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Tuesday, 19 November, 2002, 23:24 GMT
Iraq 'will comply with UN deadline'
United Nations Chief Weapons Inspector Hans Blix, flanked by International Atomic Energy Agency head Mohamed El Baradei
Mr Blix and Mr El Baradei are wrapping up a two-day visit
Iraq will meet the 8 December deadline for declaring whether it still holds weapons of mass destruction, a senior adviser to Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has said.

Following a meeting with United Nations weapons inspectors, General Amir al-Saadi said Baghdad would co-operate fully with the inspection team, which arrived on Monday under the terms of a new UN resolution.

Resolution timetable
8 Dec: Iraq must reveal all programmes, plants and materials which could be used for weapons production
23 Dec: Inspections must have resumed
21 Feb: Inspectors to report to UN Security Council

"Within 30 days, as the resolution says, a report from Iraq will be submitted on all the files - nuclear, chemical, biological and missile," Mr al-Saadi said.

Mohamed El Baradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency and a member of the inspection team, also confirmed that Iraq was committed to the 8 December date.

Meeting the deadline is one of the key conditions laid down in the new UN Security Council resolution which authorised the inspectors to return to Iraq with a sweeping new mandate.

US President George Bush insists that Iraq must co-operate with the resolution in order to avoid American military action.

'Constructive' talks

The UN inspectors conducted their first full day of talks with Iraqi officials on Tuesday, wrapping up a critical two-day visit.

Open in new window : Iraq spotlight
Click to see maps of Iraq's suspected weapons sites

Chief arms inspector Hans Blix and Mr El Baradei met weapons expert General al-Saadi, Iraqi chief liaison officer Brigadier Hossam Amin and Foreign Minister Naji Sabri.

Mr Blix and Mr El Baradei are part of a 27-member team of technical specialists who are expected to lay the groundwork for full inspections to begin by 27 November.

The two men are due to depart on Wednesday but additional inspectors will arrive in Baghdad next Monday.

UN employees and arms inspectors deliver equipment
The arms inspectors arrived in Iraq on Monday
Mr Blix described the talks as constructive, and said the delegates had agreed on many practical arrangements for the forthcoming inspections.

But he also urged Iraqi officials to look again in their stores to ensure they had no weapons-making to report.

Mr El Baradei said that if Baghdad co-operated fully, the inspectors might be able to report within one year that Iraq had complied with Security Council requirements, and economic sanctions on Iraq could then be lifted.

No-fly zone dispute

Details of Iraq's commitment pledge came as differences emerged between the UN and Washington over what constitutes Iraqi violations of the resolution.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on Tuesday that recent Iraqi attacks on US and British planes in the country's no-fly zones were not a violation.

A day earlier, a White House spokesman had said that the Iraqi action amounted to a "material breach" of the UN mandate.

Allied warplanes patrolling the zones in northern and southern Iraq bombed Iraqi air defences on Monday.

US Central Command said the raids came after Iraqi forces fired at allied aircraft.

The US appears to be alone among the 15 member states of the Security Council in insisting that the no-fly zones are included in the resolution.

Not even Britain, America's staunchest ally in the war against Iraq, is said to count the Iraqi firing as a violation of the UN terms.

Baghdad also rejects the charge, arguing that the patrols - imposed by the US, Britain and France after the 1991 Gulf War - violate Iraqi sovereignty.

President Bush arrived in Prague on Tuesday for a Nato summit, where he hopes to boost support for his stance against Iraq.

The BBC's Ben Brown
"Iraqi officials have promised Hans Blix they will meet next month's deadline"
Wyn Bowen, former UN weapons inspector
"It was expected that the Iraqi regime would be very cooperative"

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See also:

19 Nov 02 | Business
19 Nov 02 | Europe
19 Nov 02 | South Asia
18 Nov 02 | Americas
18 Nov 02 | Middle East
18 Nov 02 | Middle East
01 Oct 02 | Middle East
19 Sep 02 | Europe
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