The United Nations Security Council has approved a plan for a new weapons inspection agency for Iraq, BBC.online reported Friday.
The plan, drawn up by the chief UN arms inspector, Hans Blix, calls for the same rights inspectors had in the past.
The new agency will be staffed by UN employees rather than by experts from member governments, following allegations that inspectors from the previous special commission known as UNSCOM had been spying on Iraq on behalf of the United States.
Blix has urged Iraq to see his team's inspections as an opportunity rather than a penalty.
Correspondents say the rapid approval of the plan indicates the Security Council is united behind Blix, who's said his first task is to choose staff for the new agency. It is not yet clear if Iraq will accept the new monitoring system.
In another development, European deputies called in a resolution Thursday for international sanctions against Iraq to be lifted "as a matter of urgency," saying they were only putting Iraqis "in a tragic situation."
But they also called on Iraq to agree to cooperate in applying UN resolutions while the international community maintained "vigilance with regard to the Iraqi regime."
The resolution, which was passed by a large majority, said: "These sanctions are penalizing the civilian population, but in nine years have not succeeded in weakening the Iraqi regime, which caused the (Gulf) conflict and bears most of the responsibility for it."
Deputies also called on the European Union to ask the UN Security Council to clarify Resolution 1284 "by specifying precisely what is expected of the Iraqi government."
That UN resolution, adopted in December, called for the suspension of the economic embargo imposed on Baghdad since 1990 if it fully cooperated with a new UN disarmament agency for Iraq.
"The Iraqi people are in a tragic situation as a result of the imposition of sanctions," said the parliament's resolution, the first of its kind on the sanctions against Iraq. It was adopted by a wide margin of votes.
It said action had to be taken by the 15 EU member states, the European Commission and EU foreign policy high representative Javier Solana to ensure that sanctions were lifted as a matter of urgency (Several Sources) -- Photo AFP Archive.
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)