U.S. Gives Iraq Enough Rope

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Iraq's "file not found" message to U.N. arms inspectors won't bring cruise missiles raining down -- not yet, anyway. "The U.S. needs more than Baghdad's refusal to hand over documents to carry out a bombing campaign," says TIME U.N. correspondent William Dowell. "But it's a sign of where things are going. The Iraqis aren't sincere about trying to resolve this thing, and they may be counting on the U.S.'s not being able to maintain the international consensus over Iraq's need to comply with UNSCOM."

Special Report Still, the U.S. will likely wait for UNSCOM to build a watertight case before pressing for action. "Because the Iraqis have moved everything around, it will take a few weeks before UNSCOM can make aggressive inspections," says Dowell. "Right now they don't necessarily know where to look." But once a pattern of Iraqi noncompliance is established, diplomacy may, as the saying goes, be backed up by force.