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Security Council Meets on Iraq

The U.N. Security Council met Wednesday to discuss Iraq, with several foreign ministers in attendance. But, it was a sorrowful moment at the United Nations.

It was an almost surreal session at the U.N. Security Council Wednesday, with some members discussing an Iraqi disarmament program that, for all intents and purposes, no longer exists.

Chief Weapons Inspector Hans Blix presented what was termed a "work program" for inspectors to verify Iraqi disarmament, even though all the inspectors were pulled out of Iraq in the face of looming hostilities.

U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte said such thinking was unrealistic. "The fact of the matter is that the situation on the ground will change and so will the nature of the remaining disarmament tasks. Considering a work program at this time is simply out of touch with the reality that we confront," he said.

He added, however, that such a program might prove useful in the future.

Russia, France, and Germany reasserted their conviction that arms inspections had not been given enough time to work and the war was, in their governments' views, unnecessary.

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer admitted that Iraqi compliance with U.N. disarmament demands had been slow, although, he said, it had improved recently.

"Iraq's readiness was unsatisfactory. It was hesitant and slow. The council agrees on that," he said. "But can this seriously be regarded as grounds for war, with all its terrible consequences?"

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov noted that Russia had backed the United States after the terrorist attacks of September 11. He said Russia would do so again if there was proof in Russian eyes that the United States was threatened.

"If today we really had indisputable facts demonstrating that from the territory of Iraq there is a direct threat to the security of the United States of America," he said, "then Russia without any hesitation would be prepared to use all the means available provided under the United Nations charter to eliminate such a threat. However, the Security Council today is not in possession of such facts."

Member state representatives also discussed the need for the council to unite behind any humanitarian aid efforts for Iraq after the guns fall silent.