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
Thursday, 5 December, 2002, 00:57 GMT
Iraq condemns inspectors as 'spies'
Inspectors at the Muthanna complex in the desert
Searches continue amid criticism from both Iraq and the US
Baghdad has launched a scathing attack on the United Nations weapons inspectors currently searching sites in Iraq, accusing them of espionage and provocation.


The resolution is loaded with landmines; one bigger than the other, and the aim is that one of those would explode

Iraqi Vice-president Taha Yassin Ramadan
Iraqi Vice-President Taha Yassin Ramadan said inspectors were spying for the United States and Israel "to provide better circumstances and more precise information for a coming aggression".

Pressure also mounted on the inspection team from the White House, which called for more "aggressive" checks by inspecting several sites simultaneously.

There are only days to go before Iraq is due to submit a report of all its weapons programmes - which it continues to assert do not exist.

Tension mounts

Iraqi frustration at the inspections became evident on Wednesday for the first time, as criticism of Tuesday's surprise checks of one of Saddam Hussein's presidential palaces - deemed a sensitive site - was then topped by Mr Ramadan's outburst.

He said the inspectors were "spying for the CIA and Mossad together" - the US and Israeli intelligence services.

Iraqi Vice-president Taha Yassin Ramadan
Ramadan made the harshest attack on inspections so far

The visit to the palace amounted to "provocation" intended to trigger resistance on the Iraqi side, and thus a pretext to claim a "material breach" of UN resolution 1441, he told a visiting delegation of Egyptian professionals.

The text refers to "serious consequences" if Iraq fails to comply with the terms of the resolution.

"The resolution is loaded with landmines; one bigger than the other, and the aim is that one of those would explode," Mr Ramadan said.

More 'aggressive'

Meanwhile on Wednesday, Washington indicated yet again that it felt the inspections were not satisfactory.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said the administration was keen to make sure there were enough inspectors to do multiple searches at the same time.

"We want to make certain that they [the inspections] are aggressive enough to be able to ascertain the facts in the face of an adversary who in the past did everything in his power to hide the facts," Mr Fleischer told reporters.

President George W Bush said earlier in the week that he was not "encouraged" by what he has seen so far, while his defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, said the inspectors do not have the "ability" to uncover weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

In another development, the US agreed to back an extension of the UN's oil-for-food programme to Iraq for a further six months in exchange for the Security Council reviewing the list of goods Baghdad needs approval to import.

Washington wants to add about 50 items to the list which it alleges Iraq could use for warfare.

'Predecessors'

The Iraqi foreign ministry warned on Wednesday that the inspectors were facing a test of their credibility - and that they were beginning to look increasingly like their predecessors of the 1990s, whom the Iraqis accused of spying for the US and UK.

Sijood Palace
Iraq described the Sijood palace inspection as "unjustified"
Hans Blix, the head of the inspections team, stressed before these inspections began that he would not tolerate spying before the team began its work.

Mr Blix has conceded that the previous inspection team "lost its legitimacy by being too closely associated with intelligence and with Western states".

Inspectors on Wednesday spent about four hours visiting a former chemical weapons plant at Muthanna, 70 kilometres (40 miles) north-west of Baghdad.

By Iraq's own admission, Muthanna produced 4,000 tons of chemical warfare agents including mustard gas and sarin a year until it was demolished by previous UN inspectors in the 1990s.

Another team spent five hours at the former nuclear facility at Tuwaitha - just south of the capital - where several tons of uranium have been under seal since 1998.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Ian Pannell in Washington
"The prospects for peace seem increasingly remote"
President George W Bush
"The issue is not playing hide and seek but whether Saddam Hussein has disarmed"
Iraqi General Hussam Mohammad Amin
"Inspection teams... were sure that no prohibited activities had been conducted"

Key stories

Analysis

CLICKABLE GUIDE

BBC WORLD SERVICE

AUDIO VIDEO

TALKING POINT
See also:

03 Dec 02 | Middle East
04 Dec 02 | Middle East
18 Nov 02 | Middle East
16 Nov 02 | Americas
04 Dec 02 | Europe
04 Dec 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