Iraq Accepts Long-Term Monitoring; Security Council Approves Compromise
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) _ Iraq said Thursday it will accept long-term U.N. monitoring of its weapons programs, ending a standoff that threatened more punitive air strikes on Baghdad.
In New York, the U.N. Security Council endorsed the compromise with Iraq, which included the installation of TV cameras at Yawm al-Azim and Al-Rafah test sites south of Baghdad.
Foreign Minister Mohammed Said al-Sahaf said in a statement that he now hoped Iraq’s agreement would lead to an easing of crippling economic sanctions imposed after Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
His statement was the first public acknowledgement of Iraq’s willingness to comply with long-term monitoring, although its acceptance was implicit in an agreement reached earlier this week with a top U.N. official.
The Security Council had threatened ″serious consequences″ - possibly air strikes - if Baghdad did not drop its refusal to allow the cameras as part of weapons monitoring after the Gulf War.
Tensions eased after Rolf Ekeus, head of the U.N. Special Commission charged with eliminating Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, forged the agreement with Iraq during weekend talks in Baghdad. Details were not made public at that time.
Under the compromise, the cameras won’t be used until after high-level discussions in New York in September and August, Ekeus told the Security Council on Thursday.
Until then, Iraq will notify the United Nations in advance of all test firings so that inspectors could be present, he said during the closed session briefing in New York.
Cease-fire terms from the Gulf War prohibited Iraq from developing any rockets with a range of more than 90 miles.
Ekeus said a U.N. team would leave New York on Friday for Baghdad to install the cameras.
Security Council President David Hannay, the British ambassador, said the council ″welcomed and endorsed Ambassador Ekeus efforts to defuse this difficult crisis.″
″Iraq is ready to comply with the provisions of the plans of ongoing monitoring and verification as contained in Resolution 715,″ Sahaf’s statement said. That resolution was part of the cease-fire agreement that ended the 1991 Gulf War.
Sahaf said the Iraqi stand proves its ″earnest readiness to resolve the outstanding issues″ and called for ″a fair and just position from the Security Council″ toward sanctions imposed against the country.
Iraq has been barred from selling oil or importing goods, except for food and medicine, under a worldwide embargo imposed after its Aug. 2, 1990, invasion of Kuwait.
Ekeus gave no indication when he would be able to recommend to the Security Council that economic sanctions be lifted.
He told reporters he still was skeptical about Iraq’s disclosures about its banned weapons and suspected that some biological and chemical arms may still be hidden.
Ekeus also said U.N. weapons inspectors also still have ″serious problems″ with Iraq’s refusal to provide the names of foreign suppliers. ″We are suspicious with regard to Iraq’s full, final and complete disclosure of its capabilities,″ he said.
Last month, U.S. missiles destroyed an Iraqi intelligence building in Baghdad to punish Iraq for its alleged masterminding of a plot to kill former President Bush in Kuwait in April.