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Aziz: Baghdad won't budge

Aziz and Annan

Iraq showdown moves to U.N.

November 10, 1997
Web posted at: 3:16 p.m. EST (2016 GMT)

Latest developments:

UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- As diplomats sought to avoid a military confrontation over Iraq's refusal to cooperate with arms inspections, a top Iraqi official said his government is standing firm on its refusal to allow Americans to take part.

"Those who create the crisis ... are Americans," said Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz, referring to American members of UNSCOM, the U.N. Special Commission on Iraqi disarmament.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan explains the U.N. position on the composition of weapons inspection teams:
icon 247K/22 sec. AIFF or WAV sound
Deputy Prime Minister Tariz Aziz states the Iraqi objections to the inspection teams:
icon 323K/30 sec. AIFF or WAV sound

Aziz said U.N. charges about Iraq's refusal to cooperate with arms inspections were often false and engineered by the United States, which he accused of being hostile to the government of President Saddam Hussein.

"The special commission, which is supposed to be an impartial body of the United Nations, is dominated by Americans who are implementing the policy of their government. This is unacceptable," Aziz said after private talks with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

The two men met in advance of a Security Council meeting later in the afternoon.

U-2 spy plane safely completes mission

Also on Monday, a U.N. spy plane safely flew over Iraq, despite warnings from Saddam Hussein's government that it would shoot down the aircraft.

Iraq told the United Nations it did not recognize the flights, made by the U.S. Air Force on behalf of the United Nations, as part of the weapons inspection program.

Cohen and Gore

But the United States said Iraq had no right to make such a challenge. "It is not for Iraq to decide whether it recognizes what forces make up the U.N. inspection effort," Vice President Al Gore told reporters at the Pentagon.

Speaking at the same news conference, Defense Secretary William Cohen said a U-2 spy plane mission over Iraq Monday was completed without direct threats from Iraqi forces.

Iraqi military officials said the American aircraft, which crossed into southern Iraq from northern Saudi Arabia, remained outside the range of their gunners during the entire three-hour flight in Iraqi airspace.

Iraqi radar tracked the flight, but at no time was the U-2 locked on by missile-firing radar, a Pentagon source told CNN.

Ground inspections scheduled for Monday were canceled. On Sunday, Iraq barred U.N. weapon inspection teams that included Americans for a seventh day.

Clinton urges 'strong' U.N. action

President Clinton looked to the Security Council for a strong statement on the urgency of resuming U.N. weapons inspections in Iraq and criticizing Baghdad's refusal to cooperate as long as the there are Americans among the inspectors.

"The United Nations U-2 plane was not fired upon," Clinton said at the White House. "But it does not change the larger issue, which is that the U.N. inspections have been stopped by Saddam Hussein. So the next step is to get a very strong resolution from the United Nations manifesting the determination of the international community to resume those inspections."

Aziz at U.N.; Security Council to meet

Aziz arrived in New York on Monday on a flight from Paris and met with Annan ahead of a meeting of the 15-nation Security Council. Iraq's deputy prime minister "has not given us the answer we hoped for," the U.N. secretary-general said afterward.

Annan

Speaking to reporters separately, Aziz accused the United States of stirring up the crisis by using the U.N. weapons inspection team for espionage.

He also criticized UNSCOM leader Richard Butler, who has accused Iraq of tampering with surveillance hardware and hiding equipment that could be used to make chemical or biological weapons. "I challenge him to prove" the allegations are true, Aziz said.

Aziz urged the U.N. Security Council to listen to Baghdad's complaints "before stampeding another unjust resolution against Iraq."

U.S. ambassador 'doesn't expect much' from Aziz

U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson said earlier he did not believe anything Aziz told the U.N. would resolve the crisis.

vxtreme Watch the entire news conference
vxtreme Bill Richardson, U.S. ambassador to the U.N., interviewed today on CNN

"He (Aziz) talks about dialog but when the Iraqis come to the U.N. it's just more delay and deception and denials so we don't expect much from this visit," Richardson told CNN in a live interview before Aziz's arrival.

Iraq has said that American weapons inspectors working with the United Nations are spies trying to prolong U.N. economic sanctions imposed on Iraq after it invaded Kuwait in 1990 and was defeated in the 1991 Gulf War.

"We want to see a strong (Security Council) resolution with teeth, with punitive measures ... to get Iraq ... to restore the inspection teams," Richardson said.

The United States has said it isn't ruling out any options, including military action.

In addition to an end of sanctions, Iraq wants a timetable for an end to inspections, which are the key to lifting the crippling economic sanctions imposed on the country after it invaded Kuwait in 1990.

Correspondents Richard Roth and Brent Sadler contributed to this report.

 
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