white house dismisses inspectors' optimism

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    America WANTS WAR it doesn't matter what Iraq does, nothing is good enough makes me feel very sick inside.

    BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Two days of talks between the chief U.N. weapons inspectors and high-level Iraqi officials gave the inspectors hope that Iraq had finally begun to fully cooperate, but U.S. officials dismissed that hope as too little, too late.

    With Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei leaving Baghdad more convinced than ever that the inspections would accomplish Iraq's disarmament peacefully, a Security Council showdown over the next steps appeared unavoidable.

    "The ball is very much in Iraq's court," said ElBaradei, adding that he thought he'd seen a "change of heart" among the Iraqis. "If we see quick progress ... then I believe we will be given the time we need to move. As long as we're registering good progress, I think the Security Council in my view will continue to support the inspections process."

    But President Bush, speaking at a Republican retreat in West Virginia, said a change of heart was "not good enough."

    "The job of the inspectors is not to negotiate with Iraq but to verify whether or not Iraq has weapons of mass destruction," he said.

    National security adviser Condoleezza Rice, on CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer," called Iraq a "serial abuser" of U.N. resolutions and said the resolution that sent inspectors back to Iraq in November was a last chance.

    "The Iraqis have not had three months to deal with this problem," she said. "They've had 12 years."

    Blix said the Iraqis had handed over documents on "specific, high-profile unresolved issues" including anthrax, the chemical agent VX and missiles. He said U.N. experts in New York would examine the documents Monday and Tuesday.

    "I hope I have seen ... a beginning of taking these remaining disarmament issues more seriously," Blix said.

    However, Blix repeated comments he has made in past weeks that Iraqi officials were being cooperative on "process" -- granting inspectors access to sites they wanted to visit -- but less cooperative on "substance" -- the resolution of remaining disarmament issues.

    Blix and ElBaradei are due to report to the Security Council on Friday.

    The United States and Britain are trying to shore up support for military action, with Bush warning that Baghdad has "weeks, not months" to comply with U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441, which sent inspectors back into Iraq and demanded Iraq account for and dispose of its weapons of mass destruction.

    Key countries opposed to conflict are also looking at how to proceed. After meeting Sunday with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he saw no reason for military action.

    "We are sure that we need to continue all efforts for a peaceful resolution of this crisis," Putin said. "At the moment, we don't see any foundation, any cause for the use of force."
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