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Thursday, 7 November, 2002, 14:56 GMT
Iraq condemns 'US aggression'
Iraqis walk past a billboard of Saddam Hussein
Iraqis were told the US wanted war
Baghdad's official media has urged the UN Security Council to vote against new demands for Iraq to allow weapons inspections or face the consequences.

Newspapers said the US - which has pushed for the new resolution - simply wanted a pretext for aggression.


The smell from the contents of the draft says that whatever we have given and whatever we will give, the result will remain the same, an aggression

Babil newspaper

But the US says it is confident that the ongoing debate in the Security Council will lead to the approval of the resolution, perhaps as early as Friday.

The chief UN inspector, Hans Blix, also seems confident of a new resolution and plans to return to Iraq within two weeks to prepare for the resumption of checks on Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction.

'Tyrant state'

Iraq has said it would allow the return of weapons inspectors, but the ruling Baath Party newspaper al-Thawra used a front-page editorial to say the US wanted the resolution to include passages it could use "as a pretext or a cover for committing aggression against Iraq".

"The administration of this tyrant state is trying to impose its wicked will and policy of aggression on others," it added.

The Babil newspaper - run by President Saddam Hussein's son Uday - said the US draft was "full of hatred and concealed aggressiveness".

"The smell from the contents of the draft says that whatever we have given and whatever we will give, the result will remain the same, an aggression," it said.

Vote moves closer

The adoption of the resolution - which needs nine votes and no vetoes - has appeared more likely after conciliatory statements from France, Russia and China.

Searching Iraq
Deadlines for Iraq and the weapons inspectors under the resolution:
7 days: Iraq must confirm whether it will "comply fully" with the resolution
30 days: Iraq must reveal all programmes, plants and materials which could be used for weapons production
45 days: Inspectors must be allowed to resume their checks
105 days: Inspectors have 60 days from their arrival to report back to the Security Council but may report violations earlier

The three countries, together with the US and the UK, have the power to veto any resolution.

But while each has said the latest, third, draft has acknowledged some concerns, none of the countries have said they agree with the new text and none has ruled out using their veto.

French President Jacques Chirac was quoted by his spokeswoman as saying: "A few ambiguities remain, a final adjustment would be useful."

France has led calls for a second resolution to be required before the use of force can be authorised should Iraq fall foul of the weapons inspectors.

The latest draft warns Iraq that it would face "serious consequences" if the inspectors were unable to do their work, but such a complaint from the inspectors would trigger a recall of the Security Council to consider options, and not necessarily the start of armed intervention.

Russian warning

China's Foreign Ministry also appeared to be conciliatory.

Its spokesman Kong Quan said: "On the whole, we believe the new US proposals have taken into account and considered the worries and concerns of some of us."

UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix
The return of Hans Blix could allow inspections within days of a resolution
But earlier Russia's UN Ambassador, Sergei Lavrov, warned: "We are not there yet."

Britain's Foreign Secretary Jack Straw presented the draft - co-authored by Britain - to Parliament and said he expected a vote as early as Friday, though a spokesman for Prime Minister Tony Blair said it could take longer to reach agreement.

But diplomatic sources have told the BBC that Mr Blix - who said he would only take his inspectors back to Iraq after a new resolution was agreed - is planning to return to Baghdad within two weeks.


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07 Nov 02 | Americas
04 Nov 02 | Middle East
01 Nov 02 | Americas
03 Nov 02 | In Depth
07 Nov 02 | Media reports
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