Raising the stakes against Baghdad, the United Nations said Friday it will resume weapons inspections in Iraq next week with "all nationalities" participating, despite an Iraqi order for Americans on the team to leave.
The chief weapons inspector, Richard Butler, made the announcement after a two-hour closed-door meeting of the U.N. Security Council. Butler also told the council that he considered Iraq's order for American team members to leave the country a breach of the 1991 cease-fire that ended the Persian Gulf war.
That drew a sharp rebuke from French Ambassador Alain Dejammet, who said it was up to the council to declare a breach, a move that could pave the way for military action. "Mr. Butler can give us his opinion," Dejammet said. "But that's only his opinion."
Those differences underscored the continuing division within the 15-member council. The council is united against Iraq's move to expel the 10 Americans from the 40-member inspection team, but there are broad differences within the council on how to respond.
The inspectors are in Iraq to verify whether Baghdad has complied with U.N. orders, issued at the end of the gulf war, to destroy all long-range missiles and weapons of mass destruction. Iraq accused the United States of using the inspections for intelligence gathering.
Butler said he would instruct his team in Baghdad to resume inspections Monday.
Chemical weapons ban
wins Russian approval
MOSCOW _ Lawmakers in Russia's lower house ratified a global ban on chemical weapons Friday, one of the few times they have sided with President Boris Yeltsin.
The State Duma voted 288-75 in favor of the Chemical Weapons Convention, which goes to the upper house, where approval appears all but certain.
"Ratification of the ban serves Russia's national interests," Igor Ivanov, first deputy foreign minister, told lawmakers. "It will allow us to check whether other countries, including the United States, have fulfilled their pledge to get rid of chemical weapons."
Russia and the United States are the two biggest stockpilers of chemical weapons. The United States ratified the convention shortly before it took effect in April.
The treaty bans the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of chemical weapons. Although Russia was among the 165 countries who signed it, parliament initially was reluctant to sign it.
Communists and other hard-liners who dominate the Duma argued that Russia could not afford the huge costs of dismantling its chemical arsenals.
But Yeltsin, who submitted the treaty to parliament Wednesday, said Russia will have to get rid of the aging chemical weapons in any case and joining the ban will qualify it for foreign aid.
Cuban exiles plan to beam
message above Havana
MIAMI _ A group of Cuban exiles plans to set sail across the Florida Strait today and use laser beams to light up the sky over Havana with a pro-democracy slogan.
The Miami-based Democracy Movement said a flotilla of boats leaving from Key West also aimed to promote a national work stoppage in Cuba and demonstrate against the construction of a nuclear power plant.
The group postponed an earlier laser beam protest Oct. 10 because of bad weather that would have affected visibility.
"The weather up to now seems like it's going to allow us to go," movement spokesman Ramon Sanchez said.
In addition to the laser message, the Democracy Movement has asked Havana residents to gather at El Malecon esplanade at dusk and bang on pots and pans in their homes at 9 p.m.
The U.S. State Department said it supported the protest's democratic goals but cautioned the group not to enter Cuban waters or airspace.