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 Wednesday, 29 January, 2003, 05:57 GMT
US opposes Iraqi UN disarmament role
Iraqi officials accompany UN weapons inside the General Company for Agricultural Equipment at the Jarf el-Nadaf area south of Baghdad
Iraq insists it has no banned weapons
The United States has warned it cannot accept Iraqi chairmanship of a United Nations disarmament body and is considering options to block such an appointment scheduled for May.

The United States believes it is unacceptable for Iraq to assume the presidency of the international community's main multilateral disarmament negotiating forum

Lynn Cassel
US State Department
The presidency of the 66-member Conference on Disarmament rotates alphabetically, and - by coincidence - Baghdad is to take up the position just as the US increases its pressure for the Iraqi disarmament.

"Iraq for more than 13 years has defied numerous UN Security Council resolutions demanding its disarmament," State Department spokeswoman Lynn Cassel said.

The US accuses Iraq of possessing weapons of mass destruction, and has made it clear it would be prepared to go to war without UN backing, if necessary.

Limited options

"The United States believes it is unacceptable for Iraq to assume the presidency of the international community's main multilateral disarmament negotiating forum," Ms Cassel said.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell addresses reporters after the Iraq inspectors' report
Powell said the US was ready to go to war alone

"We're considering our options," she added when asked what the US would do to try to block the Iraqi month-long presidency of the Commission, which starts on 27 May.

US officials have also admitted that Washington will have problems with Iranian presidency of the Commission, beginning on 12 May.

US President George W Bush has mentioned both Iraq and Iran as part of an "axis of evil", accusing them of trying to develop weapons of mass destruction.

But despite the US opposition to the two states' chairmanship, experts say Washington's options are limited as the Conference has no provision for electing its head.

The Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament is a UN-funded organisation which was founded in 1979.


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28 Jan 03 | Media reports
28 Jan 03 | Europe
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27 Jan 03 | Americas
19 Nov 02 | Middle East
27 Jan 03 | Middle East
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