Lift sanctions, Iraq tells U.S.
BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Iraq says it will not comply with a U.S. demand that weapons inspectors be allowed to enter the country, until U.N. sanctions have been lifted.
U.S. President George W. Bush said Monday Iraqi President Saddam Hussein "needs to let inspectors back in his country to show us that he is not developing weapons of mass destruction."
International weapons inspectors, who went into Iraq after the Gulf War to check for evidence of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, left in 1998.
Asked what would happen if the Iraqi leader did not comply, Bush said: "He'll find out."
Secretary of State Colin Powell told CNN in an exclusive interview on Monday's Larry King Live that Hussein should take President Bush's demand as a "very sober, chilling message."
In a statement carried by the official Iraqi News Agency, an Iraqi government spokesman said: "Anyone who thinks Iraq can accept an arrogant and unilateral will of this party or that, is mistaken.
"Iraq is able to defend its self and rights and will not bow to threats but only to justice, and right."
Iraq's U.N. Ambassador Mohammad al-Douri said that as long as sanctions remained, "We will not permit ... weapons inspectors. We have nothing to inspect."
Sanctions were imposed after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in August 1990.
The current U.N. oil-for-food program, which contains the sanctions regulations, expires Friday. The U.N. Security Council is expected to extend the program, but not to overhaul the sanctions regime.
Iraq is allowed to sell oil on the condition that the proceeds be spent on food, medicine and other humanitarian goods and to pay for war reparations and oil industry spare parts.
Diplomats say the extension of the program could be shorter than the usual six months to maintain pressure for a sanctions overhaul.
It could also include a reference to a U.S.-British plan to revamp sanctions. The plan was not voted on at the U.N. earlier in the year after Russia said it would veto the proposal.
Russia says any overhaul must address the lifting of sanctions, which critics say are responsible for civilian suffering in Iraq.
The U.S. and Britain say their overhaul plan would lift most restrictions on civilian goods entering Iraq while tightening enforcement of the 1990 arms embargo and plugging up Iraqi smuggling routes.
When the Russians threatened a veto in early July, the other 14 council members agreed on a list of items that could be used for military purposes that would have to be reviewed before shipment to Iraq.
CNN's Jane Arraf said: "The United States and Britain want to tighten sanctions to prevent weapons from coming in, and ease them somewhat on civilian goods.
"But Iraq and some of its allies say that proposal just won't fly, and that instead of making things easier for civilians here, it will just make things harder.
"It looks like there will be no agreement at the United Nations and Iraq is taking some comfort from that.
"Iraq is also paying attention to the warnings coming from Bush and Powell, but it says it has been expecting to be attacked for some time. It is counting on what it sees as a crucial lack of support for any U.S. strike among Arab allies and Russia.
"The U.S. seems to be telling allies such as Turkey and some of its neighbors that it has suspicions about Iraq, but so far no-one has produced any proof."
Under U.N. resolutions, sanctions cannot be lifted until U.N. inspectors certify that Iraq has dismantled its weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles.
U.S. wants new sanctions against Iraq
November 7, 2001
The U.N. Iraq Programme
Iraq's permanent mission to the U.N.
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