Countdown to Iraq Strike

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BAGHDAD: Time is running out in the Gulf. Iraq has enough biological weapons to "blow away Tel Aviv," and is playing tricks to hide them that's the word from Richard Butler, chief U.N. weapons inspector. Indeed, as the U.S. continues its buildup of hardware in the Persian Gulf, TIME Pentagon correspondent Mark Thompson says an attack is at least a week away.

So will Saddam make concessions? Not likely. The Iraqi leader may be miscalculating the extent to which President Clinton's domestic problems are affecting his military resolve. According to Newt Gingrich, an unusual Clinton bedfellow at the moment, Saddam "might be confused by the difference between headlines and the national will."

And America's peace-minded allies? Well, Saddam is making it easier for them to come on board, too. Iraq is "obviously trying to challenge the Security Council and demonstrate that it has no power," says TIME U.N. correspondent Bill Dowell. "That's something the French and Russians can't accept." As Secretary of State Madeleine Albright heads to Europe Wednesday to drum up support for a strike against Iraq, her job should be easier than usual.