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
 Sunday, 19 January, 2003, 16:26 GMT
UN offers Iraq 'last chance'
Hans Blix (l) and Mohamed ElBaradei
Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei want answers
The chief United Nations weapons inspectors have met Iraqi officials in Baghdad to demand better co-operation with the UN inspection teams.

Speaking after the first session of talks, the head of the UN's nuclear watchdog, Mohamed ElBaradei, said "we are still meeting tomorrow but we have made some progress".

"We are having good constructive meetings," he added, without elaborating.

KEY DATES
27 Jan - First full report on inspections presented to UN
29 Jan - UN discusses report
31 Jan - Bush meets Blair
15 Feb - Anti-war protests across Europe
27 Mar - Blix submits new report to UN

The visit by Mr ElBaradei and UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix is being seen as a final opportunity for a change in Iraq's attitude before they present their findings to the UN on 27 January.

Mr Blix told reporters on arrival in Baghdad that war was not inevitable, but the inspectors needed "very active Iraqi co-operation" in their search for illegal weapons.

Iraq was represented at the talks by President Saddam Hussein's scientific adviser Amir al-Saadi and General Hussam Mohammad Amin, head of Iraq's National Monitoring Directorate.

The US administration kept up the pressure on Baghdad on Sunday, following a day of mass protests worldwide against a possible US-led war on Iraq.

Referring to support for military action against Iraq, US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told Fox television news that the US already has "a sizeable coalition of the willing... with or without a second UN resolution".

"The test is: Is Saddam co-operating or is he not co-operating? That's what the UN asked for. He is not doing that," he said.

'Last phase'

US national security adviser Condoleezza Rice said 27 January - the date of the chief inspectors' report - was "not a deadline," but "probably marks the start of a last phase".

[Iraqi officials should take] giant steps to prove to us through evidence, solid proof, that they are, as they say, clean

Melissa Fleming,
IAEA spokeswoman

"I think we are at the verge of an important set of decisions, because time is running out here," she told NBC television.

The visit by Mr Blix and Mr ElBaradei, who heads the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), follows the recent discovery of empty chemical warheads and documents possibly relating to the development of nuclear weapons in Iraq.

Iraq has said both finds are innocent and irrelevant.

But suspicion has been heightened that Baghdad is pursuing a weapons programme in violation of UN demands that it disarm.

'Squirrelled away'

The documents taken from the home of Iraqi physicist Faleh Hassan are understood to focus on work with lasers designed to enrich uranium for use in nuclear weapons .

Suspect warhead found in Iraq
Thursday's find of warheads raised suspicions

Mr Hassan said the 3,000 pages were merely his private notes of a report that Iraq had already submitted to the UN.

IAEA spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said inspectors had known about the programme detailed in the documents.

But they were concerned that so many original documents which inspectors had not seen before had been "squirrelled away" in a private home.

"We don't think that's good symbolism right now - it raises suspicions," she told reporters in Baghdad.

She called on the Iraqis to take "giant steps to prove to us through evidence, solid proof, that they are, as they say, clean."

'Impatience'

Mr ElBaradei and Mr Blix would be giving that message directly to the Iraqis, she said.

Washington protesters
Banging the drum of peace in Washington

Both men have said Baghdad needs to show more commitment to proving it has no weapons of mass destruction.

Mr ElBaradei said: "Time is running out... the international community is really getting impatient."

The UN has warned Iraq that it faces "serious consequences" if it breaches the terms of UN Resolution 1441, passed last November, which cleared the way for the return of the inspectors after a four-year absence.

President Saddam Hussein has said the anti-war protests held in many countries on Saturday showed the world backed Iraq's people - not the "evil-doers" who were threatening war.

More than 50,000 people converged on the centre of Washington, while co-ordinated demonstrations were held in other major cities, from San Francisco to Moscow, London to Tokyo, and Beirut to Buenos Aires.

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  The BBC's Rageh Omaar reports from Baghdad
"This is an enormously complex process"

Key stories

Analysis

CLICKABLE GUIDE

BBC WORLD SERVICE

AUDIO VIDEO

TALKING POINT
See also:

19 Jan 03 | Middle East
19 Jan 03 | Middle East
19 Jan 03 | Middle East
14 Jan 03 | Americas
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