White House sources have indicated that they aim to have the second resolution on Iraq, jointly tabled by Washington and London, adopted in the week following Blix’s report. However, diplomatic officials quoted in the Washington Post said that the US would be unlikely to press for a vote on the resolution, which essentially authorises the use of force, unless it could be certain of securing the requisite nine votes in the Security Council. An intense round of diplomacy is being conducted to win round the waverers.

France, the most implacable opponent among permanent Security Council members of a swift move to war, showed some signs of softening his stance on 3 March. Addressing the Algerian Parliament, President Chirac called on the Iraqi president to enhance co-operation: ‘Iraq most co-operate more actively,’ he said.