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U.N. expands sanctions against Iraq

UN Vote November 12, 1997
Web posted at: 4:26 p.m. EST (2126 GMT)

UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- The U.N. Security Council on Wednesday decided to expand sanctions against Iraq because of Baghdad's refusal to lift its ban on U.S. weapons inspectors serving on U.N. monitoring teams.

The 15-member council unanimously passed the resolution after intense last-minute efforts failed to sway Iraq to rescind its ban.

The resolution condemns Iraqi non-compliance with the world body and imposes a travel ban on Iraqi officials interfering with U.N. weapons inspectors.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Bill Richardson: "The message is clear: Iraq must comply or face consequences."
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Iraq has accused the U.S. of deliberately delaying the lifting of sanctions and accused American inspectors of spying. Baghdad told the United Nations it wanted a firm timetable as to when the sanctions will be lifted.

The U.N. decision to expand the sanctions was expected to further raise tensions with Iraq, which only a few hours before the vote refused to accept the U.N. demands.

The Iraqi Deputy Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz said that if sanctions were expanded, Baghdad would issue an order Thursday or Friday giving American weapons inspectors one week to get out of the country.

Council

Iraq's Foreign Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf told a news conference in Baghdad that Iraq would shoot down U.N. monitoring aircraft if the security council decided to expand the sanctions.

"From the very beginning ... we resisted it and we continue to resist it. It is not a matter of to shoot daily. It depends on developments but whenever we see proper to shoot them we will shoot them," he told a news conference in Baghdad.

Earlier Wednesday, Iraqi authorities had again turned back American inspectors in what was the ninth such incident in the past 10 days.

U.S. security officials were next expected to meet with U.S. President Bill Clinton to review their options.

Washington has never ruled out military action should Iraq refuse to accept the U.N. demands but has so far pursued diplomatic moves to try to defuse the standoff.

The U.S. aircraft carrier Nimitz is in the Gulf and its military powers could be used should Washington decide on military retaliation against Iraq.

Correspondents Jamie McIntyre and Wolf Blitzer contributed to this report.
 
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