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Saturday, 28 September, 2002, 15:53 GMT 16:53 UK
Iraq rebuffs new UN draft
Friday prayers in Baghdad
Most Iraqis are suffering from economic hardship
Iraq has rejected a proposed new draft resolution which the United States and Britain want passed by the United Nations Security Council.

Any attack against Iraq won't be an American picnic, rather a fierce war that would cost (the Americans) losses that they have not seen for decades

Tariq Aziz, Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister

According to diplomats at the UN, the proposed resolution would give Iraq seven days to accept unlimited weapons inspections.

A senior US envoy has begun talks with the Russian foreign minister, aimed at overcoming Moscow's reservations about the US approach.

The draft is set to be put to the Security Council next week and winning the Kremlin's support will be crucial to getting a vote through.

US President George W Bush has also warned in a national radio address of the threat he says Iraq poses.

'Harming Iraq'

Iraqi Vice-President Taha Yassin Ramadan has said any move that harmed Baghdad would not be accepted.

"The stance from the inspectors has been decided and any additional procedure that aims at harming Iraq won't be accepted," he said.

weapons inspectors
The proposals radically change the inspections process

Under the terms of the draft, if Iraq failed to comply with any aspect of the resolution's demands, "all necessary means" could be used against it - a diplomatic term for military force.

Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz warned the United States it would face a "fierce war" in which it would "suffer losses they have never sustained for decades".

Security Council doubts

Of the five veto-wielding permanent members on the Security Council, the US and UK support the draft resolution, but Russia, France and China remain to be convinced.

US and British diplomats have mounted an intensive lobbying campaign to try to win the backing of the other three - so far, with little obvious success.

Key demands
Acceptance of resolution within 7 days
Declaration of arms programmes within 30 days
Access for inspectors to all sites
Armed guards to accompany inspectors
Use of military force for any non-compliance

On Saturday, the US Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman, accompanied by the political director of the British Foreign Office Peter Ricketts, began closed door talks with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov in Moscow.

The two sides cracked jokes together as they met, but before the meeting, Mr Ivanov had said there was as yet "no clear proof" that the Iraqi president had weapons of mass destruction, adding it would be an "unforgivable error" to delay the return of inspectors.

And Mr Grossman appeared to make little headway on Friday in Paris where President Jacques Chirac said he continued to support a two-step approach. China is said to support this stance.

The draft is expected to undergo changes before being put to a vote and the most intense wrangling is likely to focus on the use of military force.

The three opponents of the resolution are worried that the conditions set for Iraq are impossible to meet and that President Bush could use this as a pretext to mount a unilateral military attack on Iraq.

On Saturday, Mr Bush said that the danger to the United States from Iraq was grave and was growing.

In his weekly radio address, he said that the threats the country faced would only worsen from month to month, and to ignore them was to encourage them.

Open in new window : Who backs war?
Where key nations stand on Iraq

He said that when the threats had fully materialised, it might be too late to protect the United States and its allies.

Inspections rethink

Diplomats released details of the draft resolution on Friday night though it has not yet officially been made public.

The three-and-a-half page document opens with a statement that Iraq is already in "material breach" of UN Security Council resolutions and demands "full, final and complete destruction" of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

The proposed resolution radically changes the weapons inspections process, which was broken off four years ago amid accusations that Iraq was obstructing inspectors' work.

Before inspections began, Iraq would have to produce details of any nuclear, chemical, biological or ballistic arms programmes it might have.

Iraq would have to agree to let UN weapons inspectors roam freely in their search for weapons of mass destruction, even allowing them into government buildings and mosques.

The resolution would also take away the special status of eight presidential sites.

In negotiations with President Saddam in 1998, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan agreed to restrict the inspection of the presidential palaces so spot-checks could not take place unannounced.

And the practice of assigning an Iraqi guide to the inspectors would be scrapped. Instead, it is suggested, they would be accompanied by armed security guards.

The BBC's Brian Hanrahan
"America's proposals are fierce and precise"
The BBC's Mike Wooldridge reports
"President Bush has ratcheted up the pressure on Saddam Hussein one more notch"

Key stories





See also:

28 Sep 02 | Politics
28 Sep 02 | Americas
28 Sep 02 | Americas
26 Sep 02 | Americas
26 Sep 02 | Americas
24 Sep 02 | Politics
26 Sep 02 | Americas
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