France on Wednesday reiterated its position that United Nations should play a key role in solving the Iraq issue and the weapons inspection be strengthened.
French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin told a special UNSecurity Council session that the use of force can only be a finalrecourse and that the United Nations should always be at the center of the action to guarantee Iraq's unity, ensure the region's stability, protect civilians and preserve the unity of the worldcommunity.
"Given the choice between military intervention and an inspection regime which is inadequate because of a failure to operate on Iraq's part, we must choose the decisive reinforcement of the means of inspection. This is today what France is proposing," he said.
The inspection regime must be strengthened since it has not been explored to the end, he said.
"Why go to war if there still exists an unused space in resolution 1441?" he asked.
The French minister suggested tripling the number of inspectorsand placing a full-time monitor in Baghdad to supervise the process.
He also urged Iraq to actively cooperate with UN weapons inspectors and immediately comply with demands of the two chief UNweapons inspectors Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei.
Asked by a reporter if France would veto a second UN resolutionauthorizing the use of force, the minister said since there is no such a resolution on the table, France has no need to do so.
France has been a leading opponent of using military force against Iraq now and suggested that it might veto a resolution that could lead to war. Among the 15 council members only the United States and Britain have voiced support for military actionsagainst Iraq.
Villepin said France would carefully review the information provided by US Secretary of State Colin Powell, noting Powell's presentation contained information, indications, questions that deserve to be explored.
But he stressed that it is up to the inspectors to assess the facts in accordance with resolution 1441.
"France is convinced that we can succeed on this demanding pathso long as we maintain our unity and cohesion," he said.