The exiled emir of Kuwait, one of the world's richest leaders, made an emotional appeal to the United Nations today to help free his country from Iraqi invaders and make it once again an "oasis of peace and safety."
But Iraq tightened its grip on the conquered emirate, ordering Kuwaiti nationals to apply for Iraqi citizenship.
The emir won a rare standing ovation from delegates from every nation in the world save Iraq, which signaled its defiance by walking out as he began to speak.
Accusing Iraq of mounting a campaign of "rape, destruction, terror and torture," Sheik Jabbar al Ahmed al Sabah called on the General Assembly to back his people's right to liberate their land.
"We receive daily reports of massacres and continuing systematic armed looting and destruction of state assets and individual property," he said, vowing to return to his homeland.
He made no specific call for action but in a sign of Kuwait's gratitude for world support, he said the country would write off interest on loans to developing nations.
Meanwhile, Iraq today moved to tighten its grip on Kuwait. The Iraqi Interior Ministry published a new law saying citizens of Kuwait, which Iraq has proclaimed its 19th province, have until Oct. 31 to adopt Iraqi citizenship. It did not say what would happen to those who failed to meet the deadline.
Enforcement of the embargo led to a flare-up of tensions today in the Red Sea, where the Pentagon said a U.S. frigate fired warning shots at an Iraqi tanker after it ignored an order to halt. A team from the Elmer Montgomery boarded the tanker Tadmur and inspected it, but it was empty and was allowed to proceed.
The incident marked the fourth time a U.S. warship fired shots to enforce the U.N. trade sanctions.
Iraq was the target of a blistering new round of international criticism today after a drastic threat against diplomats who shelter foreigners. In a note delivered to some Western embassies on Wednesday, the Baghdad government said giving sanctuary to a foreigner was punishable by death.
The Iraqi Foreign Ministry refused to elaborate on the message, but Iraqi officials speaking on condition of anonymity said it was referring to Iraqis harboring Westerners, not to diplomats giving refuge to their own nationals.
Even as Baghdad backpedaled, Western governments reacted angrily.
"Iraq's threat makes it impossible to take seriously any pretensions on its part to be a civilized state," Britain's Foreign Office said. In Paris, a French Foreign Ministry spokesman called the threat "utterly intolerable."
In Washington, the Bush Administration announced today that it plans to sell $6.7 billion in tanks, helicopters and other arms to Saudi Arabia. The Administration apparently bowed to stiff congressional resistance against a much larger sale.