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Thursday, 14 November, 2002, 00:59 GMT
Iraq 'accepts UN resolution'
Iraqis gather round to hear news of letter accepting UN resolution
Iraq has been warned of 'serious consequences'
Iraq says it has accepted the terms of the new UN Security Council resolution calling on the country to disarm - a move that apparently clears the way for the return of weapons inspectors.


We must remain vigilant. Iraq's intentions are notoriously changeable

UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw
Iraq's UN ambassador, Mohammed al-Douri, said he had delivered a letter to the UN Secretary General's office accepting the resolution "without conditions", but insisting that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction.

"The letter says that Iraq will deal with Security Council resolution 1441 despite its bad contents," Mr al-Douri said.

The US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, told the BBC that Iraq had no choice but to comply.

Next steps
UN weapons inspectors expected to arrive in Iraq on Monday
Iraq has 30 days to reveal all programmes, plants and materials which could be used for weapons production
Inspectors have 60 days to report back to the Security Council but may report violations earlier

But he also warned that Iraq must completely comply with the UN weapons inspectors.

"I think Iraq will be making a very great mistake if they think there are fissures in the Security Council of the kind they have exploited in the past," Mr Powell said.

"This time every nation is saying the same thing - co-operate, comply and disarm," he said. "It will be disarmed one way or another."

Britain gave a cautious welcome to the Iraqi announcement, but said Baghdad now had to provide the world with full details of any prohibited arms programmes.

"Iraq has now taken the first step. I welcome that," said Foreign Secretary Jack Straw in a statement.

"But we must remain vigilant. Iraq's intentions are notoriously changeable."

The move appeared to clear the way for UN inspectors to return to Iraq on Monday after a four-year absence, backed by threats of military action from the United States and Britain.

"We are prepared to receive the inspectors within the assigned timetable," Mr al-Douri said.

"We are eager to see them perform their duties in accordance with international law as soon as possible."

Iraq had been given until Friday to accept the new UN resolution on disarmament or face "serious consequences".

On Tuesday, Iraq's parliament unanimously rejected the new resolution - although it left the final decision in the hands of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

'Lies and manipulations'

Wednesday's letter, which runs to nearly nine pages, is signed by the Iraqi Foreign Minister, Naji Sabri.

According to an unofficial translation obtained by Reuters, the letter denies that Baghdad has any weapons of mass destruction "whether nuclear, chemical or biological as claimed by evil people."

"The lies and manipulations of the American administration and the British Government will be exposed, while the world will see how truthful and adequate the Iraqis are in what they say and do."

The 15-member UN Security Council unanimously approved the new resolution on Iraq last Friday, after weeks of wrangling among its members. Even Syria voted in favour.

US planes
The US has been preparing for military action

Iraq's apparent acceptance of the resolution's terms came after President George W Bush renewed his warning that the US would take military action to disarm Iraq if it refused to comply.

Mr Bush said on Tuesday that the time for negotiations was over and he repeated that if Saddam Hussein did not act, the US would.

"There's no more time," he said. "There is a zero tolerance policy now. The last 11 years have been a period of time when this guy [Saddam Hussein] tried to deceive the world and we're through with it."

The inspections team, to be headed by the chief UN weapons inspector, Hans Blix, was expected to head for Iraq on Monday.

New rules

The new UN resolution lays out firm ground rules for inspections, allowing inspectors to look for evidence of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons programmes anywhere and at any time - including in Saddam Hussein's presidential palaces.

Iraqi state television broke into regular programming to announce the decision.

Our correspondent says that despite the leadership's very serious reservations about the resolution, Baghdad knew it had no choice, as it faced a military confrontation with the world's only superpower.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Greg Barrow reports from the UN
"Baghdad is still insisting no new weapons have been developed"
Mohammad al-Douri, Iraqi Ambassador to the UN
"Iraq is clean"
Yahya Mahmassani, UN Arab League Ambassador
"We do welcome this positive step as war has been avoided"

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13 Nov 02 | Middle East
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