FRIDAY: U.N. Seen Nothing Yet

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BAGHDAD: It will all end in tears, and very possibly cruise missiles. Iraq is refusing to back down in the weapons crisis standoff and President Clinton is acting extremely pessimistic about his options. "No I don't," he enunciated slowly and clearly when asked Friday if he saw any reason for hope.

Noises from the other side are also less than encouraging. U.N. envoys left Iraq empty-handed Friday after Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz offered nothing but accusations: The U.S. is using the crisis as an excuse to attack; The U.S. is using U-2 flights to prepare for that attack; The U.S. is dominating U.N. weapons inspections teams.

On the subject of those weapons, however, Iraq also admitted that yes, they have been "hiding" some of their key military equipment while the inspectors are locked out. "It looks a little bit like, 'the cat's away, the mice will play,'" said the chief U.N. weapons inspector, Richard Butler an Australian. And what exactly are the mice playing at? "They could have enough anthrax to fill a warhead in one week," Butler later warned.

Given this deadline, it doesn't take a genius to figure out what will happen next. Shore leave has been canceled aboard the USS Nimitz in the Persian Gulf. And according to the Turkish press, the U.S. has requested permission to use their air bases in Turkey for an air strike against Iraq. Is Saddam, the Bad Boy of Baghdad, due yet another spanking?