Iraq is reported to have told a top disarmament official it will meet a December eighth U-N deadline for declaring whether it has weapons of mass destruction.
Mohamed El Baradei -- head of the International Atomic Energy Agency -- told Associated Press Television and Egypt's Nile Television Tuesday Iraq has promised to declare all it possesses regarding weapons of mass destruction before December eighth.
Mr. El Baradei is in Baghdad along with Chief U-N weapons inspector Hans Blix. They, along with about 30 others, got down to work Tuesday after a four-year absence, meeting with Iraqi officials and planning to renew searches for weapons of mass destruction.
Meeting the December eighth deadline is one of the key conditions laid down in the new U-N Security Council resolution demanding that Iraq disarm or face severe consequences. The United States has threatened military action if Iraq fails to comply with U-N demands, and says there will be no tolerance for Iraqi maneuvering to avoid detection of banned weapons.
Actual inspections of Iraq's weapons systems are to begin November 27th but full-scale work can't start until after the December eighth deadline. Inspectors are due to file a report to the Security Council by January 27th.
Meanwhile, the United Nations says Iraq's shooting at U-S and British aircraft enforcing "no-fly" zones in Iraq is not a violation of the latest Security Council resolution.
U-N Secretary-General Kofi Annan indicates that the Security Council will not see the Iraqi shootings as a violation of the resolution -- as the United States contends -- and not a trigger for war. Reuters News Agency reports Russia -- a key Security Council member -- has also dismissed the U-S claims.
On Monday, the Bush administration said the shootings are a violation of the U-N resolution to disarm Iraq, but did not say whether it would refer the matter to the Security Council. Earlier Monday, U-S and British warplanes bombed Iraqi air defense systems after again being shot at during routine patrols over "no-fly" zones in northern and southern Iraq.