Bush administration officials suggested Tuesday that the United States may abandon its efforts for a second resolution if it cannot muster enough Security Council support for war, as U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan called Iraq's destruction of missiles a "positive development" and said that war must be a last resort.
A vote on the resolution, co-sponsored by Britain and Spain, could come early next week or possibly March 13, six months since President Bush sought international backing at the United Nations for the disarmament of Iraq.
But several members of the 15-member Security Council argue that time has not run out on U.N. inspections.
Secretary of State Colin Powell, in an interview with German television, said that early next week U.S. officials will "make a judgment on whether it's time to put the resolution up to a vote."
At the White House, spokesman Ari Fleischer said: "The vote is desirable. It is not necessary."
The Bush administration has insisted for months that it would disarm Iraq with or without U.N. support.
In Baghdad, Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein issued tough rhetoric, saying the United States planned to enslave Arabs.
"The tyrant thinks he is capable of enslaving the people," Hussein said in a letter read on Iraqi television. "You will be victorious through your faith."
In Turkey, the United States received encouraging signs from politicians indicating that the government may soon ask Parliament to reconsider allowing 62,000 American troops in that country for a northern front in a war in Iraq.
At U.N. headquarters, Annan emphasized that force should be used only "when possibilities of peaceful settlement have been exhausted."
In closed-door meetings at the United Nations, France, backed by China, Russia, and Germany, continued to push for a continuation of the inspection process at least through July 1.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Richard Myers, told reporters that capturing or killing Hussein would not be necessary for the United States to conduct a successful military operation in Iraq.
The goal is to disarm Iraq of chemical and biological weapons and their delivery systems, Myers said.
"The ultimate objective," Myers added, "is not Saddam Hussein."
Meanwhile, Annan said he hoped the Security Council could come to a consensus after hearing Friday's report from U.N. chief weapons inspector Hans Blix.
In the past, Blix has indicated that Iraq has failed to fully comply but that he was recently encouraged by Iraq's decision to begin destroying its Al Samoud 2 missiles.
Destruction of the surface-to-surface missiles, deemed in violation of the 93-mile limit set by the United Nations at the end of the 1991 Persian Gulf War, began Saturday.
On Tuesday three more missiles were destroyed, meaning 20 missiles have been destroyed out of a total of more than 100.
In other developments:
Kurdish soldiers in northern Iraq fatally shot five members of an allied group whom they mistook for terrorists, the Kurdish autonomous government said.
An ABC News-Washington Post poll said nearly six in 10 people support Bush's plan to disarm Iraq. But 24 percent of those who support the policy say they still have serious reservations about a war. The poll of 1,022 adults had an error margin of 3 percentage points.