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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Russia's View of U.N. Vote

Aired November 8, 2002 - 12:08   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Let's move on now. And joining us from New York to talk about the Security Council vote, Sergey Lavrov. He's the Russian Ambassador to the United Nations.
Mr. Ambassador, thanks so much for joining us. What made you -- what convinced you in the end to support this resolution, not to abstain, and certainly not to use your veto?

SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: Well, basically two things. One, the problem of the automaticity of the use of force and two, the need to have inspections regime very efficient, very tough, but the one which would be acceptable to inspectors themselves. And we achieved both aims as a result of negotiations. The resolution doesn't contain any provisions which would authorize automatic use of force and it does contain enhanced inspections regime which is acceptable to inspectors.

BLITZER: And so basically the Russian government, correct me if I'm wrong, is along -- is joining the United States, Britain and others in demanding that the Iraqi government completely comply, totally, unrestricted inspections, including at those sensitive presidential palaces, is that right?

LAVROV: Absolutely, this is the consensus of the Security Council. This has always been our position that Iraq must comply fully and without any exceptions.

BLITZER: And what happens if Hans Blix and Mohammed El Baradei, the International Atomic Energy Agency representative, come back to the Security Council and say guess what, they're refusing to cooperate? What happens next according to the Russian view?

LAVROV: Well, Hans Blix and Mohammed El Baradei in that case would have to present their case in very specific terms. We would have to know what sort of failure there is. And we do rely on Hans Blix and Mohammed El Baradei as professionals and as international civil servants and not to repeat the mistakes of UNSCOM, in the past when UNSCOM was reporting and interpreting the tiniest episodes as proof of the lack of full cooperation. Hans Blix and Mohammed El Baradei know that their mandate is to make sure that Iraq does not have weapons of mass destruction. And if they come across a problem which would clearly indicate that this might be in danger and the knowledge that Iraq doesn't have double in due -- is in danger, then they would report and it would be their professional judgment what to report to the council and what to handle on the ground themselves.

BLITZER: There would be a meeting of the U.N. Security Council to hear that report. Would you demand, though, that there be required another Security Council resolution before military force is used against Iraq?

LAVROV: You know this question presupposes that any, any failure automatically would require the use of force, and the only question is whether to endorse this by resolution or not. My point is that we have to see what sort of failure is reported to the council and how dangerous...

BLITZER: So you'll take...

LAVROV: ... and how dangerous it is.

BLITZER: You'll take it one step at a time at that point. The United States is though leaving open, as you heard from the president himself, leaving the -- open the option of unilateral U.S., perhaps British, military action even without a U.N. Security Council vote. Is that acceptable to you?

LAVROV: Well I prefer not to guess about this possibility. The American and the British governments clearly said that they leave this option open, and we have known this for quite a number of months now. What we are concerned is for inspectors to get in Iraq as soon as possible, and I hope that the Iraqi government would confirm their intention to cooperate with them so that the resolution could start being implemented. But when and if they encounter a problem, we have to see what this problem is about.

BLITZER: Finally, Mr. Ambassador, you know the Iraqi situation quite well. A lot of people here in Washington believe they will not eventually cooperate, that there will be military action. Do you believe the Iraqis are going to get the message and completely cooperate?

LAVROV: Well, I hope they will. I cannot say that we are 100 percent convinced in anything, by the way, around this Iraqi crisis, but I do hope that they would cooperate, at least they should have heard the appeals to them, unanimous appeals from all members of the Security Council and from the Secretary-General that we want them to cooperate fully and in good faith.

BLITZER: Ambassador Lavrov, let's hope you're right. Thanks so much for joining us. Good luck to you as well.

LAVROV: Thank you.

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