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The BBC's Barbara Plett
"Baghdad has little incentive to accept the weapons inspectors"
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The BBC's Mark Devenport
"UN sanctions have had a crippling impact on Iraqi people and economy"
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Saturday, 18 December, 1999, 12:42 GMT
Iraq rejects UN resolution

The UN Security Council agrees resolution 1248 Four countries abstained in the vote


Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister, Tariq Aziz, has formally rejected a UN Security Council resolution that could ease Gulf War sanctions on Iraq if Baghdad co-operates with a new weapons inspection regime.

Mr Aziz told the Iraqi News Agency: "The resolution which was adopted yesterday does not answer Iraq's legitimate demand for the lifting of the sanctions."

The UN resolution was passed on Friday by 11 of the 15 Security Council members. Four nations - Russia, France, China and Malaysia - abstained from the vote.

It proposes that sanctions will be suspended after Iraq has co-operated for 120 days on weapons.

Mr Aziz said the resolution was an "attempt to cheat international opinion".



The resolution does not answer Iraq's legitimate demand for the lifting of the sanctions
Tariq Aziz
"The resolution was void of any indication of the aggression that Iraq has been subjected to and of the daily violations of its sovereignty in the name of so-called no-fly zones imposed by the US and Britain alone," he complained.

"We were hoping that some of the permanent members, which had maintained balanced positions during the deliberations, would have stopped the resolution by vetoing it. However, we appreciate their abstentions," Mr Aziz said.

He added that Iraq was "ready to face all the consequences" of this rejection of the Security Council's proposal.

Iraqis take to the streets

Reports from Baghdad say that 10,000 Iraqis took to the streets of the capital on Saturday to protest against the resolution.

The demonstrators brandished banners denouncing the UN resolution and criticising the proposed return of weapons inspectors.


Sanctions have left many Iraqis reliant on food handouts
The Iraqi press also condemned the resolution.

"The United States and Britain failed to get this treacherous text on Iraq adopted unanimously," said the Al-Qadissiya daily newspaper.

"Despite months of underhand efforts to force the Security Council members to adopt this text, Russia, France, China and Malaysia abstained from the vote," the daily said.

"These abstentions are considered by political analysts at the United Nations as an important setback for US and British policies which are aimed at imposing hegemony on the Security Council," the paper said.

Council divided



Without Iraqi co-operation, implementation of any resolution will hardly be possible
Qin Huasun, China's UN ambassador
The US voiced disappointment that the resolution was not backed unanimously.

China's UN ambassador, Qin Huasun said it was "highly questionable" whether the resolution could ever be implemented without Iraqi co-operation.

France called the resolution too ambiguous.

"We think it may give rise to an interpretation allowing some countries to keep on forever saying that the co-operation hasn't taken place and that, consequently, the embargo can't be suspended. That's what we fear," said French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine.

Watchdog

Under the resolution a new arms watchdog, the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Committee (Unmovic) will replace the current UN Special Commission (Unscom).

UN weapons inspectors have not been in Iraq since the US and Britain bombed the country a year ago for its failure to co-operate with the UN arms commission.

Sanctions were imposed on Iraq after President Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in August 1990, leading to the 1991 Gulf War.

Their removal was subsequently linked to the scrapping of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

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See also:
17 Dec 99 |  Middle East
Analysis: UN divided over Iraq
15 Feb 99 |  DECISION MAKERS AND DIPLOMACY
Iraq: The UN's mandate
17 Nov 98 |  DECISION MAKERS AND DIPLOMACY
Kofi Annan: Man with a mission
10 Dec 99 |  Middle East
Oil to flow after UN deal
25 Nov 99 |  Middle East
Saddam 'using Iraqis as pawns'

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