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Iraq: Blix To Brief Security Council

United Nations, 3 October 2002 (RFE/RL) -- UN chief arms inspector Hans Blix is due to brief the UN Security Council today on his agreement with Baghdad for the return of weapons inspectors to Iraq. The closed-door briefing comes as France and Germany say they oppose any new UN resolution that would threaten automatic military intervention in Iraq if Baghdad fails to comply with arms inspections.

After talks with French President Jacques Chirac last night in Paris, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder reiterated his opposition to any military action against Iraq -- even if such action was backed by the UN Security Council.

Chirac told reporters he is "totally hostile" to any new UN resolution that would threaten Iraq with military action from the start. France, which has veto power on the Security Council, has been seeking a two-stage UN resolution process that would threaten possible military action only as a last resort.

Russia yesterday said it is willing to consider a new resolution, but only if necessary for effective weapons inspections. Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said the decision will depend on Blix's report.

In Washington, U.S. President George W. Bush said war against Iraq may be "unavoidable" if Saddam Hussein does not disarm quickly in full compliance with Security Council demands. The United States has been seeking a tougher resolution.

Bush spoke at the White House in the company of leading Congressional lawmakers from the two main American political parties, the Republicans and Democrats. "America's leadership and willingness to use force, confirmed by the Congress, is the best way to ensure compliance and avoid conflict. Saddam must disarm, period. If, however, he chooses to do otherwise, if he persists in his defiance, the use of force may become unavoidable."

Bush has won the backing of lawmakers in the House of Representatives for a proposed Congressional resolution in which American lawmakers would grant Bush broad authority to use military force against Iraq. The Senate is due to debate the resolution later today.