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Last Updated:  Saturday, 22 February, 2003, 16:42 GMT
Inspectors pile pressure on Iraq
A UN weapons inspector inspects an al-Samoud missile
Iraq denies missiles exceed limits
The United Nations chief nuclear inspector has said Iraq is still not doing enough to convince the world it has no banned weapons.

"We have not finished our work and Iraq is not fully co-operating with us," said Mohamed ElBaradei, adding that private access to Iraqi scientists remained a problem.

His complaint came the day after his colleague Hans Blix gave Baghdad one week to start destroying its al-Samoud missiles.

That demand is being seen as a key test of whether Saddam Hussein will disarm to avoid war.

We think all pending issues can be solved between the two parties without any pressure being exacted on them by certain powers
Naji Sabri,
Iraqi Foreign Minister
There has been no formal response yet from Baghdad, but Iraq's Foreign Minister Naji Sabri insisted any disagreements could be resolved with the inspectors.

The US and UK have said the time for inspections is running out, but Mr Sabri said co-operation was continuing between the UN teams and Iraq.

"We think all pending issues can be solved between the two parties without any pressure being exacted on them by certain powers," he said.

Correspondents say the UN order for all al-Samoud missile to be destroyed presents Iraq with a dilemma - whether to give up a weapons system it could use against a US-led invasion, or refuse to comply and possibly prompt a US attack.

Destruction notice

Mr Blix set the deadline in a four-page letter handed to Iraq's UN Ambassador Mohammed al-Douri in New York on Friday.

Tactical surface-to-surface ballistic missile powered by liquid fuel
Tested at range of 183 km - in excess of UN 150-km limit
Diameter also in excess of prescribed limit
May be able to deliver biological or chemical warhead

Inspectors say the al-Samoud can fly beyond the 150-kilometre (93-mile) limit set by the UN after the 1991 Gulf War.

Mr Blix wants the liquid-fuel missiles, engines, warheads and component parts destroyed.

"The appropriate arrangements should be made so that the destruction process can commence by 1 March," the letter said.

That is also the date when Mr Blix is due to give his next report on Iraqi compliance to the UN Security Council.

He also has a meeting on Monday with his advisory board in New York, at which he plans to present a list of more than 30 unresolved questions about Iraqi disarmament.

Iraq - which declared the details of the missiles to the weapons inspectors - has denied they are illegal and has requested further UN tests.

It has said a missile travelled further than allowed in test flights because it was flying without guidance systems and was lighter than usual.

Diplomatic channels

The US and the UK insist Iraq has to do much more than just destroy its missiles to demonstrate active co-operation with the Security Council.

They are expected to introduce a draft UN resolution on Iraqi disarmament early next week, which would require nine votes in favour from the 15 UN Security Council members to be passed.

Where the key nations stand on military conflict in Iraq

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, meeting in Rome, insisted that international resolve to disarm Iraq remained strong.

"We have been trying to avoid war, but in the end I can't avoid it unless Saddam chooses the route of peaceful disarmament," said Mr Blair, who met Pope John Paul II on Saturday.

French President Jacques Chirac has meanwhile reaffirmed his country's opposition to war with Iraq, saying international weapons inspections can still resolve the crisis peacefully.

In other developments:

  • Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar of Spain - which backs a new UN resolution - is to have talks with President Bush at his ranch in Crawford.

  • Iraqi Vice-President Taha Yassin Ramadan says Baghdad is ready for dialogue with Washington if the US abandons plans for military intervention.

  • Half the foreign humanitarian staff working for the UN in Iraq are reported to have left in the past fortnight.

  • The US and Turkey are continuing negotiations about a deal to allow US forces to be based in Turkey for a possible invasion of Iraq in return for aid.



The BBC's Mike Wooldridge
"The demand from Hans Blix is clear"

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