U.N. Weapons Inspectors Request Iraqi Air Clearance With PM-Iraq Rdp, Bjt
MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) _ The chief of U.N. teams dismantling Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction today asked Baghdad to authorize the resumption of U.N. flights to Iraq.
The week-old Iraqi flight ban has prevented some 60 Western weapons experts and administrative staff from leaving their headquarters in Bahrain for Baghdad.
The ban was one of the acts of defiance by the government of Saddam Hussein that provoked the U.S.-led air attack Wednesday on military targets in southern Iraq.
The weapons inspections official, Doug Englund, said he has not yet received a reply from Baghdad, and that his people had been receiving ″mixed signals.″
Iraq’s ambassador to the United Nations, Nizar Hamdoon, pledged full cooperation with Englund’s U.N. Special Commission, which oversees the demolition of Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction under 1991 Gulf War cease- fire agreements.
But Saddam, after Wednesday’s attack, ordered his people ″to turn the skies of Iraq into a lava against the oppressors.″
Iraq declared the ban on U.N. planes and helicopters on Friday as the U.N. workers were preparing to return to Baghdad after a Christmas break.
The action was seen as an attempt to force the weapons inspectors to use Iraqi planes and break the ban on international flights by Iraqi carriers. it also would have let Iraq determine what the U.N. teams could see.
The U.N. Special Commission has sent 47 other teams of multinational experts to supervised the destruction of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and long-range ballistic missiles.
Iraq’s lack of cooperation with teams on several occasions provoked threats of Western military action. But Saddam always relented at the last minute, or the United Nations worked out a compromise.