Iraq demands lifting of sanctions

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Iraq demanded Thursday that the United Nations end its crippling trade embargo, accusing U.N. arms inspectors of spreading “fallacies and lies” about its weapons program.
In Washington, White House spokesman Mike McCurry said the Clinton administration has “seen insufficient grounds” to lift the sanctions and said Iraq must comply “with a whole host” of requirements before the embargo is removed.
Bill Richardson, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, predicted Iraq and its supporters would mount an effort to lift the sanctions when the Security Council holds its six-month review of Iraqi sanctions Monday.
Iraq’s demand was contained in a 22-page letter sent by Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz to Annan and the council president, Ambassador Hisashi Owada of Japan.
In his report, submitted to the council last Friday, chief U.N. inspector Richard Butler said major gaps in knowledge of key Iraqi weapons programs remain, especially about biological weaponry.
Iraq’s refusal to open secured sites prompted the United States and Britain to send thousands of troops, planes and aircraft carriers to the Persian Gulf and threaten air strikes. The threat was reduced by the Annan agreement.