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Saturday, November 8, 1997 Published at 16:47 GMT


Iraq defies UN

The UN plans to renew U-2 surveillance flights

The United Nations has again cancelled weapons inspections in Iraq after American members of the team were prevented from taking part.

It is the sixth day UN inspections have been halted due to Iraq's refusal to allow North Americans to join the teams.

The Iraqis have accused the Americans of spying. It says the US is blocking the removal of UN sanctions.

But they have postponed the expulsion of the Americans while talks continue with the UN.

The United Nations envoy to Iraq, Jan Eliasson, has warned of the consequences of Iraq's action.

"We are facing an escalation that could end in armed conflict, with terrible suffering as a result. That's why the world should be very careful at the moment," he said.

Mr Eliasson was speaking in Stockholm on his way to New York, where he and two colleagues will present a letter from Iraq to the UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan.

The envoy said, however, that the letter contained little new.

For its part, Washington has played down reports that it is urging the Security Council to sanction military action against Iraq for its non-compliance with weapons inspections.

But there is the prospect of a new confrontation on Monday, when the UN says it will resume flights of its U-2 surveillance aircraft despite Iraqi threats to shoot it down.

The UN says the air surveys are necessary because of the lack of ground checks.)

The Assistant Director of the UN arms monitoring centre in Baghdad, Alan Dacey, said four teams could not carry out inspections.

[ image: Saddam: Accuses Americans of spying]
Saddam: Accuses Americans of spying
"The teams arrived at the inspection sites and the Iraqi officials present stated to the respective chief inspectors that they could continue their inspections but not with the personnel of the United States," he said.

"The chief inspectors told their Iraqi counterparts that the inspections cannot proceed on such basis. The chief inspectors reiterated that Iraq was contravening the relevant UN Security Council resolutions."

The Iraqi agency, INA, quoted the Iraqi National Control Commission as saying that "the inspection team... declined to carry out its mission after the competent Iraqi circles at the two sites asked that the US inspectors not take part in the inspection in implementation of a decision issued by the Revolution Command Council on October 29."

UN arms inspections are one of the conditions imposed on Iraq after the Gulf War.

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