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 Thursday, 19 December, 2002, 23:03 GMT
Iraq 'not worried' about US accusations
Iraqi soldiers
Iraq says it is not worried about US threats

In a momentous day, the whole nature of this crisis changed dramatically, and the sense of urgency is now unmistakable.

General Amir al-Sa'adi, the most senior Iraqi official dealing with the United Nations weapons inspectors and an adviser to Saddam Hussein, gave his government's position in Baghdad.

There is no doubt that this crisis has now moved into a definitive phase

In essence, he said that no one should be surprised that there was little new information in Iraq's declaration as much of it was supposed to deal with past weapons programmes.

General Sa'adi also said Iraq was not worried by ominous warnings from London and Washington.

Baghdad, he said, was not worried because there was nothing that Britain and the United States could pin on the Iraqi leadership.

Upping the pressure

He said that if Iraq was hiding anything, it was for UN weapons inspectors on the ground to come up with the evidence.

But there is no doubt that this crisis has now moved into a definitive phase.

UN weapons inspections will now become more aggressive, and in the next two weeks comes a critical test, when Iraq will have to submit a list of its top scientists who could be taken out of the country with their families to be questioned.

It will be a bitter pill for the Iraqi leadership to swallow.

But there can be no mistaking the course of action that Britain and the United States will take if such a demand is not accepted.


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04 Dec 02 | Middle East
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