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Iraqi Lawmakers Vote Down U.N. Plan

November 12, 2002

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) _ Iraq’s parliament on Tuesday unanimously recommended rejection of a U.N. resolution on weapons inspections, but said the final decision would be left to the country’s top leadership.

The vote came hours after Saddam Hussein’s son recommended that Iraq accept the resolution, but with the condition that inspection teams have Arab members.

According to a parliamentary resolution read during the session, the 250-member parliament accepted an earlier recommendation from its foreign relations committee.

``The council suggests rejection of the U.N. resolution,″ the resolution said.

It went on to say the ``political leadership″ should ``adopt what it considers appropriate to defend the Iraqi people and Iraq’s independence and dignity and authorizes President Saddam Hussein to adopt what he sees as appropriate expressing our full support for his wise leadership.″

Parliament speaker Saadoun Hammadi asked deputies to vote on the first clause of the resolution by a show of hands and announced it had been accepted unanimously. It was not clear how many members were present for the vote.

Hammadi then called for a vote on the second clause referring the matter to Saddam, and again announced unanimous approval. A third vote was held for the entire proposal, and it also was approved unanimously.

Iraq has until Friday to accept or reject the resolution, which the U.N. Security Council approved unanimously last Friday. If it does not, or falters afterward in following the tough provisions of the resolution, the United States and Britain have made clear they will attack Iraq.

Tuesday’s session of parliament was not broadcast live on Iraqi television, leaving Iraqis unaware of how the parliament was likely to vote. The opening and the vote were carried live by Al-Jazeera, the Qatari-based Arabic satellite channel. Iraqis cannot receive Al-Jazeera as the government bans satellite dishes.

The U.N. resolution demands inspectors have unrestricted access to any suspected weapons site and the right to interview Iraqi scientists outside the country and without Iraqi officials present _ both issues that could become points of dispute.

Iraq has insisted on respect for its sovereignty, an argument it has used in the past to restrict access to Saddam’s palaces.

On Tuesday, Saddam’s son, Odai Saddam Hussein, distributed a letter to parliament as it reconvened Tuesday recommending the acceptance of the U.N. ruling with conditions. The letter was also distributed to reporters in Baghdad by the Information Ministry.

``We have to agree to the U.N. Security Council resolution with limits on certain points, but not, we say, conditions,″ the president’s son said.

``There should be Arab experts or technicians and monitors (on the inspection teams) who are familiar with the nuclear, chemical and biological side,″ he said.

Odai Saddam Hussein said acceptance would not necessarily ward off war, and spoke of a call to have Arab countries cut oil supplies to countries who attack Iraq.

``We have to know our enemy and that the U.N. resolution does not mean stopping him from committing military action,″ he said.

``We also have to take precautions and measures and here we have to ask the Arab countries to immediately cut oil supplies to those countries that launch a military strike or aggression on Iraq and to any country that allows foreign war planes to use their airports or offer logistic support for them for refueling,″ his letter said.

Arab oil producers have ignored similar calls from Iraq in the past, saying stopping sales was not in their interest.

Lawmakers On Monday denounced the resolution, the latest in a long effort to ensure Iraq scraps its weapons of mass destruction, despite the risk of war if Iraq rejects it.

The first legislator to speak Tuesday renewed the condemnation, calling the resolution ``a roadmap for invading Iraq.″

``Why do we discuss it when it is trap to create a pretext to attack Iraq,″ lawmaker Adnan Rashid asked.

The parliament’s foreign relations committee has already recommended that Iraq reject the resolution. However, lawmakers have said they would ultimately trust any decision Saddam makes.

The Iraqi president has used parliament’s action as cover for difficult decisions in the past, and the harsh rhetoric did not necessarily mean parliament would reject the proposal.

In Washington, President Bush’s national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, rejected the legitimacy of parliament’s debate on the resolution.

``One has to be a bit skeptical of the independence of the Iraqi parliament from Saddam Hussein,″ she said Monday. ``I don’t think anyone believes this is anything but an absolute dictatorship and this decision is up to Saddam Hussein.″

She also said Iraq has no right to accept or reject the resolution. ``They are obligated to accept, but the U.N. thought it best to ask for return-receipt requested,″ Rice said.

Iraq maintains it no longer has any weapons of mass destruction, and lawmaker Ismail Nasif Jassim called the 30-day period for Iraq to provide documents on its weapons programs ``illogical and a way to provoke Iraq.″

Jassim described the provision for interviewing scientists outside Iraq as ``a violation of human rights because it demands of any Iraqi they want to interview to travel abroad with their family.″

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