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US Ambassador to Vatican stands firm after archbishop's attack

US Ambassador to the Vatican Jim Nicholson rejected criticism of US "unilateralism" on Iraq, saying the United Nations has already provided for the possibility of armed intervention if Iraq refuses to disarm.

The ambassador's comments followed a statement by Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran, a Vatican foreign affairs official, who said a US attack on Iraq without UN authorisation would be a "crime against peace" and a violation of international law.

Nicholson said the differences over Iraq had not caused a chill in US-Vatican relations. But he took issue with the argument that an additional UN resolution was needed to legitimize the use of force against Iraq.

"It has already authorised it," he said, referring to UN resolution 1441 passed last November, which called on Iraq to declare all weapons of mass destruction or face "serious consequences."

Nicholson said that was enough to justify military action in the current circumstances, because it is clear Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has not complied with the weapons inspection provisions.

"I'm not sure what a 'crime against peace' is," he said, referring to Archbishop Tauran's comments two days earlier. He said President Bush had made clear that the United States does not want war and that war would be the last resort.

Catholic News Service

US Embassy to the Holy See | Ambassador R. James (Jim) Nicholson
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28 Feb 2003