PARIS - Iraq is currently in a state of "decomposition" that will not be reversed until the Iraqi people recover their sovereignty, French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said in a radio interview Friday.
De Villepin also told the private RTL radio station that a new UN resolution in which Washington was asking for other countries to bolster its occupying forces would simply "see the cycle of violence worsen".
The statement came amid continuing controversy over the massive explosion that destroyed the United Nations' headquarters in Baghdad, killing at least 23 people, on Tuesday.
"A logic of occupation must be rapidly replaced by a logic of sovereignty," the minister said, and questioned whether the current approach of the US-led coalition, which he said was "essentially security-oriented," had not failed.
The US-sponsored resolution, he said, "does not respond to the situation of the ground, which is both a situation of decomposition, of discouragement for the Iraqi people and at the same time a logic of confrontation."
The "security race," as he put it, was creating a trap in which Washington was seeking to reinforce its military might in Iraq while "Iraqi nationalists, Islamic fundamentalists and terrorists" were also increasing their activities targeting them.
"Nothing would be worse than to come up with temporary fixes, to try to shore up shaky foundations," he said.
Without the Iraqis feeling as if they were running their own country, "the risk is to see the Iraqi trap get bigger, to see the cycle of violence worsen.... It is clear today that the violence is sparing no-one, nothing.... Sabotage of water, oil pipelines, the Jordanian embassy, the UN, the US forces."
To put an end to all that, de Villepin said, the authority of Iraq's US-appointed interim Governing Council should be strengthened, then elections should be set up "perhaps by the end of the year" to put in place a provisional government.
He said such moves were "the condition for success" and should be the basis on which a new UN Security Council resolution should be drafted.
He said the resolution being touted by the United States meant France was confronted with "a big choice", and hinted that France felt that the US resolution would not clear up a "a certain ambiguity" posed by the US military occupation in Iraq.
But for all his criticism of the US path of action, de Villepin did not say that France would oppose the US resolution.
France, one of the most vocal opponents of the war against Iraq and one of five veto-wielding members of the UN Security Council, has argued that the United States cannot ask nations to make a greater contribution to security efforts without relinquishing an element of control.
"To share the burden and the responsibilities in a world of equal and sovereign nations, also means sharing information and authority," Deputy French Ambassador Michel Duclos told the UN Security Council on Thursday.
But US officials insist there is no need for a broadening of the existing UN mandate.
US Secretary of State Colin Powell said Thursday the United States was exploring a new UN resolution that would spur the deployment of more international troops in Iraq without ceding US operational authority.
Following talks in New York with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Powell said US and UN officials were discussing various measures aimed at improving the security situation in Iraq.
A senior State Department official in Washington said the text of a resolution could be ready as early as next week, "but we won't be looking for a vote until early September."