Iraqi ban on UN threatens a fresh crisis

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The Independent Online
IRAQ WAS set for a head-on confrontation with the United Nations yesterday, as it cut all remaining links with the team investigating its weapons.

The Iraqis had already stopped inspectors from visiting new sites in August. But after a meeting presided over by Saddam Hussein yesterday, Baghdad said that there could be no further inspections of any kind and that personnel using monitoring equipment also could not work. Nizar Hamdoon, Iraq's ambassador to the United Nations, said that the weapons inspectors might as well leave. "They have nothing more to do, both on the inspection front and on the monitoring front," he said.

The confrontation followed a decision on Friday to review Iraq's compliance with UN resolutions, but without guaranteeing a lifting of sanctions against Baghdad.

Mr Hamdoon made it clear that Iraq's action was in retaliation for the UN's decision not to lift sanctions. "That had a major impact on the Iraqi reaction," he said. "We have left it to the Security Council to find an objective way of dealing with Iraq on the issue of sanctions. So we have left the door open for the [them] to review the status of affairs and to come up with something that Iraq could deal with," he said.

Sir Jeremy Greenstock, Britain's ambassador to the United Nations and Security Council president, said that Iraq was in "flagrant violation" of UN resolutions, and the Security Council demanded that Iraq "immediately and unconditionally" rescind its decisions.

A meeting of key US national security aides was convened at the White House yesterday to consider the next moves, which might involve armed strikes.

But only Britain would back the US on military action.