Council denounces barring of inspectors from Iraq

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The Security Council declared Iraq’s freeze of cooperation with UN weapons inspectors “totally unacceptable” and called for the urgent resumption of dialogue between inspectors and Iraq today.
Hinting that it could nonetheless lift some sanctions, the Security Council said Thursday it “intends to respond favorably to future progress made in the disarmament process.”
The Council decision was unanimous.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan strongly backed his weapons inspection chief, Richard Butler, increasingly under siege in recent months by some Council members — notably Russia and France — for not giving the Iraqis a clean bill of health.
Annan said he had spoken with Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz, and that the Iraqi position is “not a closed one.”
Talks broke down Monday when Butler refused to supply an immediate certification that Iraq has destroyed all of its weapons of mass destruction — chemical and biological arms and long-range missiles.