France, which has taken the brunt of the blame for the failure of a second resolution, was unrepentant. ‘France regrets a decision [by the US and the UK to take military action without UN sanction] which is in no way justified today and which risks having serious repercussions for the region and the world,’ said French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin. He dismissed claims that the failure of the resolution was the fault of France’s veto threat, which made non-permanent members reluctant to support a resolution unpopular at home and destined to be blocked. ‘This project which authorises resort to force could not obtain the necessary support in the Security Council,’ said De Villepin.

Germany, a non-permanent member of the Security Council, echoed French opposition. Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said in a televised address to the nation that inspections should have been given more time. ‘There is no reason to end this disarmament process now -My government has worked hard with our partners for the increasing success of Hans Blix and his colleagues.’ He objected also from a humanitarian angle: ‘Does the degree of threat stemming from the Iraqi dictator justify a war that will bring certain death to thousands of innocent men, women and children?’ he asked. ‘My answer was and is ‘no’.’

Fellow non-permanent member Mexico criticised its powerful ally for choosing ‘the path to war’. President Vicente Fox warned of the effect of the US actions on the UN: ‘The world has to go on pushing for solutions that mesh with the spirit and letter of the UN charter,’ he said. ‘Discussions in the Security Council have led to friction and this in turn has produced fractures in the scheme of international concord and co-existence.’

On 18 March, the Russian Parliament postponed a vote on a US-Russian arms treaty because of Washington’s behaviour over UN Iraq negotiations, Reuters reported.