Despite new warnings from Baghdad, the Security Council has agreed to maintain economic sanctions against Iraq but put off action on calls by Russia and others to scale back inspections of Iraqi nuclear facilities.
After a daylong review Monday, council President Hisashi Owada of Japan announced "there was no consensus to modify the sanctions regime," meaning the seven-year embargo stays in place. No vote was taken.U.N. arms inspectors must certify that Iraq has destroyed all long-range missiles and chemical, biological and nuclear weapons before the council will lift the embargo, imposed in 1990 after Saddam Hussein's forces invaded Kuwait.
The review is the first since Iraq signed a deal last February with Secretary-General Kofi Annan to open all sites, including presidential compounds, to U.N. arms inspectors. That reduced for the moment the threat of a U.S.-led military strike.
The council adjourned its consultations Monday afternoon to hear a personal appeal by Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf to end the sanctions.
Afterward, British Ambassador John Weston said he heard nothing that changes his opinion that Iraq wants to see sanctions lifted "while preserving covert weapons of mass destruction."
During the review, the council considered a report by chief U.N. inspector Richard Butler, who said that his teams had made "virtually no progress" over the past six months in verifying whether Iraq was free of all banned weapons.
In a separate report, however, the International Atomic Energy Agency said it found no evidence that Iraq is still trying to produce nuclear weapons.
Meanwhile, two Jordanian aircraft laden with U.S. humanitarian supplies left Amman for Baghdad on Tuesday in the first American airlift to Iraq since the 1990 Persian Gulf crisis.