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US Unimpressed with Iraqi Decision to Allow U-2 Surveillance - 2003-02-10

The Bush administration says it is unimpressed with the Iraqi decision Monday to allow the use of U-2 spy planes in U.N. weapons inspections, saying Baghdad is still far short of the full compliance with the inspections process demanded by the Security Council.

Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix told reporters Iraq appears to be having a "change of heart" on the need to cooperate. But officials here say Baghdad should not be judged on incremental steps or changes of heart, but whether it is complying with the Security Council's "last chance" demand that it disarm.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Iraq's acceptance of U-2 flights and promise to pass legislation outlawing weapons of mass destruction amount to little more than "tactical retreats."

"The resolution didn't say, didn't ask, Iraq to make steps. The resolution asked Iraq for full, immediate and active cooperation," he said. "We know what that looks like. We've seen it elsewhere."

Mr. Boucher said he believes the reported concessions were the result of tough questions posed at the Security Council last week by Secretary of State Colin Powell. He said U.S. officials look forward to hearing directly from Mr. Blix at the U.N. later this week, but thus far, they "haven't seen anything worth getting exited about."