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Iraqi Parliamentary Committee Recommends Rejecting UN

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Iraqi parliamentary committee recommends rejecting UN resolution

November 11, 2002, 07:18 PM

BAGHDAD (AFP) - Iraq's parliamentary committee for international affairs recommended that Baghdad reject a UN Security Council resolution on disarmament but backed giving full support to whatever decision President Saddam Hussein should take.

The parliament's Arab and international relations committee "recommends the (Iraqi) leadership to reject the unfair UN Security Council Resolution 1441," committee chairman Salem al-Qubaissi told an extraordinary session of Iraq's National Assembly, open to the press.

The 250 Iraqi lawmakers met to debate the resolution passed last Friday, which outlines tough new terms for the return of UN arms inspectors and gives Baghdad until this Friday to respond.

The parliament's position on the text will be submitted to the decision-making Revolution Command Council (RCC), which is chaired by Saddam.

US President George W. Bush used Veterans' Day celebrations, meanwhile, to remind Saddam of the very real threat of US-powered military might should Iraq not comply with the US-crafted resolution.

"Should military action become necessary for our own security, I will commit the full force and might of the United States military and we will prevail," he told veterans at a special White House reception.

According to an "authorized source" quoted by the official INA news agency on Saturday, the Iraqi leadership is "quietly studying" Resolution 1441, confirming that Baghdad is leaving the door open to acceptance by the November 15 deadline.

Official press commentaries offered no new clues to Iraq's likely response, but stressed that Baghdad had all along cooperated with the Security Council and met its obligations under relevant council resolutions.

Iraqi officials accepted the return of arms inspectors in late September, setting off eight weeks of debate between Security Council permanent members on how to craft their resolution.

By December 8, Iraq must give a full accounting of its weapons programs or expose itself to retaliation. Baghdad denies having weapons of mass destruction.

Meanwhile, US officials would not confirm plans leaked to the press for a lightening strike on Iraq with up to 250,000 troops.

The Washington Post and the New York Times, quoting senior US officials, reported that the plan envisioned an offensive by land, sea and air, seizing much of the country and isolating Saddam's most loyal forces, in the hopes the government would quickly collapse.

On Sunday top officials repeated their warnings to Baghdad to take seriously the UN deadlines.

"If I were Saddam Hussein I would take this with a great deal of concern and seriousness," Secretary of State Colin Powell told CBS television.

"This time no one is going to have any tolerance for the kind of games of cat and mouse that Saddam has played in the past," White House national security advisor Condoleeza Rice told ABC television.

Baghdad gave further signs it was edging towards a decision on Resolution 1441.

Speaking from Cairo on Sunday following a meeting with Arab counterparts, Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri said he hoped UN inspectors would "not resort to provocations."

He emphasized, however, that "Iraq has not yet taken a decision" on the Security Council resolution.

A senior member of the ruling Baath Party, Saad Qassem Hammudi, also said it was in Iraq's interest to cooperate with the arms experts "as it did in the past" in order to win relief from 12-year-old UN sanctions, "as it is entitled to under paragraph 22 of Resolution 687".

The embargo in force since Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait is to be lifted under Resolution 687 once Baghdad's illegal weapons programs are certified to have been eliminated.

Arab League chief Amr Mussa, taking up a proposal by Syria, said he would ask UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on Monday to include Arab nationals on the arms inspection teams to boost the credibility of their mission.

"Having Arab inspectors or observers would enhance the credibility of the inspections," Mussa said.

"I understood that out of the 250 members" of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), "there are only four Arabs, all translators; there are no Arabs among the inspectors," he added.

Rice, in comments over the weekend, stressed the resolution bars chief UN arm inspector Hans Blix, who expects to arrive in Baghdad on November 18, from judging Iraq's compliance, a sore spot for Washington in the past.

"His job is to report the facts," Rice said. "It's not to determine whether there has been a material breach. It's not to determine whether there has been a violation."

NATO Secretary General George Robertson said the 19-member alliance would use a summit next week to discuss possible military action against Iraq in the event of non-compliance with the terms of the UN text.

At the November 20-21 Prague summit, "it is more than possible that a discussion will take place on what individual countries... or organizations collectively might do in the case of a failure of the resolution," he said.

On the economic front, the price of benchmark Brent crude in London rose sharply Monday ahead of the Iraqi parliament debate.

A barrel of Brent crude for delivery in December was trading at 24.03 dollars at 1100 GMT, after opening the day's session at 23.86 dollars and closing on Friday at 23.58 dollars.

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