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Resolution pretext war

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Middle East - AP

Iraq: U.N. Plan Is Pretext for War
Sun Nov 24, 9:27 AM ET


BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - In a long, stern letter to the United Nations (news - web sites), Iraq's foreign minister complained the new Security Council resolution on weapons inspections provides a pretext for the United States to wage war against his country.

"There is premeditation to target Iraq, whatever the pretext," Foreign Minister Naji Sabri wrote to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan (news - web sites), in a letter dated Saturday and released Sunday.

The Iraqi complaints are not expected to interfere with the scheduled resumption of U.N. weapons inspections on Wednesday.

The letter had been expected, promised by the Iraqi official when he wrote to Annan on Nov. 11 to accept Resolution 1441, which sent the inspectors back to Iraq after a four-year absence. Sabri said then he would follow with a second letter commenting on supposed violations of international law and other problems with the resolution.

The resolution, adopted unanimously Nov. 7, demands the Iraqis give up any chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, or face "serious consequences." It requires the Baghdad government to make a declaration by Dec. 8 of any weapons of mass destruction, facilities to manufacture them, and "all other chemical, biological, and nuclear programs," even those not related to military uses.

Any Iraqi failure to cooperate with the inspectors is to be reported to the council for possible punitive action. The Bush administration has threatened war to enforce Iraqi disarmament, with or without U.N. approval. But other governments, including France, Russia and China, say that decision can be made only by the Security Council.

The Iraqis have agreed to meet the Dec. 8 deadline. But top U.N. inspectors who visited Baghdad last week said the Iraqis expressed concern about the short time allotted to make a comprehensive report.

Paragraph 4 of the resolution says that "false statements or omissions" in Iraq's declaration of its weapons or weapons programs and chemical, biological and nuclear programs it claims are peaceful could contribute to a finding that it had committed a "material breach" of the resolution, a finding that might lead to military action.

The foreign minister's letter, which analyzes the 2,200-word resolution paragraph by paragraph, complains that this key paragraph is unjust and unprecedented, "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."

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

Sabri urged members of the U.N. Security Council 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."

Sabri said the United States and Britain had failed to back up their allegations that Iraq retained some chemical or biological weapons, and is believed to have rebuilt weapons programs.

Sabri also complained that the resolution gives the inspectors "unjust power" like "conducting interviews with citizens inside the country without the presence of a representative of their government or asking them to leave their country with their families for interviews or demanding lists of the names of all scientists and researchers and removing equipment without notifying the Iraqi government."

From 1991 to 1998, U.N. teams destroyed large amounts of chemical and biological weapons and longer-range missiles forbidden to Iraq by U.N. resolutions after the Gulf War (news - web sites). They also dismantled Iraq's nuclear weapons program before it could build a bomb. The inspections were suspended over disputes about U.N. access to Iraqi sites and Iraqi charges America used the U.N. operation to spy.

Under the new inspection regime, the first working group of 18 inspectors arrives Monday from a U.N. rear base in Cyprus. The first inspection is expected early Wednesday.

The working group joins almost 40 support staff who have come to Baghdad in the past week to re-establish U.N. monitoring after a four-year absence. The number of inspectors in Iraq at any one time is expected to rise to 80 to 100 by year-end.

Sunday, U.N. computer, telephone and other technicians were laying the groundwork for what is expected to be months of field missions. Secrecy was a top priority.

"We are still testing our communications equipment to make sure we have secure lines," said Hiro Ueki, spokesman for the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, UNMOVIC.

UNMOVIC, which is responsible for checking for any chemical or biological weapons, and the nuclear inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency were headquartered at a former hotel on the outskirts of Baghdad. A "hot line" link was planned between the center and an Iraqi government liaison agency.

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