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Iraq rejects proposal to halt sanctions

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Iraq will not accept a British proposal for a conditional suspension of U.N. sanctions because it does not provide for their "immediate lifting," a senior official of the ruling Baath Party said in remarks published today.

"The circulation by both Britain and America of vicious plans at the (U.N.) Security Council is meant to prolong the unfair embargo on Iraq," Abdulghani Abdulghafur told a delegation of Russian legislators in Baghdad.Britain and the Netherlands have proposed that the sanctions be suspended once Iraq has answered the outstanding questions about its weapons of mass destruction. The proposal would also require Baghdad to adhere to strict financial controls to prevent its re-acquisition of such weapons.

The sanctions were imposed after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990.

"Iraq will accept nothing short of an immediate lifting of the sanctions," the official Iraqi News Agency quoted Abdulghafur as saying.

Abdulghafur said any plan to break the stalemate in U.N.-Iraqi relations had to specify that Baghdad "reserves the right to demand compensation" for the damage inflicted in the U.S. and British airstrikes on Iraq in December.

U.S. warplanes continued the attacks today in a no-fly zone, one of two set up after the 1991 Gulf War to protect Kurdish and Shiite minorities.

The planes bombed an Iraqi radar facility east of Mosul, about 250 miles north of Baghdad, after being fired upon by Iraqi forces, the U.S. military said. All planes returned safely, the military said.