Russia, France to Veto New UN Resolution on Iraq

France and Russia said on Monday that they will veto a draft resolution proposed by the United States, Britain and Spain, which seeks the authorization of the use of force against Iraq and sets a March 17 deadline for Iraq to fully comply.

After Russia said it will vote against the resolution, French President Jacques Chirac said Monday evening in an interview broadcast live on French television that France will also vote no.

"France will vote no to a new UN resolution on Iraq whatever the circumstances," said Chirac.

It is the first time that the French president explicitly promise to use its veto power at the UN Security Council.

France will not support any measure that would lead to military action "until the inspectors have told us 'We can't do anything more'" in Iraq.

Iraq is still "a dangerous country" and must be disarmed, but the war remains the ultimate resort and the worst of solutions, said the French president.

"France will not accept and therefore will refuse" a resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq, he said, adding that the most probable situation is that the second resolution will notget the votes needed at the UN Security Council.

From 1991 to 1998, the regime of UN weapons inspections "has destroyed more arms in Iraq than those used in the Gulf war," saidChirac, adding that the UN inspections must be pursued.

A war on Iraq will lead to a development of terrorism and will break up the world's anti-terrorist coalition, he said.

"Europe will not remain divided once the Iraqi crisis is ended.She (Europe) will regret not having been able to conceive a uniqueposition, a new force," Chirac said.

RUSSIA SAYS DRAFT CONTAINS IMPOSSIBLE ULTIMATUM

Earlier on Monday, in a statement before he left on a visit to Iran, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said that the draft resolution contains impossible ultimatum demands that contradict the United Nations (UN) Security Council's Resolution 1441.

Russia, a veto-wielding permanent member of the Security Council, has repeatedly spoken against military action against Iraq and called for further UN arms inspections in the country.

"In the course of the latest session of the UN Security Council,we did not hear serious arguments for the use of force to solve the Iraqi problem," Ivanov said.

"We believe that any new resolution is not needed now, but comprehensive support should be given to the activities of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission and the International Atomic Energy Agency, who have already demonstrated and publicly stated at a session of the UN Security Council that they are capable to fulfill the task of disarming Iraq, as it is envisaged by the relevant resolutions of the Security Council," Ivanov said.

"Concerning the draft resolution that has been submitted by Great Britain, the United States and Spain, we consider that the ultimatum demands contained in this resolution are, firstly, unfulfillable and, secondly, contradict the line that is being implemented now on the basis of the previous Resolution 1441," he noted.

"For this reason Russia has stated and is stating once again that it will not be able to support such resolution," he said.

"Now it would be hardly expedient to submit such a resolution to the UN Security Council for a review. If it is submitted, Russia will vote against," Ivanov said.

"There are all necessary possibilities now for settling the situation around Iraq in a political way. And the international community should use these," Ivanov said.

Asked whether Iraq had enough military power to counteract the US military potential, he said "of course not."

He warned that military actions against Iraq would also "lead to deaths among the civilian population and to destruction, and not to the solution of the problem for the sake of which the UN Security Council has been passing resolutions."

The 15 members of the Security Council are expected to vote this week on the draft resolution. To have a resolution approved,the sponsors need at least nine "yes" votes, and no use of veto power by any of the five permanent members of the council, namely Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States.



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