Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan declared Iraq rejected any extra procedures for weapons inspections as contained in the draft U.N. resolution envisaging a 30-day deadline for Baghdad to declare all its weapons of mass destruction programmes.
“The stance from the inspectors has been decided and any additional procedure that aims at harming Iraq won’t be accepted,” Ramadan told reporters.
Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz warned that the United States would sustain huge losses if it attacked Iraq and that his country would fight a “fierce war”.
Under threat of force, Washington wants radically to change the ground rules for U.N. weapons inspectors in Iraq, demanding access to any site and protecting inspectors with a security force, according to those familiar with the U.N. draft.
The proposed U.N. Security Council resolution, backed by Britain, would declare Iraq has already violated current U.N. demands and authorise military action if Baghdad fails to comply by accounting for its weapons of mass destruction.
The document, to be introduced early next week, has been submitted to Russia, China and France which, along with Britain and the United States, have veto power in the 15-nation Security Council. The other 10 elected council members have been told some of the main points.
France, Russia and China have severe reservations about what they regard as an almost inevitable slide into war, prompting a flurry of diplomatic activity.
U.S. President George W. Bush spoke to French President Jacques Chirac by telephone on Friday, and the State Department’s undersecretary for political affairs, Marc Grossman, was en route to Moscow on Saturday after meeting French officials in Paris. Britain dispatched officials to Beijing.
Iraq’s Aziz told a conference in Baghdad that his country would fight any U.S.-led military action. “Any attack against Iraq won’t be an American picnic, rather a fierce war that would cost it (the United States) loses that it hasn’t seen for the last tens of years,” he declared.
Iraq, according to the U.N. draft, has seven days after the resolution is adopted to accept all its demands, in what one diplomat called the “first test of good faith.”
After 30 days, Baghdad has to declare any remaining weapons in nuclear, chemical, biological or ballistic arms programmes or weapons materials it may possess.
Should Baghdad make “false statements or omissions” or otherwise fail to comply with the resolution, a U.N. member state can use “all necessary means” — a diplomatic term for military action — to ensure compliance, envoys said.