Iraqi anti-aircraft fire not 'material breach'

21 November 2002

Iraq's anti-aircraft fire against US planes in the no-fly zones cannot be interpreted as a 'material breach' of the latest UN resolution, says UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. The White House had said that the fire did constitute a violation, but Donald Rumsfeld was later more cautious, saying that it would be insufficient to provoke a response at this stage. On the other hand he said that the US would not permit its aircraft to be attacked without a response, and that Annan did not necessarily represent 'the centre of gravity of the Security Council, on any particular issue at any particular time'.

There is a paragraph in the resolution forbidding Iraq to 'take or threaten hostile acts' against a UN member enforcing a UN resolution, which could be interpreted as action against US and UK patrols in the no-fly zones. However both the UK and Russia said on 19 November that they would not take this line. Hans Blix and his weapons inspections team arrived in Baghdad on 18 November for two days of talks with Iraqi officials before inspections begin on 27 November.

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