A senior Russian official Friday warned that a military campaign against Iraq without the approval of the U.N. Security Council would be a big mistake.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Yuri Fedotov said any action against Iraq that bypasses the Security Council would be a violation of international law. He was speaking to Russia's Itar-Tass news agency.
Mr. Fedotov said, if the U.N. weapons inspectors face any problems during their investigations in Iraq, they should immediately report these difficulties to the U.N. Security Council. He said the council and its members are the only ones who can make decisions about military action.
The Russian official added that Resolution 1441, the resolution the Security Council adopted last week calling on Iraq to disarm, does not allow for the automatic use of force against Iraq.
Under the resolution, which Iraq accepted Wednesday, Iraq has until December 8 to give a full accounting of weapons of mass destruction. It must also cooperate with U.N. weapons inspectors who will be going to Iraq to investigate whether it is developing nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.
Both Russia and France pushed for a U.N. resolution that did not include an automatic use of force against Iraq, if it failed to comply.
The resolution approved last week warns of serious consequences if Iraq does not comply with weapons inspectors.
The United States has made clear it feels there is nothing in the resolution preventing U.S. forces from unilaterally attacking Iraq, if Iraq does not comply with the U.N. resolution.
The first group of U.N. weapons inspectors is scheduled to return to Iraq on Monday.