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Russia 'prepared to use veto'

Ivanov:
Ivanov: "We hold veto power. We would use it if it were for maintaining world stability."

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BEIJING, China (CNN) -- Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said Friday Moscow is prepared to use its veto power in the U.N. Security Council to strike down a second resolution on Iraq if it were necessary for "maintaining world stability."

Russia also welcomed Iraq's announcement on Friday that it will destroy its Al Samoud 2 missiles.

The United States, Britain and Spain have proposed a resolution declaring that Iraq has missed its last chance to disarm. If approved, it could clear the way for a U.S.-led war on Iraq, which Russia, France and China oppose.

"We will consider any new resolutions that support the weapons inspectors' work. But we will not support any resolutions that directly or indirectly authorize using force against Iraq," Ivanov told a Beijing news conference following two days of meetings with Chinese officials.

"We hold veto power. We would use it if it were for maintaining world stability."

The Kremlin said the announcement that Iraq would destroy its Al Samoud 2 missiles was an indication of Baghdad's move toward active cooperation with U.N. resolutions and showed the United States was premature in saying inspections had failed.

The Foreign Ministry said the decision on the missiles, as well as Iraq's recent moves to provide new information to inspectors on several disarmament issues, "will help to remove some of the blank spots" in Iraq's disarmament file.

"It is principally important that the transfer of such information is not an isolated episode but the next step in the realization of an entire series of measures increasing Iraq's cooperation with (U.N. inspectors)," the statement added.

The Russian Foreign Ministry listed a number of steps which show, it says, Baghdad's inclination toward "unconditional implementation" of its responsibilities, including providing information on biological weapons and allowing U-2 reconnaissance flights.

The statement took issue with comments by the United States and Britain that Iraq has forfeited its chance to disarm.

In light of Iraq's agreement on the missiles, the statement said, "there is no basis to say that Iraq has lost its last chance to disarm. On the contrary, the facts prove that this possibility is being realized."

Resolution 1441 is working, Russia claimed, and is bringing "tangible results."

Therefore, Russia believes the inspection should be continued and intensified and that inspectors should provide Iraq a precise list of the key disarmament issues still to be addressed, the statement said.

If that is done, the Russian Foreign Ministry said, "it will open a real path toward the peaceful solution of the crisis."


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