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CNN BREAKING NEWS

U.N. Security Council to Hold Closed Meeting Today

Aired February 24, 2003 - 10:32   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: We're also hearing, there is late word coming from the U.N. of a meeting that has been called now for 3:30 p.m., a closed session at the U.N. Security Council.
Let's check in now with our U.N. correspondent Richard Roth to find out what this is all about.

Richard, what's the word?

RICHARD ROTH, CNN SR. U.N. CORRESPONDENT: Well, that meeting is where the United States and Britain are expected to introduce their new resolution, their second resolution after the unanimously passed one late last year.

Inside the Security Council chambers, it's likely that Britain and the United States are going to pass around the text, start circulating this resolution. It's going to be much simpler. It may say that Iraq is in material breach of the resolution.

Meanwhile, chief weapons inspector Hans Blix is meeting with his so-called College of Commissioners, an advisory panel. There he is, I think, today, with that panel.

On the way in, Blix said he expects that Iraq will accept what he's said, in other words, start destroying those Al-Samoud II missiles starting Saturday, as the U.N. weapons inspectors have stated.

He says the destruction should start, but what is still open perhaps is the pace and order of the destruction. There may be more talks between the U.N. and Iraq on that. He said everybody expects that he's under pressure, he understands this, to come to some sort of solution. He hopes it'll be a peaceful solution.

So right now, Blix will, for two days will be talking to his advisory panel, and soon after he prepares his written report to the Security Council, he will orally present it, though, on March 7th, it is expected. And then the resolution clock is on.

British Foreign Secretary Straw telling people in Brussels today that he expects it to be two weeks from that point for some type of decision. The French, the Russian, the Chinese are discussing counterstrategy. They may have some other things to offer, not their own resolution. but their ideas on how to improve the inspection regime. Certainly, they are not eager to have a second resolution, tantamount to an authorization for far -- Leon. HARRIS: All right, thank you very much. Richard Roth at the U.N. with that breaking news, with a meeting being called this afternoon at 3:30.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: And let's get the latest on this development from the White House and bring in our correspondent Dana Bash.

Dana, hello.

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Daryn.

Well, the White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer this morning confirmed what Richard was talking about, that the U.S. will introduce along with the Brits this afternoon that second resolution at the U.N.. John Negroponte, who is the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., according to Ari Fleischer, will be the one to introduce it.

Ari Fleischer saying that expects the text of that resolution to be very short and to the point and in accordance with resolution 1441. That, of course, passed unanimously. That said that Iraq must disarm or face serious consequences.

Now the U.S., the president himself has said over the past few weeks that he didn't think that a second resolution was necessary, that the U.S. feels that they have all the authority they need to take military action against Saddam Hussein. However, they understand that in order to get international support, going through the U.N. is very important, particularly for Tony Blair, who is President Bush's top partner in dealing with Iraq. He's under a lot of pressure at home to get international support, if he does support any kind of military action.

Ari Fleischer saying that the president listens carefully, and that this is what it means to be a partner in an alliance. Now according to Ari Fleischer on the timeframe of this, he said that what Jack Straw said, that perhaps there will be about a two-week debate, two weeks time to lobby key members of the Security Council. He said that the president does want this to be done in short order, but that that two-week timeframe is -- quote -- "not a bad estimate."

Now the last thing that he discussed was the issue of those Al- Samoud II missiles, whether or not Iraq will indeed start to destroy them, and whether that will make the U.S.'s case harder, if Iraq does look like they're complying with the U.N., harder to press the case that military action is needed. Ari Fleischer using the analogy to the barrel of a gun, saying that if you take one bullet out of a barrel of a gun, there are lots of other bullets in other barrels in the gun, and saying that just because Iraq does, if they do disarm, if they do get rid of those missiles, there are lots of other weapons in their arsenal, like VX gas and other things that they have not, in fact, disarmed -- Daryn.

KAGAN: Dana Bash at the White House. Dana, thank you.

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