The US on 23 January made a new accusation pointing to Iraqi non-compliance with the terms of Resolution 1441, when deputy secretary of defence Paul Wolfowitz claimed that ‘multiple sources’ indicated that scientists who co-operated with UN interviewers would be killed, along with their families. On the same day the head of Iraq’s National Monitoring Directorate, Hussam Mohammed Amin, told a news conference that Baghdad was encouraging scientists to be interviewed, but that some had refused without the presence of a government official.

Senior French and German officials tried to calm the stormy exchange between their governments and the US after Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s ‘old Europe’ remark. Reacting to questions about European opposition to Washington’s hawkish line on Iraq, Rumsfeld said: ‘You’re thinking of Europe as Germany and France. I don’t. I think that’s old Europe.’ This brought an angry response from Paris and Berlin, but German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer on 23 January told people to ‘calm down,’ and said that the three countries were ‘good friends and allies’. Concluding their regional summit, the foreign ministers of Turkey, Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Jordan avoided any criticism of US policy, and issued a joint appeal to Iraq ‘to demonstrate a more active approach’ towards UN weapons inspectors.