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UN-Iraq Deal is Defective, Says Britain - 2002-10-02

Britain says an agreement to let United Nations weapons inspectors back into Iraq is defective. British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw says his country will oppose the return of inspectors without a tough new Security Council resolution in place.

Mr. Straw says there should be no new U.N. weapons inspections in Iraq until the Security Council spells out tougher ground rules in a new resolution.

He spoke to reporters a day after chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix negotiated a deal with representatives of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to let inspectors back in by mid-October.

Mr. Straw says he awaits a report Thursday from Mr. Blix on those talks. But the foreign secretary says the Security Council, and not Mr. Blix, will have the final say on when inspectors return.

"Hans Blix is a senior civil servant of the United Nations and can only operate within the existing policy," stressed Mr. Straw. "That policy is defective. And what we have to have is upgraded weapons inspection arrangements where it is the international community, not Saddam Hussein playing games, which determines how these inspections take place, and what the consequences will be for Saddam Hussein if he continues to play games as he has done so over the past four years."

Mr. Straw says the agreement reached Tuesday in Vienna is particularly flawed because it excludes eight of Saddam Hussein's palaces from surprise inspections.

"Within these so-called presidential palaces, much of the manufacture of weapons of mass destruction has taken place," asserted Mr. Straw. "And it is just a further illustration of the way this man plays games," referring to Saddam Hussein.

Mr. Straw was asked if Britain would support the United States or the United Nations if the Security Council fails to approve a new resolution. He said both Britain and the United States have made it clear that any action taken will be consistent with international law.