14 February 200321:50

STATEMENT BY RUSSIAN MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS IGOR IVANOV AT THE UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL MEETING (NEW YORK, FEBRUARY 14, 2003)

373-14-02-2003

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Unofficial translation from Russian

Esteemed Mr. President,

Esteemed Mr. Secretary General,

Esteemed colleagues,

Our present meeting is in its own way a unique occurrence in the history of the United Nations. The United Nations Security Council has again as a matter of urgency convened at Foreign Ministers' level for the search of a solution of an extremely acute problem, that of resolving the situation around Iraq. This fact once again evidences that it is in the United Nations that the world community perceives the most adequate mechanism for dealing with the most urgent issues of our time.

It is within the framework of the United Nations and its Security Council that all states have the opportunity on an equal and just basis to find a solution of problems affecting the interests of general security. That is why with each new Security Council statement the international community associates hopes for strengthening of the unity and solidarity of states in the face of common threats and challenges. Adopted a few days ago, the Joint Statement of Russia, France and Germany on Iraqi Settlement was dictated solely by this striving. And only thus should it be perceived.

From the reports presented today by Dr. Hans Blix and Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei it follows with the utmost obviousness that a unique potential has been established in Iraq with respect to inspections and monitoring. The checks being carried out by international inspectors every day have been proceeding without a hitch with Iraqi cooperation. Unhindered access to all sites is being provided, including to the most sensitive ones, as required by UNSC Resolution 1441.

In the course of the recent visit of Dr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei to Baghdad substantial progress was achieved. There are now practically no obstacles for the start of aerial surveillance over Iraqi territory with the employment of the US plane U-2, the French Mirage and the Russian AN-30B. Matters also stand better with the holding of interviews with Iraqi scientists. They have begun to be held without witnesses. The Iraqi side has placed at the disposal of UNMOVIC a whole series of new documents on its previous military programs, and has established two commission which will engage in the search of additional materials. Today a law has been passed in Iraq prohibiting any development of weapons of mass destruction.

We resolutely call upon Baghdad to build on cooperation with the inspectors. This is, above all, in its own interests.

It is absolutely clear that UNMOVIC and IAEA have the necessary conditions for the fulfillment of the tasks set for them. So far as we know, no one suggests altering the mandate of UNMOVIC and IAEA or making changes to the unanimously adopted Resolution 1441. But all or the overwhelming majority of states are in favor of the Security Council further rendering them all the necessary support.

At the same time the inspectors' work should bear a more systemic and purposeful character. It is necessary to set clearly defined goals and consistently work for their attainment.

In this connection I want to recall the obligation of the inspectors to comply with the schedule, fixed in Resolution 1284, in accordance with which they must submit for approval by the Security Council a work program of UNMOVIC and IAEA, including the list of key disarmament tasks. With the adoption that program we will have an objective criterion not only for the evaluation of the degree of cooperation by Baghdad with the UN, but also - and most important - for answering the question whether Iraq presents a threat to peace and security and, if it does, what specifically has to be done for its removal. That program ought to be presented as soon as possible.

I think that it would be possible to put quite a few questions of a more specific nature to Dr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei. But there is one question of principle which we all have to answer. Should the inspectors of UNMOVIC and IAEA continue their activity in Iraq in the interests of a political settlement? Have all the necessary conditions been created for that? To these questions Russia says "yes." "Yes" - the conditions are created, "yes" - the inspections should be continued. And this position is shared by the overwhelming majority of states of the world, including in the United Nations Security Council. And this clearly follows from the reports of Dr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei, which they presented today.

Mr. President,

Esteemed colleagues,

We have a unique chance to solve in a coordinated manner a most acute international problem by political means in strict accordance with the Charter of the United Nations. This chance is real, and it cannot be lost. Resort to force can be made, but only when all the other means have been exhausted. To this line, as today's discussion shows, we have not yet come up and we do hope we will never come up.

We are all equally aware of the exceptional importance which the international community has imposed on us in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations. Therefore our energies should be directed today not to rivalry with each other, but to the unity of efforts.

It is symbolic that our present meeting is being held on St. Valentine's Day. With this day people associate their best hopes. I hope that we will succeed in justifying them.

Thank you for your attention.

February 14, 2003

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