Iraq 'backing off' in missile inspection row

THERE were indications last night that Iraq wanted to avoid further confrontation with the United Nations over the monitoring of its missile test sites, despite its refusal to allow UN officials to seal off the equipment, diplomats said.

Rolf Ekeus, the head of the UN special commission in charge of dismantling Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, was due to return to Iraq today to try to defuse the confrontation over the monitoring at two missile sites, both about 70km (54 miles) south of Baghdad. His visit makes it virtually certain that the Security Council or the US will not authorise military action against Iraq while he is in the country.

A team of UN inspectors left Baghdad abruptly on Sunday after they had been prevented from attaching seals to the offending equipment, which includes stands for firing rockets and for monitoring test rockets banned under the terms of the Security Council resolution that ended the Gulf war.

Earlier Iraq had offered to dismantle the equipment, but this was unacceptable to the UN commission because they said it could easily be reassembled. The Security Council has warned that failure to comply with the UN resolutions allowing it to install monitoring cameras could result in 'serious consequences'. Both President Bill Clinton and the US Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, have hinted at military action against Baghdad if it continues to defy the UN.

The Security Council received a letter from the Iraqi Foreign Minister, Mohammad Said al-Sahaf, in which he accused the UN of creating a pretext for a 'new military aggression against Iraq' and appealed to the Council to prevent any such attack. However, there were also indications from Baghdad that a compromise was possible in which the missile site would not engage in any illegal activity, and Baghdad would agree to some kind of monitoring activity. Until now, Iraq has objected to long- term monitoring of its missiles.

The incident comes a year after a similar dispute when Iraq refused to allow UN inspectors to search the Agriculture Ministry in Baghdad for weapons believed to be hidden there. Iraq backed down after the US threatened military action.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Savvy Media Ltd: Media Sales executive - Crawley

£25k + commission + benefits: Savvy Media Ltd: Find a job you love and never h...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Solicitor NQ+ Oxford

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CORPORATE - Corporate Solicitor NQ+ An excelle...

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible