This is Steve Ember with the VOA Special English program IN THENEWS.
Iraq has announced its acceptance of a United Nations resolutionon weapons inspections. All fifteen members of the U-N SecurityCouncil passed the resolution last Friday. The measure gives U-Ninspectors the right to search anywhere in Iraq for banned weapons.It calls for serious measures if Iraq is found to disobey U-Ndemands to disarm.
On Wednesday, U-N Secretary General Kofi Annan received a lettersigned by Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri. The letter said Iraq isready to receive the weapons inspectors. It said Iraq would dealwith the resolution. Yet it criticized the measure's substance.
The Iraqi letter sharply criticized the United States and Britain鈥?the two countries that proposed the resolution. It said theyspread a false claim that Iraq had perhaps produced or was on itsway to produce nuclear weapons. It said the United States andBritain wrongly accused Iraq of producing chemical and biologicalweapons. Iraq criticized other Security Council members forremaining silent.
The letter said the United Nations had changed from anorganization designed to protect world peace and security. It saidthe U-N now provides cover to those who want war, destruction,blockades and starvation.
The letter said the important thing was to avoid any harm to theIraqi people. It said Iraq would receive the inspectors within atime limit set by the resolution. Iraq has until December eighth toprovide them with a declaration of all its chemical and biologicalweapons. The resolution requires the inspections to begin withinfifteen days of that. The U-N's chief weapons inspector must reportto the Security Council sometime in the sixty days that follow.
Reaction to the Iraqi letter was mixed. President Bush said therewould be no negotiations with Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. MisterBush also said that his administration would not accept any lying ordenials from Iraq. American officials disputed Iraq's claim that ithas no chemical or biological weapons. The officials said they wouldnot release intelligence about the issue before Iraq declares itsweapons programs to the inspectors.
U-N Secretary General Annan welcomed Iraq's acceptance of theresolution. British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw also welcomed theacceptance. Yet he warned that there would be serious results ifIraq failed to obey the resolution.
Arab countries praised Iraq's acceptance of the resolution. ArabLeague Secretary-General Amr Moussa said it is a step in the rightdirection. He said it would change the discussion on Iraq from warto inspections and how to make the inspections successful. Russiaalso praised the Iraqi decision. A Russian foreign ministry officialsaid his government would discuss suspending U-N restrictionsagainst Iraq if it honors the resolution.
This VOA Special English program IN THE NEWS was written by CatyWeaver. This is Steve Ember.