Powell: 'Time is running out' for Iraq
Other nations less emphatic
UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell on Monday urged the United Nations to stand firm against Iraq, but other nations urged patience and caution as they await the first report from the U.N. inspectors on the ground.
Weapons inspectors report to the Security Council next week on Iraq's weapons programs, Powell noted. At that time, he said, U.N. members will face "difficult choices."
"We cannot be shocked into impotence because we're afraid of the difficult choices that are ahead of us," Powell said.
With large numbers of U.S. and British forces moving into the Persian Gulf, Powell said, Iraq "continues to misunderstand the seriousness of the position that it's in."
The United States is not the only nation nearing the end of its rope, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said.
"There has to come a moment when our patience must run out, and we are now near that point with Iraq," Straw said.
Hans Blix, the head of the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, is scheduled to present his report on inspections' progress on January 27, the conclusion of 60 days of renewed searches. The Security Council would begin discussing "what the next steps should be" after that report, Powell said.
"We must not be afraid to meet the challenges that are ahead," Powell said after the U.N. session.
He denied his comments represented an ultimatum. "I wanted there to be no mistake about this, and time is running out," Powell said.
The comments were the latest in a series of tough Bush administration statements critical of Iraq's efforts to comply with U.N. demands that it abandon its pursuit of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Iraq says it has no weapons of mass destruction and has complied with U.N. resolutions dating back to the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
But other Security Council members sounded a more cautious note, with two of the five veto-wielding permanent members urging restraint.
French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin warned against moving forward "in impatience over the situation in Iraq, to move forward toward military intervention."
Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan told reporters said the council should respect Blix and International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei and support their work.
German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer warned that war on Iraq could fuel more terrorism.
"We shouldn't act in way that, at the end, terrorist groups will be strengthened and not weakened, because they want to drive us into a war of the civilizations," Fischer said. "We should react in a wise way based on a multilateral approach and based on the coalition in the war against terror."
Germany, which will hold the Security Council's rotating presidency next month, has said it will not participate in military action against Iraq.
In other developments:
• In London, British Defense Minister Geoff Hoon said that in addition to the troops, Britain would also send 120 tanks and 150 armored personnel carriers to the Persian Gulf. (Full story)
• In Turkey, Gen. Richard Myers, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, was trying to persuade NATO's only primarily Muslim member to allow U.S. troops to use Turkish military bases in the event of a military strike on Iraq. (Full story)
• In Baghdad, Gen. Amer al-Saadi, a top adviser to President Saddam Hussein, read a 10-point joint statement at a news conference Monday with Blix and ElBaradei. (Text of statement). In the statement, Iraqi officials vowed to continue and increase their cooperation in the inspections aimed at determining if Iraq has nuclear, biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction and also told reporters his government will urge private citizens to allow inspectors into their homes. As evidence of Iraqi co-operation, Al-Saadi stressed that Iraq had reported the discovery of four more missiles (Full story) and was actively investigating the existence of further munitions. He also said his country was willing to discuss alleged omissions in its declaration to the United Nations.
• On Monday evening, Blix and ElBaradei flew to Athens and briefed Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou on the Baghdad talks. Greece currently holds the presidency of the European Union, which will meet to discuss the Iraq situation on Monday, just a few hours before the U.N. Security Council will hear a key report from U.N. inspectors.
• Meanwhile, a senior Cypriot foreign ministry official said the island nation can be used as a base by the United Nations to bring Iraqi scientists for questioning. The official said Cyprus is working out logistics with the United Nations, especially assuring Iraq that the scientists wouldn't remain there indefinitely.
• U.N. inspectors continued their visits Monday to various sites in and near Baghdad, including the site of Iraq's long-range missile program, a center specializing in communicable diseases, an airfield used for agricultural projects, and a site linked to Saddam's elite Republican Guard.
CNN correspondents Nic Robertson and Rym Brahimi contributed to this report.