Posted by Tony from ? (188.8.131.52) on Thursday, October 03, 2002 at 12:48PM :
Thursday October 3, 11:32 PM
Russia against UN resolution threatening Iraq with
Russia said it would not back a new UN
resolution on Iraq that threatens Baghdad with
the automatic use of force should it obstruct
"In our opinion, it is not constructive to
present Iraq with an ultimatum without first
having an objective picture" of Baghdad's
alleged programs of weapons of mass
destruction, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister
Alexander Saltanov told a conference on Iraq
"The document presented to us by the Britons and Americans has only strengthened
our assurance that our stand in favor of a quick re-launch of inspections and
monitoring in Iraq, and the general settlement without the automatic use of force, is
correct," Interfax news agency separately quoted him as saying.
Saltanov said Russia, which has veto power as a permanent member of the UN
Security Council, was instead preparing its own UN resolution seeing weapons
inspectors return to Iraq and the international community lift its sanctions against
"This is a so-called package deal," said Saltanov, who holds the foreign ministry
brief on Iraq.
Moscow had inched back Wednesday from total opposition to a new UN resolution
on Iraq, saying for the first time that it would consider a new text laying out
international demands to Baghdad.
A Soviet-era ally of Baghdad, Moscow has made repeated efforts to ensure the return
of inspectors, and has hailed Iraq's decision last month to provide unfettered access
to a UN team.
But the United States and Britain, which accuse Iraq of developing nuclear, chemical
and biological weapons, are pressing for a strong resolution that would authorize the
use of force in the event of Iraqi obstructionism.
The new US-British resolution would give Baghdad seven days to declare all its
weapons of mass destruction programs or face military action, and another 23 days to
cooperate fully with UN inspection teams.
Both Washington and London sent top diplomats to Moscow over the weekend to
convince Russia to support their stance.
But those talks have had only mixed results, with Saltanov's comments suggesting that
Russia was not convinced by arguments presented by the US and British negotiators.
The remarks came during a round-table meeting attended by a senior Iraqi delegation
which repeatedly reminded those present Thursday that Russia had oil interests in
Iraq -- as well as nearly eight billion dollars in debts owed by Baghdad -- that stood
to vanish should there be a war.
Russia's view appears to now be closely in line with that of France, which also has
veto power on the UN Security Council, and whose President Jacques Chirac late
Wednesday said he opposed the ultimatum from US President George W. Bush.
France favors two resolutions on Iraq -- one on the return of UN arms inspectors to
the country, and a second if Baghdad fails to comply.
UN inspector Hans Blix on Tuesday announced a deal with Baghdad -- struck in
Vienna -- on the return of inspectors based on previous UN resolutions.
But as before, the agreement was subject to restrictions on entering eight massive
"presidential sites" of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
That deal was rejected by Washington, which has sought to avoid a unilateral strike
against Baghdad by agreeing a deal that forces Iraq to open up all possible sites to
inspectors within a specific time, or else be attacked.
But such a position, said the Russian deputy foreign minister, was not in Moscow's
"Any military solution will have negative consequences for Russia's interests. We
think we have to continue doing all we can to search for a political solution. A
military solution, especially one that comes without a UN resolution, will not resolve
the Iraqi problem," Saltanov said.
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