United Nations — The United States on Monday distributed a revised U.N. resolution on Iraq to the other veto-wielding members of the Security Council that it said would toughen weapons inspections and ensure there will be "consequences" if Iraq fails to comply.
But France's U.N. ambassador, Jean-David Levitte, whose country has been pressing to give Iraq a last chance to cooperate with inspectors without a threat of military action, put a damper on prospects for quick agreement on a new resolution.
When asked whether an agreement was close, Levitte replied: "I don't think so."
U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte distributed the revised text at a meeting of the five permanent members Russia, China, Britain, France and the United States who have been divided on how tough a new resolution should be.
The United States and Britain want a single resolution that would allow the use of force if Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein did not comply with U.N. weapons inspectors. Last week, Washington backed down from its demand that the resolution authorize "all necessary means," but it is still demanding language stating that Baghdad would face "consequences."
France, backed by Russia and China, favors a two-stage approach that would give Iraq a chance to cooperate and only authorize force in a second resolution if Baghdad failed to comply.
According to excerpts obtained last week by The Associated Press, the new U.S. proposal would call on inspectors to report "any failure by Iraq to comply with its disarmament." The Security Council would then convene immediately to consider the situation.
U.S. officials have said this commits the U.S. government to waiting for a report but not to waiting for a council decision before taking action.