Iraq bars UN plane from its airports

IRAQ enforced a no-fly zone of its own yesterday over the central part of the country where President Saddam Hussein's writ extends, as 200 Iraqi raiders crossed the Kuwaiti border and seized armaments, including surface-to- surface missiles.

A plane chartered by UN weapons inspectors was denied permission to land in Baghdad. Officials and inspectors of the United Nations Special Commission (Unscom) were left stranded in Bahrain waiting for flight clearance. Iraq had notified the UN office in Baghdad on Thursday of its decision to ban all flights. It complained that the United States, Britain and France had refused to allow Iraqi Airways to resume flights - one of the sanctions imposed on Iraq as part of the Gulf war ceasefire resolutions.

On the Kuwaiti border, the United Nations Iraqi-Kuwaiti Observation Mission (Unikom) spokesman, Abdellatif Kabbaj, said the Iraqis crossed the border with Kuwait at 7.10am local time in heavy transport vehicles, and seized armaments including four surface-to-surface missiles, before returning to Iraq.

The Unikom chief at Umm Qasr, Major-General Dibuama, instructed the head of the Unikom liaison office in Baghdad to request an urgent meeting at the Iraqi Foreign Ministry to protest over the incident.

On Friday the UN Security Council warned Iraq it would face serious consequences if it did not lift the landing ban. The council said that Iraq was obliged under the same ceasefire resolutions to allow weapons inspectors to use their own aircraft.

It further said the ban would seriously impede the work of inspectors monitoring Iraq's compliance with its obligation to neutralise its weapons of mass destruction. UN relief officials also said the ban would delay the arrival of food and emergency medicines in Iraq.

In Baghdad, President Saddam's spokesman declared that the West was not telling the truth when it said Baghdad yielded to its pressure over missiles in southern Iraq. 'The criminal (President George) Bush and his clique have issued a new futile warning to Iraq,' said the Defence Ministry newspaper, al-Qadissiyah in an editorial.

The US, shrugging off President Saddam's latest blustering in Baghdad, has made plain that the next time the Iraqi leader violates the no-fly zone south of the 32nd parallel in Iraq, there will be no prior warnings - just an immediate military strike to punish him.

Now that this latest run-in with President Saddam appears to be over, the general conclusion in Washington is that domestic difficulties prompted his defiance. Once again, officials believe, President Saddam was forced to act to deflect public attention from the growing hardships of daily life by creating a crisis with the allies.

More such confrontations are likely after president-elect Bill Clinton takes office in nine days' time. But there is not the slightest indication that a Democratic adminstration, even one which avows domestic policy is its top priority, will take a softer line.

Speaking on NBC's Meet the Press programme yesterday, the Senate majority leader, George Mitchell, said he had 'no doubt' Mr Clinton would be as ready to use military means as President Bush has been. The view of the minority leader, Senator Robert Dole, who after 20 January will be senior Republican representative in Washington, is the same.

Indeed, co-ordination between incoming and outgoing foreign policy teams has been as smooth as any presidential transition here in memory. The White House statement on Saturday which warned that 'no further warnings will be issued if Iraq violates the requirements of the 6 January demarche', is understood to have been elaborated in consultation with Mr Clinton's senior advisers.

Nor does Washington - for the time being at least - appear greatly exercised by the other irritant from Baghdad, its insistence that United Nations inspectors and other officials use Iraqi, not UN planes, to visit the country. This was 'a low-level challenge', a Pentagon official said. It should be settled through the UN in New York. If the stand-off continues, however, the officials talk openly about imposing still broader no-fly zones on Iraqi territory.

LONDON - A United Nations spokesman in Kuwait said some 200 Iraqis crossed the Kuwaiti border early yesterday and seized armaments, including surface-to- surface missiles, the Kuwaiti news agency Kuna said, Reuter reports. The Iraqis crossed the border at 7.10am local time in heavy transport vehicles, Kuna said, quoting the spokesman for the United Nations Iraqi-Kuwaiti Observation Mission, Abdellatif Kabbaj. Mr Kabbaj said the Iraqi force seized armaments in trenches on the Kuwaiti side, including four surface-to-surface missiles. The Iraqi troops later returned to Iraq, Mr Kabbaj said.

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Diana from the Great British Bake Off 2014
tvProducers confirm contestant left because of illness
News
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie reportedly married in secret on Saturday
peopleSpokesperson for couple confirms they tied the knot on Saturday after almost a decade together
Life and Style
Chen Mao recovers in BK Hospital, Seoul
health
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Client-Side web developer (JQuery, Javascript, UI, JMX, FIX)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Client-Side web developer (JQuery, Javascript, U...

Structured Finance

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - An excellent new instruction w...

SQL Server Developer

£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL Server Developer SQL, PHP, C#, Real Time,...

C#.NET Developer

£600 per day: Harrington Starr: C#.NET Developer C#, Win Forms, WPF, WCF, MVVM...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff