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Monday, 4 November, 2002, 19:46 GMT
Saddam changes tack on UN
UN Security Council in session
The Council remains divided over the use of force
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has said that Iraq will consider a new UN Security Council resolution on disarmament, as long as it does not serve as an excuse for US military action.

UN weapons inspectors destroying sarin gas rockets in Iraq
Iraq says UN inspectors can return under the terms of existing conditions
"If a resolution is issued which respects the UN charter, international law and Iraq's sovereignty, security and independence, and does not provide a cover for America's ill intentions, we will view it in a way that makes us deal with it," he told visiting Austrian far-right politician Joerg Haider.

It is the first time Saddam Hussein has commented since the United Nations Security Council began discussing a new resolution several weeks ago.

The United States has said it expects to submit a new draft resolution to the Security Council this week.

The BBC's Caroline Hawley said Saddam Hussein's remark shows the Iraqi leader has softened his position, as the Security Council inched towards a deal.

However, the Iraqi president reiterated his position that there was "no need" for the Security Council to adopt a new resolution, adding that Iraq remained determined to defend itself should the US and its allies attack.

Iraq has previously said it would allow UN weapons inspectors to return under the terms of existing resolutions.

Last month, Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri told the BBC that existing agreements were already unprecedented in their intrusiveness and complexity.

UN progress

US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said on Monday the wording of a new draft resolution being worked on satisfied America's demands for a tough response if Iraq violated its terms.

Russian Foreign Minister Ivan Ivanov
Russia and France oppose automatic military action

He said the text would be presented to the Security Council "in days" and that he expected it to pass a vote a few days later.

The draft resolution is also expected to resolve disagreements among other members of the Security Council, especially over the issue of "automaticity".

This refers to French and Russian fears that a resolution would give an automatic right to the United States and Britain to launch an attack if they decided that Iraq had not complied with the tough new conditions the US and Britain want the resolution to lay out.

Both countries would prefer two separate solutions, with the second authorising military action if the first resolution regarding weapons inspections is disregarded by Iraq.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Caroline Hawley
"Now the Iraqi leader has broken his silence"

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01 Nov 02 | Americas
03 Nov 02 | In Depth
03 Nov 02 | Middle East
01 Nov 02 | Americas
01 Nov 02 | Breakfast
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