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Iraqis Protest Fine Print

U.N. resolution's wording is a setup for U.S. attack, foreign minister says.

November 25, 2002|From Associated Press

BAGHDAD — In a point-by-point protest, the Iraqi government told the United Nations this weekend that the fine print behind the weapons inspections set to begin this week will give Washington a pretext to attack.

The new U.N. Security Council resolution on the inspections could turn "inaccurate statements [among] thousands of pages" of required Iraqi reports into a supposed justification for military action, Foreign Minister Naji Sabri said in a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

"There is premeditation to target Iraq, whatever the pretext," Sabri said.

His lengthy letter, dated Saturday and made public Sunday, was not expected to affect the inspections, which are to resume Wednesday after a four-year hiatus. Iraq accepted the resolution in a Nov. 13 letter.

Preparations moved ahead on Baghdad's outskirts Sunday, where technicians at the U.N. inspection center worked to establish a "hot line" with the Iraqi government.

The first working group of 18 inspectors is to arrive today on a flight from Cyprus.

Resolution 1441, unanimously adopted by the Security Council on Nov. 8, demands that Iraq give up any chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, or face "serious consequences."

It requires Iraq to submit an accounting by Dec. 8 of its weapons programs, as well as of chemical, biological and nuclear projects that it says are peaceful.

Sabri's letter said a key passage on providing documentation is unjust, "because it considers the giving of inaccurate statements -- taking into consideration that there are thousands of pages to be presented in those statements -- is a material breach" of the resolution's requirements.

Sabri wrote that the aim was clear: "to provide pretexts ... to be used in aggressive acts against Iraq."

The foreign minister's letter disputed allegations that his government has retained chemical or biological weapons and rebuilt weapons programs.

"The United States and Britain failed to give one credible proof on this matter," Sabri wrote.

He wrote of what he called arbitrary powers being granted to inspectors, including meeting Iraqi scientists "inside their country without the presence of a representative of their government, or asking them to leave the country with their families to meet [for interviews] abroad."

Sabri urged Security Council member nations to ensure that the weapons inspectors are committed "to their obligations according to the U.N. Charter and ... the United Nations' goals." If they do so, he wrote, they will "uncover the false U.S. accusations."

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