Author:Hussein, Nadia

Discontent continues over claims that Saddam Hussein may have conducted biological weapons experiments on human beings. Saddam is said to be "furious" at the allegations and has refused UN weapons inspectors access to suspected arms sites.

The rumblings in Iraq continue. Saddam Hussein insisted all UN weapons inspections must stop until an American official, UNSCOM team leader Scott Ritter, was removed. William Cohen, the UN Defence Secretary, pledged not to reduce the military force in the Gulf until Iraq fully complied with the arms inspections and Britain, expressing "grave concern" at the new turn of events, launched two battleships to the region.

Speaking in Baghdad, Bill Richardson, the US ambassador to the UN, accused Iraq of being "up to its old tricks ... the Iraqis are really pushing this to the brink. It is important that Saddam Hussein be constrained."

Meanwhile, Madeleine Albright, the US Secretary of State, has made it dear that the powerful naval and air force assembled by the Pentagon in the Gulf region is ready to attack if necessary, stating the US will "not rule out any options".

However, for all the muscle flexing and sabre rattling, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the US and Britain stand largely alone. The Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov who clashed with Madeleine Albright over policy towards Iraq declared publicly "an overwhelming majority" of the world opposed Washington's threat to use force if diplomacy with Baghdad failed.

"The Americans are beginning to look like that bad guys in...

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