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Russia Wants Iraq Inspections Over By Robert H. Reid Associated Press Writer Friday, April 24, 1998; 8:02 p.m. EDT UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- Russia is urging an end to wide-ranging inspections of Iraq's suspected nuclear facilities, claiming there's no evidence that the Mideast nation was still trying to build nuclear weapons. Russian Ambassador Sergey Lavrov on Friday confirmed circulating such a proposal among the 15 Security Council members. But Lavrov said he would not insist on immediate action when the council meets Monday to review the 7-year-old economic sanctions against Iraq. ``I'm sure we are not going to table it,'' Lavrov said after consulting throughout the day with other council ambassadors. ``We submitted it only yesterday, and ... we want others to have time to react.'' Diplomats said the Russians wanted to try to win over the Americans and the British before pushing for a decision. The diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, said consultations would continue through the weekend. In offering the proposal, the Russians cited a report this month by the International Atomic Energy Agency that says it found no indication that Iraq was still trying to construct nuclear arms. Lavrov said ``it is time for the council to recognize'' the findings of the latest IAEA report. Lavrov said he would make this argument during Monday's council meeting even if he did not submit a formal resolution. If approved, the Russian proposal would not end all international surveillance of Iraq's nuclear research programs. But it would shift to ``passive monitoring'' of known Iraqi research facilities. It would sharply curtail the wide-ranging investigations of suspected clandestine nuclear research facilities, which the IAEA has carried out since 1991 along with the U.N. Special Commission, which is looking for banned long-range missiles and biological and chemical weapons. Such a resolution, if approved, would have no effect on the commission's inspections for missiles, chemical and biological weapons. Both the commission and the IAEA must certify that Iraq has dismantled all proscribed weapons before the Security Council will lift economic sanctions imposed in 1990 after President Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. Last week, the executive chairman of the U.N. Special Commission, Richard Butler, reported it had made ``virtually no progress'' over the last six months in determining whether Iraq is still holding long-range missiles and chemical and biological weapons. Diplomats said the United States was the major stumbling block. In Washington, State Department spokesman James Rubin said Iraq must first provide more information about previous efforts to conceal its secret nuclear research program. ``Clearly, there has been progress in the area of understanding what Iraq did, and what it is now unable to do in the nuclear area,'' Rubin said. ``But ... Iraq has to answer questions that it has refused to answer about this area as well; namely in the area of concealment.'' As a permanent council member, Washington could veto the Russian proposal, although the Americans would prefer not to do so to avoid appearing isolated on the sensitive Iraq issue. In February, the United States and Britain backed off a threat to bomb Iraq after Secretary-General Kofi Annan convinced the Iraqi government to open all sites, including presidential palaces, to U.N. inspectors. The United States failed to win broad support among the Arabs and others for military action against Iraq. On Thursday, U.S. Ambassador Bill Richardson told a House committee in Washington that he expected Iraq and its supporters to mount an effort to lift the sanctions next week. He also said the United States would oppose any efforts to weaken the resolution's disarmament provisions. But diplomats say there is considerable support within the 15-member council for acknowledging Iraqi progress in the nuclear field. British Ambassador John Weston said his government did not oppose acknowledging progress but considered the Russian proposal ``unbalanced.'' In Paris, French Foreign Ministry spokesman Yves Doutriaux said Iraqi progress in the nuclear area ``seems clearly very significant'' and it seemed time to end the inspections and shift to long-term surveillance. © Copyright 1998 The Associated Press Iraq Wants U.N. Sanctions Lifted By Robert H. Reid Associated Press Writer Thursday, April 23, 1998; 7:50 p.m. EDT UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- Iraq demanded Thursday that the United Nations end its crippling trade embargo, accusing U.N. arms inspectors of spreading ``fallacies and lies'' about its weapons program. In Washington, White House spokesman Mike McCurry said the Clinton administration has ``seen insufficient grounds'' to lift the sanctions and said Iraq must comply ``with a whole host'' of requirements before the embargo is removed. Bill Richardson, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, predicted Iraq and its supporters would mount an effort to lift the sanctions when the Security Council holds its six-month review of Iraqi sanctions Monday. ``We will oppose it on the grounds that they're not fully complying with Security Council resolutions,'' Richardson told a House committee, saying the United States would also oppose any efforts to weaken the resolution's disarmament provisions. U.N. diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Russia may offer a resolution to effectively declare Iraq had complied with U.N. orders to dismantle its nuclear weapons program. The Monday review will be the first since U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan signed an agreement with the Iraqis in February to allow inspectors to visit Saddam's eight presidential compounds. Such reviews are conducted behind closed doors. U.N. sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the council agreed to a Russian request to allow Iraq's foreign minister, Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf, to meet informally with all 15 council members after the review to put Baghdad's case directly to them. Diplomatic sources said the Russians hope the meeting will generate greater opposition within the council to the hard-line U.S. and British positions against Iraq. Iraq's demand was contained in a 22-page letter sent by Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz to Annan and the council president, Ambassador Hisashi Owada of Japan. The letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press, was in response to the latest six-month report by the U.N. Special Commission, which found that ``virtually no progress'' had been made in verifying whether Iraq has destroyed banned weapons. That is the main condition for the Security Council to lift crippling economic sanctions imposed on Iraq in 1990 after President Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. In his report, submitted to the council last Friday, chief U.N. inspector Richard Butler said major gaps in knowledge of key Iraqi weapons programs remain, especially about biological weaponry. ``Weapons research into other systems ... is inadequately described (by the Iraqis),'' Butler said. ``This lack of candor raises the possibility of research or development of undisclosed systems.'' In his response, Aziz claimed the commission report ``contains a large volume of tremendous and flagrant fallacies and lies ... (aimed at) justifying the continuation of the unjust embargo.'' ``It is evident that there is an attack of a political nature, rather than a technical or scientific one,'' Aziz said. He called on the council to put an end to ``the endless, fruitless and provocative'' inspections which are directed ``at collecting intelligence information for the United States of America.'' U.N. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the letter contained mostly argumentation rather than offering evidence to counter the commission's allegations. Iraq's refusal to open those sites prompted the United States and Britain to send thousands of troops, planes and aircraft carriers to the Persian Gulf and threaten air strikes. The threat was reduced by the Annan agreement. © Copyright 1998 The Associated Press -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To be removed/added, email email@example.com, NOT the whole list. Archived at http://linux.clare.cam.ac.uk/~saw27/casi/discuss.html