Speaking on US television, Mr Powell said the UN weapons inspectors might have to wait for Security Council guidance before any plans for going back into Iraq are finalised.There's little doubt that the Bush administration is trying to disrupt or discredit these talks- as I've said, they're probably the biggest obstacle (outside of maybe the French) standing between them and their war. If the talks go well and inspectors go in, the momentum for a new resolution stalls completely, and the Bush administration faces either the spectacle of invading despite the presence of inspectors or the embarassment of climbing down from war footing because of Bush's embrace of multilateralism. They can still hope that the Iraqis would screw around with the inspectors, but what little information is coming out of the talks implies that the Iraqis really were serious about letting inspectors in.
However, Hans Blix, the head of UN weapons inspectors, made it clear that he answered to the Security Council - not to the US.
"I'm asked by the Security Council to do this job, and I do it. I try to," Mr Blix said as he headed into a second and final day of talks with senior Iraqis at the headquarters of the IAEA in Vienna.
(It's not surprising, though. I've felt for a while that the Iraqi regime wants to preserve itself, even if it loses its WMDs. It's just that they don't want it to be a pretext for weapons targeting and for eventual war, as it would no doubt be under the terms of the U.S.-sponsored resolution.)
At this point the big question is whether a new resolution gets passed, and which resolution it will be. The apparent success of these talks seems to imply that it'll either be "no resolution" or the French compromise. Barring ugly horse trading or arm-twisting, I doubt that the U.S. resolution would get past China, Russia, and France at this point.
Actually, come to think about it, it probably wouldn't get past them either way.