A new resolution declaring Iraq in violation of its obligation to disarm was to be put before the UN Security Council Monday afternoon. Britain, which cosponsored the draft with the US and was to introduce it, said a vote would be sought by mid-March. Prospects for passage, however, appeared uncertain at best. France, which has a veto, and Germany have vigorously opposed a new resolution, and the French planned to offer a new memorandum of their own to the Council to "facilitate and set benchmarks" for Iraqi disarmament.
In related developments:
• NATO units to help protect Turkey against a potential Iraqi counterattack left an alliance air base in Germany. Meanwhile, Turkey's government OK'd and sent to parliament the terms of a deal with the US that would allow American troops to use that country as a staging base for the war. But the Speaker said his colleagues might choose to wait for the outcome of the new UN resolution issue before they vote.
• Iraq promised a decision "quite soon" on whether to comply with a UN demand that it destroy missiles whose range is longer than permitted. Iraq had asked that the Security Council reconsider the order, but a UN official called it "not negotiable."
• The first volunteer "human shields" from Western countries took their positions at a Baghdad water purification plant.
Secretary of State Powell and other world leaders were gathering in Seoul for Tuesday's inauguration of new South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun amid a flurry of new developments involving rival North Korea's revived nuclear program. The North blocked the 116-member Nonaligned Movement, meeting in Malaysia, from urging in its final communiqué that the Pyongyang government return to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. And senior Chinese officials, after meeting with Powell in Beijing, said they preferred that the US and North Korea resolve their differences in bilateral talks. Powell had hoped to win China's backing for multilateral discussions.
Tens of thousands of residents of western China were sleeping outdoors in 14-degree F. temperatures after a strong earthquake struck their region, killing at least 257 people. The early-morning quake had a magnitude of 6.8, seismologists said.