Iraqi TV Announces Saddam's Acceptance

Saddam Hussein has accepted a U.N. resolution on weapons inspections, Iraqi state-run television announced Wednesday night.

"We would like to inform you that we have decided to deal with the resolution 1441 despite the bad intentions included in it," a television announcer said, reading from a message from the Iraqi Foreign Ministry to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

"We are ready to receive inspectors to carry out their mandate in making sure that Iraq has not produced mass destruction weapons while they were absent from Iraq since 1998," the announcer read.

The announcement came about two hours after word of Iraq's acceptance emerged at the United Nations in New York.

Iraqi TV showed images of Saddam, in a dark suit and tie, sitting in front of the Iraqi flag and government seal presiding over a meeting of the Revolutionary Command Council, made up of his senior military officers. The picture was frozen on the screen while an announcer read the message recounting at length a history of the dispute with the United Nations.

The letter said Iraq was ready to accept the dates set, but urged the Security Council to keep in mind that Muslims are marking the holy month of Ramadan. He noted deadlines within the resolution fall during Ramadan, but said "we will deal with them."

The announcement also was read on state-run radio.

Iraq's tightly controlled state media had not immediately reported the announcement that Iraqi ambassador to the United Nations, Mohammed Al-Douri, made in New York. While CNN carried Al-Douri live, Iraqi state television showed a travel documentary about Iraq.

The regular newscast shortly before the special announcement also made no mention of it.

Al-Douri told reporters he had delivered a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's office that said "Iraq will deal with Security Council resolution 1441 despite its bad contents."

If Iraq fails to cooperate fully with inspectors, the United States and Britain have made clear they will attack the country.

The official Iraqi media's reticence underlined deep Iraqi ambivalence about bowing to the resolution, which threatens Baghdad with "serious consequences" if it does not give U.N. inspectors full and free access to search for weapons of mass destruction.

"It does not matter whether we reject or accept the U.N. resolution because the United States will attack Iraq anyway in the end," Baghdad construction worker Salman Mahmoud said Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Iraqi legislators voted unanimously to recommend that Saddam reject the resolution. But Saddam's son, Odai Saddam Hussein, who plays a prominent opinion-making role here, said the same day that the resolution should be accepted, with the condition that Arabs be included on the inspection teams.

The Iraqi parliament vote, broadcast live on foreign Arabic satellite television, was seen a message of defiance to the world, but by Wednesday it had still not been broadcast on Iraqi television. Satellite dishes are banned in Iraq.

No newspapers reported parliament's rejection recommendation. The state-run Al-Iraq daily reported only that legislators had decided to "authorize President Saddam Hussein to adopt whatever he deems appropriate regarding U.N. resolution 1441."

Earlier Wednesday, Russia, Iraq's main ally on the U.N. Security Council, urged Baghdad to accept the resolution. Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Yuri Fedotov said Iraq's "internal debates can probably be explained by the fact that the language of the resolution is certainly quite tough.

"And so the emotions that the resolution may evoke in Iraqi society are in principle understandable. Nonetheless, we hope that the Iraqi leadership will take a pragmatic approach," Fedotov said in Moscow.