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Thursday, 3 October, 2002, 23:43 GMT 00:43 UK
Obstacles hold up Iraq inspections
Sprawling Radwaniya presidential palace in Baghdad (AFP photo)
Access to Saddam's palaces is a key sticking point
The UN chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix, has said "loose ends" must be sorted out with Iraq before arms inspections resume.


It would be awkward if we were doing inspections and a new mandate were to arrive

Hans Blix
Mr Blix was speaking after briefing the UN Security Council on his talks with Iraqi officials in Vienna on Tuesday.

"There are minor matters and some loose ends that need to be solved before we go to Baghdad," he said.

British and American officials had been readying themselves for a diplomatic offensive to block any early return for weapons inspectors, but in the end they did not even have to argue their case.

Change of plan

The United States and Britain want a robust new UN resolution carrying a clear threat of military action if Iraq fails to meet its obligations.

Hans Blix
Hans Blix: Seeking guidance on how to proceed

Mr Blix said the inspectors might delay their return to Iraq pending new instructions from the Security Council .

"It would be awkward if we were doing inspections and a new mandate were to arrive," he said.

He had earlier intended to send some advance teams to Iraq in about two weeks' time.

Mr Blix told the Security Council that the outstanding issues concerned:

  • inspectors' access to President Saddam Hussein's palaces
  • assurances that Iraqi officials would not hamper inspectors' attempts to interview individuals inside Iraq
  • Iraq's failure to give firm assurances about the safety of UN inspectors while they fly around the country.

The BBC's correspondent at the UN, Greg Barrow, says clarity will only come in the form of a new UN resolution and as it stands, Council members are still divided on what that should contain.

Open in new window : Who backs war?
Where key nations stand on Iraq

China, France and Russia want to get the inspections started as soon as possible and have resisted the US and British drive for a tough new UN resolution.


US draft resolution for UN
  • A UN member state can use "all necessary means" should Baghdad not co-operate with inspectors
  • Any permanent member of the Security Council can join an inspection mission and recommend sites to be inspected
  • Inspectors can declare no-fly and no-drive exclusion zones anywhere in Iraq
  • Access to all sites including presidential palaces


  • Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Saltanov said on Thursday that Moscow opposed any mention in the draft resolution of the automatic use of force should Iraq fail to comply completely with weapons inspectors.

    Mr Blix is expected to meet US Government officials in Washington on Friday.

    The BBC's Washington correspondent Justin Webb says that now the return of inspectors is effectively blocked the US intends to continue applying pressure for a new resolution.

    Our correspondent says there are signs that the Bush administration may be preparing a tactical compromise involving acceptance of a French plan which allows for two resolutions.

    Under the French plan the second resolution sanctioning force would only be passed if the inspectors' work were hampered.

    Tough message

    The UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair, told the BBC on Thursday that the existing weapons inspections regime had not been tough enough to get the job done.

    "The harder the international community is at the moment, the clearer the message we send, the greater the likelihood there is of avoiding conflict," he said.

    Mr Blair insisted that toppling Saddam Hussein was not his aim, but said such a result would be "fantastic... not least for the Iraqi people".

    Instead, he said that the aim was to disarm the Iraqi leader of his weapons of mass destruction.

     WATCH/LISTEN
     ON THIS STORY
    The BBC's Sue French
    "The UN Security Council is yet to agree"
    The BBC's Jacky Rowland in Washington
    "The United States has its own agenda here"
    Russian news agency TAS's Vladimir Kikilo
    "I could say Russia is moving a little closer to the position of the US and Britain"

    Key stories

    Analysis

    CLICKABLE GUIDE

    BBC WORLD SERVICE

    AUDIO VIDEO

    TALKING POINT
     VOTE RESULTS
    Should the weapons inspectors go into Iraq now?

    Yes
     79.51% 

    No
     20.49% 

    61425 Votes Cast

    Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

    See also:

    03 Oct 02 | Middle East
    03 Oct 02 | Middle East
    03 Oct 02 | Politics
    02 Oct 02 | Europe
    03 Oct 02 | Middle East
    02 Oct 02 | Americas
    02 Oct 02 | Middle East
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