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Thursday, 3 October, 2002, 17:12 GMT 18:12 UK
Arms inspector faces UN sceptics
USS Abraham Lincoln deployed in the Arabian Sea
The US has a range of military options on Iraq
The UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix has been briefing the Security Council on his talks with Iraqi officials amid divisions over how he should proceed.

Diplomats said he told the session that his talks in Vienna on Tuesday had gone well but that a number of "loose ends" remained.

Hans Blix
Hans Blix: Seeking guidance on how to proceed

Mr Blix reportedly said the outstanding issues concerned the inspectors' access to President Saddam Hussein's palaces and assurances that Iraqi officials would not hamper inspectors' attempts to interview individuals inside Iraq.

China, France and Russia want to get the inspections started as soon as possible.

They have reiterated their opposition to calls by the other permanent members of the Security Council - the United States and Britain - for a robust new UN resolution carrying a clear threat of military action if Iraq fails to meet its obligations.

Rift over inspections

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Saltanov said on Thursday that Moscow opposed any mention in the draft resolution of the automatic use of force should Iraq fail to comply completely with weapons inspectors.


The harder the international community is at the moment, the clearer the message we send, the greater the likelihood there is of avoiding conflict

Tony Blair

But the US draft resolution would give UN inspectors broad new powers to hunt for weapons of mass destruction and provide them with military backing if Iraq obstructed their work.

The United States wants to delay the inspections not just until the new resolution is passed, but for a month beyond that, until Iraq has made a full declaration of all its weapons.


US draft resolution for UN
  • 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


  • US Secretary of State Colin Powell said "we must find a way forward, if the Security Council will retain its relevance".

    But he stressed that "we have to disarm Iraq, and the president is quite willing to do whatever is necessary to bring that about".

    China is unlikely to block any US and British-sponsored resolution, says the BBC's Beijing correspondent, Rupert Wingfield Hayes.

    But it may support an alternative motion, proposed by France, delaying any threat of military action until the UN weapons inspectors have completed their task or been prevented from doing so.

    A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Thursday: "The top priority at this moment is to let UN weapon inspectors return to Iraq as soon as possible and start work smoothly".

    'Clear message'

    The UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair, told the BBC on Thursday that the existing weapons inspections regime had not been enough to get the job done.

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

    "The harder the international community is at the moment, the clearer the message we send, the greater the likelihood there is of avoiding conflict," he said.

    Mr Blair insisted that toppling Saddam Hussein was not his aim, but said such a result would be "fantastic... not least for the Iraqi people".

    Instead, he said that the aim was to disarm the Iraqi leader of his weapons of mass destruction.

    Iraqi rebuttal

    Eight days after Mr Blair issued his dossier on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, Iraq has delivered its detailed technical rebuttal.

    It said Baghdad no longer had the capacity to make chemical or biological agents, because the specialised equipment needed was not available to do it.

    It also denied it had any missiles with a range longer than 150 kilometres.

    On Wednesday, US President George W Bush received political backing for his Iraq policy, with the House of Representatives agreeing a deal that could pave the way for the use of force against Baghdad. The Senate will now discuss the issue.

     WATCH/LISTEN
     ON THIS STORY
    The BBC's Michael Voss
    "America and Britain have appeared isolated on the Security Council"
    The BBC's Brian Hanrahan
    "Each sides appears to be saying they would be willing to veto the others' resolution"

    Key stories

    Analysis

    CLICKABLE GUIDE

    BBC WORLD SERVICE

    AUDIO VIDEO

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     VOTE RESULTS
    Should the weapons inspectors go into Iraq now?

    Yes
     79.51% 

    No
     20.49% 

    61425 Votes Cast

    Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

    See also:

    03 Oct 02 | Middle East
    03 Oct 02 | Middle East
    03 Oct 02 | Politics
    02 Oct 02 | Europe
    03 Oct 02 | Middle East
    02 Oct 02 | Americas
    02 Oct 02 | Middle East
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