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Sunday, 13 October, 2002, 15:53 GMT 16:53 UK
US spurns new Iraqi arms offer
Iraqi guard stops van outside the UN headquarters in Baghdad
Iraq wants inspectors in without a new UN resolution
The United States has dismissed as "word games" the latest Iraqi offer to open suspect sites to United Nations weapons inspectors.

The offer came in a letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna - the second this week.

UN chief Kofi Annan
Kofi Annan: Talks with China on Iraq crisis

An IAEA spokesman said Saturday's letter from General Amir al-Saadi - an adviser to President Saddam Hussein - was more explicit and positive than one sent on 10 October, but it still made no concessions on eight controversial presidential sites.

But US State Department spokeswoman Jo-Anne Prokopowicz said: "Iraq continues to want to play word games and not comply".

"Iraq responds to pressure, but will revert to non-compliance the moment it thinks it can. That is why the UN Security Council must tell Iraq what to do and what will happen if it doesn't," she added.

Annan visits China

Iraq declared the presidential sites off-limits to surprise inspections the last time UN monitors were there in 1998.

In his letter, General Saadi acknowledged the inspectors' desire for "unfettered access" to the presidential sites - but made no specific concession on the issue.

Iraqi chemical bombs
Iraq is accused of continuing its weapons programmes

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has arrived in China, which has resisted US and British pressure to back a tough new UN resolution aimed at forcing Iraq to disarm.

In an effort to thwart a US attack, Iraq has dropped objections to the inspectors' return and has told the chief UN arms inspector, Hans Blix, that it is ready to receive them as early as 19 October.

But a senior Iraqi military official, General Hussan Mohammed Amin, told the Associated Press news agency that Baghdad still reserved the right to revoke co-operation with UN inspections if it deemed that the US was manipulating them.

Disputed resolution

The US Congress has backed a draft resolution giving President George W Bush authority to use force against Iraq if he believes diplomacy has failed.

The New York Times reports that US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has ordered US military commanders to adapt their war plans to focus on precision weapons, better intelligence and speedier deployment.

It would mean combat operations could begin on a shorter notice and with fewer troops than was previously planned, the paper reports.

The UN Security Council is due to start a debate on Wednesday on a resolution that would threaten Iraq with military action if it continued defying UN weapons inspectors.

Two-step approach

Analysts say China and Russia are likely to back a French proposal for a two-step approach, in which a second resolution would be needed to authorise force against Iraq.

Asny of the three countries - along with the other permanent members of the UN Security Council - can veto a resolution.

Dr Blix has postponed the return of the inspectors pending agreement at the UN.

The US and Britain accuse Baghdad of developing chemical, biological and nuclear weapons in defiance of UN resolutions passed during the 1991 Gulf crisis.

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See also:

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