Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz stressed Wednesday that Baghdad will not cooperate with the new UN arms control body, UNMOVIC, despite pressure from Washington to do so.
"Iraq will not cooperate with (UNMOVIC chief) Hans Blix, nor with his commission," Aziz told reporters after a parliament session.
"Iraq will not cooperate with UN resolution 1284. It means nothing to us and its results mean nothing to us," Aziz warned.
The UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) was set up by the UN Security Council on December 17th last year in resolution 1284 which offered to suspend the 10-year-old Iraqi sanctions regime if Iraq cooperates fully with the inspectors.
It replaced UNSCOM, the old verification group that left Iraq in December 1998 on the eve of a US and British bombing campaign.
UNMOVIC officials said Tuesday they had recruited and trained enough inspectors to form an advance team should Iraq agree to let them resume weapons monitoring.
"Iraq will welcome no one agreeing with the resolution. It is ready to face up to threats. This resolution is not in its interest and it would be stupid to cooperate with it," he said.
Aziz was reacting to statements by US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright who, after meeting with Blix Tuesday, said Washington would support the United Nations "in any way we can."
"This is not a penalty box for Iraq," a US official quoted Albright as telling Blix. "This is an opportunity for them to get out of the box."
But Aziz insisted Wednesday that "Iraq is ready for talks with the United States. Washington is refusing direct dialogue because it does not want to see Iraq shoot down its arguments in front of the whole world."
The minister reiterated accusations against Saudi and Kuwaiti leaders that they were helping to maintain the decade-old embargo by allowing US and British planes to use bases in both countries to patrol a no-fly zone over Iraq.
"Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are taking part in the massacre perpetrated by US and British planes in the south" of Iraq, he said - BAGHDAD (AFP)
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