US More Isolated On Iraq
After WMD Experts Report
By Ian MacKenzie

LONDON (Reuters) - The United States appeared further isolated on Monday in its attitude toward Baghdad, with most of the world saying U.N. arms inspectors needed more time to search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
Even Foreign Secretary Jack Straw of staunch U.S. ally Britain, while condemning Iraq's attitude to the inspectors as "a charade," said the continuation of the searches was up to the U.N. Security Council -- not any one state.
Following reports from the U.N. arms chiefs to the Security Council on their first two months of operation, the United States said Baghdad was not cooperating with the inspectors or complying with U.N. resolutions to give up weapons of mass destruction Washington says it possesses.
Germany, France, Russia and Canada said the arms experts needed more time, as did Secretary-General Amr Moussa of the 22-member Arab League and states neighboring Iraq.
U.N. weapons chief Hans Blix said Iraq had cooperated in opening sites for inspection but had fallen short of filling in gaps in last month's declaration on its weapons programs. He said further moves were up to the Security Council.
The head of the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, told the Security Council two months of inspections had produced no evidence Iraq was reviving its nuclear arms program, dismantled by the U.N. in the 1990s. He sought more time.
While Straw called Baghdad's performance "a charade," he hedged his bets on how soon a U.S.-led assault on Iraq might go ahead.
He said after a meeting of European Union foreign ministers in Brussels: "The decision about continuation of inspections is a matter for the Security Council, not for any one state."
The United States has threatened a unilateral attack on Iraq if Baghdad does not give up biological, chemical and nuclear weaponry which Iraq says it does not have.
Baghdad said it had complied with U.N. demands.
Secretary of State Colin Powell did not mince his words: "Iraq's time for choosing peaceful disarmament is fast coming to an end."
He gave no hint on when a decision to go to war might come. He said Washington would consult its allies over the next week and after that, it would decide what to do.
"The issue is not how much more time the inspectors need to search in the dark. It is how much more time Iraq should be given to turn on the lights and to come clean. And the answer is not much more time," Powell said.
Britain has already sent troops to the Gulf to join U.S. forces there, diverging from European partners Germany and France and other international heavyweights such as Russia and China.
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and French President Jacques Chirac, whose opinions have drawn fire from Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, said the arms inspectors needed more time.
"We are of the opinion...that the inspectors will get more time for their work," Schroeder told journalists in Berlin.
At a later news conference after meeting Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Schroeder said: "We are both of the opinion that nobody has the right to undertake any kind of action without a decision of the Security Council."
Chirac, who discussed the issue with Schroeder by phone, echoed his call and urged Baghdad to give the inspectors "full and entire cooperation."
Germany's Joschka Fischer, also attending the EU foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels, said: "War is no alternative. I think one can conclude that the inspectors are doing a great job which should definitely go on."
The EU meeting produced a statement seeking more time for the inspectors in what officials said was a "unified position." Diplomats said the declaration papered over cracks that would inevitably emerge if Washington went to war.
In Moscow, Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Yuri Fedotov said the reports of the arms inspectors were only intended to provide a preliminary survey of their work and set basic outlines for the future.
"At the present time, there is no need to adopt new (U.N.) resolutions on Iraq," he was quoted by Itar-Tass news agency as saying.
The Arab League's Amr Moussa said in an interview with Reuters in Berlin that the arms inspectors should get as much time as they needed, three months or more if necessary, to check for banned weaponry.
"There should be no outer limit for peace. War is a very serious and dangerous proposition, you have to avoid it by all means up until it is the only necessity and one the whole world community decides.
"So if they need more time, they should be given more time. Why should we be in a hurry to wage war?" he asked on the eve of talks with the German foreign minister.
Prime Minister Abdullah Gul of Turkey, a close NATO ally of the United States and a key to any war with Iraq, said conflict with Baghdad could spell economic and human disaster and called for increased efforts to avert it.
In New Delhi, Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi urged Baghdad to cooperate fully with the weapons inspectors, but said all countries bordering Iraq opposed a U.S.-led invasion.
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