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Last Updated:  Monday, 3 March, 2003, 08:41 GMT
Gulf states say Saddam should go
Saddam Hussein
Gulf voices are calling on Saddam to stand down
A proposal urging Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to go into exile to avert a war is gaining support among Arab Gulf states.

Kuwait and Bahrain have backed a proposal made by the United Arab Emirates for the Iraqi leader to go into exile, in return for guarantees that he would not be prosecuted.

Bahraini ruler Sheikh Hamad said it was "the only Arab way out to protect Iraq and spare its people", according to the Emirates official news agency.

In Iraq itself, the leadership has warned it might halt the destruction of its al-Samoud II missiles if the United States continues to threaten military action without backing from the United Nations.

"If it turns out that in the early stages during this month America is not going the legal way... why should we continue [destroying missiles]?" Iraqi presidential adviser General Amir al-Saadi said at a news conference.

Weapons inspectors with Iraqi officials
Iraq says it can account for its missing weapons
General al-Saadi said Iraq had destroyed 10 missiles since Saturday, meeting a deadline set by UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix.

He also said that Iraq's missing anthrax had now been accounted for with the digging up of almost 157 bombs at a site south of Baghdad.

Iraq has said it will deliver a report to the UN before March 10 on its anthrax and VX agent, a UN spokesman has confirmed, following talks in Baghdad on Sunday night to try to clarify what happened to the missing stocks.

In other developments:

  • The Pentagon says US and British warplanes have begun attacking Iraqi missile launchers in the southern no-fly zone, which could be used against allied troops if there is an attack on Iraq

  • The Turkish Government says it is discussing whether to seek a second vote on allowing US troops into the country, after parliament rejected a motion on the issue

  • French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin tells the BBC that France will oppose a second UN resolution on Iraq

  • Russia contacts members of the UN Security Council still undecided over whether to back a second resolution, while calling for a "peaceful solution" to the crisis

Excavations

General al-Saadi said that Baghdad had now dealt with "practically all" of the UN inspectors' demands.

AL-SAMOUD II
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 proscribed limit
May be able to deliver biological or chemical warhead

He said excavations at the al-Aziziya air base, about 104 kilometres (65 miles) south-west of Baghdad, had uncovered the remains of bombs containing anthrax, aflotoxin and botulin, which Iraq said it had unilaterally destroyed in 1991.

The general said eight of the bombs had been uncovered intact.

Iraq's failure to account for some 157 R-400 bombs, designed to deliver biological and chemical weapons, has been a key sticking point with the United Nations.

General al-Saadi also said Iraq had destroyed six more al-Samoud II missiles and two casting chambers on Sunday, in what he called an example of Iraq's "pro-active co-operation" with UN inspectors.

Iraq has about 120 al-Samoud II missiles, which the UN says breach range limits imposed after the 1991 Gulf War.

He said pictures of the destruction had not been released because it would be "too harsh" and "unacceptable" for the Iraqi people to see.

Missing weapons

A team of UN inspectors held talks with Iraqi officials on Sunday night to discuss Iraq's claim to be able to account for all missing chemical and biological agents.

General Amer al-Saadi
It is a war driven by greed and nothing else
General Amir al-Saadi
General al-Saadi said 1.5 missing tons of VX gas and stockpiles of anthrax that were not put into bombs were also unilaterally destroyed.

He said Iraq knew where the destruction sites were and could carry out tests to prove the quantity of materials disposed of there.

The general said that to all fair minded people, Iraq had done more than enough.

"This steady drum beat of lies upon lies [from the UK and US] is all we hear these days. It is a war driven by greed and nothing else," he said.

Washington on Saturday dismissed Iraq's destruction of the al-Samoud II missiles as a predictable "part of their game of deception".


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Adam Brookes
"The international community remains bitterly divided"



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