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Old 01-13-2003, 04:56 PM   #1
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UN Wants 1 Year for Inspections

By Hassan Hafidh and Louis Charbonneau
Monday, January 13, 2003; 11:24 AM

BAGHDAD/VIENNA - U.N. arms experts said on Monday they wanted up to a year to complete their inspections in Iraq, even as Washington massed a force in the Gulf that will be ready to wage war within weeks.

The U.N. inspectors' comments were likely to further fuel an anti-war camp that includes much of the public in Europe and the Middle East, many of their governments, and the Pope, who declared Monday war would be a "defeat for humanity."

Top U.N. inspectors Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei go to Baghdad next weekend to demand Iraq account for missing stocks of such items as chemical bombs, nerve gas and missile engines. Iraq says it will answer their questions.

The U.N. experts appeared anxious to slow the timetable of the attack the United States threatens to launch if Iraq's answers fail to satisfy.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said on Monday that President Bush has set no timetable by which U.N. arms inspectors must complete their hunt for banned Iraqi weapons.

"The president thinks it remains important for the inspectors to do their job and have time to do their job," he said. "The president has not put an exact timetable on it."

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) spokesman Mark Gwozdecky told Reuters in Vienna U.N. resolutions gave timelines of "somewhere between six and 12 months" for inspections.

IAEA chief ElBaradei said in Paris: "We need to take a few months... How long depends on the cooperation of Iraq."

Asked if the timeframe of a year quoted by his spokesman was conservatively lengthy, ElBaradei replied, "Yes."

Tens of thousands of U.S. troops are already in the Gulf or on their way, and analysts say military chiefs want any attack on Iraq to be launched within the next two or three winter months, before temperatures in the desert region rise.

"It is a far better option to wait a little bit longer than to have to resort to war," Gwozdecky told CNN separately.

He stressed that January 27, when inspectors are scheduled to report to the U.N. Security Council on Iraq's compliance with disarmament demands, was not a final deadline.

"There's a little bit of misunderstanding about this January 27 reporting date. The Security Council is asking us to report but not to have all the answers at that point," Gwozdecky said.

Fleischer said that January 27 "remains an important date."

Inspectors briefed the Security Council last week on the Iraq inspections. "We heard unanimous support from the council members that they were four-square behind us, and we believe that they're willing to give us the time that we need," he said.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Washington's closest ally, reacted guardedly to the IAEA's comments. "Let the inspectors do their task," he told a news conference. "I don't think there is any point putting an arbitrary time scale on it."

He said Iraq must disarm peacefully or be disarmed by force, adding: "We have complete and total determination to do this."

It said the delayed timetable had made President Bush's administration more willing to accept extending arms inspections beyond the January 27 report.

The United States announced new troop deployments over the weekend amid signs most governments in Europe and the Middle East are nervous about war and want all other options explored.

"No to war!" Pope John Paul said in an address Monday.

"What are we to say of the threat of a war which could strike Iraq, the land of the Prophets, a people already sorely tried by more than 12 years of embargo?" he said.

Germany, a new Security Council member, is strongly opposed.

A German official was quoted as saying France and Germany must vote together on any new Council resolution on Iraq if they are to realize their goal of a common European foreign policy.

Saudi Arabia is mounting a diplomatic drive to ask fellow Arab states to unanimously oppose an attack on one of their own.

Bush and Blair, who say they have solid intelligence Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, will meet soon after the January 27 report to discuss what to do next on Iraq.

But even in Britain, a poll showed only 13 percent of people would support a war waged without U.N. approval.

In Washington there is deep skepticism that inspection teams are capable of uncovering the truth about Iraq's arsenal.

Critics express dismay that Iraqi minders have accompanied all Iraqi scientists interviewed by inspectors so far. Iraq said Sunday two scientists interviewed by inspectors last month had refused to leave the country for further interviews.

The U.S. military said Western warplanes bombed an anti-ship missile launcher in south Iraq Monday, deeming it a threat to its vessels in the Gulf. Planes dropped hundreds of thousands of leaflets urging Iraqis to listen to U.S. radio broadcasts.

U.N. inspectors swooped on more suspected sites in Iraq, and Britain said it had sent a military reconnaissance team of about 20 to Kuwait to make plans for deploying a ground force to join the already large U.S. contingent. British aircraft carrier Ark Royal sailed for the region at the weekend.

More than 30 anti-war American academics arrived in Baghdad on what they called "a fact-finding humanitarian mission."

"War is the number one destroyer of human rights. We believe that a pre-emptive attack on Iraq is unwise, unnecessary and contradicts American values," said James Jennings, head of the Atlanta-based aid organization Conscience International

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Old 01-13-2003, 06:55 PM   #2
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Interesting article. Good source.

The IAEA is doing a great job. A difficult one.

And yes, France, Germany and Great Britian have to agree. If not, all the ongoing European Convent process would be blocked.
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