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UN Pulls Arms Inspectors From Iraq

November 11, 1998

BAGHDAD, Iraq _ The U.N. Special Commission said Wednesday it was withdrawing its arms inspectors from Iraq.

It was not immediately known if the commission, which oversees Iraq’s disarmament, was withdrawing all its personnel from Iraq or only its weapons inspectors.

The move comes amid reports that the United States was preparing to strike Iraq in a bid to force Baghdad to back down from its Aug. 5 decision to freeze all cooperation with the commission.

A convoy of 11 vehicles carrying some 90 U.N. personnel and their luggage left the U.N. Special Commission’s headquarters in Baghdad early Wednesday. It was presumed to be heading for the airport.

The commission said it would hold a news conference later in the day.

The commission withdrew 15 inspectors from Iraq on Saturday, saying they had been idle since the government’s decision to refuse to allow them to conduct their work.

Iraq has said it would not cooperate with U.N. weapons inspectors until the U.N. Security Council begins moving to lift the embargo imposed after Baghdad’s forces invaded Kuwait in 1990.

The Security Council has said the embargo won’t be lifted until U.N. inspectors certify that Iraq has eliminated its weapons of mass destruction, as required by U.N. resolutions passed after the 1991 Gulf War.

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