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[casi] Iraqi letter to Annan fuels fresh fears

Iraqi letter to Annan fuels fresh fears

By David Usborne, Arab News

NEW YORK/BAGHDAD, 15 November 2002 — Signals from Iraq that its welcome for
international inspectors will be less than overwhelming when they arrive in the
country to seek out weapons of mass destruction fueled fresh fears yesterday that
the process could quickly unravel and give Washington grounds to press for
military invasion.

The concern stemmed from a closer reading of the letter it delivered to UN
Secretary-General Kofi Annan yesterday. The letter accepts a UN resolution, passed
unanimously by the Security Council one week ago, demanding that it disarm and
accept inspectors. But the missive, penned by Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri is
laced with admonitions to the inspectors to respect Iraqi sovereignty. An advance
team, headed by chief UN inspector Hans Blix and by Muhammad Al-Baradei of the
International Atomic Energy Agency will arrive in Baghdad on Monday.

“Dealing with the inspectors, the government of Iraq will also take into
consideration their way of conduct, the intentions of those who are
ill-intentioned amongst them, and their improper approach in showing respect to
the people’s national dignity, their independence and security,” Sabri warned.

And in an ominous sting in the tail to the letter, Sabri served notice that he
would be dispatching a follow-up letter to Annan highlighting the “measures and
procedures” outlined in the Security Council resolution, that Iraq considers to be
“contrary to international law” and the UN Charter.

Annan was unwilling to say whether the dark language used by the Iraqis was
“an indication that they are going to play games,” when questioned by journalists
in Washington. There were also fresh signs yesterday that Iraq may again try to
drive a wedge between members of the Security Council. The first test may come on
Dec. 8 when Iraq is obliged to account for all of its weapons programs. If it
reiterates claims made in the letter of acceptance that it has no such weapons,
the US may interpret that as non-compliance and press other UN members to sanction
war. (The Independent)

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