Iraq Defends 'Good Faith' Efforts to Comply With U.N.
UNITED NATIONS – Iraq issued a missive listing its efforts to comply with U.N. inspections, insisting it had acted "in good faith" to fulfill its disarmament obligations despite what it called "arbitrariness and bias" in the inspections process.
In a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan dated Jan. 24, Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri dismissed accusations that his country had not fully disclosed its weapons programs, saying: "The full and complete declaration given by Iraq ... and the effective and genuine cooperation of Iraqi agencies with the inspection teams ... show that Iraq is acting in good faith and is firmly resolved to fulfill its obligations under the Security Council resolutions, despite all the difficulties, arbitrariness and bias involved therein."
Sabri's declaration of Baghdad's cooperation was made public on the heels of a critical presentation by chief weapons inspector Hans Blix to the U.N. Security Council Monday that seemed to back up the United States' assertions that Iraq has not been in full compliance.
"Iraq appears not to have come to a genuine acceptance, not even today, of the disarmament that was demanded of it," Blix told the Security Council.
Sabri also repeated pledges to continue cooperation with U.N. inspections teams, saying the country wants to prove "that it is not concealing any activity or weapons proscribed by the relevant Security Council resolutions."
Iraq also seeks to deny "the lying and empty allegations and accusations that the United States and Great Britain regularly launch against it for suspect imperialist aims," Sabri added.
His letter gave a detailed account of the Security Council's efforts to force Iraq to disarm since the 1991 Gulf War, and listed Baghdad's previous rebuttals of claims of violations.
Blix said Monday Iraq hasn't been forthcoming with documentation and evidence regarding Iraq's production of the deadly nerve agent VX, anthrax and missiles with a range of more than 90 miles.
Sabri insisted that Iraq never succeeded in weaponizing VX -- contrary to Blix's claims in his report to the Security Council. Sabri also rejected allegations that Iraq has a significant quantity of weapons-grade anthrax.
He also added that Iraq has declared all imports of biological growth media in previous documents; Blix claims that it had deliberately omitted such information in previous declarations.
Blix told the council Monday that inspectors recently discovered a mustard gas precursor during inspections.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.