Gulf Crisis: No Way Out?

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BAGHDAD: Chief U.N. arms inspector Richard Butler says there’s no way out of the standoff over Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and its refusal to grant UNSCOM access to presidential sites. But don’t expect any military action as a result, says TIME correspondent William Dowell.

Butler will report to the Security Council on Thursday that Baghdad refuses to back down and allow the U.N. team to inspect presidential sites. That will leave the Security Council to decide what to do next. Says Dowell: “It’s hard to see what more anyone can do short of military action. But there’s considerable feeling against any military action in the Gulf, and without the support of allies in the Arab world and the Gulf, it’s hard to imagine the U.S. launching an attack.

“The feeling in the region is they’d prefer to see things calm down despite Iraq possessing biological weapons, rather than allow those weapons to become the reason for further conflict,” says Dowell. Which means the outcome of the present standoff may be even more inconclusive than the resolution of the Gulf War itself.