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Britain: More Cooperation, Not Inspectors, Needed in Iraq - 2003-02-11

Britain's Foreign Secretary said more U.N. weapons inspectors would not compensate for the lack of cooperation from Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Foreign Secretary Jack Straw is critical of the French-German-Russian plan to boost the weapons inspection process in Iraq.

Britain's Foreign Secretary says the issue is not how many inspectors there are, but rather the urgent need for Saddam Hussein to show complete and open cooperation with the inspectors already in Iraq.

"In the absence of Iraqi cooperation, even a thousand-fold increase in the inspectors capabilities will not allow us to establish, with any degree of confidence, that Iraq has been disarmed," Mr. Straw said.

He also rejected the idea of using U.N. soldiers to protect weapons inspectors.

Mr. Straw said the ideas being presented by France, Germany and Russia would not help achieve the goal of ensuring that Iraq is free of weapons of mass destruction. "Nothing in Saddam's performance can give any confidence that any of these proposals would in any way change Saddam Hussein's behavior. Instead, they are a recipe for procrastination and for delay," Mr. Straw said.

European and U.S. officials are continuing to meet in Brussels, and elsewhere, to try to bridge the gap between the British and U.S. view, and the French-German-Russian position. The chief weapons inspectors' report to the U.N. Security Council on Friday will be a key moment in the debate.