BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Persian Pashto Turkish French

BBC News UK Edition
 You are in: World: Middle East  
News Front Page
Middle East
South Asia
From Our Own Correspondent
Letter From America
N Ireland
Talking Point
Country Profiles
In Depth
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
Thursday, 14 November, 2002, 11:32 GMT
Iraqi reservations prompt US warning
United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan (centre) at a press conference to announce Iraq's acceptance
The letter to Annan ran to nine pages
The US has warned Iraq not to obstruct the United Nations weapons inspectors due to return shortly to the country.

I intend to forward another letter to you on a later date, in which I shall state our observations the measures and procedures, contained in Security Council Resolution 1441 that are contrary to international law

Iraq letter

The warning - from US Secretary of State Colin Powell - came after Baghdad indicated it may challenge the UN Security Council resolution approved unanimously last week.

Baghdad grudgingly agreed to the return of the inspectors in a letter delivered to the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, in which it spoke of "dealing" with the resolution despite "its bad contents".

But the nine-page letter also concluded with a warning that Baghdad would be sending another document laying out the clauses of the resolution which it deems contrary to international law.

US planes
The US has been preparing for military action
The insertion has prompted some speculation that the Iraqis may challenge the weapons inspections team, which is due to arrive in Iraq on Monday with a mandate to inspect all suspected weapons' sites.

Inspections are expected to begin in December, with a report to the UN Security Council due in February, although inspectors may notify any infringements any time before then.

Crucial call

In an interview with the BBC, Mr Powell warned Baghdad not to block the inspections, adding that Saddam Hussein had no choice but to comply with the resolution.

"We expect co-operation," he warned.

Crucially, what still remains unclear is who will decide whether Iraq has met the terms of the resolution - the US or the Security Council.

The BBC's Jon Leyne in Washington says it is this decision which could make the difference between war or peace.

Iraq had been given until Friday to accept the resolution, or face "serious consequences". There was some surprise that the letter had been delivered two days in advance of the deadline.

Although the Iraqi parliament unanimously rejected the proposal on Tuesday, Saddam Hussein took the final decision.

Next steps
18 Nov: Inspectors to arrive in Iraq
8 Dec: Iraq must reveal all programmes, plants and materials which could be used for weapons production
23 Dec: Inspections must resume
21 Feb: Inspectors to report to UN Security Council

"The government found that it was better to say yes for two reasons," said Iraqi MP Mohammed Muzaffar Adhami.

"One is to avoid for the region and Iraq this threat of launching again aggression against Iraq by the Americans, and the second is to prove that we are a clean country, we don't have weapons of mass destruction."

The next deadline now facing the Iraqi regime is 8 December, when it must make a complete declaration of its weapons programmes. In its letter to Mr Annan, it insisted it had none.

Any statements which prove to be false could be used by the Americans as justification for war.

The BBC's Bridget Kendall
"The first spot checks could start within a fortnight"
Iraqi MP Dr Muzaffar al-Adhami
"It's a smart decision"
US Secretary of State Colin Powell
"We'll have to see what the declaration looks like before we make a judgement on Iraq"

Key stories





See also:

14 Nov 02 | Middle East
14 Nov 02 | Middle East
14 Nov 02 | Politics
14 Nov 02 | Media reports
13 Nov 02 | Middle East
12 Nov 02 | Middle East
15 Nov 02 | Americas
10 Nov 02 | Middle East
13 Nov 02 | Business
13 Nov 02 | Middle East
14 Nov 02 | Middle East
14 Nov 02 | Middle East
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Middle East stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Middle East stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | World | UK | England | N Ireland | Scotland | Wales |
Politics | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology |
Health | Education | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |