However, despite the Secretary of State’s damning indictment, permanent Security Council members France, Russia and China still responded with demands for further weapons inspections. French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin asked after the speech: ‘Why go to war if there still exists some unused space in Resolution 1441?’ He said that the UN should unify behind efforts to disarm Iraq peacefully. Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov rejected the impatience of Powell’s speech, saying that the resolution laid down no deadlines beyond which inspections would be deemed to have failed. ‘The information provided today once again convincingly indicates the action of the international inspectors must be continued,’ he said. Powell cast doubt on the ability of the inspectors to detect Iraqi weapons however long they were allowed. Tang Jiaxuan, China’s Foreign Minister, said that while there was ‘the slightest hope for political settlement,’ this should be pursued.

UK Foreign Minister Jack Straw remained the only permanent member sharing the US’ sense of urgency. He agreed that without full Iraqi co-operation, ‘inspections in a country as huge as Iraq could never be sure of finding all Iraqi weapons of mass destruction’. He said that Saddam Hussein was defying the UN and gambling that the organisation would losse its resolve. Invoking the failure of the League of Nations to deal with the threat of Hitler in the 1930s, he warned that the use of force was sometimes necessary for the greater good. ‘If non-co-operation continues, this council must meet its responsibilities,’ he said.