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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 22 October, 2002, 15:39 GMT 16:39 UK
Iraq: Weapons inspectors the key
Mohamed El Baradei, Director General, International Atomic Energy Agency, called for inspectors to be allowed to return to Iraq
Mohamed El Baradei met the BBC's Tim Sebastian
The man responsible for supervising the nuclear inspections in Iraq, says that military action against Iraq should be a "last resort."

Mohamed El Baradei, is the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), who will provide experts for the inspections in Iraq.


In an interview for BBC HARDtalk he said: "I find it a dangerous precedent that you will go and use military force every time you suspect a country is developing weapons of mass destruction.

"That should not be our first option, it should be our last resort."

He said the international community could only decide on military action after carrying out a "proper inspection."

Compliance

US President George Bush has indicated that Saddam Hussein might be allowed to stay in power - but only if he complied fully with the UN.

Mr Bush said that if Saddam were to meet all the conditions laid down by the UN it would indicate that "the regime has changed."


They understand the stakes are very high, that the threshold for using force is very low

Mohamed El Baradei
Mr El Baradei is confident that Iraq will work with the UN weapons inspectors because they know that the alternative is far worse.

He said: "They understand the stakes are very high, that the threshold for using force is very low and I believe that they know the lack of full co-operation has the gravest consequences.

"I think Washington is making it clear to Iraq that the situation is very serious and that is very helpful.

"Washington is also saying let us use all methods at our disposal before we resort to force, and I absolutely subscribe to that."

Backing

On Tuesday the chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix is due to meet the Russian Foreign minister, Igor Ivanov to discuss the return of weapons inspectors to Iraq.

America has issued a new draft resolution on Iraq to the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.

But Russia has expressed disappointment with the latest American draft of the UN resolution on Iraq.


The Security Council is the supreme authority to enforce peace and security

Mohamed El Baradei
Moscow said that the new version differs little from earlier proposals and that unrealistic demands should not be made on Iraq.

Mr El Baradei believes that for weapons inspections to be successful they would need the unanimous support of all members of the UN Security Council.

He said: "If I don't get that from the Security Council, I don't succeed. The Security Council is the supreme authority to enforce peace and security.

"I want the security council to say, 'We are unanimous, that we are fed up with this programme of Iraq, weapons of mass destruction, we want to put an end to it as quickly as possible and if Iraq does not comply 100% we are going to take appropriate action.'"

This interview can be watched in full on Tuesday 22 October on BBC World and BBC News 24 at the following times:

BBC News 24 (times shown in BST) 0430, repeated 2230

BBC World (times shown in GMT) 0330, repeated 0830, 1130, 1530, 1830, 2330



HARDtalk with Tim Sebastian is broadcast Mon - Friday on BBC World and BBC News 24
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