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BBC BREAKFAST WITH FROST INTERVIEW: His Excellency, Grigory Karasin, Russian Ambassador FEBRUARY 23rd, 2003
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DAVID FROST: The timetable to war in Iraq is now clear. Tony Blair has launched a last ditch peace offensive to win support for a new United Nations resolution - that was in the news at the beginning - when it comes to voting on it, of course, Russia will play a vital role because as a permanent member of the Security Council it wields a veto. President Putin has warned against an unreasonable use of force, so what will his country do? I'm joined now by the Russian Ambassador to London, His Excellency Grigory Karasin. Your Excellency, Grigory, welcome.
GRIGORY KARASIN: David, good morning.
DAVID FROST: In the last day or two we've had some interesting developments, including the fact that Hans Blix has asked - demanded, indeed - of Saddam Hussein that he destroy all his al-Samoud 2 missiles by March 1st. Now if he doesn't do that, would that change your view of the tactics that should be used against him? If he gives that demonstration that he's not cooperating?
GRIGORY KARASIN: Could I start with a general observation -
DAVID FROST: Yes.
GRIGORY KARASIN: - that we are in the midst of settling something not exactly minor; it is a major question of international politics and probably something which will determine the character of international relations for the future. So we should be persistent, we shouldn't be summing up words and statements, substituting the substance, and I think that so far we have a general logic but we have to make that logic really convincing. If we fail to do that, I think, we're facing trouble. So far there is a logical resolution 1441, which was taken unanimously, as is well known, by Security Council members. Inspectors headed by Blix are in Iraq, they are working quite efficiently and the thing with the al-Samoud rockets is the proof of that, in fact. So there is the 1st of March as the date for official report of Hans Blix to the Security Council, on the basis of which there will be the convention of the ... commission for monitoring which will make the decision what is next and what will be the criteria for Saddam Hussein and for Iraqi line. So all leaders are in permanent touch with each other, so of course it is a serious question there is a crisis, but, you know, we're working for general understanding, for general line, I don't see that, you know, there is a necessity of split in the Security Council. We have to -
DAVID FROST: No necessity of a split?
GRIGORY KARASIN: Yes. I think we have to maintain the consensus, that is important for today and for the future. I think we have good grounds for that if we pursue the line of logic and single-mindedness, you may say.
DAVID FROST: But there would be no disagreement, obviously, if you come to the conclusion that he has absolutely breached his commitments and pledges and so on. I mean it is absolute - and if Blix says so - then clearly everybody would be on side. Are there any circumstances at all in which you could foresee using a veto against the United States and Britain?
GRIGORY KARASIN: David, could we for the moment try not to speak hypothetically and try to do everything needed for convincing logic and for unanimity of the Security Council members. You mentioned the possibility of the second, so-called second, resolution of Iraq. Let us wait see what is in it, what is in draft, and let's discuss. I'm quite sure that we still have the period of time before the first of March, we'll see what the official inspectors group will report to us, to all the international community in the face of the Security Council, and let's make positive steps forward to see that Iraq is no longer a danger in the WMD. We still have chances.
DAVID FROST: And obviously, everybody's in favour of disarmament, of Saddam Hussein, it's a question of what is the most effective way of doing it. But I mean, do you think that Iraq would be a better place, and the world would be a better place, if in fact he was deposed?
GRIGORY KARASIN: Again, it is a hypothetical conversation. I think that the international community still have the task to secure that Iraq is no danger in the sense of WMD, be it weapons of biological, chemical or nuclear.
DAVID FROST: Right.
GRIGORY KARASIN: If that is achieved we have no grounds for any sort of serious concern.
DAVID FROST: Well that, that of course would be the most optimistic. In general do you think - are you an optimist or a pessimist, or do you think this crisis will, could, damage relations between Russia, Britain, the United States and France? Could it have that effect?
GRIGORY KARASIN: I think we should all be optimists and we should all work for all the nations you mentioned to be united. We have still some chances for that - good chances for that - but we should be serious, persistent and convincing. I hope we'll achieve that.
DAVID FROST: Thank you very much indeed.
GRIGORY KARASIN: Thank you David.
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