Russia Believes Military Operation in Iraq Must Be Last Measure

Russia believes "possible unilateral operations" against Iraq "can not only complicate the situation in the region, but also significantly shake the unity of the antiterrorist coalition," Russia's Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov has announced.

Most UN Security Council members proceed from the fact that "it is necessary to continue making political and diplomatic efforts to resolve" the Iraqi problem, he said. Ivanov also expressed the opinion of the UN Security Council majority saying that "resources and possibilities of such political settlement had not been exhausted." "Military operations are an emergent and the last measure, when all other possibilities are exhausted," the Minister stated.

The international inspectors' latest reports testify Iraq's cooperation with the UN and its ability to resolve all emerging problems through diplomatic and political channels, he pointed out.

The Iraqi problem should be resolved in the framework of the international inspectors' committee, according to Ivanov. The idea of UN Security Council Resolution 1441 is not only to find out whether or not Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, but also to "claim its elimination" in case it does, Ivanov recalled. Then the international inspectors must set up a monitoring system to prevent Iraq's resumed production of mass destruction weapons.

The UN Security Council meeting, scheduled to take place on January 27th will see the introduction of reports made by the international inspectors' committee and IAEA committee on Iraq, Ivanov stressed.

Meanwhile the Minister recalled that in December 1998 when the international inspectors' committee headed by Richard Butler had found and liquidated a great number of missiles and chemical weapons in Iraq, it unilaterally withdrew from the work by its head's instruction. Iraq did not "banish" the inspectors as they now try to present things, said Russia's Foreign Minister.

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