WASHINGTON -- The United States stiffened its demands against Iraq last night, vowing to continue the allied assault until Iraqi President Saddam Hussein personally and publicly agrees to an unconditional withdrawal in which his troops leave their weapons behind.
White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater, speaking to reporters last night as the United Nations Security Council was preparing to convene, stressed that Mr. Hussein would have to "explicitly" accept all U.N. resolutions related to the conflict, including the renouncing of Iraq's claim of annexation of Kuwait and an agreement to make reparations for damage Iraqi occupation forces caused to the emirate.
Mr. Fitzwater indicated that the United States did not accept Iraq's announcement on Baghdad radio yesterday that its troops would withdraw. He said U.S. officials had "no indication of any withdrawal taking place" and said that, in fact, Iraqi units were continuing to fight.
[At the United Nations last night, Iraq's U.N. ambassador, Abdul Amir al-Anbari, said he was "reaffirming Iraq's commitment to withdrawal from the Kuwaiti territories," Reuters reported.]
[But the Associated Press quoted him as saying that Iraq would comply only with only one of 12 Security Council resolutions, No. 660, which calls for complete and unconditional withdrawal.
["As you know, all the other resolutions were passed after that simply because 660 was not implemented by Iraq. Now we are saying that we are fully committed and we are ready to implement that resolution," he said.]
When asked whether the United States would allow Mr. Hussein's troops to withdraw, Mr. Fitzwater said allied forces would not shoot unarmed Iraqi soldiers as they retreated. But he stressed that the Iraqis would have to "lay down their arms" to avoid allied attacks, even inside Iraq.
"The coalition's forces are spread throughout the country and throughout Kuwait, and we cannot sacrifice the safety of coalition forces by allowing them [Iraqi troops] to have their weapons and, in effect, fight their way out."
But Mr. Fitzwater cited a deadly Iraqi Scud missile attack last night on a U.S. military barracks in Saudi Arabia as evidence of Iraq's continuing aggression.
"There at least 22 dead Americans tonight to offer silent testimony to the intentions of Saddam Hussein," he said. Officials in Saudi Arabia later said 27 had been killed in that attack.
[In Moscow, Vice President Gennady Yanayev said yesterday that President Mikhail S. Gorbachev had appealed to President Bush to call off the allied ground offensive and pursue further diplomatic efforts, according to the Chicago Tribune.
[Mr. Yanayev said Mr. Gorbachev had called Mr. Bush to ask for "a reconsideration" of the military offensive. Mr. Yanayev did not say when the call was made.]
Mr. Fitzwater said last night that the White House had had "no contact" with Mr. Gorbachev but that it had been in touch with Soviet Embassy officials.
Earlier yesterday, U.S. and allied officials said hostilities couldn't end until there had been clear evidence of withdrawal and official communication with the United Nations.
"There's been no contact with our government, no authoritative contact with the U.N. that we're aware of, so we don't consider there to be anything to respond to," said Mr. Fitzwater. "The war goes on."
Late yesterday evening, the president met with his top national security advisers in an unusual after-hours session.
Baghdad radio's statement, monitored by the British Broadcasting Corp., said:
"Our armed forces have performed their jihad duty of refusing to comply with the logic of evil, imposition and aggression. They have been engaged in an epic, valiant battle which will be recorded by history in letters of light.
"On this basis, and because the leadership affirmed its agreement to withdraw in accordance with U.N. Security Council Resolution No. 660 through its approval of the Soviet initiative, orders have been issued to our armed forces to withdraw in an organized manner to the positions held prior to Aug. 1, 1990.
"This is regarded as a practical compliance with Resolution 660," it said, referring to the U.N. resolution demanding unconditional withdrawal from Kuwait.
U.S. officials said the terms for halting the war -- outlined by Mr. Fitzwater Friday -- remained "on the table."
But President Bush had demanded both public acceptance of the U.S. terms and authoritative communication to the United Nations.
The Baghdad radio announcement made no mention of the U.S. terms, which, in addition to withdrawal in seven days, called for ,, immediate release of prisoners of war, removal of Iraqi forces from Kuwait City in 48 hours, removal of all explosives and booby traps, and providing data on the location of mines.
President Bush learned of the Iraqi announcement from his national security adviser, Brent Scowcroft, while playing racquetball in the House gym with Representative Sonny Montgomery, D-Miss. He returned to the White House at 6:15 p.m.