Iraq: UN Arms Checks Are a Waste of Time

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DEFIANT Iraq yesterday ruled out re-admitting UN weapons inspectors claiming that America had already decided to blitz Baghdad.

The country's vice president Taha Yassin Ramadan said he regarded it as a waste of time. He demanded: "What purpose would it serve?

"The US says the issue is not related to whether the inspectors return or not, it has to do with changing the regime by force. The US is an insane, criminal administration. Its logic is the logic of force."

Iraq has barred UN arms inspectors for the past four years. But letters between Baghdad and the UN had raised hopes that they might be allowed back in. Yesterday, as the possibility of war grew, Ramadan was in Damascus to drum up Arab opposition to any attempt to oust Saddam.

In America President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney showed no sign of relaxing their call for a regime change.

In a hawkish speech in Texas, Cheney said: "There is no doubt Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use them against our friends and us. And there is no doubt that his regional ambitions will lead him into confrontations with his neighbours."

Bush said he had no timescale for the war on terror. He told a Repub-lican fundraiser: "When it comes to the defence of the values we hold dear, this United States will be relentless and tough, and we will be victorious. It's going to take a while but we owe it to our children. …