Iraq Draws Line In Sand -
Suspends All Further
UN Inspections
By Hassan Hafidh
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq said on Wednesday it would halt cooperation with U.N. weapons inspectors until several key conditions were met, and called for an immediate end to international sanctions. ``Iraq completely suspends its cooperation with the U.N. Special Commission (UNSCOM) within its current setup and the International Atomic Energy Agency,'' said a statement released after a meeting of Iraqi leaders chaired by President Saddam Hussein. Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz also sent letters to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the head of the U.N. Security Council informing them of the Iraqi decision. Several hundred Iraqis held demonstrations in Baghdad protesting against U.N. weapon inspections. They chanted anti-American slogans and called for an immediate end to the U.N. surveillance, imposed after Iraq's 1991 Gulf War defeat. Iraq said it wanted UNSCOM -- charged with scrapping its weapons of mass destruction -- to be led by a new executive which would equally represent all nations which were permanent members of the U.N. Security Council. UNSCOM's headquarters should be moved to Geneva or Vienna from New York, in order to ensure that the body was far from direct U.S. influence, said the statement, released after a meeting of Iraq's Revolutionary Command Council and leaders of the ruling Baath Party. It also urged that the UNSCOM offices in New York, Bahrain and Baghdad be ``reformed'' -- indicating that staff should be changed. As an expression of goodwill, Iraq would allow the United Nations to continue weapons monitoring in the country through surveillance cameras installed at Iraq's weapons sites and factories, the statement said. But it warned that U.N. staff involved in the surveillance should respect Iraq's ``sovereignty, security and dignity,'' and that Iraq should have the right to expell anyone who violated these commitments. The statement said Iraq had met its obligations toward the U.N. resolutions and it was high time for the Security Council to lift economic sanctions imposed on Iraq as punishment for its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Under terms laid down after Iraq's Gulf War defeat, the sanctions will not be lifted until UNSCOM decides that the country is free of all three types of weapons of mass destrukction -- nuclear, chemical and biological. UNSCOM says Iraq has yet to come clean on its weapons, but chief U.N. arms inspector Richard Butler said on Wednesday a resolution of key issues had been very close. The Iraqi statement also urged the Security Council to punish the United States and Britain for imposing no-fly zones in northern and southern Iraq. British and U.S. planes are patrolling northern and southern Iraq to protect the Iraqi population from possible attacks by Baghdad. Earlier on Wednesday, Iraq's parliament had voted unaminously for a freeze in the work of U.N. arms inspectors.