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Europe Calls on Saddam Hussein to Disarm - 2002-11-08

Britain says Iraq will face military action if it does not disarm under terms of a new United Nations Security Council resolution. France says Iraq now has a chance to disarm peacefully.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair spoke shortly after the Security Council's unanimous vote on the resolution demanding Iraq give up all weapons of mass destruction.

Mr. Blair delivered a direct message to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. "Cooperate fully, and despite the terrible injustices that you have often perpetrated on others, we will be just with you. But defy the United Nations' will, and we will disarm you by force," he said. "Be under no doubt whatever about that."

Mr. Blair also spoke directly to the Iraqi people, saying his warning is aimed at Saddam Hussein, and not them or their country.

"Whatever happens, the territorial integrity of Iraq will be absolute," he stressed. "Whatever happens, we will work with you for a fairer and better future for the Iraqi people."

British officials are quietly pleased with their role in persuading President Bush to work through the United Nations to build up the strongest possible international front against Saddam Hussein.

In Paris, French President Jacques Chirac said the new resolution offers Iraq the chance to disarm peacefully, and he urged Baghdad to accept the opportunity.

In Moscow, the deputy foreign minister, Yuri Fedotov, told Russian news agencies the resolution is a complicated compromise, but he said it could prevent the threat of war.

Both France and Russia have veto-power in the Security Council and they had demanded that the new resolution not automatically sanction use of force if Iraq does not comply with the conditions for disarmament.

Elsewhere, Germany said Saddam Hussein must understand he faces severe consequences if he ignores the United Nations, while the European Union's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, said the resolution reflects international unity against the threat from Iraq.

And in Vienna, the International Atomic Energy Agency says it can have weapons inspectors in Iraq by November 18, assuming Baghdad accepts the U.N. resolution within the seven-day deadline. A spokeswoman said the new resolution will "significantly strengthen" the inspectors ability to do their job.