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Wednesday, 13 November, 2002, 18:56 GMT
Straw welcomes Iraq's UN move
Saddam Hussein
Saddam has until Friday to accept UN resolution
Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has welcomed Iraq's decision to accept the terms of the new UN Security Council resolution calling on the country to disarm.

If Saddam fails to co-operate fully, then he faces force

Jack Straw
Foreign Secretary

The move could pave the way for the return of weapons inspectors on Monday after a four-year absence.

Mr Straw, who was making a major foreign policy speech on Wednesday evening, said Iraq had taken the "first step" towards disarmament.

"I welcome that. But we must remain vigilant. Iraq's intentions are notoriously changeable," he said.

'Set of traps'

In a statement, the foreign secretary said: "The next step is for Iraq to provide an accurate, full and complete declaration of all aspects of its biological, chemical and nuclear weapons programme by 8 December.

"Let there be no doubt that any failure by Iraq to comply with its obligations will lead to serious consequences."

He said it was only the "credible threat of force" which had "brought Iraq this far".

In a speech on Wednesday evening, Mr Straw denied the UN resolution was a "set of traps" aimed at clearing the way to military action against Iraq.

He also spoke about the campaign against terrorism after an Arabic radio station broadcast an audio tape allegedly featuring the voice of al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden.

The tape warns America's allies they will face new attacks if they continue to support Washington.

Stark choice

Mr Straw was delivering the Lord Mayor's lecture on the future of foreign policy at Guy's and St Thomas's Hospital.

Osama Bin Laden
The "Bin Laden tape" warns America's allies
He said: "The message for Saddam Hussein is this: resolve this crisis peacefully by complying fully with UN inspectors and providing a full and complete disclosure of your WMD holdings by December 8. Or choose confrontation.

He accused the Iraqi regime of flouting efforts at weapons inspections while developing chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.

Facing the consequences

"The history of UN weapons inspections in Iraq is littered with examples of deceit, evasion, intimidation and harassment.

"I hope even Iraq will recognise the consequences of any repeat," Mr Straw added.

"If Saddam fails to co-operate fully, then he faces force.

"Those of us who negotiated the text were determined to ensure that it was not a set of traps for Iraq, but a series of steps towards full compliance which Saddam Hussein can take if he wishes."

The warning comes after Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon said on Sunday the UK was prepared for possible war with Iraq.

Mr Hoon denied reports that troops would start mobilising this week.

No decisions had been taken about the possible strength and make-up of a UK force, said Mr Hoon, who stressed war was still a "last resort".

Iraq's acceptance

Iraq had been given until Friday to accept the new UN resolution on disarmament or face "serious consequences".

On Tuesday, Iraq's parliament unanimously rejected the new resolution.

The UN resolution was approved unanimously by the Security Council last Friday, after weeks of wrangling among its members. Even Syria voted in favour.

Iraq's acceptance came after President George W Bush renewed his warning that the US would take military action to disarm Iraq if it refused to comply.

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See also:

12 Nov 02 | Middle East
13 Nov 02 | Middle East
12 Nov 02 | Middle East
09 Nov 02 | Europe
09 Nov 02 | Politics
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