Iraq threatens to shoot down U.S. surveillance planes
November 3, 1997
Web posted at: 3:04 p.m. EST (2004 GMT)
UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- The U.N. Security Council
was due to meet at 5 p.m. Monday for closed door talks on how
to resolve the increasingly tense standoff with Iraq, which
has threatened to shoot down U.S. surveillance planes as part
of its ban on U.S. weapons inspectors.
U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Bill Richardson responded by
saying that "we consider that irresponsible and unacceptable,
and a direct aggressive act against the U.N."
Iraqi ambassador to the U.N. Nizar Hamdoon said in a letter
to the U.N. that Iraq expects "military aggression" against
it by the United States.
"Therefore the entry of an American spy plane into Iraq's
skies cannot be accepted. We, therefore demand you to cancel
the U-2 flights scheduled for November 5 and 7, 1997," the
||U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Bill Richardson describes Iraq's
298K/27 sec. AIFF or WAV sound
The U-2 reconnaissance planes fly at an altitude of about
60,000 feet, within range of Iraqi missiles. The next
scheduled flyover is set for Thursday. The U.S. military was
reportedly considering whether to send up fighter planes to
protect the U-2 aircraft.
"The U.N. Security Council should be prepared to take firm
action to bring about Iraqi compliance in the event they
don't change their mind in the next day or so," U.S. State
Department spokesman James Rubin said in a briefing.
"Saddam Hussein should change his mind and allow the U.N. to
do its job," Rubin said.
A L S O :
team heads for Baghdad
Iraq says the surveillance missions serve U.S. intelligence,
and Baghdad has repeatedly called for the U-2 flights to be
halted. Iraq repeated that demand on Wednesday, when it
ordered all U.S. members serving on U.N. weapons inspections
teams to leave the country within a week.
The United States has 20,000 troops, 200 planes and 17 ships
in the region.
U.N. Correspondent Richard Roth and Military Affairs Correspondent Jamie McIntyre contributed to this report.