WASHINGTON -- Faced with broad opposition to war at the United Nations, President Bush's national security adviser said Sunday the White House might push a new U.N. plan to force a showdown with Saddam Hussein.
Condoleezza Rice said it was becoming more obvious that the Iraqi president would not disarm voluntarily and that the U.N. was letting him get away with it.
"Continuing to talk about more time and more time and more time is simply going to relieve pressures on the Iraqis to do what they must do," Rice said on NBC's "Meet The Press."
The administration was evaluating all options after being rebuffed Friday at the U.N. Security Council, where members lined up behind France's call for more weapons inspections and against military action.
Rice said on "Fox News Sunday" that the administration may ask the U.N. to take up a new resolution authorizing force against Iraq, although she said action was already sanctioned by a previous resolution.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said on the same program that the resolution being presented this week by the United States and Britain would likely call for "definitive progress" in the disarmament of Iraq.
"If that's rejected, then I think the United States of America is going to have to make some difficult decisions," McCain said.
Rice, however, said: "We have not drafted the resolution. We're working it with different parties, with our friends."
The United States, she added, was ready to go to war with or without U.N. support. At the same time, the administration seemed focused on pressuring the U.N. to join. "Putting this off is not an option," Rice said.
France has led a formidable bloc calling for extended inspections and wants to wait on a resolution at least until March 14, when inspectors report back to the 15-member Security Council. Inspectors report on March 1 to the five permanent members of the council -- the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China.
French President Jacques Chirac outlined his opposition in an interview with Time magazine. He said that "a war of this kind cannot help but give a big lift to terrorism. It would create a large number of little bin Ladens" -- a reference to Osama bin Laden.
Meanwhile, the chief U.N. nuclear inspector said Sunday that countries opposed to using force against Iraq could change their minds if Baghdad doesn't show more willingness to reveal evidence of weapons programs.
Mohamed ElBaradei, who heads the U.N. search for banned weapons along with Hans Blix, told The Associated Press that the onus was on Iraq, not the U.N. inspectors searching for weapons of mass destruction, to prove that it had nothing to hide.
In her appearances on the Sunday talk shows, Rice repeatedly said that Saddam had weeks, not months, to disarm or face a military strike.
But former NATO commander Wesley Clark said on NBC's "Meet The Press" that the White House should consider allowing inspections to seek out weapons of mass destruction and not follow an "artificial deadline."
"It's unlikely the inspectors will ever find the so-called smoking gun on this. But if it makes our allies more able to go to their publics and justify their support of our operation, then I think that's important," said Clark, who has been mentioned as a possible Democratic presidential contender.
Rice said a confrontation was inevitable with Saddam.
"Sooner or later, we believe sooner, the Security Council is going to have to say that he has not taken that final opportunity to comply, and the Security Council is going to have to act, or the United States will have to act with a coalition of the willing," Rice said on Fox.
She refused to speculate about the vote possibilities for another Iraq resolution.
Christopher Meyer, British ambassador to United States, said on ABC's "This Week" that a decision would be made in the next few days on "the tactics and timing of a second resolution -- when to do it, what to put into it, even who's going to table it."