Iraq: "The test of inspections"

The first group of officials from the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission /UNMOVIC/ and the International Atomic Energy Agency /IAEA/ will arrive in Baghdad on Monday. The group includes 18 people.

Baghdad believes that UN Security Council Resolution # 1441 is like a mine-field - any mistake can cause an explosion as the Bush administration will use it as a reason for anti-Iraqi aggression.

However, mistakes and problems are quite possible as the UN inspectors are granted vast powers.

Any unclear statement in a thousand-page report to be prepared by inspectors can be used by Washington as a pretext to unleash war on Iraq, reads the letter of Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri, sent on Sunday to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Baghdad fears that such a pretext can be provided by the clause of UN Security Council Resolution # 1441 that obliges Iraq to submit until December 8th a full, clear and comprehensive report including the details of its programmes on the development of weapons of mass destruction. The letter reads also that the very wording of the clause means that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction, though Baghdad has repeatedly claimed the opposite.

As UNMOVIC Head Hans Blix said a week ago following the arrival to Baghdad, war and peace are not under the jurisdiction of the inspectors. Their objective is to answer the question whether Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction or not.

Baghdad believes that the last word will rest with the Bush administration regardless of the answer provided by the inspectors that are getting down to work on Wednesday. As for the UN, Iraq believes that the Americans will use it as the launching ground for their missiles that will bring death and destruction to Iraq. The increasing anti-Iraqi drive in Washington and the Pentagon's military preparations testify to it.

Starting from Wednesday, Iraq will have to endure another, a more serious "test of inspections." Within 1991 to 1998, according to UN resolutions, international inspectors destroyed in Iraq a great amount of chemical, biological weapons, long-ranged missiles and everything which was connected with Iraq's nuclear programme, the Iraqi Information Agency reported on Monday. The seven-year long epic was completed with massive four-day bombings of Iraq by US and Great Britain aviation.

Baghdad believes that whether the current inspections will be followed by another massive military action depends not only on Iraq but on international forces, including the UN Security Council member-states that can resist US aggressive plans.

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