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
Monday, 30 September, 2002, 21:50 GMT 22:50 UK
Iraq 'intensifies' attacks, says US
US F16 fighter jet
US and UK jets patrol the no-fly zones
The United States has been defending its use of air strikes in Iraq's air exclusion zones - following Russian criticism that they hindered efforts to resolve the weapons inspections crisis.


It bothers the dickens out of me that US and British pilots are getting fired at day after day after day, with impunity

Donald Rumsfeld, US Defence Secretary
Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the strikes were in response to the Iraqis firing on US and British aircraft in defiance of United Nations resolutions.

He said the Iraqi attacks had intensified since 16 September - the day Iraq said it agreed to the unconditional return of weapons inspectors.

In Vienna, UN officials said "progress had been made" during the first of two days of talks with senior Iraqis on the details of the return of inspectors.

Intensified attacks

"With each missile fired at coalition air crews, Iraq demonstrates its contempt for UN resolutions - a fact that must be kept in mind as their latest inspection offers are evaluated," Mr Rumsfeld told reporters at a Pentagon news briefing.

"It bothers the dickens out of me that US and British pilots are getting fired at day after day after day, with impunity," Mr Rumsfeld said.

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

Baghdad has fired on no-fly-zone patrols 67 times since 16 September, he said.

The two no-fly zones, one in the north and another in the south of Iraq, were unilaterally created by the US, Britain and France soon after the 1991 Gulf War.

Baghdad has questioned the international legitimacy of air exclusion zones not backed by UN resolutions, but Washington and London say they are required to protect Iraqi civilians from repression.

Earlier, the Russian foreign ministry said US-UK bombing raids "create obstacles in the search for a political-diplomatic settlement".

This followed Iraq's statement on Sunday that US aircraft had attacked the international civilian airport at Basra in southern Iraq for the second time in a week.

Tough resolution

Russia's criticism came as the US and Britain continued an intensive diplomatic drive to win UN Security Council support for a tough new resolution which would rewrite many of the ground rules for inspections.


We do not want to give carte blanche to military action, because we want to fully assume our responsibilities

French Foreign Minister

A draft of the resolution, which was leaked at the weekend, gives Iraq seven days to agree unconditionally to its terms and 30 days to declare details of its weapons programmes, or else face military action.

But Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted on Monday that the most important task remained "the quickest possible return of international inspectors to Iraq".

France has also rebuffed the diplomats' advances, with Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin saying his country did not want to give "carte blanche" to military action.

UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix
Hans Blix: Working on logistical arrangements
President Jacques Chirac said the war on terror required diplomatic, financial and military responses.

"If international prevention efforts fail, if threats jeopardise our security or that of Europe or of nations to which we have special ties, we should be ready to assume our responsibilities," Mr Chirac said at a military airbase north of Paris.

"It could be a question of life or death," he said.

A UK envoy held talks in Beijing on Monday, trying to overcome China's scepticism about the resolution. China has until now backed France's position.

'Progress'

The director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohammed El-Baradei, told reporters that "progress" had been made during the first day of talks in Vienna.

"I think we went through a good deal of issues. But I think we still have a lot of work to do," he said.

Iraqi officials at the talks have not commented.

Vienna talks agenda
Access to sites
Visas for inspectors
Baghdad HQ renovation
New bases in north and south
Communications
Transport
Overflight permission

Inspectors from the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Committee (Unmovic) will search for biological, chemical and ballistic weapons.

The head of the inspectors, Hans Blix, wants an advance party in Iraq by 15 October, but the draft resolution which Washington and London are expected to put forward could derail that.

With this uncertainty, the talks are important but they are happening in a polite vacuum, says the BBC's Tim Franks.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Robert Parsons
"A Pentagon briefing showed what it claimed was Iraqi missiles firing on US and UK aircraft"
US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
"Iraqi weapons continue to fire on US and UK coalition pilots"
The Iraqi National Congress's Entifadh Qanbar:
"The only solution is to have a democratic, pluralistic Iraq"

Key stories

Analysis

CLICKABLE GUIDE

BBC WORLD SERVICE

AUDIO VIDEO

TALKING POINT
See also:

30 Sep 02 | Middle East
30 Sep 02 | Americas
30 Sep 02 | Middle East
30 Sep 02 | Europe
30 Sep 02 | Europe
19 Sep 02 | Europe
29 Sep 02 | Middle East
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