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Tuesday, 1 October, 2002, 16:36 GMT 17:36 UK
Iraq resolution 'may harm inspections'
View of the UN-Iraq talks in Vienna
The US says talks may have to wait for resolution
Officials close to negotiations between UN weapons inspectors and Iraq say they are concerned that a new Security Council resolution proposed by the United States and Britain could undermine their mission.


I think [the inspectors]... will have to wait and see whether or not the Security Council comes up with new guidance or additional resolutions

Colin Powell
UN and Iraqi officials are trying to wrap up talks on the practical details of the return to Iraq of weapons inspectors.

BBC diplomatic correspondent Barnaby Mason says the officials had expressed concern about provisions in the draft which would allow the five permanent members of the Security Council to recommend which sites should be checked.

Vienna talks agenda
Access to sites
Visas for inspectors
Baghdad HQ renovation
New bases in north and south
Communications
Transport
Overflight permission
The draft resolution is also said to allow the permanent members to place their own nationals in the inspection teams - something the UN team say could affect their credibility in the eyes of the Iraqi regime.

Members of the previous UN inspection team - Unscom - are known to have relayed information to their national governments, giving substance to Iraqi claims of spying.

Our correspondent says the issue leads to the wider allegation that the US wants to use inspections as a means of provoking an Iraqi obstruction and justifying a military intervention.

'New guidance'

US Secretary of State Colin Powell has already suggested the Vienna negotiations may have to be put on hold until Security Council deliberations on a new resolution are completed.


I'm asked by the Security Council to do this job, and I do it. I try to

Hans Blix
Chief weapons inspector
Mr Powell said the UN weapons inspectors might have to wait for Security Council guidance before any plans for going back into Iraq are finalised.

However, Hans Blix, the head of UN weapons inspectors, made it clear that he answered to the Security Council - not to the US.

"I'm asked by the Security Council to do this job, and I do it. I try to," Mr Blix said as he headed into a second and final day of talks with senior Iraqis at the headquarters of the IAEA in Vienna.

The IAEA and Unmovic, the UN monitoring and verification commission, are the bodies that are aiming to carry out the inspections inside Iraq.

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

Our correspondent says the new resolution would toughen up, even transform, the inspectors' mandate.

It would require them to accelerate their work to provide a test of Iraqi co-operation within a few weeks.

On Tuesday, the Iraqi delegation was expected to hand over CDs carrying information about dual-use facilities - the sorts of factories and machines that can be used for both civilian and military purposes.

Threat of attack

The US - backed by Britain - has threatened military action to overthrow Saddam Hussein's regime, which it accuses of developing and hoarding weapons of mass destruction in contravention of international law.

The other three permanent members - China, France and Russia - as well as other countries on the council favour a more gradual approach that would, they argue, give Baghdad a greater incentive to co-operate fully with the weapons inspectors.

Correspondents say scepticism remains over whether firm agreement can be reached - and later adhered to - between Iraq, the IAEA and Unmovic.

Mr Blix, executive chairman of Unmovic, wants inspectors back in Iraq by mid-October, with unfettered access to sites considered suspicious.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Stephen Sackur
"The chief UN inspector is pushing for an agreement by the end of the day"
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"

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See also:

30 Sep 02 | Middle East
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
01 Oct 02 | Middle East
01 Oct 02 | Middle East
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