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Russian Foreign Minister:  Moscow Not Satisfied with UN Draft Resolution on Iraq - 2002-10-22

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said his government is not satisfied with a new draft U.N. resolution on Iraq proposed by the United States. Mr. Ivanov spoke after meeting with top U.N. arms inspector Hans Blix.

In comments to Russian news agencies, Mr. Ivanov says the new draft resolution is not satisfactory. He says the problem is that Russia does not support a U.N. resolution that provides for the automatic use of force if Iraq does not comply.

The Russian Foreign Minister says the U.S. resolution fails to meet Russia's requirements. Mr. Ivanov is quoted as saying Russia is ready to work on a resolution that ensures the inspectors can work effectively, but does not "pave the way for the use of force."

On Monday, the United States sent a new version of a draft resolution to members of the Security Council. The draft was not made public, but diplomats say it does not specifically authorize the use of force against Iraq if it prevents the weapons inspectors from doing their work.

Diplomats say the resolution warns of serious consequences if the arms inspectors have problems. They say this language could be used to justify a military strike against Iraq.

Russia has objected to any U.N. resolution that includes the automatic use of force, saying the issue should be decided by the Security Council at a later date, if the weapons inspectors encounter problems.

France has also expressed disappointment with the new U.S. draft, saying there is still a lot of work to do.

Foreign Minister Ivanov spoke after meeting with Hans Blix, the chief U.N. weapons inspector. Mr. Blix said the most important aspect of any resolution is that all Security Council members agree on it. "One point that is evident or of interest to us is that there is unanimity in the Security Council, that the big powers can agree on a text, and I do not think they are there, yet," Mr. Blix said.

Mr. Blix also said that although details are in dispute, there is general agreement in the Security Council that the rules covering weapons inspections in Iraq should be strengthened. "I think (it) is also, from my judgment, clear that everybody in the council practically would favor a strengthening of the role of inspectors so that there would not be any cat-and-mouse play, which one has seen in the past," he said.

Mr. Blix said once a new resolution is passed and Iraq accepts it, his team could be in Baghdad in about a week.