Iraq's Parliament Wednesday called for an immediate halt to cooperation with U.N. weapons inspectors to protest the 8-year-old economic sanctions on the country.
The 250-member National Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution urging President Saddam Hussein and other Iraqi leaders to act on the recommendation by Parliament Speaker Sadoun Hammadi.Hammadi's call, at a special session of the National Assembly, came amid a new dispute with the weapons inspectors charged with determining whether Iraq has eliminated its weapons of mass destruction.
The confrontation was triggered by the collapse of disarmament talks Monday between chief weapons inspector Richard Butler and Iraq's lead negotiator, Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz.
The international sanctions imposed after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, sparking the Persian Gulf War, cannot be lifted until the U.N. inspectors certify Iraq has destroyed all its chemical and biological weapons and long-range missiles. The sanctions ban Iraq from freely exporting its most valuable commodity - oil.
Wednesday's decision by Iraq's rubber-stamp Parliament clears the way for a ban on cooperation with the inspectors, but it leaves the final decision on when and whether to implement it with Saddam.
However, Parliament was unlikely to have made such an important decision without Saddam's prior approval. The resolution now must go before the Revolutionary Command Council, the most powerful decisionmaking body in Iraq.
A Parliament statement issued after Wednesday's six-hour session called for an "end to cooperation" with the U.N. Special Commission, saying the inspectors would never give Iraq a clean bill of health on its weaponry.