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[casi] News, 15-19/03/03 (1)

News, 15-19/03/03 (1)


*  Searching for peace until the last possible moment
*  Chirac Makes His Case On Iraq
*  U.S. Lacks Specifics on Banned Arms
*  Belgium threatens to cut off airspace, port to US     
*  Lord Goldsmith: Iraq has failed to comply
*  Analysis A talented lawyer arguing a weak case
*  Iraq destroying more missiles despite war steps
*  Sorry, Mr Blair, but 1441 does not authorise force
*  Bush: a policeman with the law on his side
*  Annan pulls out UN staff as westerners urged to flee
*  UN inspectors look back in some anger      
*  Chirac: War unjustified, much at stake     
*  Schroeder says no justification for attack     
*  Putin Says He Regrets Ultimatum


by Kofi A. Annan 
Lebanon Daily Star, 15th March

The Charter of the UN is categorical. "In order to ensure prompt and
effective action by the United Nations," it confers on the Security Council
"primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and

That responsibility can seldom have weighed more heavily on the members of
the council than it does this week. Within the next day or two, they have to
make a momentous choice. The context of that choice is an issue whose
importance is by no means confined to Iraq: the threat posed to all humanity
by weapons of mass destruction. The whole international community needs to
act together to curb the proliferation of these terrible weapons, wherever
it may be happening.

But the immediate and most urgent aspect of that task is to ensure that Iraq
no longer has such weapons. Why? Because Iraq has actually used them in the
past, and because it has twice, under its present leadership, committed
aggression against its neighbors - against Iran in 1980, and against Kuwait
in 1990. That is why the Security Council is determined to disarm Iraq of
these weapons, and has passed successive resolutions since 1991 requiring
Iraq to disarm.

All over the world, people want to see this crisis resolved peacefully. They
are alarmed about the great human suffering that war always causes, whether
it is long or short. And they are apprehensive about the long-term
consequences that this particular war might have.

They fear that it will lead to regional instability and economic crises; and
that it may - as war so often does - have unintended consequences that
produce new dangers. Will it make the fight against terrorism, or the search
for peace between Israelis and Palestinians, even harder? Will it sow deep
divisions between nations and peoples of different faiths? Will it
compromise our ability to work together in addressing other common concerns
in the future? Those are serious questions, and the answers must be
carefully considered.

Sometimes it may be necessary to use force to deal with threats to the peace
- and the charter makes provision for that. But war must always be a last
resort. It should be used only when every reasonable alternative has been
tried - in the present case, only if we are sure that every peaceful means
of achieving Iraq's disarmament has been exhausted. The United Nations,
founded to "save succeeding generations from the scourge of war," has a duty
to search for a peaceful solution until the last possible moment.

Has that moment arrived? That is the decision that the members of the
Security Council now face. It is a grave decision indeed. If they fail to
agree on a common position, and some of them then take action without the
council's authority, the legitimacy of that action will be widely
questioned, and it will not gain the political support needed to ensure its
long-term success, after its military phase.

If, on the other hand, the members of the council can come together and
ensure compliance with their earlier resolutions by agreeing on a common
course of action, then the council's authority will be enhanced, and the
world will be safer.

Let's remember that the crisis in Iraq does not exist in a vacuum. What
happens there will have a profound impact on other issues of great
importance. The broader our consensus on how to deal with Iraq, the better
the chance that we can come together again and deal effectively with other
burning conflicts in the world, starting with the one between Israelis and
Palestinians. We all know that only a just resolution of that conflict can
bring any real hope of lasting stability in the region.

Beyond the Middle East, the success or failure of the international
community in dealing with Iraq will crucially affect its ability to deal
with the no less worrying developments on the Korean Peninsula. And it will
affect our work to resolve the conflicts that are causing so much suffering
in Africa, setting back the prospects for stability and development that
that continent so badly needs.

Nor is war the only scourge that the world has to face. Whether they are
protecting themselves against terrorism or struggling against the grim triad
of poverty, ignorance and disease, nations need to work together, and they
can do so through the United Nations. However this conflict is resolved, the
UN will remain as central as it is today. We should do everything we can to
maintain its unity.

All around the world, these last few months, we have seen what an immense
significance not only States, but their peoples, attach to the legitimacy
provided by the UN as the common framework for securing peace. As they
approach their momentous decision this week, I hope the members of the
council will be mindful of this sacred trust that the world's peoples have
placed in them, and will show themselves worthy of it.

CBS, 16th March

Weapons inspections should continue in Iraq until the inspectors reach "a
dead end," French President Jacques Chirac insists in an interview on CBS
News' 60 Minutes.

In an interview that aired March 16, Chirac told Christiane Amanpour why he
is proposing an additional 30-day delay on any decision to use force
against Iraq.

Vice President Dick Cheney rejected Chirac's new proposal immediately.

And, following the summit meeting Sunday with the prime ministers of
England and Spain, President George Bush blasted the French president for
promising to veto any war resolution at this time.

Amanpour spoke with the French president in Paris just before the Sunday
summit started.

The French president continues to maintain that a further delay of 30 days
would allow weapons inspectors to determine whether an impasse had been

A transcript of Amanpour's interview with the French president follows. His
responses have been translated into English.

AMANPOUR: Britain and the United States have accused France of poisoning
the process by saying that you would use your veto under any circumstances.
Even in Iraq, newspapers loyal to Saddam Hussein are hailing, are praising,
the division in the world community, calling it a great victory for Saddam
Hussein. Do you not think that your repeated vow to veto has emboldened
Saddam Hussein?

PRESIDENT CHIRAC: France is not pacifist. We are not anti-American either.
We are not just going to use our veto to nag and annoy the US. But we just
feel that there is another option, another way, another more normal way, a
less dramatic way than war, and that we have to go through that path. And
we should pursue it until we've come [to] a dead end, but that isn't the

AMANPOUR: Mr. President, you know that since you have taken the position
you have there has been a massive backlash in the United States at almost
every level of society. From the leader of the House of Representatives,
who is talking about initiating sanctions against France in some form or
another, to restaurants in the Congress which have renamed their frites.
Their French fries are now being called "freedom fries." People feelŠ they
are asking, 'what happened to our friendship? Does France remember who
liberated them? Why is France betraying us?'

PRESIDENT CHIRAC: Whenever there were difficult circumstances the French
were side by side with the Americans. The French don't either forget what
America and Americans did for us in both world wars. It is in our minds and
also deep down in our hearts. I think that the relationship between the
French and the Americans, the human relationship, is a relationship of
friendship. Of love even, I would say. But if I see my friend or somebody I
dearly love going down the wrong path, then I owe it to him to warn him be

AMANPOUR:You have studied in the United States, you have worked briefly in
the United States. You profess to love the United States. As I said, many
Americans feel betrayed. Do you have anything to say in English, which I
know you speak, to Americans tonight?

PRESIDENT CHIRAC: I want to tell them also that France and I have always
been friends of the United States, and this will not change

AMANPOUR: The fact is, Mr. President, that in America many people think
it's just because you are a friend, a pal of Saddam Hussein. That you have
had long contacts with him, that you helped build the nuclear reactor
there, that there are the oil deals. You invited Saddam Hussein to France.
There is a famous picture of you toasting him. They think it is about a
personal and a business relationship

PRESIDENT CHIRAC: That is a myth. I did indeed meet President Saddam
Hussein when he was vice president in the mid '70s but never since. But in
those days everybody had excellent relations with Saddam Hussein and with
his party Šit was seen as progressive. Everybody had contact with themŠ
including some important figures of the current US administration who had
contacts with Saddam Hussein as late as 1983, but not me.

AMANPOUR: There have also been persistent allegations that Saddam Hussein
put money into one of your electoral campaigns. How do you respond to that?

PRESIDENT CHIRAC: (laughter) It's preposterous, really.. Anything can be
said about anyone. As we say in French, 'The taller the tale, the more
likely people will believe in it.'

AMANPOUR: The New York Times has reported that there is evidence that
France is involved, French companies, in transferring materials for use in
long-range missiles, Iraqi missiles. Are you aware of any French companies
being involved in such an effort, and if soŠ

PRESIDENT CHIRAC: Because The New York Times is a serious newspaper, as
soon as I read this I ordered an inquiry. I can now confirm officially
after an inquiry by the French foreign ministry, France and French
companies have never endorsed or even provided such material to Iraq. So I
am clearly denying this allegation.

AMANPOUR: Can I ask you again about the nuclear reactor at Ossirac? You
know, a lot of people called it "Os-Chirac", as you know. In retrospect, do
you regret that it was destroyed, given that it could have been used to
form nuclear weapons?

PRESIDENT CHIRAC: Well, this reactor was civilian reactor. But in those
days, all of the major democracies, all of them, each and every one of
them, had contacts and trade and exchanges with Iraq, including on weapons.
Even weapons of mass destruction sometimes, including bacteriological,
biological weapons

AMANPOUR: Do you believe that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass
destruction; for instance, chemical or biological weapons?

PRESIDENT CHIRAC: Well, I don't know. I have no evidence to support thatŠ
It seems that there are no nuclear weapons - no nuclear weapons program.
That is something that the inspectors seem to be sure of.

As for weapons of mass destruction, bacteriological, biological, chemical,
we don't know. And that is precisely what the inspectors' mandate is all
about. But rushing into war, rushing into battle today is clearly a
disproportionate response.

AMANPOUR: Here, many commentators, many newspapers have been hailing you as
a hero. They have even said your position should make you qualify for a
Nobel Peace Prize. Of course, in America, in Britain, they call you an
appeaser, that you are appeasing this terrible dictator who may have
weapons of mass destruction.

PRESIDENT CHIRAC: I feel the same way about Saddam Hussein as George Bush
or Tony Blair. There is a rather long list of countries where there are
dictatorships, and if we were going to wage war to get rid of all of them
without pursuing all other options, we are going to be very busy

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: You have said that inspections were working in great
part because of the massive US and British force that is arrayed outside
Saddam Hussein's doorstep. Wouldn't it be even more effective if France had
sent troops also to double and triple the threat?

PRESIDENT CHIRAC: I have said that it is indeed thanks to the pressure of
British and American troops that the Iraqi authorities and Saddam Hussein
have changed their position and have agreed to cooperate with the

So I would say that the Americans have already won, and they haven't fired
a single bullet.

AMANPOUR: On the eve of what looks like war, what do you have to say to
President Bush, who you call a friend?

PRESIDENT CHIRAC: I just want to tell him I don't share his views, that I
don't approve of his initiative, and of course I hope that things run as
smoothly as possible and there is a peaceful disarmamentŠ But if we have to
have a war let there be as few dramas and as little destruction as possible.

by Walter Pincus
Washington Post, 16th March

Despite the Bush administration's claims about Iraq's weapons of mass
destruction, U.S. intelligence agencies have been unable to give Congress or
the Pentagon specific information about the amounts of banned weapons or
where they are hidden, according to administration officials and members of

Senior intelligence analysts say they feel caught between the demands from
White House, Pentagon and other government policymakers for intelligence
that would make the administration's case "and what they say is a lack of
hard facts," one official said.

"They have only circumstantial evidence . . . nothing that proves this
amount or that," said an individual who has regularly been briefed by the

The assertions, coming on the eve of a possible decision by President Bush
to go to war against Iraq, have raised concerns among some members of the
intelligence community about whether administration officials have
exaggerated intelligence in a desire to convince the American public and
foreign governments that Iraq is violating United Nations prohibitions
against chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons and long-range missile

"They see a particular truck associated with chemical weapons activities
keep reappearing, and they estimate chemical activities are there, but that
and most intelligence would not pass the courtroom evidence test. For
policymakers, who are out on a limb, that is not enough," one official said,
adding that he questioned whether the administration is shaping intelligence
for political purposes.

Said another senior intelligence analyst, "If it walks like a duck, quacks
like a duck and looks like a duck, we professionals say it's a duck. . . .
They [policymakers] want a smoking duck."

Although senior intelligence officials said they are convinced Iraq is
hiding weapons of mass destruction, they feel they will not be able to prove
it until after an invasion, when U.S. military forces and weapons analysts
would have unrestricted access. These officials said the administration is
withholding some of the best intelligence on suspected Iraqi weapons --
uncertain as it is -- from U.N. weapons inspectors in anticipation of war.

"They are clearly hiding weapons, but it is a Catch-22 situation that we
will only prove after an invasion," one senior intelligence official said.

U.S. intelligence on Iraqi weapons sites has raised a credibility problem
involving the U.N. inspectors and, more recently, members of Congress.

Intelligence agencies in December produced a 2-inch-thick book that listed
high- , medium- and low-priority sites in Iraq related to weapons of mass
destruction, according to senior administration officials and members of

Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.), while chairman of the Armed Services Committee
earlier this year, several times asked CIA Director George J. Tenet about
how many of the "top suspect sites" had been passed to chief U.N. weapons
inspector Hans Blix. The initial transfers of information to U.N. inspectors
were limited as U.S. intelligence was measuring the security of Blix's
system. In one early case, U.S. intelligence data had been electronically
intercepted by Iraq, officials said.

Levin was concerned that only a small number of sites contained in the
December list had gone to Blix's team, but at a public hearing in February,
Tenet said that all relevant information on high- and moderate-value sites
had been shared with the inspectors.

Levin said in an interview that his concern the United States was holding
back its best information was heightened by a March 6 letter Tenet sent to
Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.), now Armed Services Committee chairman. In it
the CIA director said the United States has "now provided detailed
information on all of the high-value and moderate-value sites," as well as
"far more than half of these lower-interest sites" to the inspectors.

Levin wrote Tenet back March 7 saying the CIA director gave a "misleading
assertion" and repeated a request that Tenet provide a percentage figure,
not the number, of the "top suspect sites" listed in the December report
that had been turned over to U.N. inspectors. "I can't believe we are
holding back, and it would be shocking if it is being done, because it might
lead the inspectors to something," Levin said.

A CIA spokesman refused to discuss the matter. But some officials charge the
administration is not interested in helping the inspectors discover weapons
because a discovery could bolster supporters in the U.N. Security Council of
continued inspections and undermine the administration's case for war.

"We don't want to have a smoking gun," a ranking administration official
said recently. He added, "I don't know whether the point is to embarrass
Blix or embarrass Saddam Hussein."

Anther official familiar with the intelligence said, "Not all the top sites
have been passed to the inspectors."

A senior intelligence analyst said one explanation for the difficulties
inspectors have had in locating weapons caches "is because there may not be
much of a stockpile."

Administration officials, in making the case against Iraq, repeatedly have
failed to mention the considerable amount of documented weapons destruction
that took place in Iraq between 1991 and 1998, when the previous U.N.
Special Commission on Iraq had inspection teams in the field.

In that period, under U.N. supervision, Iraq destroyed 817 of 819 proscribed
medium-range missiles, 14 launchers, 9 trailers and 56 fixed missile-launch
sites. It also destroyed 73 of 75 chemical or biological warheads and 163
warheads for conventional explosives.

U.N. inspectors also supervised destruction of 88,000 filled and unfilled
chemical munitions, more than 600 tons of weaponized and bulk chemical
weapons agents, 4,000 tons of precursor chemicals and 980 pieces of
equipment considered key to production of such weapons.

Destruction of biological weapons -- which were not discovered to be in
Iraq's possession until 1995 -- was less advanced. The main facility where
biological weapons were produced and developed, Al Hakam, was destroyed
along with 60 pieces of equipment taken from three other facilities. In
addition, 22 tons of growth media for biological weapons were destroyed.

Staff writer Bob Woodward contributed to this report.

Jordan Times, 17th March
BRUSSELS (R) ‹ NATO member Belgium threatened on Sunday to cut off its
airspace and the port of Antwerp to the US military if the United States
invades Iraq in violation of international law.

The United States has been using Antwerp and the Dutch port of Rotterdam to
ship equipment from Germany to the Middle East for possible use in a war
against Iraq.

Washington, which accuses Baghdad of developing weapons of mass destruction,
has threatened to invade Iraq with or without a fresh United Nations
resolution authorising the use of force.

Belgium says military action without a second resolution would be unlawful.

"We would halt the transit if the US were to engage in a move which is
outside the rules of international law," Defence Minister Andre Flahaut said
on Belgium's RTL television.

"I can tell you that I have already alerted the United States (of this)."

In an earlier interview with RTBF television he said Belgium would also cut
off its airspace, adding "the over flight is part of the same context."

Belgian politicians have reflected the view of the public in opposing an
Iraqi war.

Deputy Prime Minister Johan Vande Lanotte was among politicians in a huge
anti-war march at the weekend.

Last month, Belgium joined Germany and France in initially opposing NATO aid
to Turkey to boost its defences ahead of any war on neighbouring Iraq.

But the point concerning US over flights and port use is a narrower one.
Belgian officials oppose the use of Belgian facilities if it would make
Belgium an accomplice to what they consider a violation of international

NATO member Hungary said separately on Sunday that the United States and
Britain had asked permission to use its airspace and certain airports.

Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs said an informal government meeting would
decide on the request later on Sunday.

BBC, 17th March

The Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, spelled out the UK Government's legal
basis for military action in a parliamentary written answer.

He argued that the combined effect of previous UN resolutions on Iraq dating
back to the 1990 invasion of Kuwait allowed "the use of force for the
express purpose of restoring international peace and security".

Below is the full text of his statement.

Authority to use force against Iraq exists from the combined effect of
Resolutions 678, 687 and 1441. All of these resolutions were adopted under
Chapter VII of the UN Charter which allows the use of force for the express
purpose of restoring international peace and security:

1. In resolution 678 the Security Council authorised force against Iraq, to
eject it from Kuwait and to restore peace and security in the area.

2. In resolution 687, which set out the ceasefire conditions after Operation
Desert Storm, the Security Council imposed continuing obligations on Iraq to
eliminate its weapons of mass destruction in order to restore international
peace and security in the area.

Resolution 687 suspended but did not terminate the authority to use force
under resolution 678.

3. A material breach of resolution 687 revives the authority to use force
under resolution 678.

4. In resolution 1441 the Security Council determined that Iraq has been and
remains in material breach of resolution 687, because it has not fully
complied with its obligations to disarm under that resolution.

5. The Security Council in resolution 1441 gave Iraq "a final opportunity to
comply with its disarmament obligations" and warned Iraq of the "serious
consequences" if it did not.

6. The Security Council also decided in resolution 1441 that, if Iraq failed
at any time to comply with and cooperate fully in the implementation of
resolution 1441, that would constitute a further material breach.

7. It is plain that Iraq has failed so to comply and therefore Iraq was at
the time of resolution 1441 and continues to be in material breach.

8. Thus, the authority to use force under resolution 678 has revived and so
continues today.

9. Resolution 1441 would in terms have provided that a further decision of
the Security Council to sanction force was required if that had been

Thus, all that resolution 1441 requires is reporting to and discussion by
the Security Council of Iraq's failures, but not an express further decision
to authorise force.

I have lodged a copy of this answer, together with resolutions 678, 687 and
1441 in the Library of both Houses.,12956,916185,00.html

by Matthew Happold
The Guardian, 17th March

The attorney-general set out his views today on the legal basis for the use
of force against Iraq. His conclusion was that the use of force against Iraq
would be legal even without a second Security Council resolution.

According to Lord Goldsmith, authority to use force exists by virtue of the
combined effect of Security Council resolutions 678, 687 and 1441.
Resolution 678 (1990) was adopted by the Security Council in response to the
Iraqi invasion and occupation of Kuwait. It authorised the US-led coalition
to use "all necessary means" to liberate Kuwait and restore peace and
security to the region. Hostilities in the Gulf war were then terminated by
resolution 687 (1991), which imposed a long list of obligations on Iraq,
including several regarding disarmament. Iraq is in breach of these
obligations. Resolution 1441 (2002) found it to be in "material breach". In
consequence, according to Lord Goldsmith's argument, the authorisation to
use force granted to the US and the UK by resolution 678 has been

Resolution 1441 gave Iraq a "final opportunity" to comply with its
disarmament obligations and warned of "serious consequences" if it did not.
It did not expressly require a new resolution before force can be used. All
that is needed is an Iraqi failure to comply with 1441 and the reporting to
and discussion of that failure by the Security Council. Had a further
Security Council decision been required to sanction the use of force, said
Lord Goldsmith, resolution 1441 would have said so specifically.

There are, however, a number of problems with Lord Goldsmith's analysis. In
the first place, the general view is that Security Council authorisations of
force are only for limited and specific purposes. In the case of resolution
678, the authorisation to use force terminated with the adoption of
resolution 687. It cannot be revived in completely different circumstances
some 12 years later. Indeed, on the adoption of resolution 687, the USSR and
China specifically stated that it was the task of the Security Council to
ensure its implementation. This was reflected in the resolution, in which
the Security Council decided "to remain seized of the matter and take such
further steps as may be required for the implementation of the present
resolution and to ensure peace and security in the area". It is for the
Security Council to determine how to deal with Iraq, not UN member states
acting unilaterally.

In the second place, Lord Goldsmith's arguments have been used before and
have been rejected. Throughout the 1990s, the US and the UK sought to
justify the bombing of Iraqi military facilities by arguing that they were
responding to breaches of Iraq's obligations under resolution 678. In early
1998, after Iraq's withdrawal of cooperation with the UN weapons inspectors,
the US and the UK threatened to use force "to enforce the Security Council's
will". The threat was lifted when the UN secretary-general, Kofi Annan,
visited Baghdad and secured an agreement permitting the return of the
weapons inspectors.

The Security Council endorsed the agreement in resolution 1154 (1998).
However, the Council rejected British and US proposals that breach by Iraq
of its obligations under the Annan agreement should automatically authorise
the use of force (what is known as "automaticity"). The view that unilateral
forcible responses to Iraqi violations were permitted was specifically
rejected by the delegations of Brazil, China, Egypt, France, Gambia, Japan,
Malaysia, Pakistan, Slovenia and Sweden. When Iraq again withdrew
cooperation in the autumn of 1998, in resolution 1205 the Security Council
condemned Iraqi actions as "a flagrant violation of resolution 687" and
decided, "in accordance with its primary responsibility for the maintenance
of international peace and security, to remain actively seized of the
matter." Again, it was indicated that there should be no "automaticity" of
response, although in conducting Operation Desert Fox in December 1998 the
US and the UK chose to ignore these views.

In the third place, resolution 1441 does not do what Lord Goldsmith says it
does. It does not authorise the use of force. The term "serious
consequences" is not UN code for enforcement action. Once again, the
majority of members of the Security Council rejected automaticity. Even US
Ambassador John Negroponte said that the resolution "contained no 'hidden
triggers' and no 'automaticity' with the use of force".

Lord Goldsmith's argument that if 1441 had provided that a further
resolution was required to authorise the use of force it would have said so
is, to say the least, disingenuous.

Even on the attorney-general's own arguments force against Iraq could be
justified only to enforce Iraq's disarmament obligations. It provides no
warrant for regime change, that is, the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

Lord Goldsmith's statement shows a talented lawyer arguing a weak case. The
prohibition of the use of force is a foundational principle of international
law. There are only two exceptions to the rule: the use of force in
self-defence and as expressly authorised by the Security Council acting
under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. These exceptions must be read
restrictively. Neither applies to the present situation. Any use of force
against Iraq without a second resolution expressly authorising the use of
force would be illegal.

Matthew Happold is a lecturer in law at the University of Nottingham

Gulf News, 17th March

Baghdad, Reuters: Iraq carried on destroying banned Al Samoud missiles
yesterday, United Nations weapons inspectors said, despite Baghdad's moves
to put the country on a war footing ahead of a possible U.S.-led attack.

"Two missile teams went out today and destruction of Al Samoud missiles
continues today," Hiro Ueki, spokesman for the UN Monitoring Verification
and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), said.

"It is business as usual," he said.

However, the inspectors' ability to roam Iraq was complicated yesterday when
they had to withdraw five of their helicopters after insurers cancelled
cover because of war fears.

An Iraqi source said this left inspectors with just three other, separately
insured helicopters to cover the country.

Iraq has so far destroyed 68 out of around 120 Al Samoud 2 missiles, after
chief UN inspector Hans Blix and his team ruled that they violated a 150km
maximum range imposed after Iraq's defeat in the 1991 Gulf War.

The United States and Britain have dismissed the missile destruction as
insufficient and want more sweeping steps to meet UN demands that Baghdad
scrap all its alleged chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programmes if
it is to avoid war.

Ueki dismissed rumours that UN weapons inspectors had begun pulling out
ahead of any war, but said some of the UNMOVIC team were on holiday.

"We have not received orders to evacuate. After three months of mission many
inspectors have taken an official break. We have roughly 30 or so inspectors
taking a short break in Cyprus and they are due to return to Baghdad soon
today," he said.

Around 50 weapons inspectors are believed to be working in Iraq at the

Iraq said on Saturday it wanted Blix and Mohammed El Baradei, who oversees
the nuclear weapons dossier, to visit Baghdad as soon as possible to discuss
pending disarmament issues. Any visit soon to the Iraqi capital could
complicate U.S. plans for an increasingly likely war on Iraq.

Ueki said Blix and ElBaradei would consult the Security Council today on
whether to embark on their fourth visit to Iraq since a UN resolution in
November opened the way for inspectors to return to Iraq after a four-year

by Keir Starmer
The Guardian, 17th March


The only real alternative for the government is to argue that Iraq's failure
to comply with the ceasefire requirements of UN resolution 687, passed at
the end of military action against Iraq in April 1991, justifies the renewed
use of force. But that, too, is not without its difficulties. Like
resolution 1441, resolution 687 does not itself authorise the use of force.
The only security council resolution expressly authorising the use of force
against Iraq was 678, which was passed at the start of the Gulf war in
November 1990, and the only action it authorised was such force as was
necessary to restore Kuwait's sovereignty.

It is true that the ceasefire resolution 687 requires Iraq to destroy all
weapons of mass destruction, but under Article 42 it is for the security
council and not the US or UK to decide how it is to be enforced. In 1993 the
UN secretary general suggested that resolution 678 justified US and UK air
attacks to enforce the no-fly zone in Iraq. But that is a very fragile basis
for arguing that, 10 years later, it justifies an all-out attack without the
need for a further UN resolution.


by William Rees-Mogg
The Times, 17th March

The House of Commons deals with the money; the House of Lords deals with the
law. That is the division of responsibilities in Parliament. The House of
Lords includes the Law Lords, who are the Supreme Court of the United
Kingdom. It also includes retired Law Lords, many of great distinction, who
feel more free to speak in debate.

There are leading counsel from all parties, Conservatives such as Lord
Alexander of Weedon, Liberal Democrats such as Lord Goodhart or Lord Lester
of Herne Hill. Politically the most significant of all are the three leading
lawyers in the present Government, Lord Irvine of Lairg, the Lord
Chancellor, Lord Williams of Mostyn, the Leader of the House of Lords, and
Lord Goldsmith, the Attorney General.

Lord Goldsmith, the least political of the three, has advised the Prime
Minister and the Government of the issues of international law which arise
in the case of Iraq. It is expected that his advice will be given to the
House of Lords today. Yesterday's Observer reports that he has, in fact,
advised that "a pre-emptive military attack would not breach international
law, even without a second UN resolution".

Lord Goldsmith is expected to argue from the UN resolutions themselves. At
the end of the first Gulf War, in 1991, the UN passed Resolutions 686 and
687 which required Saddam Hussein to disarm as a condition of the ceasefire.
It can be argued that the Iraqi failure to disarm over a period of 12 years
invalidates the original ceasefire, and releases the United States and
Britain from obligations under the ceasefire agreement. In effect, this is
derived from the law of contract, in which failure to carry out the contract
by one party can free the other party from obligation.

Friends of the Iraqis might argue that the UN has failed to enforce the
contract of disarmament for 12 years and has therefore acquiesced in the
present situation. Lord Goldsmith could well reply that last year's
Resolution 1441 refers to the previous resolutions and reaffirms the UN
commitment to the disarmament of Iraq, with the threat of serious
consequences if it does not disarm. Put Resolutions 686, 687 and 1441
together and there is plainly a strong case for the legitimacy of further

International law does not have a Supreme Court, so there is no final way of
determining whether any international action is inside or outside the law.
However, there are modern developments within international law which
support Lord Goldsmith's view. I have previously quoted Lord Goodhart's
important opinion. "Let us look first at humanitarian intervention. This is
a new principle which has arisen outside the Charter (of the United
Nations). It was most clearly recognised in Kosovo. It is widely, but not
universally, accepted by international lawyers. In cases such as genocide by
rulers against their own people, such as Rwanda and Cambodia, it is hard to
deny that such a principle exists."

Lord Goodhart's opinion is all the more persuasive, as he does not himself
consider that the conduct of the Iraqi regime constitutes genocide, a view
hard to maintain when there have been millions of refugees from Saddam
Hussein. It is, however, simply a statement of fact that "humanitarian
intervention" is widely accepted by international lawyers as proper grounds
for unilateral action. Most observers agree that the actions of the Saddam
Hussein regime against the Kurds, the Marsh Arabs and the internal
opposition amount to ethnic cleansing, with very heavy casualties.

The doctrine of humanitarian intervention is supported by two international
conventions, the Convention on Genocide, which goes back to 1948, and the
more recent Convention on Torture. These conventions, to both of which the
United Kingdom is a party, mean that genocide, ethnic cleansing and torture
are not protected by national sovereignty, when committed by a government
against its own people. They, not intervention, are the crimes.

The argument from these conventions is buttressed, in British law, by the
judgments of the House of Lords in the case of General Pinochet. The House
of Lords found that the general was not protected by sovereign immunity from
charges of torture, used against the people of Chile. This was a radical
change in British law, overruling the Court of Appeal and open to criticism.
Even so, that House of Lords judgment undoubtedly defines the present state
of law. If Saddam Hussein were to be apprehended, under the Convention on
Torture he can be tried in a British court, or extradited to a court which
would try him.

In recent years British governments have acted under this doctrine of
humanitarian intervention. It was the justification for the Nato bombing of
Kosovo, to which France was also a party, and it formed part of the
justification for the British intervention in Sierra Leone. No one now
questions that the world should have intervened in Rwanda and Cambodia, with
or without UN approval.

Kosovo is the nearest comparable case to Iraq. Nato acted without UN
approval on the grounds that Milosevic's conduct was a crime against
humanity. He has subsequently been brought to trial for his misdeeds. The
case against Saddam is much stronger; he has used weapons of mass
destruction, he has killed and tortured for a longer period and on a greater

The UN Charter also provides for independent action in self-defence. On his
record, it is reasonable to regard Saddam as a permanent threat to world
peace. That view is supported by Resolution 1441.

It is hardly possible to find a distinction in international law which would
make Kosovo legal but the projected intervention in Iraq illegal. That is a
problem for the French, who supported the action in Kosovo, and for Robin
Cook, who was Foreign Secretary at the time. I myself thought that the
Kosovo bombing probably fell outside international law; much of the support
for the Kosovo action came from people who are now most opposed to action in
Iraq. If Kosovo was legal, Iraq will be legal as well.

In domestic or international law, it is always unsatisfactory to create an
offence but deny a remedy. The offences of the Iraqi regime include the
original invasion of Kuwait, the failure to disarm, the use of poison gas,
ethnic cleansing, the use of torture, the holding of Iranian and Kuwaiti
prisoners as hostages. These offences can be remedied only by changing the
regime, a precondition to the restoration of humane life in Iraq.

The French agreed Resolution 1441, which demanded that Iraq should disarm or
face the consequences. They now claim that the process of inspection is
securing disarmament. The truth is that Iraq has never given positive
co-operation to disarmament; anything that has been achieved has been a
response to the build-up of US forces.

Europe has a problem which is one of power rather than law. Since 1945
Europe has relied on the United States to defend the West. Originally the US
protected Europe from the Soviet Union. Since the end of the Cold War, the
US has maintained a much greater defence capacity than Europe. The global
village has only one policeman, though Britain has been a loyal special

The world has not become less dangerous, though the nature of the threat has
changed from major to minor powers. The United States has to enforce
whatever world peace can be achieved, not only in the Middle East, but in
all the areas of tension. It is the United States which has to help India
and Pakistan avoid a potentially nuclear conflict, or protect South Korea
and Japan from the North Korean nuclear threat. Europe could play a larger
role, but Europe has not given defence the necessary budgetary priority.

If there is only one policeman in the village, it is no good for the parish
council to expect to tell him what to do. The policeman sees the maintenance
of order as his responsibility. He knows very well that any breakdown of
order means that he will be called upon to intervene.

Europe has chosen to leave the job to the United States. Now France and
Germany have become hostile to the United States's way of doing the job;
indeed, they are backing a violent and genocidal regime against the United
States. Law can never be separated from enforcement. The United States is
operating inside modern conceptions of justifiable intervention; France and
Germany are trying to prevent international law being enforced.

by Jeanette Oldham
The Scotsman, 18th March

IN A CLEAR sign that war was now imminent, the UN secretary general, Kofi
Annan, last night ordered all UN staff to leave Iraq and suspended the
country's oil-for-food programme.

Arms inspectors have indicated that they are likely to evacuate Iraq this

Some inspectors were reported to already be packing their bags last night
and leaving their accommodation in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad. It is
expected all of them will have left within 48 hours.

With the final realisation that war was just days - if not hours - away,
diplomats also began deserting the Iraqi capital in droves, and UN observers
monitoring the Kuwait-Iraq border began pulling out.

"I have just informed the [Security] Council that we will withdraw the ...
inspectors," Mr Annan said yesterday.

He added: "The implication of these withdrawals is that the [UN programmes']
mandates will be suspended because they are inoperable."

It was not immediately clear when the evacuation of the 156 inspectors and
support staff or the other 150 UN employees in Iraq would begin.

The head of the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohamed El
Baradei, said yesterday he had been contacted late on Sunday night by the US
government urging him to pull out his team.

He said similar advice had been given to the chief UN weapons inspector,
Hans Blix, and his team.

"I immediately involved the president of the Security Council and asked for
guidance. I also informed the UN Secretary-General," Mr El Baradei told the
IAEA board in Vienna.

Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf, the Iraqi information minister, said Mr Annan's
decision to pull inspectors out was "regrettable". He said the US and
Britain were looking for a pretext to attack, accusing them of hunting "for
a white crow", an Arabic idiomatic expression for something that does not

The hasty evacuations followed the decision on Sunday by George Bush, the US
president, and Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, to give diplomacy just 24
hours to succeed.

Immediately following the warning, Germany and the Czech Republic announced
they were closing their embassies in Baghdad and that their staff were

China was evacuating its ambassador and six other officials while Greece
said it expected to have its embassy staff out within a few days.

Foreign journalists were also joining the evacuation, heading out of Baghdad
for Jordan. Two foreign reporters from the American network ABC said
yesterday that they were leaving straight away.

Another American network, NBC, said it was pulling its six-member television
crew from the country. China's official Xinhua news agency said six Chinese
reporters were leaving.

A week ago, there were 450 foreign journalists in Baghdad. Yesterday, the
number was down to 300.

The Foreign Office advised all Britons in Kuwait, except diplomatic staff,
to leave the country as soon as possible.

Warnings for travellers to Israel and the United Arab Emirates were also
upgraded. The dependants of diplomats in Kuwait and Israel have already left
those countries, leaving only core staff behind, a Foreign Office spokesman

Advice on the Foreign Office website for Kuwait now reads: "There is a risk
of an attack from Iraq in the event of hostilities. This might involve
chemical and biological weapons."

The threat to British citizens and organisations from terrorism is "high",
the department said, warning that terrorists could use "chemical or
biological materials".

"If you are already in Kuwait, you should leave urgently while commercial
flights remain available," the advice read.

Advice to Britons in Israel warned the area was at a "very high risk" of
terrorist attack, which could involve the use of chemical or biological

"We therefore advise against travel to Israel and Jerusalem. If you are
already there, you should leave as soon as possible unless your presence is
essential," the advice on the website states.

Britons in the UAE were warned to "maintain a high level of vigilance and
exercise good security practice". The risk of war with Iraq has increased
the threat to Britons in the UAE and the risk to British citizens and
organisations from terrorists was now also high, the Foreign Office said.

The US State Department on Sunday night ordered family members of government
employees and all non-essential personnel to immediately leave Kuwait,
Syria, Israel and the West Bank and Gaza. A State Department spokesman said
the move was "a prudent measure as we prepare for various contingencies in
the area". Finland issued similar advice to all its citizens in Kuwait.

Before the evacuation was announced, UN weapons inspectors in Iraq continued
with their programme of inspections. The Iraqi information ministry reported
visits to four sites.

UN weapons inspectors flew five of their eight helicopters to Syria on
Sunday and then on to Cyprus yesterday, after an insurance company suspended
its coverage.

Even as it braced for conflict, the government destroyed two more of its
banned al-Samoud 2 missiles on Sunday, bringing the number destroyed to 70
since 1 March. The UN ordered the missiles eliminated because they were
found to exceed a 93-mile range limit.

Earlier yesterday, UN observers on the Iraq-Kuwait border suspended all

The 800 employees on both sides of the border were awaiting instructions on
whether to pull out entirely, a spokesman for the UN mission said.

In northern Iraq, residents streamed out of the city of Chamchamal, a mile
from Iraqi forces, heading further into the Kurdish autonomous enclave.

Cars, buses, tractors and pickup trucks were laden with rugs, suitcases and
other belongings. The enclave is protected by Anglo-American air patrols.

Jordan Times, 19th March
LARNACA (R) ‹ They filed off their plane from Baghdad silently, their
thoughts still back in Iraq.

There was no elation at swapping the hardship of living and searching in the
sands of Iraq for lying on a beach on the Mediterraen tourist island of

There was just frustration, even some anger, that their professionalism had
been challenged, that they had been forced to walk away from a job not yet

Many of the dozens of UN weapons inspectors evacuated to Cyprus on Tuesday
from Baghdad as a US-led war loomed, just wearily waved away reporters who
approached them as they sat at seaside cafes seemingly lost in their

"We have to protect the integrity of the mission and whatever we say may be
used politically therefore we have a very restrictive media policy," said
Hiro Ueki, spokesman for the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection
Commission (UNMOVIC) in explaining the reluctance of many inspectors to
comment on their departure.

Even those willing to talk seemed still to be sorting through their

"Everyone is down. It will take a few weeks to recover," said one inspector
from a European nation who like many did not want to give his name.

"I don't think this was the right time for our mission to end," he said. "I
don't think any moment is the right time to walk away from a war."

`Bad things are going to happen'

"The Iraqis we left back there are very sad. They know bad things are going
to happen to them," an inspector from an Asian nation said as he looked out
to sea.

"We could have averted a war."

It was not like this when the inspectors went into Baghdad nearly four
months ago, again through Cyprus which was their main logistics base outside

They went then, if not as conquering heroes, then as a group of highly
trained scientists and technicians, the best in their complex field of
weapons detection, from about a dozen nations.

Their mission was to hunt down any of Iraq's nuclear chemical and biological
weapons and the United Nations had assured them they would have the time to
do it.

"I feel personally that if we had had one more month it would have been
enough," German inspector Bernd Birkicht said.

"Our goal was to find something or to prove there was nothing. Our mission
was not ended," said the 38-year-old computer scientist who worked in Iraq
almost from the first moment last Nov. 27 that the inspectors returned.

"We pulled out and the people in Iraq have to suffer. I want to go back. I
said to the people in the hotel in Baghdad: Reserve my room, I will come

Birkicht said by the time the inspectors departed Iraq was cooperating and
had been cooperating for three months.

"In the end they showed pro-active cooperation," he said. "I've seen these
people and other times they've done some tricky things but that changed."

Five years ago when weapons inspectors had last been in Iraq, they were
pulled out after rows with Iraqis about their access to suspect sites.

Baghdad had accused the team, led by Australian Richard Butler, in 1998 of
spying for the United States and Israel.

This time, it was not from the Iraqis that the inspectors came under most
fire but from Washington and its allies who believed that despite the
group's best efforts Baghdad was leading them round by the nose.

Even Japan's Ueki, the group's always polite and diplomatic spokesman,
bristled when asked if the evacuation was a no-confidence vote by President
George W. Bush in their work.

"I'm not here to make political statements," he said. "I think they have
done their job objectively and professionally."

The group left Iraq the day after a report by their leader, chief weapons
inspector Hans Blix, listed 12 disarmament tasks Iraq had still to do.

Blix's "to do list" asked for explanations from Iraq that included Scud
missiles as well as biological and chemical warheads.

He also wanted information on the deadly chemical VX gas, mustard gas, sarin
and any remaining stocks of anthrax and undeclared biological agents,
including smallpox.

Jordan Times, 19th March
PARIS (R) ‹ French President Jacques Chirac invoked international law, world
stability and the future of the Middle East on Tuesday as he denounced the
US war ultimatum to Iraq as an unjustified act against a phantom threat.

Chirac, championing a multipolar global order against Washington's
unilateral approach, said in his first reaction to President George W.
Bush's ultimatum that a large majority of world opinion opposed the pending
war in Iraq.

The strongest anti-war voice in the West, Chirac said the US ultimatum would
compromise future efforts to deal with crises linked to arms of mass
destruction ‹ an apparent reference to North Korea's nuclear programme.

"Whether it concerns the necessary disarmament of Iraq or the desirable
change of the regime in this country, there is no justification for a
unilateral decision to resort to force," Chirac said in a short address
before television cameras.

"No matter how events evolve now, this ultimatum challenges our view of
international relations. It puts the future of a people, the future of a
region and world stability at stake."

Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, another leader in the "non-nyet-nein" anti-war
front France formed with Russia and Germany, also declared on Tuesday he saw
no justification for war and no reason to end arms inspections meant to
disarm Iraq.

"My question was and is: Does the degree of threat stemming from the Iraqi
dictator justify a war that will bring certain death to thousands of
innocent men, women and children? My answer was and is: No," he said on
German television.

Throughout the Iraq crisis, France has consistently argued it opposed
Washington's war plans not out of anti-Americanism but from a conviction
that the United Nations was the only body authorised to order an attack on a
sovereign country.

"France has acted in the name of the primacy of law and by virtue of its
concept of relations among peoples and among nations," Chirac said to
explain why France has marched to a different drummer during the showdown
over a pro-war resolution.

Now that its veto threat has blocked a Security Council vote and forced the
United States and Britain to wage war without a UN mandate, France can be
expected to stress the central role it sees for UN humanitarian aid and
reconstruction efforts in an Iraq controlled by the US military, diplomats

"Iraq today does not represent an immediate threat that justifies an
immediate war," Chirac said.

"This is a serious decision, while Iraq's disarmament is under way and the
inspections have shown that they were a credible alternative for disarming
this country."

In an apparent reference to North Korea, which has expelled UN nuclear
inspectors and reactivated atomic facilities that could reprocess plutonium
for bombs, Chirac added: "This is also a decision that compromises in the
future the methods of peaceful resolution of crises linked to the
proliferation of arms of mass destruction."

Chirac appealed for respect for international law and called on other
countries "to preserve the unity of the Security Council by staying in the
framework set by Resolution 1441."

He ended with the words: "Throwing off the legitimacy of the United Nations,
preferring force over the law, means taking on a heavy responsibility."

Earlier on Tuesday, Chirac's office issued a first reaction to Bush's
ultimatum to President Saddam Hussein which gave the Iraqi president 48
hours to leave Iraq or face war.

Jordan Times, 19th March
BERLIN (AFP) ‹ A sombre German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said Tuesday the
threat posed by Iraq did not justify a war that would lead to the "certain
death" of thousands of innocent people.

In a nationally televised statement from his office, he said Iraq was under
comprehensive control, UN inspections were working and there was no reason
to break the disarmament process.

But after months of fierce opposition to military action, Schroeder seemed
resigned to an inevitable conflict.

"I doubt whether peace still has a chance in the next few hours," he said.

His statement came after US President George W. Bush late Monday gave Iraqi
President Saddam Hussein and his sons 48 hours to leave the country, a
speech seen on television in Germany by an unusually high 1.2 million
viewers despite its 2:00am (0100 GMT) start.

Some 300,000 US and British troops are massed in the Gulf poised to strike
at a moment's notice. UN inspectors have left Iraq. Most diplomats have
quit. But Saddam remains in power, having rejected the ultimatum in advance.

"The world stands on the eve of war," Schroeder said.

"My question remains: Does the level of threat posed by the Iraqi dictator
justify a war which will result in the certain death of thousands of
innocent men, women and children?

"My answer remains: No."

Schroeder said his goverment's opposition to war had been shared by public
opinion both in the country and worldwide.

A deep pacifist streak runs through Germany, which analysts say is a legacy
of bitter memories of the Nazi era, and Schroeder's anti-war stance helped
his ruling coalition scrape to a reelection victory last year.

But his rhetoric also soured traditional relations with the United States,
and he and Bush are no longer on speaking terms.

Schroeder said Iraq was now under comprehensive UN control and that what it
had demanded on disarmament "is being fulfilled more and more."

"Therefore there is no reason to stop the disarmament process."

The chancellor rejected US and British calls for regime change in Baghdad,
saying that "as desirable as it is for the dictator to lose power," the aim
of UN Resolution 1441, passed in November, was the disarmament of Iraq's
weapons of mass destruction ‹ nothing else.

He reiterated that "whatever happens in the next days or weeks, you can be
certain that my government will continue to strive for the smallest chance
of peace.

"The United Nations remains the framework for that."

The German press, meanwhile, deplored what it termed as the "breakdown" of
diplomacy after the decision by London, Washington and Madrid not to put
their draft resolution authorising war to a vote in the UN Security Council.

"Was Washington not already decided on war right from the start?" asked the
Berliner Zeitung.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said the decision not to have a vote in
the Security Council was "an admission of failure."

"It is a bitter moment for all those in favour of multilateral action, and
who now have to endure the US going solo, flanked by two or three allies,"
it added.

The German press went to print before Bush's televised speech, but knowing
much of its content in advance, reserved its harshest criticism for him.

"Regardless of the outcome of this war, George W. Bush's policy has been a
singular disaster," the Berliner Zeitung said.

The centre-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung denounced "the growing irritation and
frustration of a power which is convinced it has right on its side and is
used to being allowed to do what it wants."

by Simon Saradzhyan
Moscow Times, 19th March

President Vladimir Putin told U.S. President George W. Bush on Tuesday that
he regretted the decision to issue an ultimatum to Saddam Hussein, while the
Foreign Ministry warned that an attack on Iraq without UN approval could
lead to "a confrontation of civilizations."

"Putin expressed regret in connection with Washington's decision on an
ultimatum and also in connection with the failure of diplomatic efforts to
achieve a mutually acceptable compromise," the Kremlin press service said of
the telephone conversation, which was initiated by Bush.

Putin also stressed that "in any situation, the United Nations and its
Security Council must play a central role in securing the international
peace and stability," the Kremlin said in a statement.

While differing over Iraq, however, the two leaders agreed that they should
maintain bilateral contacts during any crisis, the statement said.

Putin also discussed the Iraqi crisis by telephone Tuesday with China's new
president, Hu Jintao, and they underlined "the commonality of their
positions," the Kremlin said.

The phone conversations came as Putin's chief diplomat, Foreign Minister
Igor Ivanov, warned that a U.S.-led war in Iraq would undermine the
international anti-terrorism coalition and might escalate into a global

"It is important not to cross the line in which the war against terrorism
might escalate into a confrontation of entire peoples, religions and
civilizations," Ivanov told a security conference in Moscow.

"Unfortunately today, in connection with the looming threat of war against
Iraq, the unity of the international anti-terrorism coalition is under
threat," said Ivanov, who has emerged as the harshest critic of war in the
Russian government.

In language reminiscent of the Yeltsin administration's opposition to U.S.
global dominance, Ivanov said Russia stood for a "multi-polar" world in
which the UN coordinates efforts to build up global security.

Ivanov's remarks were the strongest salvo that has Russia fired to date in a
war of words over Iraq.

Putin said Monday that a war would be mistake imperiling international
security, but he was careful not make any blunt warning to the United States
and its allies.

Ivanov reiterated that only the UN Security Council has the right to decide
whether force can be used against Iraq.

He also said the Iraq issue should return to the council's jurisdiction even
if a military operation is started in Iraq.

Ivanov left late in the day for New York to attend a Security Council
meeting Wednesday. Chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix is to spell out what
Iraq must do to prove it has disarmed.

While pressing ahead for peace, Ivanov and other Russian officials
acknowledged that war appeared to be inevitable and expressed concern about
Russia's economic interests in a post-Hussein Iraq.

"There is little hope left," Ivanov said.

He said that Russia faces a fight convincing any new Iraqi regime to honor
the contracts awarded by Hussein's government to Russian oil companies.

His remarks were echoed by the Kremlin's Security Council secretary,
Vladimir Rushailo, who said Russia would challenge any decision by a new
regime to cancel the contracts in "international institutes," Interfax

Rushailo's deputy Oleg Chernov -- who was to fly with Ivanov to New York --
said Tuesday that Russia would have to do its best to restore peace in Iraq
if war breaks out.

"The world, including Russia and other interested countries, must do
everything necessary to seek a path that brings peace to Iraq," Chernov was
quoted by Interfax as saying.

In the State Duma, deputies postponed a vote to ratify a U.S.-Russian
nuclear arms treaty, and Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznyov warned that if war
starts it might never be ratified.

"In the event of an American strike on Iraq, the fate of the entire treaty
will be in question," Seleznyov said during a visit to the Czech capital,
Prague, Interfax reported.

"The Americans are striking at international law," he said.

Duma deputies decided that the Moscow Treaty, which was to have been
considered Friday, will not be placed on the agenda until April -- and then
they will only set a date for the vote.

Putin and Bush signed the Moscow Treaty in May, and it was ratified by U.S.
Congress earlier this month. It requires Russia and the United States to cut
their strategic nuclear arsenals by about two-thirds, to 1,700 to 2,200
deployed warheads each, by 2012.

Sergei Shishkaryov, the deputy chairman of the Duma's foreign affairs
committee, directly linked the postponement of the treaty to Bush's

"We consider ratification very important, but this step is not justified,"
he told Reuters.

"We are standing on the verge of World War III, and the consequences of the
beginning of military action in Iraq are to a large extent unpredictable,"
he said.

Igor Sergeyev, Putin's adviser on global security, also warned that a war in
Iraq could "lead to unpredictable consequences for international security."

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