Blair in new warning of action
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Unless Iraq begins cooperating with weapons inspectors, the U.N. Security Council will have to find it in material breach of Resolution 1441 and "action should follow," British Prime Minister Tony Blair told CNN.
Blair, in Washington for a meeting with U.S. President George Bush on Friday, did not give a timeline for possible military action. He said U.N. weapons inspectors will give another report to the Security Council in a couple of weeks.
He said that if Iraqi officials "carry on not cooperating with the inspectors, then the judgment the Security Council will have to take is that they are in breach of the United Nations resolution and action should follow."
Resolution 1441, adopted unanimously by the U.N. Security Council in November, demanded that Iraq disarm and fully cooperate with inspectors.
Blair, in an interview with CNN Chief International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour, said he would seek a second U.N. resolution before taking military action.
"That is the way of saying this is an issue that we're not going to duck. The U.N.'s got to be the way of dealing with this issue, not the way of avoiding dealing with it."
U.N. inspectors are not in Iraq to "play hide and seek" or act as a detective agency, he added.
The White House is open to the idea of seeking a second resolution, CNN has learned, but it also wants a final deadline for Iraqi compliance.
Blair told CNN: "I don't think we should have some arbitrary timetable ... You give it as long as it takes to come to a conclusive and final judgment they're not cooperating. And at the present they're not."
As an example of Iraq not cooperating, he cited its refusal to allow inspectors to interview "people who have been working on Iraqi programmes" unless Iraqi "minders" are present.
Blair has said previously that there are links between individuals in Iraq and al Qaeda, but "we cannot be sure of the extent of those links."
President Bush has said Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has ties to al Qaeda, which Secretary of State Colin Powell is expected to present to the Security Council next week.
In the interview with CNN on Friday, Blair said he did not believe the two nations are in disagreement, and he has no question that "on a broad level" Iraq and al Qaeda are linked.
International terrorism by extremist groups and weapons of mass destruction held by "unstable rogue states ... are linked," he said. "This is the threat to international security and peace and prosperity today."
Bush was scheduled to meet with Blair, his top ally, at Camp David. But because of the weather, that meeting was moved to the White House. It is expected to last several hours.