Iraqi troops occupying Kuwait would have to abandon much of their armor and supplies to meet the Bush administration's demand for a speedy and unequivocal withdrawal, several senior U.S. officials said yesterday.

The statements, which came amidst talk in Washington of a potential Iraqi coup or capitulation, appeared to raise the ante on a potential Iraqi termination of the war for Kuwait.

U.S. and allied officials have previously said only that Iraq's military forces must be withdrawn, without specifying how that would occur or requiring that Iraq give up some of its remaining armaments.

Questions about the procedures for withdrawal have arisen in light of U.S. military statements that allied forces plan to bomb any Iraqi forces seen exiting hardened bunkers or fortifications inside Kuwait.

Iraq's Revolutionary Command Council yesterday broadcast a demand that, in the context of a general cease-fire, the government "not receive any negative effects" from the war "so that things may return to normal as if nothing had happened."

U.S. officials said they interpreted the remark as suggesting that Iraq may balk at any demand for abandoning military equipment during a future withdrawal.

A U.N. resolution approved last August and reiterated yesterday in public comments by U.S. officials, including President Bush, calls only for an "immediate" Iraqi withdrawal. State Department spokesman Margaret Tutwiler said yesterday that a withdrawal "must be visible, it must be massive, it must be unequivocal."

Pentagon spokesman Pete Williams added, "It's not words we're looking for, it's action on the ground." He said the terms of "safe passage" for withdrawing Iraqi forces would be negotiated only after Iraq agrees to do so unconditionally.

Various diplomats have said that these terms would first have to be worked out by those nations with military forces committed to the conflict and then approved by the U.N. Security Council.

But a senior defense official, providing the first details of how Washington expects any Iraqi withdrawal to proceed, said in an interview yesterday, "It's got to be very fast. Speed is the key factor."

The official, speaking on condition that he not be named, said any withdrawal scenario acceptable to the United States would require that Iraq leave behind some of the thousands of tanks, artillery and armored personnel carriers it has deployed in Kuwait since invading that country Aug. 2.

"What is unacceptable is a protracted pullout" that would give Iraq an opportunity to regroup its military forces and repair the extensive damage inflicted in four weeks of unremitting aerial bombardment by U.S. and allied aircraft, the official said.

Some observers say a pullout would take a long time because, as one said of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, "look at all he's brought in since he came. The answer is, leave it there," the senior official said.

While the defense official did not explain whether any of Iraq's abandoned military equipment could eventually be repatriated in the context of a broader settlement of war claims, he said, "We are not interested in his being able to leave Kuwait with everything he's brought in there."

Other officials said this statement reflected a sense that the task of dismembering Iraq's armed forces and safeguarding its neighbors has not been completed, despite the estimated destruction of 30 to 35 percent of its tanks, armored personnel carriers and artillery pieces, as well as an undetermined number of its troops, by thousands of tons of explosives.

A senior military official concurred that Iraqi forces would have to withdraw "in the most expeditious way" to satisfy U.S. commanders that they were not seeking a military advantage and no longer posed an offensive threat to the allied forces deployed in Saudi Arabia. He said this would be impractical if Iraqi forces "wanted to bring {back} every piece of military equipment."

Asked about potential procedures for an Iraqi withdrawal, Lt. Gen. Thomas Kelly, operations director for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, cautioned, "We've got to protect our troops, and we're not going to take any chances." He added, "Troops can be moving out of their holes and . . . that could mean they were trying to gain the tactical advantage."

According to the latest U.S. estimate, Iraq retains 2,980 tanks, 800 armored personnel carriers and 2,010 artillery pieces in the theater of operations that includes Kuwait and southern Iraq. Iraqi troops inside the military theater were estimated at about 540,000 when the war began; U.S. officials have declined to estimate how many have since been killed, although Kelly yesterday estimated that 500,000 or fewer could remain.

More than 1,100 have been taken prisoner by the allied coalition, and one military official said yesterday that another 2,000 Iraqi front-line soldiers may be absent without leave.

One U.S. official interviewed yesterday said that the best way for individual Iraqi troops to avoid being bombed was for them simply "to walk north." Another said that withdrawing military units might be allowed to use vehicles that were marked by flags or reflective material.

"What we'd really like is for . . . {Saddam} to have buses pull up to each tank and artillery piece to pick up the troops," a third official said.

U.S. and allied diplomats said there is broad agreement that these procedures should be negotiated with Baghdad and monitored by observers appointed by the United Nations. Eventually, a U.N.-sanctioned peace-keeping force would police the cease-fire. But other details, including the makeup of such a group, have not been decided.

Staff writer John M. Goshko at the United Nations and researcher Ralph Gaillard Jr. contributed to this report.