RAY SUAREZ: Security Council members remained sharply divided over what step to take next to resolve the Iraq crisis. Secretary of State Colin Powell applauded the progress reported by the inspectors, but said Iraq had to do more.
COLIN POWELL: I was sorry to learn that all of this still is coming in a grudging manner -- that Iraq is still refusing to offer what was called for by 1441: Immediate, active and unconditional cooperation. Not later, immediate; not passive, active; not conditional, unconditional in every respect. Unfortunately, in my judgment, despite some of the progress that has been mentioned, I still find what I have heard this morning a catalogue still of non-cooperation. The inspectors should not have to look under every rock, go to every crossroad, peer into every cave for evidence, for proof. And we must not allow Iraq to shift the burden of proof onto the inspectors. We also heard this morning of an acceleration of Iraqi initiatives. I don't know if we should call these things "initiatives." Whatever they are, Iraq's small steps are certainly not initiatives. They are not something that came forward willingly, freely from the Iraqis. They have been pulled out, or have been pressed out, by the possibility of military force, by the political will of the Security Council. They have been taken, these initiatives, if that's what some would choose to call them, only grudgingly, rarely unconditionally and primarily under the threat of force. We are told that these actions do not constitute immediate cooperation, but that's exactly what is demanded by 1441. And even then, progress is often more apparent than real.
RAY SUAREZ: Sec. Powell said the threat of force was making Iraq comply with the U.N.'S demands.
COLIN POWELL: Colleagues, now is the time for the council to send a clear message to Saddam that we have not been taken in by his transparent tactics. Nobody wants war, but it is clear that the limited progress we have seen, the process changes we have seen, the slight substantive changes we have seen come from the presence of a large military force, nations who are willing to put their young men and women in harm's way in order to rid the world of these dangerous weapons.
RAY SUAREZ: Russia, along with France, China, the U.S. and the U.K., has a veto in the Security Council. Its foreign minister dismissed the need for another resolution.
IGOR IVANOV (translated): Now, we need not new Security Council resolutions. We have enough of those. We need now active support of the inspectors in carrying out their tasks. Russia is firmly in favor of continuing and strengthening the inspections activities and making them more focused in nature. Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, of course we all face a difficult choice. Hardly anyone from among us could claim to be in possession of the absolute truth. Therefore, it is quite natural that during the course of our discussion different points of view be expressed. But such differences should not lead to a rift among us. We are all standing on the same side of the barricade. We all share common values. And only acting in solidarity can we effectively face up to new global threats and challenges.
RAY SUAREZ: Britain's foreign minister, Jack Straw, said there was some agreement on the Council.
JACK STRAW: Nobody, not one minister before this Council, in my hearing, has said that Iraq is now fully, actively and immediately in compliance with 1441. They have not so far taken this final opportunity.
RAY SUAREZ: As evidence, he pointed to the 12 interviews conducted with Iraqi scientists to date.
JACK STRAW: And we know for a fact that all of these 12, and all prospective interviewees, have been threatened and intimidated by the Iraqi regime beforehand and told that their exchanges were being recorded. If they weren't being recorded by bugs and tape recorders the interviewees were told to take into the meetings, they were told that they were going to be recorded in any event by bugs placed in the walls of the recording halls.
RAY SUAREZ: Before the meeting began, Britain proposed that Iraq be given until March 17 to fully disarm or face war.
JACK STRAW: What we are suggesting is that it is perfectly possible-- perfectly possible, achievable and necessary-- for Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi regime to bring themselves into compliance, so that instead of us all, either by our words or by our silence, as we have today admitted that Saddam is not in full compliance, that he has not taken the further opportunity and the final opportunity, we can say the reverse, and we can celebrate the achievement of the fine ideals of the United Nations and of one of the central points of the work program of the U.N., that we back, if necessary, our diplomacy by the credible threat of force. I'm asking the secretariat to circulate an amendment, which we are tabling, which will specify a further period beyond the adoption of a resolution for Iraq to take the final opportunity to disarm and to bring themselves into compliance.
RAY SUAREZ: Suarez: Iraq's ambassador to the U.N., Mohammed Aldouri, welcomed the inspectors' latest report.
MOHAMMED ALDOURI: Mr. President, the U.S.-UK statements, in addition with some others today, show a state of confusion, because officials in the United States and the U.K. and those standing on their side are unable to provide any evidence proving the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. This is an attempt to mix the issues. It is an attempt to mask the real agenda of the United States of America and the United Kingdom in Iraq. It's a very simple agenda. The objective is the complete takeover of Iraq's oil, domination of the entire Arab region, politically and economically.
RAY SUAREZ: The French foreign minister, who favors continued inspections, suggested that heads of state be summoned to New York for the next meeting of the Security Council. Reporters asked him what such a meeting would achieve.
DOMINIEQUE DE VILLEPIN: What would do, a meeting of head of states and governments, something very bold. They will have to say that the key element of stability, the key element of legitimacy, the key element of efficiency of the world community are the United Nations. This is basic for the security of the world, for the security of each country, because it give us the framework in order to act, and we believe that one country can win war in Iraq, but not a country alone can build peace in Iraq. For that you need the legitimacy of the United Nations.
RAY SUAREZ: Later, Sec. Powell was asked if he'd endorse a meeting that would presumably include the president of the United States.
COLIN POWELL: I think we have all had a good opportunity over the last month to express our views openly and candidly with each other here in the Council, at ministerial level, and our heads of state and government are in constant touch with each other. They have a solid understanding of each other's positions. So at the moment I don't see a particular need for a heads of state and government meeting at the Security Council, which really isn't the place to deal with issues like this or the forum to deal with issues like that.
RAY SUAREZ: The United States and Great Britain are expected to call for another meeting of the Security Council, where a vote on the British proposal could take place as early as Tuesday.