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U.N. poised to vote on new sanctions against Iraq

Security Council November 12, 1997
Web posted at: 12:10 p.m. EST (1710 GMT)

UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- As the U.N. Security Council was poised to vote on increasing sanctions against Iraq on Wednesday, Baghdad again criticized the United States and accused Washington of escalating the crisis.

The 15 members of the Security Council were expected to reconvene around noon Wednesday for a final discussion and vote on a resolution condemning Iraq for its standoff with U.N. weapons inspectors.

Diplomats were making one final attempt to persuade Iraq to rescind its ban on U.S. arms inspectors serving on U.N. monitoring teams.

CNN's Peter Arnett asks Iraq's Foreign Minister Saeed al-Sahhaf if he will expel American weapons inspectors if the Security Council votes to increase sanctions.
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But shortly before the council was due to reconvene, Iraq's Foreign Minister Saeed al-Sahhaf accused the United States of having violated Iraqi airspace 984 times in the past few weeks and of increasing spy plane flyovers.

"It is a very dangerous indication that the Americans are escalating and trying to push the region to chaos," al-Sahhaf told a news conference in Baghdad.

Al-Sahhaf also called on Arab countries not to accept what he called Washington's violation of Iraqi sovereignty.

A few hours earlier at the United Nations, Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz said he expected the Security Council to pass a resolution condemning Iraq for blocking U.N. arms inspections.

Asked what Iraq's response would be to such a resolution, Aziz told CNN if the proposed resolution is adopted, Iraq will issue an order Thursday giving American weapons inspectors one week to get out of the country.

Aziz had not been allowed to address the Security Council about Iraq's concerns.

"The demands are clear," said U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Wednesday. "Were Iraq to rescind its decision, the council may be prepared to listen to Iraq, and therefore the deputy prime minister,"

Council members were seeking unanimous approval for the punitive resolution.

"It's the language that we wanted. It is strong language," said U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Bill Richardson.

"It sends an unmistakable signal to Iraq that the United Nations -- the special investigative team of the U.N. and the Security Council -- are united to send a message to Iraq that they back off immediately," he said.

Iraqi officials on Wednesday turned away the U.N. disarmament inspectors, preventing them from carrying out their work for the ninth time in the past 10 days.


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