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Iraq demands end of sanctions & removal of weapons from Israel

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February 26, 2001 


BAGHDAD- (AP) - Iraq said on Sunday it will demand during upcoming talks with the United Nations that sanctions against it be lifted and weapons of mass destruction - including those of Israel - be removed from the region.

"They have done what they have done to Iraq but they neglected Israel," Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz said at Saddam International Airport while receiving Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian.

Iraq has in the past demanded the total and immediate lifting of sanctions and an end to daily patrols by allied warplanes in southern and northern Iraq.

Aziz said that during the talks at the United Nations in New York, starting Monday, Iraq will insist on implementation of a Security Council resolution that calls for the removal from the region of weapons on mass destruction.

"(Israel) has all kinds of mass destruction weapons - nuclear and others. We must stress the implementation of this paragraph," he said.

"Any attempt not to implement this paragraph is an aggressive idea not only against Iraq but against all countries of the region where Israel is considered to be the top threat," Aziz said.

It has long been assumed that Israel manufactures nuclear weapons at the Dimona reactor in the southern Negev Desert, though Israel has never acknowledged it, sticking to a policy of nuclear ambiguity.

Israel does not allow any of its nuclear facilities to be inspected by international bodies.

Aziz said Iraq had met all the demands by the United Nations, and now it was turn for the Security Council to "comply with its commitments toward Iraq."

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, on a tour of the Middle East, said in Jerusalem on Sunday that Saddam Hussein's efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction posed a threat to the nations of the Middle East and were "the cause of problems" in the troubled region.

In Baghdad, Oskanian arrived with 14 government officials and 50 businessmen on board the first Armenian plane since the end of the Gulf War 10 years ago that liberated Kuwait from a seven-month Iraqi occupation.

"Ties between our nations are historical and their roots go back for centuries," Oskanian said, adding his visit could lead to a resumption in bilateral ties.

Also on Sunday, an Egyptian plane arrived in Baghdad with 180 actors and a soccer team in a show of support for the Iraqi people who, many in Arab countries believe, are suffering unjustly under U.S.-backed sanctions.

In the group was a popular Egyptian actor, Samir Ghanim, who is scheduled to perform in Baghdad the Egyptian play "Me, My Wife and Monica." Others include well-known Egyptian singers Ehab Tawfiq and Midhat Saleh.

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