Iraq vows to cooperate on prohibited missiles
U.N. ambassador: Destruction 'depends on concrete results'
UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- Iraq is willing to cooperate with U.N. inspectors on the possible destruction of missiles that the United Nations says are in violation of its resolutions, Iraq's U.N. ambassador said Tuesday.
"Iraq did declare already that [it] is willing to cooperate with UNMOVIC [the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission] on that question," Ambassador Mohammed Aldouri said.
Pressed on whether Iraq will destroy the Al Samoud 2 missiles, he said, "It depends on the concrete results [that] might occur between Iraq and UNMOVIC."
A report last week commissioned by chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix found that Iraq's Al-Samoud 2 missiles were not in compliance with U.N. rules and recommended their destruction. U.N. resolutions prohibit Iraq's missiles from having a range greater than 93 miles, or 150 kilometers. Blix' report found that during testing, the missiles traveled about 18 miles [30 kilometers] farther, which Iraq attributed to the missiles' lack of a guidance system.
Aldouri made his comments after an open debate in which nations without a seat on the Security Council had a chance to air their views on the Iraq issue. Aldouri was seated near the U.S. representative, Deputy Ambassador James Cunningham, during the session, but he said the two did not exchange words.
Aldouri rejected comments made earlier in the day by President Bush, who accused Iraqi President Saddam Hussein of being in "total defiance" of U.N. Resolution 1441, which called on Iraq to declare its weapons of mass destruction and cooperate with weapons inspectors.
"We are implementing this resolution," Aldouri said. "We are cooperating with this resolution."
When asked if Iraq was threatened by U.S. and British efforts to draft a new resolution that could declare Baghdad in material breach, Aldouri said, "It seems the international community rejected that trend in the American government."
The council's other veto-wielding permanent members, France, Russia and China, have urged that weapons inspectors be given more time, and France has threatened to veto a new resolution authorizing force.
Aldouri also told the Security Council that a U.S.-led invasion of Iraq would be "the first step toward world domination through the use of force."
John Negroponte, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said council members must decide whether Iraq is "immediately, unconditionally and proactively implementing this resolution and not whether or not they have made a few procedural gestures of one kind or another.
"We continue to hope that this issue can be resolved peacefully, and we want to work within the framework of the U.N.," Negroponte said.
He added, "If the regime in Iraq does not disarm peacefully, the president is prepared to lead a coalition that will disarm Iraq by force."
Representatives of at least 70 countries have signed up to speak in the session, which is expected to extend into Wednesday.
"None of the information provided thusfar would seem to justify the Security Council abandoning the inspection process and immediately resorting to the threatened 'serious consequences,' " South African Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo said.
His country also announced Tuesday that it is sending disarmament experts to Iraq by the end of the week. (Full story)
Not all countries oppose the prospect of war. Kuwait said war should be a last resort, but Deputy Ambassador Mansour Al-Otaibi urged the Security Council to ensure that Baghdad complies "accurately and faithfully" with all U.N. resolutions.
Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, sparking the Persian Gulf War, and Kuwait is now host to a large number of U.S. and British troops preparing for a possible conflict. (U.S. troops)
Iran, with which Iraq fought a devastating eight-year war in the 1980s, warned that the problems unleashed by a new war "may go far beyond our imaginations today."
"One outcome is almost certain. Extremism stands to benefit enormously from an uncalculated adventure in Iraq," Iranian Ambassador Javad Zarif said.
The United States says Iraq is violating U.N. resolutions that date back to 1991 by refusing to fully account for its chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs.
The United States and Britain have said they want the Iraq issue settled in "weeks, not months." British Prime Minister Tony Blair faces an uphill battle in convincing his divided political party and the British public that war is necessary. (Full story)
-- CNN producer Ronni Berke contributed to this report.