New York Times, October 14, 1998, p. A10

U.N. Cajoles Iraq to Cooperate on Weapons


UNITED NATIONS, Oct, 13 - The Security Council called on Iraq today to resume cooperation with United Nations weapon inspectors, alluding to prospects for faster progress on easing economic sanctions against Baghdad if it heeds the call.

That and several somewhat conciliatory statements by various members of the 15-member Council followed a periodic review today of Iraq's compliance in eliminating its weapons of mass destruction.

Such encouragement was clearly aimed at giving Baghdad some way of climbing down from a confrontation with the United Nations after Iraq suspended arms inspections on Aug. 5, and as President Saddam Hussein contemplates his next move.

Talks to resume cooperation failed last week when Baghdad charged that several Council members, notably the United States and Britain, were bent on maintaining sanctions.

Speaking at the end of today's four-hour review, the President of the Council, Sir Jeremy Greenstock of Britain, said that in the matter of Baghdad's chemical weapons and missiles, "there are not many items still to be resolved if that cooperation is forthcoming."

He was preceded by Mohammed el-Baradei, head of the Internation Atomic Energy Agency, who said the Vienna-based organization had "no indications that Iraq has nuclear weapons, or nuclear-weapons-usable materials or the capability to produce such items."

But Mr. Baradei emphasized th the United Nations assessment was "credible" but "not absolute," asserting that it depended on the resumption of Iraq's opening its factories to monitoring.

For its part, the United States appeared lonely in its insistence that nothing should change. The United States representative to the Council Peter Burleigh, said that despite the qualified clean bill of health given Iraq by the atomic energy agency on nuclear weapons, the American position on the need for continued intrusive searches "has not changed."

The attempt here last week to resolve the dispute failed when a high level Iraqi delegation headed by Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz left after two weeks of negotiations.

Secretary General Kofi Annan had suggested a compromise solution which the United Nations would conduct a "comprehensive review" of Iraq's efforts, which Baghdad favored in the belief that the review would demonstrate that it had gone a long way toward eliminating its chemical and nuclear weapons and its missiles and in return should have some of the sanctions modified or lifted.

France, China and Russia have expressed considerable sympathy with that position. But Iraq remains mired in a dispute over its elimination of biological weapons, particularly the nerve gas VX, and the question of whether it has installed the gas on some of its missiles.

That issue will be the subject of another United Nations review set for Oct. 22 and 23, when France, Switzerland and the United States are to submit the results of examinations conducted on the missiles.

The United States has asserted that its scientists found evidence that Iraq loaded the gas onto some of its missiles. Switzerland said it had found no proof, and France has yet to deliver the results of the testing of samples that it has examined.

Richard Butler, who heads the United Nations Special Commission, charged with disarming Iraq, also gave the Council a confidential report. And a senior United Nations official, Prakash Shah of India, is due in Baghdad this week to try to resolve the dispute as a special envoy of Secretary General Annan.

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