UNITED NATIONS — Raising the threat of a new crisis with the United Nations, Iraq demanded Thursday that the Security Council lift economic sanctions when it meets later this month to review the status of Baghdad's weapons programs.
But U.N. officials said there is little chance that the council will lift the sanctions when it meets, possibly the week of April 27.
The U.N. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said weapons inspectors will tell the council that they cannot confirm Iraq's claims that it has destroyed all long-range missiles and other weapons of mass destruction.
Inspectors also will tell the council that, because of the standoff over inspections last year, U.N. teams have made "virtually no progress" in verifying Iraqi disarmament, the officials said.
The sanctions--to be lifted only after Baghdad has destroyed its weapons of mass destruction--were imposed in 1990 after Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's troops invaded Kuwait, triggering the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
In Baghdad, however, the ruling Revolutionary Command Council declared Thursday that "the time has come for the discussion of the embargo at the end of April." The talks should begin the process of lifting the sanctions "immediately and without delay," it said.
A statement by the Arab Baath Socialist Party leadership and the council warned of a new crisis if the embargo drags on.
In February, Secretary-General Kofi Annan reached an agreement with Iraq that paved the way for inspections at "presidential compounds" and averted a U.S.-British military strike.