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Iraq Rejects U.N. Reentry Plan

Iraq rejected Saturday a new U.N. resolution that would return weapons inspectors and consider suspending sanctions. Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz said Iraq is "ready to face all of the consequences."

The resolution passed 11-0 on Friday by the U.N. Security Council does not meet Iraq's "legitimate demand for the lifting of the sanctions," the state-run Iraqi News Agency quoted Aziz as saying.

"Iraq is committed to its principled and legal position and is ready to face all of the consequences in defense of its sovereignty and legal rights," Aziz said.

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Saddam Hussein must decide whether to accept the U.N.'s inspection deal, which could end sanctions against his country.
Aziz derided the U.S. and Britain, chief backers of the resolution, saying their true objective is "to cheat international public opinion," and not to achieve an end to U.N. sanctions imposed in 1990.

The resolution establishes a new weapons inspection agency for Iraq, the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, to resume overseeing the destruction of Iraq's biological and chemical weapons and missiles to deliver them. The International Atomic Energy Agency remains in charge of monitoring Iraq's nuclear weapons program.

If inspectors report full cooperation and progress toward answering outstanding disarmament questions, the resolution offers to consider suspending sanctions imposed on Iraq for its 1990 invasion of Kuwait for renewable 120-day periods.

Russia, China, France and Malaysia abstained from voting on the resolution, agreeing to allow it to pass although they said they couldn't vote in favor of it. In abstaining, the four dashed U.S. and British hopes to send a unified signal to Baghdad that the Security Council would stand for nothing less than full compliance with its demands.

Knowing the Iraqi position, the Russians and Chinese had wanted sanctions suspended soon after Iraq allows inspectors to return. The United States and Brtain pressed for Iraqi answers to outstanding questions about its disarmament and a longer waiting period before the sanctions could be suspended.

In the end, the resolution is intentionally vague on the specific amount of cooperation that would trigger the suspension - an ambiguity France cited for its abstention and Aziz noted.

Aziz called the conditions on cooperation "harsh" and "ambiguous," saying they were "inserted to empty any suspension - if it ever took place - of any meaning."