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
Saturday, 12 October, 2002, 12:38 GMT 13:38 UK
Iraq 'ready' for weapons inspectors
Iraqi guard stops van outside the UN headquarters in Baghdad
Iraq wants inspectors in before a new UN resolution
Iraq has told the chief United Nations arms inspector that it is ready to receive inspectors in a week's time - a move dismissed by the US as another delaying tactic.

In a letter to Hans Blix, the UN's chief arms inspector, Iraq said inspectors could return on 19 October - but did not respond in detail to a list of arrangements set out by the UN.


There is only one reason why they moved this far... and that is because of the potential threat of war

Jack Straw, UK Foreign Secretary

The BBC's UN correspondent says that US and British diplomats believe the letter - signed by Iraqi General Amir al-Saadi - falls short of what they expected.

Iraq and the UN have been discussing the return of arms inspectors to search for the chemical, biological and nuclear weapons that the US and Britain accuse Baghdad of developing.

The Iraqis were replying to a letter from Dr Blix about the arrangements for weapons inspections agreed in Vienna at the beginning of this month.

'Delay and deceive'

Dr Blix has, however, postponed the return of the inspectors while the UN Security Council tries to reach agreement on a new resolution on the crisis.

"We are not surprised that once again the Iraqis want to delay and deceive," said Richard Grenell, spokesman for the US Ambassador to the UN, John Negroponte.

"We have had 16 resolutions and 11 years of playing this game and it is time the Security Council took action."

Iraqi chemical bombs
Iraq is accused of continuing its weapons programmes

Iraq's ambassador to the UN, Mohammed Albouri, insisted that the letter showed that Baghdad was trying to co-operate.

"The letter means we are working on all questions in good faith. Let the inspectors get back to Iraq. We don't think there will be any problems with inspections," Mr Aldouri told Reuters news agency.

UK Home Secretary Jack Straw said the letter showed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was backing down, faced with the threat of military action.

"Just four weeks ago they [Iraq] were saying they would not have the inspectors back under any circumstances, that they had no weapons of mass destruction," Mr Straw told the BBC.

"There is only one reason why they moved this far, not far enough, but this far, and that is because of the potential threat of war."

'Propaganda'

Meanwhile, after talks in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair expressed cautious optimism about Russian backing for a tougher UN resolution on Iraq.

Putin and Blair
Blair and Putin did not see eye to eye on Iraq
Earlier, speaking publicly for the first time on the issue, Mr Putin said he did not rule out supporting a new, tougher resolution.

Moscow had previously insisted there was no need for a new Security Council resolution on weapons inspections.

However, at a news conference following the talks, Mr Blair heard his host openly dismiss the UK dossier of evidence against Saddam Hussein as propaganda.

The chairman of the UN Security Council, Martin Belinga-Eboutou of Cameroon, has announced that debate on a new resolution will begin on Wednesday.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Jeremy Cooke
"Saddam Husain is already engaged in an information war"
UK Prime Minister Tony Blair on Iraq
"We have to disarm them"

Key stories

Analysis

CLICKABLE GUIDE

BBC WORLD SERVICE

AUDIO VIDEO

TALKING POINT
See also:

11 Oct 02 | Middle East
11 Oct 02 | Americas
02 Oct 02 | Americas
01 Oct 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