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Tuesday, 27 November, 2001, 16:01 GMT
Iraq defies US over arms inspections
President Bush at news conference
President Bush warned Iraq to let UN inspectors back
Iraq has rejected a call by US President George W Bush to allow UN weapons inspectors back into the country.

"Anyone who thinks Iraq can accept an arrogant and unilateral will of this party or that is mistaken," an Iraqi Government spokesman said.

US troops in front of tanks
The US has sent more troops to Kuwait
The spokesman, quoted by the official news agency INA, said Baghdad would "not bow to threats, but only to justice".

The UN should lift sanctions on Iraq and the US alliance should abolish its "no-fly zones" in northern and southern Iraq before asking Baghdad to accept the inspectors again, the spokesman said.

On Monday, President Bush demanded Iraq allow UN weapons inspectors to return to see whether it has kept its promises to eliminate all weapons of mass destruction.

The UN weapons monitors left Iraq three years ago, and have not been allowed back.

Possible target

President Bush's remarks have led to speculation that after Afghanistan, Iraq could become the next target in the US-led war on terrorism.

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein has set tough conditions for a UN return
Questioned by journalists as to what the United States would do if President Saddam Hussein did not permit the return of the weapons monitors, Mr Bush said: "He'll find out".

The BBC's Middle East analyst Roger Hardy says there are signs the Bush administration has not yet made up its mind on its policy towards Iraq.

He says some influential hawks want to topple Saddam Hussein from power. But US Secretary of State Colin Powell, the man in charge of American Middle East policy, is concerned that any hasty action could destroy all hopes of reviving the peace process in the region.

The United States says the Iraqi regime could stockpile nuclear or chemical weapons - including anthrax - and use them itself or pass them on to terrorist groups.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Greg Barrow
"Iraq has been one of the most divisive subjects of the UN Security Council"
Former weapons inspector in Iraq Richard Butler
"What the President said is a touch confusing"
See also:

26 Nov 01 | Americas
Bush warns Iraq over UN inspectors
27 Nov 01 | Americas
Could Iraq be next?
12 Nov 01 | Middle East
Iraq fires mortar into Kuwait
07 Nov 01 | Middle East
Iraq 'smart sanctions' postponed
30 Oct 01 | Middle East
Iraq condemns US 'aggression'
28 Oct 01 | Middle East
Rumsfeld: Iraq may be target
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