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IN THE NEWS - November 16, 2002: Iraq Accepts UN Resolution - 2002-11-15

This is Steve Ember with the VOA Special English program IN THE NEWS.

Iraq has announced its acceptance of a United Nations resolution on weapons inspections. All fifteen members of the U-N Security Council passed the resolution last Friday. The measure gives U-N inspectors the right to search anywhere in Iraq for banned weapons. It calls for serious measures if Iraq is found to disobey U-N demands to disarm.

On Wednesday, U-N Secretary General Kofi Annan received a letter signed by Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri. The letter said Iraq is ready to receive the weapons inspectors. It said Iraq would deal with the resolution. Yet it criticized the measure’s substance.

The Iraqi letter sharply criticized the United States and Britain – the two countries that proposed the resolution. It said they spread a false claim that Iraq had perhaps produced or was on its way to produce nuclear weapons. It said the United States and Britain wrongly accused Iraq of producing chemical and biological weapons. Iraq criticized other Security Council members for remaining silent.

The letter said the United Nations had changed from an organization designed to protect world peace and security. It said the U-N now provides cover to those who want war, destruction, blockades and starvation.

The letter said the important thing was to avoid any harm to the Iraqi people. It said Iraq would receive the inspectors within a time limit set by the resolution. Iraq has until December eighth to provide them with a declaration of all its chemical and biological weapons. The resolution requires the inspections to begin within fifteen days of that. The U-N’s chief weapons inspector must report to the Security Council sometime in the sixty days that follow.

Reaction to the Iraqi letter was mixed. President Bush said there would be no negotiations with Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. Mister Bush also said that his administration would not accept any lying or denials from Iraq. American officials disputed Iraq’s claim that it has no chemical or biological weapons. The officials said they would not release intelligence about the issue before Iraq declares its weapons programs to the inspectors.

U-N Secretary General Annan welcomed Iraq’s acceptance of the resolution. British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw also welcomed the acceptance. Yet he warned that there would be serious results if Iraq failed to obey the resolution.

Arab countries praised Iraq’s acceptance of the resolution. Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa said it is a step in the right direction. He said it would change the discussion on Iraq from war to inspections and how to make the inspections successful. Russia also praised the Iraqi decision. A Russian foreign ministry official said his government would discuss suspending U-N restrictions against Iraq if it honors the resolution.

This VOA Special English program IN THE NEWS was written by Caty Weaver. This is Steve Ember.