United Nation, 6 January 2003 (RFE/RL) -- The United Nations has rejected allegations by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein that its weapons inspectors are spying. Saddam said in a televised message today that the inspectors searching the country for evidence of banned weapons are actually engaged in "pure intelligence work."
"Instead of looking for the so-called weapons of mass destruction in order to expose the lies propagated by those who try, in vain, to deceive public opinion, the inspection teams became interested in compiling lists of Iraqi scientists, asking workers questions that are not what they seem to be and gathering information about army camps and military production that is not prohibited and other matters, all of which or most of which constitutes pure intelligence work."
Hiro Ueki, a spokesman for the inspectors, denied the accusation, saying they are doing their job professionally and objectively. The United States called Saddam's remarks "unfortunate."
The inspectors are in Iraq under a UN Security Council resolution adopted in November, which gives Iraq one last chance to disarm or face "serious consequences" that Washington says could include military force.
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said today the prospect of a war against Iraq has now ebbed. But both Britain and the U.S. today announced fresh deployments to the region, including a large American hospital ship, and Britain's largest aircraft carrier, the "Ark Royal."