A compromise over Iraq looks imminent in the deadlocked UN Security Council, with Washington about to offer a deal acceptable to council co-members France and Russia.
The deal would enable arms inspectors to start work in Iraq next week backed with only an implicit threat of force, diplomats said. A likely US draft resolution would set in place a two-stage process, convening the Security Council before any military attack on Iraq.
But if the new proposals were designed to win French and Russian backing, US Secretary of State Colin Powell again made it clear the United States was prepared to act without the council’s approval if necessary.
"The United States is now operating behind the authority given to the president by a joint resolution of the Congress last week," he said in New York.
Meanwhile the London think tank, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, predicted in its annual Military Balance report that a US-led war on Iraq was now a probability within the next six months.
Although it may be the eleventh hour in Baghdad the streets teem with humanity. Life goes on under the shadow of the sword. Democracy Now continues its series Iraq Journal, with cyber-reports from Baghdad by Jeremy Scahill and Jackie Soohen.
- Jeremy Scahill, Democracy Now! correspondent in Iraq