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News, 15-19/03/03 (1) LAST DAYS OF INTERNATIONAL LAW * 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 LAST DAYS OF INTERNATIONAL LAW http://www.dailystar.com.lb/opinion/15_03_03_d.htm * SEARCHING FOR PEACE UNTIL THE LAST POSSIBLE MOMENT 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 security." 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. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/03/16/60minutes/main544161.shtml * CHIRAC MAKES HIS CASE ON IRAQ 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 reached. 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 case. 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 carefulŠ 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 inspectors.. 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. http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A30601-2003Mar15?language=printer * U.S. LACKS SPECIFICS ON BANNED ARMS 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 Congress. 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 CIA. 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 systems. "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 Congress. 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. http://www.jordantimes.com/Mon/news/news6.htm * BELGIUM THREATENS TO CUT OFF AIRSPACE, PORT TO US 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 law. 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. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/2857347.stm * LORD GOLDSMITH: IRAQ HAS FAILED TO COMPLY 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 intended. 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. http://politics.guardian.co.uk/iraq/comment/0,12956,916185,00.html * ANALYSIS A TALENTED LAWYER ARGUING A WEAK CASE 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 reactivated. 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 http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=80956 * IRAQ DESTROYING MORE MISSILES DESPITE WAR STEPS 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 moment. 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 absence. http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,915579,00.html * SORRY, MR BLAIR, BUT 1441 DOES NOT AUTHORISE FORCE 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. [.....] http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,482-613348,00.html * BUSH: A POLICEMAN WITH THE LAW ON HIS SIDE 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 action. 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 scale. 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 constable. 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. http://news.scotsman.com/international.cfm?id=326352003 * ANNAN PULLS OUT UN STAFF AS WESTERNERS URGED TO FLEE 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 morning. 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 exist. 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 leaving. 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 said. 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 weapons. "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 operations. 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. http://www.jordantimes.com/Wed/news/news5.htm * UN INSPECTORS LOOK BACK IN SOME ANGER 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 Cyprus. 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 done. 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 thoughts. "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 emotions. "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 Iraq. 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 back." 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. http://www.jordantimes.com/Wed/news/news6.htm * CHIRAC: WAR UNJUSTIFIED, MUCH AT STAKE 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 said. "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. http://www.jordantimes.com/Wed/news/news7.htm * SCHROEDER SAYS NO JUSTIFICATION FOR ATTACK 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." http://www.themoscowtimes.com/stories/2003/03/19/002.html * PUTIN SAYS HE REGRETS ULTIMATUM 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 conflict. "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 reported. 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 ultimatum. "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." _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. 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