Russia Refuses to Rule Out UN veto
Tuesday 4 March 2003
The Russian foreign minister, Igor Ivanov, has refused to rule out the use of Russia's power of veto in the event of a UN security council vote on Iraq.
"If this is necessary, Moscow can resort to using this right," Mr Ivanov told the BBC World Service in London today. But he stressed that unanimity among the security council members was preferable.
Earlier, US officials said that a vote on a new UN resolution intended to clear the way for an invasion would probably come next week.
It is likely to take place after the chief UNN weapons inspector, Hans Blix, and the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed El Baradei, address the security council.
Washington has ordered an additional 60,000 troops to the Gulf, bringing the total allied fighting force to more than 300,000.
The force is comprised of around 17,000 troops from the 1st Cavalry division, based at Fort Hood, Texas; 26,000 from the 1st Armoured division, based in Germany and Kansas; and 10,000 from the 2nd Armoured Cavalry regiment based in Fort Polk, Louisiana.
Senior officials told the New York Times that the force was unlikely to be intended for an initial invasion. Instead, it may form a second wave of attack or part of a post-war peacekeeping force.
Turkey's government, meanwhile, says that it is considering a second attempt at winning approval for US troops to be based there during any attack on Iraq.
Saddam warns US
The Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein, today marked the Islamic new year with a warning to would-be western attackers.
In a letter read out on state-run television, President Saddam said that Iraq will defeat any invaders, and accused the US of trying to turn Arabs into slaves.
"We believe, with the coming of the Islamic new year and with God's help, we will be victorious against the tyrant. The believers will triumph over tyranny and its accomplices," he said.
Meanwhile, Iraq continued to destroy its stock of banned Samoud 2 missiles, in compliance with the demands of UN weapons inspectors.
A ministry of information official said that at least two of the missiles, described by UN weapons chief Hans Blix as having a range greater than the UN-mandated limit of 150km, and a missile launcher were being destroyed at a site north of Baghdad.
Hiro Ueki, a spokesman for the inspectors who are supervising the destruction, confirmed that it was continuing but refused to give details.
Iraq has destroyed 16 of its stock of around 100 Samoud 2 missiles since beginning the process on Saturday, not including any that may have been destroyed today.
Iraq has also destroyed casting chambers used to make another missile, the Fatah, in a flurry of activity intended to prove that it is disarming ahead of Mr Blix's update to the security council on Friday.
Workers have unearthed buried bombs, which they say are loaded with anthrax, aflatoxin and botulin toxin, and inspectors are analysing the contents.
Iraq was also preparing a letter to the UN, that proposes verifying it has rid itself of anthrax and deadly VX nerve agent.
Arab leader pursues exile plan
Muslim leaders are gathering for an emergency summit amid increasing calls for Saddam Hussein to go into exile.
Leaders must decide whether they will discuss an initiative by the president of the United Arab Emirates, Sheik Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan, urging Saddam to step down.
It is the third high-level gathering in a week for the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, which is desperately trying to avert war.
Kuwait's minister of state for foreign affairs, Mohammed al Sabah, said that the UAE initiative, which also calls for international supervision of post-Saddam Iraq is "not only of historical importance, but is timely and the only peaceful exit for this dangerous crisis."
Iran, meanwhile, called for UN-supervised elections, and urged the divided Iraqi opposition to reconcile with President Saddam.
Iranian foreign minister Kamal Kharrazi announced the plan in Tehran, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
"We want a referendum to be held in Iraq, and the Iraqi opposition [to] reconcile with the current regime in that country under the supervision of the United Nations," Mr Kharrazi was quoted as saying.
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