Moscow accuses U.S. of inconsistent approach to Iraq settlement

Moscow has blamed the U.S. and its allies for "constantly changing the rules of the game" for an Iraq settlement.

"We are well informed about the U.S. position, we are cooperating with the U.S., and we are trying to understand what its motivation is, and also why it keeps changing the rules of the game," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Yuri Fedotov said on NTV's Vliyaniye (Influence) program on Sunday.

He said the UN Security Council's Resolution No.1441, initiated by the U.S., says that Iraq, which earlier violated its commitments to eliminate weapons of mass destruction, was being given a last chance to resume cooperation with the UN. "In a way, this provision wrote off what had been done over the past four years and restarted everything from scratch. The main emphasis was laid on international inspectors' access to all of Iraq's facilities," Fedotov said.

Inspectors were given such access, "but later we were told that this was not enough, that cooperation was formal, and that real disarmament must begin," he continued.

Real disarmament is now underway and Iraq has eliminated one-third of its Al Samoud-2 missiles, he said. "However, Iraq is being told now that this is not enough, either, and that instead of eliminating individual types of weapons, the policy must be changed and proof provided that Iraq is doing so with enthusiasm. How can enthusiasm be measured?" Fedotov said.

U.S. Ambassador to Russia Alexander Vershbow, who also took part in the program, said that as before, Washington does not see any active cooperation between Iraq and the UN, and that Baghdad has eliminated the above-mentioned missiles to feign disarmament.

Vershbow said that Baghdad is simultaneously eliminating and producing Al Samoud-2 missiles, and tens of thousands of chemical warheads are being moved across the country in an attempt to hide them from inspectors. Washington does not observe Iraq's active cooperation with the UN, he said. He added that the U.S. does not need an additional resolution from the UN Security Council on Iraq, although it would be better if the international community jointly passed such a resolution.

Asked why the new draft resolution proposed by Britain names March 17 as the deadline for implementation of Baghdad's disarmament commitments, Vershbow said the date was carefully considered.