BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Persian Pashto Turkish French
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Middle East  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
Tuesday, 17 September, 2002, 18:19 GMT 19:19 UK
Russia demands return of inspectors
UN arms inspectors in Iraq in 1998
UN arms inspectors left Iraq in 1998
Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov says Moscow wants the "speedy return" of United Nations weapons inspectors to Iraq, after Baghdad offered to readmit them in the face of international pressure.

But US Secretary of State Colin Powell said that the issue was not inspections, but Iraqi disarmament.


Russia believes that the main job now is to see that the inspectors, without any artificial delays... should go to Iraq

Igor Ivanov

Washington is sticking to its demand for a new UN Security Council resolution backed by the threat of force.

The two men were speaking to reporters at the UN in New York after Iraq pledged to allow UN weapons inspectors back into the country "without conditions".

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned that Iraq's decision to allow weapons inspectors back into the country was not enough.

He said steps were needed to ensure unhindered access to sites.

Security Council divided

Iraq has been accused of continuing to develop chemical, biological and nuclear weapons since the arms inspectors left four years ago.

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov
Ivanov said no further resolutions were needed
But Baghdad's offer, in the face of mounting military pressure from the United States, appeared to cause division in the UN Security Council.

The US and Britain expressed scepticism over Iraq's offer, while Russia and other countries welcomed it.

And Mr Ivanov said that a new "special resolution" at the UN Security Council was not needed on Iraq.

"In order to get the facts, we need to bring about the speedy return of the inspectors to Iraq," Mr Ivanov said.

"Therefore Russia believes that the main job now is to see that the inspectors, without any artificial delays, without any artificial obstacles, should go to Iraq and get down to discharging their functions."

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

Mr Powell said that Baghdad's offer, which came in a brief letter from Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri to Mr Annan, did not meet the UN's demands for Iraq.

"We cannot just take a one-and-a-quarter page letter signed by the foreign minister as the end of this matter. We have seen this game before," Mr Powell said.

"Remember the issue is not inspectors, the issue is, in the first instance, disarmament."

Talks delayed?

Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz has said Baghdad's pledge to readmit weapons inspectors had removed any justification for a US-led attack.

"All the reasons for an attack have been eliminated," he said. "They thought Iraq wouldn't take such a courageous decision."


I am no advocate of war or military action... that said, the threat of substantial military force is a powerful tool

Former UN weapons inspector Terry Taylor
Click here for more

But Britain joined the US in questioning Baghdad's sudden about-face.

UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the Iraqi offer was "bound to be treated with a high degree of international scepticism".

The US, Britain and Russia are all permanent members of the United Nations Security Council wielding the power of veto.

The other two members are China, which welcomed the offer, and France, which said the council "must hold Saddam Hussein to his word".

The Security Council had been expected to discuss the Iraq issue soon, but those talks may now be delayed until later this week.

It is now understood that Russia wants discussion of the Iraq issue to wait until after bilateral meetings with the US in Washington on Thursday.

Mr Aziz said the US was bent on war with Iraq, and that its true motive was hunger for Iraqi oil.

'Ready to go'

Meanwhile, the official Iraqi News Agency (INA) is reporting that Saddam Hussein will send a letter to the UN General Assembly in the next few days.

Despite the scepticism, Mr Annan said the inspectors in the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (Unmovic), and their chairman Hans Blix were "ready to continue their work".

An Unmovic spokesman told BBC News Online that the next step would be to resolve practical issues with the Iraqis, at talks in New York, before inspectors started moving in to Baghdad.

"We are ready to discuss practical measures, such as helicopters, hotels, the installation of monitoring equipment and so on, which need to be put in place," said Ewen Buchanan.

Despite the diplomatic moves, the US is continuing to shift military hardware close to Iraq.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Rob Parsons
"There's no need for more resolutions"
UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw
"This apparent offer is bound to be treated with a high degree of scepticism"
Former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela
"It is the United Nations that must decide"

Key stories

Analysis

CLICKABLE GUIDE

BBC WORLD SERVICE

AUDIO VIDEO

TALKING POINT
See also:

17 Sep 02 | Americas
17 Sep 02 | Middle East
17 Sep 02 | Middle East
17 Sep 02 | Americas
16 Sep 02 | Americas
16 Sep 02 | Middle East
16 Sep 02 | Politics
16 Sep 02 | Middle East
14 Sep 02 | Middle East
12 Sep 02 | Middle East
16 Sep 02 | Middle East
09 Sep 02 | Middle East
06 Sep 02 | Middle East
17 Sep 02 | Politics
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Middle East stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Middle East stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes