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Iraq orders immediate expulsion of U.S. inspectors

inspectors

Security Council demands immediate compliance

November 13, 1997
Web posted at: 7:28 a.m. EST (1228 GMT)

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraq has decided to expel American arms monitors working in United Nations disarmament teams in Iraq and has asked them to leave the country immediately, the official Iraqi news agency INA said on Thursday.

"Iraq has decided in a statement issued here a short while ago following a joint meeting of the Revolutionary Command Council and the regional leadership of the Arab Baath Socialist Party chaired by President Saddam Hussein that all American monitors working in the various activities of the U.N. Special Commission should leave Iraq immediately," INA said.

Earlier Thursday, Iraq defied a unanimous U.N. Security Council resolution, once again turning away U.N. arms inspection teams that included Americans, the Iraqi news agency INA reported Thursday. It was the tenth time in 11 days inspectors for the U.N. Special Commission (UNSCOM) were turned away. The inspectors had a day off Monday. As happened in previous incidents, American team members were barred from entering suspected weapons sites, and U.N. officials canceled the inspections.

Wednesday, the Security Council voted 15-0 to condemn Iraq's actions, to demand immediate and unconditional compliance with U.N. inspection efforts and to impose a travel ban on Iraqi officials responsible for blocking the inspections.

Security Council

The resolution also warned of unspecified "further measures" if Iraq continued to defy U.N. resolutions, toned down from the phrase "serious consequences" the U.S. originally supported. Some council members, particularly Russia, France, and China, have balked at the use of force against Iraq.

"In this situation there is no solution in confrontation," said French President Jacques Chirac, speaking in Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City. He added that the Security Council's resolution demonstrated "unity and firmness."

Yet he added it's not to late for Iraq to comply.

"The Iraqi authorities understand it is in their interests and the interests of the region and the world to avoid a spiraling or escalation," Chirac said. "Of course, it is not too late for the Iraqi authorities to reverse their decision."

Iraq promises continued defiance

Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz, visiting the U.N., promised no change in Iraq's position. He reaffirmed his government's determination to expel American arms inspectors and to shoot at American U-2 spy planes on U.N. surveillance flights.

"Iraq will continue to explain its just case," Aziz said in a statement issued after the vote, "and this resolution will not scare it."

Anticipating that the Security Council would adopt the resolution, Foreign Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf said that Iraq would retaliate by giving Americans working with U.N. inspection teams one week to leave the country.

He also said that Iraq would shoot down U.N. aircraft. "It is not a matter of to shoot daily," he said. "It depends on developments, but whenever we see proper to shoot them, we will shoot them."

Al-Sahhaf accused the United States of "blackmailing" other council members and predicted that unity on the 15-member council "will be very temporary."

October 29th order sparked crisis

U.N. hq

The current crisis began October 29, when the Iraqi government issued an order expelling American members of UNSCOM inspection teams from Iraq. The order has been on hold while the U.N. attempts to calm tensions.

Weapons inspections are a major requirement for the lifting of economic sanctions against Iraq imposed after the 1991 Persian Gulf War. They are intended to verify the destruction of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, a category that includes long- and medium-range missiles, chemical and biological weapons.

Iraqi officials, claiming that the sanctions are causing widespread suffering in Iraq, are demanding that they end soon. They accuse the U.S. of intentionally using UNSCOM to prolong sanctions and to gather information for U.S. intelligence agencies.

 
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