Iraqi rofficial attempts to defend sovereignty: U.S., Britain sieze on statement as war pretext

Fred Feldman ffeldman at
Sun Sep 29 08:12:34 MDT 2002

Note by Fred Feldman --Three additional facts: U.S. planes attacked a
civilian airport in Basra on Saturday for the second time in three days; the
New York Times online edition
contains no mention at this time, as far as I can see (somebody please
correct me if I'm wrong), of the massive antiwar demonstration in London
yesterday); and Israel is pulling its troops from around Arafat's compound,
in deference to U.S. suggestions.  Sharon may be waiting for the opening of
the war on Iraq to go ahead with plans to  finish off Arafat and the
Palestinian authority.

Iraq Rejects Push by U.S. to Toughen Inspection Rules; Lobbying Continues in
UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 28 - Iraq rejected today a proposal by the United
States and Britain for a Security Council resolution imposing tough weapons
inspections, saying that it would not accept any new rules for the work of
United Nations inspectors.
Diplomats from Washington and London shuttled to Moscow and Beijing today
after consulting in Paris, trying to overcome strong objections to the draft
resolution among the other three permanent, veto-bearing members of the
Security Council. The proposal gives Iraq 30 days to make full disclosure of
its weapons of mass destruction and provides for intrusive inspections,
authorizing a military attack if Baghdad does not comply.
In Baghdad, Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan of Iraq said that his
government had agreed to allow the weapons inspectors to return under
conditions laid down previously by the United Nations and would not accept
new terms.
"The stance on the inspectors has been decided and any additional procedure
that aims at harming Iraq will not be accepted," Mr. Ramadan told reporters.
He rejected as "lies" the accusations by Bush administration officials of
ties between President Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda.
Iraq's deputy prime minister, Tariq Aziz, warned that the United States
would sustain heavy losses in an attack and pledged that Iraq would fight a
fierce war.
The Bush administration quickly responded that the resolution was up to the
Security Council to decide. "Iraq does not have a say in this matter," said
Ari Fleischer, the White House press secretary. "Even if they did, it again
shows that they want to string things out, change their tune and build up
their arms."
Even as the diplomacy continued, the United States and Britain signaled
their determination to take military action if Iraq did not comply with
their tough demands. The resolution they have drafted would give Iraq one
week to make an initial weapons declaration and accept the Security
Council's terms, and a further 23 days to reveal all of its weapons
programs, the start of disarmament under United Nations supervision.
In his weekly radio address today, President Bush lobbied for another
resolution he needs before moving forward: a Congressional resolution
authorizing the use of force.
"By passing this resolution we will send a clear message to the world
community and to the Iraqi regime the demands of the United Nations Security
Council must be followed: the Iraqi dictator must be disarmed," Mr. Bush
"These requirements will be met, or they will be enforced," he said.
After several days of debate in which leading Democrats have spoken against
giving Mr. Bush the free military hand he has sought, the president said he
remained optimistic that Congress would in the end approve a war powers
"We're making progress, we are nearing agreement, and soon we will speak
with one voice," he said.
In Moscow today, Marc Grossman, the American under secretary of state for
political affairs, worked to persuade Russian officials, including Foreign
Minister Igor S. Ivanov, to accept the new resolution. After the
discussions, which lasted for more than two hours, Mr. Grossman expressed
optimism, although he did not mention any details about the American and
British draft proposal.
"Everyone agreed that there is a challenge to the United Nations," he said.
"I think all members of the Security Council want to see if we can solve
Russian officials, however, were more reserved. Mr. Ivanov, in an official
statement after the meeting, reiterated Russia's position that weapons
inspectors should return to Iraq immediately on the basis of existing
Security Council resolutions.
Only international inspectors "should give the answer to whether there are
weapons of mass destruction there," he said, referring to Iraq, in the
British officials said today that the Defense Ministry was pulling up to
4,000 of its front-line troops off domestic assignments and placing them in
a high state of readiness to join more than 60,000 American forces based in
the region or heading there. These forces are expected to double by
December, American officials say, if Mr. Bush goes forward with a large
call-up of reserves followed by the deployment of major air and ground
forces to the gulf.
The Iraqi foreign minister, Naji Sabri, traveled to Tehran today to seek
support from Iran, which had been one of Iraq's most bitter enemies after a
war from 1980 to 1988.
Arriving at the airport in Tehran, Mr. Sabri said the real "axis of evil"
was Washington and Tel Aviv, borrowing President Bush's phrase for Iraq,
Iran and North Korea. Mr. Sabri noted the rift on the Security Council over
Washington's proposal.
Hans Blix, leading the team of United Nations inspectors preparing for a
return to Baghdad, departed today for Vienna, where on Monday morning the
team will sit down with three Iraqi military officials and make an initial
set of demands to smooth the transport of more than 280 inspectors into the
country around the middle of October.
An official from the inspection team said Mr. Blix was not concerned that
his mandate from the Security Council would not be clear by Monday since
this meeting was about "practical arrangements" relating to transportation,
housing and communications. Still, given the attention riveted on Iraq, Mr.
Blix's encounter will be an early test of Baghdad's willingness to allow
unconditional and unfettered access.
French officials said today that President Bush had thus far failed to
persuade President Jacques Chirac to back the stringent American and British
draft resolution that would demand that the Iraqi leader admit his "material
breach" of past disarmament resolutions
Russian and French diplomats have said they fear that Washington wants to
increase the Council's demands so sharply that Baghdad will balk, and the
weapons inspections will never get under way.
It was too early to determine whether Russia, China and France would be able
to force a compromise on Mr. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain,
representing the other two permanent members of the Security Council, or
would offer a competing proposal.
The compromise France was seeking would give the 15-member body a role in
authorizing war through a second resolution should Mr. Hussein reject or
obstruct the return of United Nations inspectors. Mr. Bush and his national
security advisers oppose the two-resolution approach, but much was still
under discussion, including how Security Council members might travel to
Iraq with a military guard to protect them, diplomats said, and directly
supervise the work of inspectors.
Mr. Grossman was in Moscow today after stopping in Paris, to press the
American and British draft. The precise text was being tightly held to
preserve room for compromise, diplomats said. Separately, Britain dispatched
two senior diplomats, Peter Ricketts, to Paris and Moscow, and William
Ehrman to Beijing, for negotiations.
Meanwhile, Iraqi opposition forces in northern Iraq observed Iraqi military
forces pulling back from front-line positions facing the Kurds. In one area
near Erbil, the Kurdish capital, Iraqi forces had retreated 10 miles. Kurds
speculated that Iraqi commanders were widening the distance to prevent
defections. Control points between the Kurdish enclave and central Iraq were
also being tightened to prevent defections and infiltrations, officials
Mr. Hussein was also said to have replaced several key governors, including
in the southern Basra region, with officers from his security forces to
bolster discipline against defections and betrayal.
Iraqi opposition members were lining up to volunteer for American training
as fighters, interpreters, spies and target spotters, after the State
Department announced that it would use part of the $92 million allocated
under the Iraq Liberation Act to train thousands of recruits from the Iraqi
opposition, as well as members of the Kurdish minority in northern Iraq.
The United States has also increased the tempo of patrols and bombing
missions into Iraq, administration officials said. These patrols were
authorized by the United Nations to enforce no-flight zones to prevent
Iraq's air forces from attacking Shiites in the south and Kurds in the
north. There have been 42 such bombing missions this year, Pentagon
officials said.

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Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan said Iraq would not accept new rules for
weapons inspections proposed for a United Nations resolution.

Interactive Feature:  Iraq's Future

Russia Stands Firm After Talks with U.S.

News Analysis: Firing Back From Iraq (September 29, 2002)

U.S. Plan Requires Inspection Access to All Sites (September 28, 2002)

Legislation: Congress Nearing Draft Resolution on Force in Iraq (September
27, 2002)



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Arms Control and Limitation and Disarmament

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