Tags: Iraq | Caves | Weapons | Inspections

Iraq Caves on Weapons Inspections

Wednesday, 13 November 2002 12:00 AM

The measure, which passed unanimously Friday, called for Iraq's disarmament beginning with the return of the inspectors for the first time in four years and threatening "serious consequences" if Baghdad failed to cooperate.

Iraqi Ambassador Mohammed Aldouri was intercepted by reporters outside the Security Council as he returned from U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's office where, he said, he hand-delivered an eight-page letter in Arabic from Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri to Annan. A copy of the letter was later sent to Security Council members.

"Let's not make more of this than there is. They had no choice," said Robert Wood, a spokesman for the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John Negroponte.

"The Iraqis need to give their full and complete cooperation with the weapons inspectors leading to their full and verifiable disarmament. Nothing less will do."

President Bush said Wednesday after a Cabinet meeting: "If he chooses not to disarm, we will disarm him. That should be clear to Saddam Hussein and everybody else. And if he chooses not to disarm, we will have a coalition of the willing with us.

"There's no negotiations with Mr. Saddam Hussein. Those days are long gone. And so are the days of deceit and denial."

Later, after a meeting with Bush, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan said: "I think we all have to be a bit patient. The inspectors will be there by the 18th, and we'll have to test it.

"The president is determined disarmament will take place, that we should push ahead ... I urge the Iraqis to cooperate."

At the Pentagon, spokeswoman Victoria Clarke said on Wednesday that Iraq's acceptance was neither a surprise nor a particular achievement.

"It's a long way to go to disarmament," she told United Press International. "Disarmament is the real goal here."

Fayssal Mekdad, charge d'affaires of Syria, acting as Damascus' envoy to the council, said his nation, the only Arab member of the council, welcomed the acceptance.

"We think it has taken the correct step," he said. "Now it is the responsibility of the inspectors."

Aldouri was asked if there were any conditions attached to the letter, which he described as "a positive reply." He replied: "No. Unconditional. No questions at all.

"We will deal with the resolution, and we are waiting for the inspectors to go," Aldouri said.

He said the eight pages consisted of "a general letter explaining the Iraqi position vis a vis the Iraqi position: How it has been dealt with in the United Nations. Which is the correct way or not. But this is nothing to do with the resolution itself."

Asked if there was a request for inspectors from Arab nations, he said "no."

"Any special requests?" a reporter asked.

"No, absolutely. I told you," he replied. "There are two sentences, very important sentences. The first one saying that we are willing to deal with the resolution, and the second that we are waiting for inspectors to come to Iraq as was scheduled by the resolution."

The measure called for Baghdad's acceptance within seven days, which end Friday. Then Baghdad has 30 days to declare its weapons of mass destruction and any components of them.

Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix said that he would have an advance team to prepare for inspectors in Baghdad on Monday.

Inspections were to begin within 45 days of the resolution, Dec. 23.

Blix, chairman of the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, and Mohamed ElBaradei, executive director of the International Atomic Energy Commission, were to have their first reports to the council within 60 days of starting their inspections.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has repeatedly derided Iraq's pattern of "leaning forward" when it serves Hussein's purposes and then reversing course to defy international will, thereby buying himself time to continue to produce chemical or biological weapons and work on his nuclear program.

The Pentagon is continuing its discussions with the U.S. State Department and the United Nations on what military capabilities might be needed to support arms inspections, a list that emphasizes surveillance and reconnaissance assets.

Security for the inspectors will be provided by U.N. forces rather than American, Clarke said.

Meanwhile, the buildup of American forces in the Persian Gulf region continues, with at least 30,000 troops and more than 200 combat planes in place, with at least two more aircraft carriers soon to arrive.

The New York Times reported last weekend that the Pentagon planned on a force of more than 200,000 troops to fight in Iraq if inspections fail to disarm Hussein.

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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The measure, which passed unanimously Friday, called for Iraq's disarmament beginning with the return of the inspectors for the first time in four years and threatening "serious consequences" if Baghdad failed to cooperate. Iraqi Ambassador Mohammed Aldouri was...
Iraq,Caves,Weapons,Inspections
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2002-00-13
Wednesday, 13 November 2002 12:00 AM
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