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Britain Warns Iraq; Russia, China and France Express Reservations

Britain is warning that Iraq will face military attack if it does not agree to a United Nations disarmament plan. British Prime Minister Tony Blair told a news conference Thursday, the international community must give Iraqi President Saddam Hussein a message that is clear and not ambiguous - that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction will be eliminated, one way or another.

"Now, if it can be done by a tough new weapons inspection regime, we'll do it that way," said Mr. Blair. "But if it can't be done that way, we have to do it the other way, by force, if necessary. Now it's as simple as that." Mr. Blair said if Saddam Hussein agrees to give up chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, he can keep his tanks, artillery and other conventional weapons.

The prime minister also said U.N. weapons inspectors will have to have access to Saddam Hussein's palaces without giving prior notice. A deal struck this week between Iraq and U.N. officials excludes eight presidential complexes from surprise inspections.

Three countries with veto power on the U.N. Security Council: Russia, China, and France, continue to take a less belligerent stance than Britain and the United States.

In Moscow, the Russian deputy foreign minister, Alexander Saltanov, said Thursday his country is not satisfied with a draft of a tough new U.N. resolution, proposed by the United States and Britain, because it contains a threat of military action.

He said Russia could suffer what he termed "undesirable" consequences if Iraq is attacked. Russia has close economic ties with Iraq.

China also is expressing reservations about military force. The Chinese foreign ministry said Thursday the main objective at the moment should be the return of U.N. weapons inspectors to Iraq as soon as possible.

And in Paris, French President Jacques Chirac has reaffirmed his opposition to any U.N. resolution that would automatically approve military intervention if Iraq interferes with weapons inspections.