VIENNA, Austria - United Nations weapons inspectors preparing for a possible return to Iraq won't redeploy until the Security Council adopts a new resolution, the U.N. nuclear monitoring group said yesterday.
The teams had said they could have an advance team in Iraq as soon as Saturday but probably will not go before Nov. 1, said Melissa Fleming, spokeswoman for the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency. "We will wait for a new resolution," she said.
The IAEA nuclear inspectors are based in Vienna. They would go to Iraq with a New York-based team that would head the hunt for chemical and biological weapons and long-range missiles capable of delivering them.
The Security Council was wrangling over a U.S.-backed resolution to toughen the inspection plan and tie it to the threat of force if President Saddam Hussein fails to cooperate.
France and China are among permanent veto-wielding council members opposed to the resolution despite U.S. concessions, such as removing a threat that Washington would use "all necessary means" if Baghdad interferes with the inspectors' work.
France, which is unwilling to give the Bush administration broad grounds for a military strike, favors two U.N. resolutions - one that would toughen inspections, and a second authorizing action against Iraq if it fails to comply.
In talks in Vienna this month, the Iraqis negotiated an agreement on logistics for the teams' eventual return but refused to open eight so-called presidential sites to surprise inspections.
Under a 1998 deal that U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan cut with Iraq, those sites - which include Hussein's palaces - can be visited only by appointment and under other restrictions. The United States and Britain say there must be unfettered access to all sites.
U.N. inspectors pulled out nearly four years ago, on the eve of U.S.-British airstrikes, amid allegations that Baghdad was not cooperating.