BRITAIN ACCUSED France and Germany of undermining the United Nations yesterday by pursuing their own plan to avoid a war in Iraq - and warned that they were making military conflict more likely.
British ministers fear the joint initiative by Jacques Chirac, the French President, and Gerhard Schroder, the German Chancellor, could persuade the United States to abandon the UN route and take unilateral action against Iraq, the opposite of what France and Germany want to achieve.
Bill Rammell, the Foreign Office minister responsible for Britain's relations with the UN, told The Independent yesterday: "The UN's credibility is on the line. Through their actions, its members can put it at the centre of the Iraq issue, or at the sidelines." Recalling that Resolution 1441 was passed unanimously by the UN Security Council last November, he said: "Every member of the Security Council is responsible to ensure its implementation, not for coming up with reasons why it hasn't been implemented."
The minister warned: "The best way of avoiding war is by sending a clear and unconditional message that we're preparing for it. Anything else, anything that weakens, cuts across or undermines that message makes war more, not less, likely."
Mr Rammell dismissed the suggestion by France and Germany that more UN weapons inspectors should be sent into Iraq. "You can have as many inspectors as you like. But let's remember which way round this works. …