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Saturday, 15 April, 2000, 19:29 GMT 20:29 UK
Iraq rejects new arms monitors
UN weapons inspectors
UN weapons inspectors left Iraq in December 1998
By Barbara Plett in Amman

Iraq has rejected the latest United Nations plan to restart weapons inspections, saying the Security Council must first lift trade sanctions imposed nearly 10 years ago.

Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz told reporters on Saturday that the new inspection plan meant nothing to Iraq.



Any resolution which does not meet Iraq's legitimate rights in removing the embargo and denouncing aggression is not acceptable

Iraqi Deputy Premier Tariq Aziz

He said Baghdad would not accept the UN resolution that set up the disarmament commission because it was unjust, and called on the Security Council to condemn US and British aggression.

Baghdad has not allowed UN arms monitors into the country since they left more than a year ago, just before the US and Britain launched air strikes against Iraq for failing to co-operate.

The UN has promised to ease sanctions if Iraq works with the new inspection body headed by the disarmament expert, Hans Blix.

The operating plan he presented this week attempted to avoid the controversy attached to the previous team, which was accused of spying for the United States.

Sanctions pressure

He proposed tightening up the reporting procedures, but he still wants unrestricted access to any site in the country, a policy that led to many confrontations during past inspections.

It is expected that Iraq's allies in the Security Council - Russia, France and China - will try to persuade Baghdad to accept the monitors.

But pressure to separate the economic and military sanctions is growing, with evidence that ordinary Iraqis are suffering.

Even some US lawmakers have started asking Washington to reconsider its policy.

Representative Tony Hall plans to travel to Iraq shortly to evaluate the humanitarian situation. He would be the first Congressman to do so.

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See also:

02 Mar 00 | Middle East
UN arms chief wants Iraq access
07 Apr 00 | Middle East
France condemns raids on Iraq
06 Apr 00 | Middle East
Iraq raids 'kill civilians'
13 Mar 00 | Middle East
Annan fears for Iraq's health
02 Apr 00 | Middle East
Iraq struggles under sanctions
06 Apr 00 | Middle East
Air strikes follow pattern of clashes
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