Powell’s assurances came amid a growing clamour in the US for military action to topple the regime of President Saddam Hussein. President Bush had said on 26 November that Iraq’s development of weapons of mass destruction meant that the country was classified as a potential target in the anti-terrorism war (MEED 7:12:01).

The prospect of enlisting Iraqi opposition forces in a campaign against the Baghdad regime received a setback when, during Powell’s visit to Turkey, the two leading Iraqi Kurdish parties issued a statement urging the US not to interfere. The two groups said that it should be left to Iraqis to determine the country’s fate, and that more bombing of the country would only make things worse for the civilian population.

The Iraqi government on 2 December signed an agreement with the UN formally extending the oil-for-food programme for six months from the end of November. However, the government noted that it would reject the application of the goods review list attached to the new UN resolution on the programme.