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No Need for More Weapons Inspections, says Iraqi Official - 2002-08-12


A top Iraqi official says there is no need for any further weapons inspections in his country. The comment comes just one week after the United Nations rejected an Iraqi invitation for the top U.N. weapons inspector to discuss a resumption of inspections.

In an interview with Arabic satellite television Al-Jazeera, Iraqi Information Minister Muhammad Said Kazim al-Sahhaf said the Bush administration is "confused" and is making U.N. weapons inspections into an issue in an effort to use it in the latest crisis between Washington and Baghdad.

The White House says Iraq still possesses weapons of mass destruction and accuses Baghdad of trying to rebuild its weapons programs and of supporting terrorism. The information minister denied the allegations, calling them "a lie" and said "inspections have finished in Iraq." He said the inspectors completed their work four years.

Under U.N. Security Council resolutions, sanctions imposed after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait cannot be lifted until U.N. inspectors certify Iraq's biological, chemical and nuclear weapons have been destroyed along with the long-range missiles to deliver them.

Iraq has refused to allow the return of the inspectors who left in 1998 in advance of U.S. and British air strikes in Iraq.

Just last week, the Iraq invited the U.S. Congress to send a fact-finding team to Iraq to search suspected weapons sites. It was an offer that was rejected by White House officials as a tactic to avoid a potential military strike.

Iraqi officials also requested a meeting with the chief U.N. weapons inspector to discuss the possible resumption of weapons inspections in Iraq. U.N. officials declined the offer.

President Bush has threatened unspecified consequences, including a possible military strike, if inspectors are not allowed to return.

Last week, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein said in a nationally television speech that any attack against Iraq would be "doomed to failure."

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