Iraq Accepts UN Resolution


By Edith M. Lederer

Associated Press
November 13, 2002

Faced with a tight deadline, Iraq on Wednesday accepted with "no conditions" a tough, new U.N. resolution that will return weapons inspectors to the country after nearly four years, Iraq's U.N. ambassador said.

Ambassador Mohammed Al-Douri said his government's letter, which officially accepts the resolution adopted unanimously last Friday by the U.N. Security Council, reiterates that Iraq has no weapons of mass destruction.

"The letter says that Iraq accepts the resolution, and accepts the return of inspectors," the ambassador told reporters after delivering the letter. "There are no conditions, no reservations."

"We explained in the letter the whole Iraqi position saying that Iraq ... has not and will not have any mass destruction weapons, so we are not worried about the inspectors when they will be back," he said.

In Washington, President Bush said he wouldn't tolerate "deception or denial or deceit" from Saddam Hussein and he renewed his warning that if Iraq "chooses not to disarm, we will have a coalition of the willing with us" to do the job.

It wasn't clear whether Bush was informed of the Iraqi decision as he addressed reporters in the Cabinet Room. A senior administration official said the White House was studying reports of the Iraqi move.

Under Security Council resolutions adopted after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait, U.N. inspectors must certify that Iraq's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs have been eliminated along with the long-range missiles to deliver them.

Al-Douri delivered the letter to Secretary-General Kofi Annan's office. Annan was in the Washington area on Wednesday and planned to meet with Bush, who has repeatedly threatened Iraq with a U.S.-led war if it fails to comply with U.N. resolutions and cooperate with inspectors.

"They had no choice" but to accept, said a U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity. "Iraqis need to give their full cooperation to the inspectors to bring about complete and verifiable disarmament. Nothing else will do."

Iraq's acceptance would clear the way for the arrival of an advance team of U.N. inspectors on Monday. It will be led by U.N. chief inspector Hans Blix, who is in charge of biological and chemical inspections, and Mohamed ElBaradei of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which is in charge of nuclear inspections.

Al-Douri said Iraq hopes its acceptance will avoid the threat of war. "We are always opting for the path of peace," he said.

China's deputy U.N. ambassador Zhang Yishan, the current Security Council president, notified the 14 other council members of Iraq's acceptance of the resolution.

"Members of the Security Council welcomed the correct decision by the Iraqi government and we would like to see resolution 1441 implemented fully and very effectively," he said. Iraq had until Friday to accept the resolution's terms.

Iraq's parliament recommended Tuesday that Saddam reject the resolution, which demands that Iraq cooperate fully with inspectors, allowing them to go anywhere at any time to search for weapons of mass destruction.

The resolution warns that Iraq faces "serious consequences" if it doesn't comply -- and the United States has made clear that an Iraqi failure to cooperate will almost certainly mean a new war.

"Now, we are not talking about war or military action. We are talking about the mission of inspectors and how to make it a successful one," Amr Moussa, the head of the Arab League, told CNN. The Arab League had been instrumental is getting Iraq to accept the unconditional return of inspectors and to secure its support for the resolution.

On Tuesday, Saddam's son, Odai Saddam Hussein, proposed making Arabs part of the U.N. team, echoing a recommendation from the Arab League.

Blix's office said it has trained inspectors from 49 countries, including six Jordanians, one Moroccan and five Turks. "We don't get too many applications from Arabic countries and we would welcome more applications from people who have the right expertise," one official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

ElBaradei said the IAEA in the past had "many inspectors from many Arab countries" and this was not a problem.

In addition to offering Iraq "a final opportunity" to cooperate with inspectors, the resolution extends the possibility of lifting the sanctions.

Under a strict timetable, Iraq now has until Dec. 8 to declare all its chemical, biological and nuclear programs. In the meantime, inspectors will have until Dec. 23 to begin their work and must report to the Security Council 60 days later. However, the resolution orders inspectors to immediately notify the council of any Iraqi infraction, which could be considered a "material breach," of its obligations to disarm itself of weapons of mass destruction.

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