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Sunday, 8 December, 2002, 15:08 GMT
UK backing for UN inspectors
UN vehicle in Iraq
UN inspectors at work in Iraq
Foreign Secretary Jack Straw says the UK retains full confidence in the United Nations weapons inspectors in Iraq.

He was responding to reports that some in America believed that they were not proving effective.

Normally a pack of lies

Jack Straw on Saddam's previous statements
Mr Straw told BBC One's Breakfast with Frost that he had not heard that view from any member of the US administration.

He said the UK had "every confidence" in the inspectors, and also welcomed the fact that their number was being increased this week, as well as better technology being provided.

Asked about the 11,000 page dossier on its weapons handed over by Iraq, Mr Straw said there would be no rush to judgement and that it would take time to study it in detail.

On Saddam Hussein's apology to Kuwait over his invasion in 1990 Mr Straw said: "I have rarely seen anything so cynical as that."

Mr Straw said that Saddam Hussein had made a series of statements on his weapons capabilities in recent years which had turned out to be "normally pack of lies".

He added: "It remains to be seen whether this 11,000 page dossier is consistent with his past disclosures."

Iraq's long-awaited weapons declaration is being flown for analysis at the United Nations in New York and the International Atomic Energy Agency's headquarters in Vienna.
UN car in Iraq
Inspectors have resumed their work
Inspections timetable:
  • 8 December: Iraq must make a current and complete declaration of chemical, biological, nuclear and missile programmes.
  • 26 January: Inspectors have 60 days from the start of inspections to report on their progress.
  • Inspections can be halted at any time, and "serious consequences" ensue if Iraq obstructs inspectors.

    See also:

  • The dossier denies the presence of any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

    Mr Straw said he still hoped that the crisis could be resolved with Saddam Hussein being disarmed of weapons of mass destruction without resort to war.

    Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith said he believed there was still evidence of weapons of mass destruction.

    Mr Duncan Smith told the BBC One's On The Record: "If Iraq says that it does not possess weapons... and if there is evidence quite to the contrary - which I believe there is - that they do exist and that they've been developing them, then I think it's legitimate for the powers to say: 'Then you are breaching the terms of the resolution which empowers us if necessary to take military action'."

    The Bush administration has issued a terse statement saying it will analyse the declaration's credibility and warning that it must satisfy United States scrutiny if Iraq is to avoid military attack.

    Inspectors from the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (Unmovic) are meanwhile continuing with their checks. A further 35 inspectors are due in Baghdad on Sunday to bolster the team.

    The English title of the massive document, made up of stacks of files, folders and CD-Roms, is the Currently Accurate, Full and Complete Declarations in English.

    At the same time, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein delivered a televised message to the Kuwaiti people.

    In the address, read by Information Minister Mohamed Said Sahaf, he apologised to the Kuwaitis for what he termed acts that had caused anger in the past, saying he wanted to set the record straight about Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

    UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw
    "The whole of the international community wants the Iraq crisis resolved peacefully"

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    See also:

    07 Dec 02 | Middle East
    07 Dec 02 | Middle East
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