Iraq's most influential newspaper urged the government to stop cooperating with chief U.N. weapons inspector Richard Butler, who arrived in Baghdad Thursday with a three-page list of demands.
The "time has come to chop the tongue of this dog," wrote the Babil newspaper, owned by President Saddam Hussein's son, Odai.It is also time Iraq stopped "courting this mad dog," said the newspaper, repeating the insult that Iraqi newspapers have often used in referring to Butler.
Babil said its remarks were in reaction to Butler's refusal to accept Iraq's claim that it has no more information to give the United Nations on its illegal weapons programs.
Iraq says it has destroyed all its weapons of mass destruction, as required by the U.N. Security Council, and that the United Nations must respond by lifting the economic sanctions imposed after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
Butler, an Australian who heads the U.N. Special Commission charged with eliminating Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, says he needs more evidence from the Iraqis supporting their claims.
This dispute has the potential for a crisis similar to the one earlier this year when Iraq refused to open its presidential sites for weapons inspections. The United States and Britain responded with threats of military strikes until Iraq relented under a deal with U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan.
Butler was to meet Thursday with Iraq's deputy prime minister, Tariq Aziz, who has accused Butler of making a "political ploy" to prolong sanctions against Iraq.
"I am very hopeful we will make some good progress," Butler told reporters.
He was accompanied by 18 senior U.N. arms experts carrying satellite images and other documents to back their position.