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Wednesday, 2 October, 2002, 09:09 GMT 10:09 UK
Iraq inspections deal rejected
Iraqi guard stops van outside the UN headquarters in Baghdad
Iraq accepted all inspection rights under existing UN resolutions
The United States and Britain have said they will oppose a deal to resume weapons inspections in Iraq until the UN Security Council lays down some tough new rules on Baghdad.


I have always said the question of weapons of mass destruction was a pretext to justify the unjustifiable aggression on Iraq

Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz
US Secretary of State Colin Powell made it clear that the arrangement reached by Iraqi and UN officials in Vienna for the return of weapons inspectors was not acceptable.

Iraq says this proves the US is afraid the inspectors will disprove American allegations that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction.

Washington - which wants to see Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein toppled - is pushing for a tough new Security Council resolution that would specifically mention the threat of military intervention should the inspectors be unable to complete their work.

It does not want inspectors to return until this is passed.

UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw added that the deal was not an alternative to a new resolution that would give unfettered access to all sites in Iraq suspected of holding chemical and biological weapons.

'Belligerent resolution'

Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz said that the US was attempting to create a "belligerent resolution" and warned that military action would only destabilise the region.

One of Saddam Hussein's presidential palaces
Saddam's palaces are a crucial point of contention

"There is no need for a new resolution, the practice of the inspectors in Iraq has been defined by previous resolutions which we are ready to comply with," he said.

Mr Aziz, speaking a visit to Turkey, also refuted claims that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, and said it no longer possessed long-range missiles capable of launching such devices.

"I have always said the question of weapons of mass destruction was a pretext to justify the unjustifiable aggression on Iraq," he said.

Little sense

Legally the US and Britain cannot prevent the return of UN weapons inspectors to Iraq.


Draft resolution
  • A UN member state can use "all necessary means" should Baghdad not co-operate with inspectors
  • Any permanent member of the Security Council can join an inspection mission and recommend sites to be inspected
  • Inspectors can declare no-fly and no-drive exclusion zones anywhere in Iraq
  • Access to all sites including presidential palaces


  • But BBC correspondents say that, as a servant of the Security Council, it would make little sense for the inspectorate to carry out the existing mandate if the Security Council was not satisfied with what they were doing.

    Chief weapons inspector Hans Blix may now wait until his briefing with the council in New York later this week to see how it wishes him to proceed and whether his inspectors should wait before returning to Baghdad.

    And a senior US State Department official said the US would go into "thwart mode" if Mr Blix and his team did, as planned, go back to Iraq in October without fresh instructions from the Security Council.

    Palace row

    Under the deal, reached at two days of talks in Vienna, Iraq accepted all inspection rights under existing UN resolutions.

    Open in new window : Iraq spotlight
    Click to see maps of Iraq's suspected weapons sites

    Mr Blix said the inspectors would have unconditional access - but crucially not to eight presidential palaces.

    Those sites are covered under a 1998 memorandum of understanding agreed by Iraq and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, which includes giving the Iraqis prior notification of planned visits by inspectors.

    Mr Aziz said that in Iraq's opinion that memo still stood.

    US diplomats are currently circulating a draft text for a UN resolution which specifically demands access to these palaces as well as a complete list of all Iraqi weapons of mass destruction before weapons inspectors enter the country.

    If Iraq was found to have made false statements on this list, the country would face the prospect of immediate military action.

    However, like the US and Britain, France, Russia and China all have the right to veto a resolution.

     WATCH/LISTEN
     ON THIS STORY
    The BBC's Michael Voss
    "Tariq Aziz said his country would fully cooperate with weapons inspectors"
    British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw
    "We have to have upgraded weapons inspection arrangements"
    Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz
    Listen to the full speech here
    Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz
    "There is no need for a new resolution"

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