- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 2, 2002

Baghdad officials and the U.N. team charged with disarming Iraq agreed yesterday to resume weapons inspections after a four-year pause, saying the first advance group was expected in the country in two weeks.
But the United States said the inspectors had no authority to return to Baghdad. It warned it would try to "thwart" any inspections made before the U.N. Security Council adopts a new resolution threatening military action if Iraq fails to cooperate fully.
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said the inspection team needs "the strongest possible authority," which "will only come from a new resolution that keeps the pressure up on Iraq and that has linked to it consequences, so that we can get to the bottom of this once and for all."
Mr. Powell's comments, which came in a hastily arranged press conference at the State Department last night, was an indication of the growing tension between Washington and chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix, who plans to send a group to Baghdad around Oct. 15.
After a two-day meeting with an Iraqi delegation in Vienna, Austria, Mr. Blix said yesterday his team was satisfied by the information it received on Baghdad's nuclear facilities, as well as its readiness to provide the U.N. team with unlimited access to suspected weapons sites.
"The Iraqi representatives declared that Iraq accepts all rights of inspection provided for in all the relevant Security Council resolutions," Mr. Blix told reporters. "It was clarified that all sites are subject to immediate, unconditional and unrestricted access."
The U.N. team argues that existing Security Council resolutions give it sufficient mandate to return to Baghdad under the old rules.
But Mr. Powell said those rules will not work, as they have not worked in the past.
"We will not be satisfied with Iraqi half-truths or Iraqi compromises, or Iraqi efforts to get us back into the same swamp that they took the United Nations into," he said. "Pressure works, and we are going to keep it up."
He also said Mr. Blix "should get new instructions in the form of a resolution" and carry them out as an agent of the Security Council.
In a draft of a U.N. resolution obtained by Reuters news agency, the United States says it wants arms inspectors to delay their entry into Iraq until Baghdad supplies a list of any weapons of mass destruction and related materials.
The American-drafted measure, if adopted as written, could delay the start of arms inspections several weeks beyond the mid-October date proposed by Mr. Blix.
The draft calls on Iraq, within 30 days of adoption of the resolution, to provide a "complete declaration" of all its programs to develop chemical, biological, nuclear and ballistic weapons.
This declaration has to be submitted "prior to the beginning of inspections," the draft says. It also authorizes any member state to "use all necessary means" if Iraq fails to comply with any of the resolution's demands.
Another senior State Department official said earlier that the United States has its "influence" in the council.
"We do not believe that they should go back in under the old set of resolutions and under the old inspection regime," Mr. Powell said. "And therefore, we do not believe they should go in until they have new instructions in the form of a new resolution."
The secretary did not specify what Washington would do if the new resolution was not passed by Oct. 15. But the senior official said: "Then we move into thwart mode."
Mr. Powell acknowledged that the Iraqi representatives in Vienna made "some concessions," but on other issues they continued to balk.
Mr. Blix said the Iraqis had promised full access to so-called sensitive sites, such as mosques, government institutions, research facilities and other buildings.
However, access to eight presidential palaces would be subject to a 1998 "memorandum of understanding" between U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz, Mr. Blix said. Under that agreement, inspectors must give at least 24 hours' notice before they enter the sites, and take with them diplomatic observers.
U.S. officials complained at the time that the process was cumbersome and easily subverted by the Iraqis, who could delay permission or refuse to accept the available diplomatic escorts.
Meanwhile, Canada yesterday hardened its resistance to any unilateral U.S. attack, saying it had no intention of blindly following Washington in a move that could destabilize large parts of the world.
Foreign Minister Bill Graham said Canada fully backed President Bush's decision to press his case against Iraq through the Security Council. Using the strongest language by a Canadian official since the crisis erupted, Mr. Graham told a parliamentary debate on Iraq that a U.S. attack without U.N. authorization would have no international legitimacy.
In spite of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's pledge to cooperate with inspectors during a meeting with Mr. Annan in early 1998, his relations with the U.N. team worsened a few months later to the point that no real work could be done. The United Nations pulled the inspectors out of Iraq that December, shortly before joint U.S.-British military strikes.
For four years, Baghdad refused to let the inspectors back in, but faced with renewed threats of U.S. military action, it agreed to their return two weeks ago.
Mr. Blix said yesterday there was a "big difference" in Iraq's willingness to cooperate compared with 1998.
Mr. Aziz, in Ankara to seek Turkey's help in case of a war with the United States, said "inspections will show the reality of Iraq not having weapons of mass destruction."
The leader of the Iraqi delegation in Vienna, Saddam's technical adviser Amir al-Saadi, said he was "happy" with the agreement and that the talks were businesslike and focused.
As promised, the Iraqis handed over to the U.N. team four computer disks with long-overdue information on the status of dual-use nuclear equipment, which could be used for both civilian and warfare purposes. Such reports are due every six months but had not been provided since 1998.
At the United Nations, the United States was meeting stiff resistance from France, Russia and China to its resolution, for which it has Britain's support.
The draft's text has not been officially distributed yet, even though diplomats have been discussing it with leaders in Moscow, Paris and Beijing.
"My interpretation is that they haven't put the text on the table because they are taking remarks from the capitals into account," one diplomat on the council said.
Betsy Pisik contributed to this report from New York.

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