With the Security Council expected to threaten "very severe consequences," Iraq's U.N. ambassador said Sunday his government will honor an agreement to open suspected weapons sites to U.N. inspectors.

But Ambassador Nizar Hamdoon said the inspections should not be open-ended, even though no time limit is mentioned in the agreement, signed last week with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.The 15-member council meets at 8:30 a.m. MST today to consider a U.S.-backed resolution, submitted by Britain and Japan, endorsing the Annan agreement, which reduced the possibility of a military strike by the United States and Britain.

The final draft of the resolution warned of "very severe" consequences if Baghdad breaks the accord. Earlier drafts had used the phrase "severest consequences."

Earlier drafts also referred specifically to a 1991 council resolution, which branded Iraq's failure to abide by U.N. orders as a "material breach" of the truce which ended the Persian Gulf War.

But Russia, France, China and others objected to any language which might open the door to an automatic U.S. military response if Iraq violates the Annan deal.

In an effort to win unanimous support, the sponsors removed a direct reference to the "material breach" resolution. Instead, the latest draft refers simply to "all relevant resolutions" on the issue.

Were the council to declare Iraq in "material breach" of the 1991 cease-fire, that would strengthen the U.S. case for launching military action under international law.