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Tuesday, November 3, 1998 Published at 19:54 GMT

UK Politics

Sanctions stay, Cook tells Iraq

The UN inspectors leaving Baghdad

Robin Cook: "Saddam Hussein thinks we will eventually give up"
UK Foreign Secretary Robin Cook has warned Iraq "there can be no progress towards the lifting of sanctions" as long as Baghdad continues to conceal its capacity for chemical warfare.

Mr Cook said recent tests showed traces of VX nerve gas in fragments of Iraqi missile warheads, despite Saddam Hussein's denials.

[ image: Robin Cook: Warned Iraq that the UK remains ready to carry out air strikes]
Robin Cook: Warned Iraq that the UK remains ready to carry out air strikes
He told the Commons: "These discoveries expose his denials as one more lie."

Iraq suspended the work of the United Nations weapons inspectors operating in the country on Saturday.

Gulf War legacy

The inspectors are intended to ensure President Saddam is complying with the ceasefire terms laid down after the 1991 Gulf War.

[ image: Saddam Hussein...
Saddam Hussein..."a gambler"
President Saddam took the latest action after the UN Security Council decided to review compliance with UN resolutions without guaranteeing this would lead to sanctions against Iraq being lifted.

Mr Cook said Britain wanted to find a diplomatic solution but he said in the wake of Iraq's decision to withdraw co-operation "all options remain open".

Britain still has a Tornado aircraft fleet stationed in the Gulf.

'We will not get weary'

Mr Cook said Saddam Hussein "appears to be gambling that the world will grow weary of his constant evasion and his repeated confrontation".

But he said: "We must remain ready and resolute to prove him wrong".

Mr Cook said allowing Iraq to retain a chemical weapons capability endangered its neighbours.

He said the Iraqi leader "cannot and will not be allowed to win".

[ image: Iraqi women protesting about hardship caused by sanctions]
Iraqi women protesting about hardship caused by sanctions
Baghdad has repeatedly claimed that the UN inspection team - which is seeking to verify whether Iraq has the capacity to make nuclear, biological and chemical weapons - is US-dominated and has accused its members of being spies.

UK and US in complete agreement

Mr Cook's position is in step with the US, which is not ruling out any options.

US State Department Correspondent Richard Lister said: "Saddam Hussein's latest refusal to co-operate with the international weapons inspectors is completely unacceptable."

But Shadow Foreign Secretary Michael Howard called on Mr Cook to stop prevaricating.

He said: "Can you give the House an assurance that your final warning to Iraq will be more effective than your final warnings to (Serbian) President Milosevic during the Kosovo crisis in the summer?"

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