Iraq's ambassador to the United Nations says Baghdad would consider a new U.N. resolution regarding weapons inspections, and is willing to have inspectors return soon "without conditions."
The United States is pushing for a new U.N. Security Council resolution, which toughens the rules for inspections, allowing the inspectors unfettered access, and which threatens force if Iraq fails to comply. But others in the Security Council question whether an immediate threat of force is necessary.
Iraq's U.N. ambassador, Mohammad Aldouri, told the ABC television program This week, that Iraq would have to see any new resolution before deciding whether to accept it.
Mr. Aldouri said Iraq was prepared to accept inspectors without conditions. During talks last week with the chief U.N. weapons inspector, Iraq agreed to allow weapons inspections to resume, but under previously existing arrangements that require special procedures for the inspectors to access eight presidential sites.
Asked whether inspectors would be allowed access to the palaces without advance warning, Mr. Aldouri said, "I don't think that will be a huge problem between us and inspectors. I don't think we would have question on that issue. Certainly, we can accommodate ourselves with the U.N. to have free access."
U.S. President George W. Bush wants the United Nations to force Iraq to give up suspected stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, and says if Iraq fails to comply, force may be "unavoidable."
Mr. Aldouri says of the the Bush administration's insistence on a tough new U.N. resolution before inspectors return to Iraq. "They don't want anybody to see that there's no mass destruction weapons in Iraq," he said.
The ambassador said the United States is only interested in his country's oil.
If attacked, Mr. Aldouri said, Baghdad is prepared to defend itself. But he hopes a U.N. resolution would head off any conflict, and Iraq will quickly be able to normalize relations with the United States.
Last week, Democrats in the House of Representatives agreed to language for a resolution on the use of force against Iraq.
House Minority leader Richard Gephardt, also appearing on the ABC program This Week, said this time around, inspections have got to be genuine and thorough.
In his view, Congressman Gephardt said the primary goal in Iraq is disarmament. "I think the president first wants them to say that they have disarmed. What weapons do you have? What are they? Then we can get in and see what's there," he said.
Monday, as the U.S. Senate continues its deliberation of the war powers resolution on Iraq, President Bush is scheduled to make a nationally-broadcast speech on Iraq.