Paris summit: Strongest opposition yet to Iraq war
US Secretary of State Colin Powell says Iraq has made no real attempt to disarm but instead is trying to deceive and divide the international community.
In an impassioned speech, Mr Powell said Iraq's effort must fail, because no one wanted to live in a world where the United Nations meant nothing.
On Friday Mr Powell is due to attend a key meeting of the UN Security Council, where the US seems set on a collision course with France, Germany and Russia.
They have said they will not allow the UN to pass a new US-sponsored resolution authorising war against Iraq. Instead they want the UN weapons inspectors in Iraq to be given more time.
Friday's meeting is due to hear a progress report from chief weapons inspector Hans Blix, who on Wednesday said his teams had been able to interview seven Iraqi scientists in private.
He added that, in the past month, Iraq had been co-operating proactively.
'Next few days'
But in a speech to the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, Mr Powell said Saddam Hussein was continuing with his web of deceit.
"We will see in the next few days whether or not he understands the situation he is in," he warned.
New US intelligence showed that while the Iraqis were publicly destroying their al-Samoud II missiles, they had ordered the continued production of missile stocks, Mr Powell said.
"Nothing we have seen since the passage of UN Resolution 1441 indicates that Saddam Hussein has taken the strategic and political
decision to disarm."
Saddam Hussein was relying on divisions within the UN to avoid war, Mr Powell warned.
"Consider what may happen if Saddam thinks war will not be declared even as a last resort.
"It is now for the international community to confront the
reality of Iraq's continuing failure to disarm," he said.
Just hours earlier, hastily arranged talks involving the French, German and Russian foreign ministers took place in Paris amid warnings that time is running out for a diplomatic solution to the Iraq crisis.
TURKEY'S MILITARY IMPORTANCE
US plans: To deploy 62,000 troops. Infantry division currently on 40 transport ships in Mediterranean or in portAirborne division flown into Kurdish controlled northern Iraq
Massive and speedy land invasion from south
Options if Turkey refuses:
A statement by French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin did not mention the possible use of veto.
But he told a news conference that France took "exactly the same line as Russia," which has not ruled out using its veto.
The US and UK have expressed confidence that enough votes will be secured for the key resolution.
Also on Wednesday, Turkey's powerful army gave a boost to the US, with public backing for the deployment of US troops ahead of any conflict, despite the lack of authorisation from the country's parliament.
Meanwhile, divisions between Muslim states boiled over at a summit designed to develop a common stance against the war, when a senior aide to Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein accused a Kuwaiti minister of being a "traitor".
The Russian Foreign Minister, Igor Ivanov, also met UK Prime Minister Tony Blair on Wednesday morning.
Mr Blair later told MPs he remained confident there would be backing in the UN for a new resolution demanding that Iraq disarm.
And after the Paris statement, a White House spokesman also said President Bush remained confident of the eventual outcome, and that people should not "jump to conclusions" as consultations were continuing.
"We will not allow a resolution to pass that authorises resorting to force," Mr de Villepin said in Paris.
However neither he nor Mr Ivanov said explicitly that this meant using the veto.
A resolution could be blocked in just two ways - either by veto or by ensuring that it fails to get the required nine "yes" votes of the 15 Security Council members.
In other developments:
Two Iraqi UN diplomats are ordered to leave the United States within 72 hours for "activities incompatible with their status"
Saddam Hussein says the UN order to destroy al-Samoud missiles is a ploy designed to demoralise Iraqis
General Tommy Franks, who would command US forces in a war, says they are ready for action
Cardinal Pio Laghi delivers a message from the Pope to President Bush
Iran says it is ready to help UN agencies and other aid organisations cope with Iraqi refugees expected to flee a US-led war.