UN inspectors warn Baghdad as they pull out: Iraq says it will permit installation of cameras at missile test sites only if international trade sanctions are eased

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The Independent Online
BAGHDAD - United Nations weapons inspectors pulled out of Iraq yesterday after failing to persuade Baghdad to comply with a UN Security Council resolution on the installation of monitoring cameras at missile test sites. A Baghdad newspaper said the inspectors were US lackeys and Iraq would never succumb to intimidation.

The experts, led by Nikita Smidovich of Russia, left Baghdad for Cyprus. 'Iraq has to assess the decision of the Security Council, which qualifies the position of Iraq as a breach of Resolution 687, the ceasefire resolution and also a violation of 707 and 1715,' he said.

Iraqi officials say they will permit the cameras only if the Security Council agrees to ease the trade sanctions imposed after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

The Security Council has warned Iraq of unspecified serious consequences if it does not permit the cameras, which would monitor Iraqi tests of missiles with a range of less than 150 km (95 miles), the maximum permitted under the terms of the ceasefire which ended the Gulf war in 1991. There are two test sites, both near Baghdad.

The US Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, said Iraq's refusal to permit the cameras was 'a bad sign'.

Prices rose and the Iraqi dinar tumbled on the black market in reaction to the decision to pull out the team. The dinar had risen and prices fallen at the prospect that talks between Iraq and the UN in New York tomorrow would pave the way for Iraq to resume some oil sales.

The Baghdad newspaper Babel, which is published by President Saddam Hussein's son Uday, said Mr Smidovich's departure meant that the UN was 'back to dirty methods'.

'Today we witness another ring in the chain of (conspiracy) through the departure of the team of international experts,' it said. '(The team) is mined with American elements, often waiting to accomplish with precision an order from Washington.' Babel said Iraq would not be cowed by threats and there was no way to blackmail or threaten it or impose on it what it did not accept.

Mr Smidovich said he was leaving behind the two US-made cameras, and the United Nations would continue to insist they were installed. 'We're talking here about Iraq's non-compliance with the Security Council decision,' he said.

(Photograph omitted)