The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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No argument for Iraq strike, says Annan

Baghdad, Dec. 31 (Reuters): UN secretary-general Kofi Annan said today there was no argument for a US-led military strike against Iraq before UN weapons inspectors present their report in late January.

Speaking after the UN approved tougher sanctions to prevent Baghdad from importing goods which could be used in war, Annan said Iraq was cooperating with inspections demanded by the Security Council.

He said he saw no need for military action until the inspectors searching for suspected weapons of mass destruction report back to the council, probably on January 27.

“Iraq is cooperating and they (inspectors) are able to do their work in an unimpeded manner and therefore I don’t see an argument for a military action now,” Annan said in an interview with Israel’s Army Radio monitored in Jerusalem.

“They may give an interim report before the 27th and I really do not see any basis for an action until then, particularly as they are able to carry out their work in an unimpeded manner.”

UN arms experts swooped on at least eight suspect sites in central Iraq today, pushing ahead despite the new year.

Among the sites visited, witnesses said a team from the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) drove to a military base in Fallujah, northwest of Baghdad. They said the facility is used to train officers in chemical warfare.

Despite Annan’s insistence that inspections were proceeding smoothly, the chief of a missile facility which was scrutinised by inspectors yesterday accused them of behaving like gangsters.

“A team of 25 inspectors stormed into the a way never seen before and in a manner similar to the work of gangs,” director of the facility Mohammad Hussein told reporters.

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