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U.S. wants U.N. to set deadline for Iraqi decision

From John King and Ronni Berke (CNN)

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•  Commanders: U.S. | Iraq
•  Weapons: 3D Models

NEW YORK (CNN) -- The United States wants the U.N. Security Council to give Iraq one week to decide whether or not to accept a new resolution allowing weapons inspectors unfettered access inside Iraq, Bush administration officials told CNN Friday.

A U.N. diplomat who has seen the joint British-U.S. draft of the resolution confirms that it includes language setting a seven-day deadline for Iraq to accept or reject the terms of the final resolution. Administration officials stressed that the draft is, as one official put it, "very much a work in progress."

An Iraqi refusal to accept the resolution would not necessarily trigger an immediate military confrontation. However, the U.S. position is that the terms of any resolution on Iraq adopted by the Security Council must be non-negotiable.

While the draft of the resolution does contain the threat to use "all necessary means," to enforce compliance, it does not specifically link the use of force to the deadline.

Administration officials said the draft reflects weeks of discussions between U.S. and British officials, as well as talks within the Bush administration.

President Bush has also discussed his views on the resolution with French President Jacques Chirac, though indications were that Paris remains opposed to language as strong as the White House is seeking.

The administration officials said the latest U.S.-British proposal:

  • Calls for a seven-day window for Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to accept the terms of the new Security Council resolution.
  • Describes Iraq as being in "material breach" of its prior commitments to the United Nations.
  • Demands unfettered access for any new U.N. weapons inspections in Iraq and specifically notes that inspectors should have access to sites Baghdad considers presidential palaces if the inspectors want to search for possible weapons sites or storage.
  • Says the international community would be able to use "all necessary means" if Iraq failed to comply.
  • Baghdad has 30 days from the passage of the resolution to give a "full, final and complete declaration" of all its biological, chemical and ballistic weapons programs, diplomats said.

    In a key paragraph, the resolution says that any "false statements" or "omissions" in Iraq's declaration shall constitute a further breach of Iraq's obligations -- allowing all member states to use all necessary means to restore international peace and security.

    The draft says the inspection teams should have unrestricted movement into and out of Iraq and immediate movement to and from inspection sites. The inspectors have the right to inspect any sites and buildings, including unrestricted access to "presidential sites," the draft says.

    "These are elements for a resolution," one diplomat told CNN. "All of it is basis for negotiation."

    Another diplomat, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said "the U.S. is putting out a tough, tough text, and the French will come up with a weak one, and then they'll negotiate."

    Several diplomats told CNN the French have drawn up a separate text of ideas but have not circulated it to other council members. France is one of five permanent members of the Security Council and has veto power.

    Speaking in Arizona Friday evening, Bush framed the debate this way: "There's no negotiation, there's no discussion, this man must disarm like he said he would do. After 11 years of deceit, this man must disarm. For the sake of peace, for the sake of peace not only in our -- in his neighborhood, but in ours, he must disarm."

    "And if he does not, it's his choice to make. It's his and the United Nations' choice to make. Our last choice is to commit our troops to harm's way, but if we have to, to defend our freedoms, if we have to, the United States will lead a coalition and do so."

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