fighting in Iraq
14 March- France's proposed date for Blix to report again to UN Security Council

Ms Rice's statement came a day after UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said the inspections should continue for the present, but could not be maintained indefinitely if Baghdad did not co-operate.

Ms Rice stressed that the UN must eliminate the threat from Saddam Hussein, as the Iraqi regime was continuing to defy the world community.

"It is time for this to end, enough is enough," Ms Rice said.

"Continuing to talk about more time and more time is basically going to relieve pressure on the Iraqis to do what they must do."

But Ms Rice stressed that the US was "in a diplomatic window to look for ways to move forward" on Iraqi disarmament.

UN divisions

The UN Security Council remains deeply divided over the Iraq crisis.

Chief inspector Hans Blix (r) presenting report at UN
Blix: Demanding more Iraqi transparency

France, China and Russia say inspectors should be given the time they need to complete their task.

The US and Britain would prefer the UN Security Council to pass a second resolution to get the international backing for any military campaign.

But correspondents say last Friday's report by chief weapons inspector Hans Blix showed the level of opposition within the Council to any moves to cut the inspections short.

Mr Blix said that while serious questions did still remain - notably the disappearance of large quantities of chemical and biological material - definite progress had been made.

COUNCIL VIEWS
Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan (l) and French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin
For military action: US, UK, Spain
Sceptics or opposed: France, Russia, China, Germany and Syria
In doubt: Angola, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Chile, Guinea, Mexico and Pakistan
Nine votes and no veto required to pass a resolution

Mr Blix also said that while disarmament could be still be achieved, "the issues of anthrax, the nerve agent VX and long-range missiles [are]... perhaps the most important problem we are facing.

"Iraq itself must squarely tackle this task and avoid belittling the questions," he said.

Meanwhile, fresh efforts are under way at Nato headquarters in Brussels to try to resolve a dispute over providing extra protection for Turkey ahead of a possible US-led war against Iraq.

The impasse has exposed the splits within the Nato alliance - in similar disarray to the UN Security Council - over how to deal with Iraq.

The diplomatic battles are taking place amid a wave of anti-war demonstrations around the globe.

Up to half a million people took part in a huge anti-war rally in Sydney on Sunday - Australia's largest protest since the Vietnam War.

Peace rallies around the world this weekend have drawn about eight million demonstrators onto the streets.

Saturday saw massive demonstrations London, Rome, Paris and Berlin as well as a rally near the UN headquarters in New York.

On Sunday, San Francisco will host another huge demonstration as Americans voice opposition to a US-led war.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Steve Kingstone reports from Washington
"This is a stepping-up of the rhetoric"
The BBC's Jim Fish
"Iraqi officials have been encouraged by the apparent tide of opinion away from war"

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16 Feb 03 | Americas
15 Feb 03 | Middle East
15 Feb 03 | Middle East
15 Feb 03 | Media reports
15 Feb 03 | Middle East
15 Feb 03 | Americas
14 Feb 03 | Europe
14 Feb 03 | Politics
14 Feb 03 | Middle East
14 Feb 03 | Middle East
13 Feb 03 | Middle East
14 Feb 03 | Asia-Pacific
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