Sources: U.S. may consider abandoning second resolution
Pentagon officials: White House mulls ultimatum to Saddam
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Bush administration has not ruled out abandoning plans for a vote on a second U.N. resolution on Iraq if its clear defeat is imminent, senior administration officials said Tuesday.
Despite intensive lobbying, the United States has not secured the nine votes it needs, along with an absence of any vetoes from the other four permanent Security Council member nations. Those veto-holding countries are France, China, Russia and Great Britain, the only U.S. ally on this issue among the five permanent members.
If the United States proceeds with plans to call for a vote, officials said they would pursue it next week after top weapons inspectors Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei report Friday on Iraqi disarmament.
But Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said Tuesday that Moscow would oppose the new resolution and use its veto power if necessary.
"Russia has this right, and if the situation so demands, Russia will of course use its right of veto -- as an extreme measure -- to avoid the worst development of the situation," Ivanov said in a translated version of a BBC World Service interview in London. (Full story)
Meanwhile, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan repeated his plea Tuesday to give the inspection process more time, particularly in light of Iraq's start over the weekend on destruction of Al Samoud 2 missiles.
"Let's hear the inspectors' report on Friday and see where the council goes from there," Annan said. He called Iraq's move on the missiles and efforts to verify destruction of its anthrax and VX nerve gas stockpiles "a positive development" and said the council's decision on Iraq will rest on Friday's presentations.
In interviews with European television networks, Secretary of State Colin Powell said the United States would like to see the proposed resolution pass -- but he repeated the U.S. position that a new resolution is not needed to allow the use of military force against Iraq.
"President Bush has made it clear from the very beginning that if there is not compliance, he believes the U.N. should act and through the second resolution is one way," Powell told Britain's ITN television. "But there is sufficient authority in [Security Council Resolution] 1441 and earlier resolutions if willing nations and members of a willing coalition feel it is necessary to act to protect the stability of the region to get rid of these weapons of mass destruction."
John Negroponte, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said it is too early for the United States to withdraw the resolution. "We haven't crossed that bridge," Negroponte said.
Pentagon officials said the White House is weighing the question of an 11th-hour ultimatum to Saddam before launching any attack.
Officials would not discuss what the ultimatum would demand, except to say that it would serve as a public warning that war was imminent so that humanitarian workers, journalists and others could decide whether to leave Baghdad.
The United States has said that it would welcome a decision by Saddam to step down voluntarily and accept exile in another country, but officials would not say if that would be part of a demand.
Powell said Iraq has taken steps to disarm because it is being threatened with invasion by more than 200,000 U.S. and allied troops massing in the region. Destroying the missiles "changes the propaganda battle, but it doesn't change reality," he said.
"Reality is that they are still trying to deceive, they are still trying to send us down rat holes. Reality is they have not made a strategic decision to comply with 1441," Powell told ITN.
CNN Correspondents John King, Andrea Koppel, Jamie McIntyre and Barbara Starr contributed to this report. For latest developments, see CNN.com's Iraq Tracker.