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U.N. prepares for showdown with Iraq

Iraq UN graphic

Spy flight safely completes mission

November 10, 1997
Web posted at: 10:48 a.m. EST (1548 GMT)
Latest developments:
  • No attack on U-2 spy plane
  • No ground inspections scheduled
  • U.N. Security Council to meet on Iraq
  • Iraqi official to plead Baghdad's case

UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- A United Nations spy plane safely flew over Iraq on Monday despite warnings from Saddam Hussein's government that it would shoot down the aircraft. The flight came hours before the Security Council was to meet to discuss Iraq's refusal to cooperate with arms inspections.

A L S O :

Thousands of Iraqis stage anti-U.S. protests

Iraqi military officials said the American U-2 aircraft, which crossed into southern Iraq from northern Saudi Arabia, remained outside the range of their gunners during the entire three-hour flight in Iraqi airspace.

According to a Pentagon source, Iraqi radar tracked the flight, but at no time was the U-2 locked on by missile-firing radar.

On Sunday, Iraq barred U.N. weapon inspection teams that included Americans for a seventh day and sent Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz to argue its case before the 15-member Security Council, which meets on Monday afternoon.

vxtreme Bill Richardson, U.S. ambassador to the U.N., interviewed today on CNN

Aziz was expected to meet first with Secretary-General Kofi Annan but U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson said the United States was not expecting a breakthrough.

"He (Aziz) talks about dialog but when the Iraqis come to the U.N. it's just more delay and deception and denials so we don't expect much from this visit," Richardson said.


Shortly before Aziz left Paris for New York, the United Nations announced that no ground inspections would take place in Iraq on Monday.

Iraq has said that American weapons inspectors working with the United Nations are spies trying to prolong U.N. economic sanctions imposed on Iraq after it invaded Kuwait in 1990 and was defeated in the 1991 Gulf War.

The U-2 flights are considered integral to the weapons inspection program.

The United States will be seeking the "strongest possible action" against Iraq when the Security Council meets to discuss Baghdad's refusal to cooperate with U.N. arms inspections as long as they include Americans.


"We want to see a strong (Security Council) resolution with teeth, with punitive measures ... to get Iraq ... to restore the inspection teams," Richardson said.

"(The United States is) not ruling out any options, including a military option," the U.N. ambassador told CNN in a live interview on Monday morning.

Iraq also wants a timetable for an end to inspections, which are the key to lifting the crippling international economic sanctions imposed on Iraq after it invaded Kuwait in 1990.

Correspondents Richard Roth and Brent Sadler contributed to this report.

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