The Guardian January 27, 1999


Iraq:
UNSCOM spying confirmed

In December, a former high profile member of UNSCOM  the UN "weapons 
inspection" teams in Iraq  accused UNSCOM boss Richard Butler of having 
"allowed the United States to manipulate the work of UNSCOM in such a 
fashion as to justify an air strike".

Scott Ritter, who resigned from UNSCOM in August over the conduct of 
weapons inspections, said that so-called "inspection sites" weren't chosen 
for disarmament reasons but "rather to be provocative in nature so that 
Iraq would respond in a predictable fashion.

"That response would be used as a justification for military action", he 
said.

The US and Britain conducted four nights of attacks on Iraqi targets in 
mid-December, justifying their actions by claiming that Iraq had breached 
UN Security Council resolutions that required it to co-operate with UNSCOM 
inspectors.

At the beginning of January, the Washington Post revealed that 
United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan had proof that UNSCOM helped 
collect sensitive Iraqi communications for the United States.

The paper quoted sources close to Annan as saying he was convinced that the 
United States used the eavesdropping operation to penetrate the security 
network protecting Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

An unnamed Annan advisor was quoted as saying "the Secretary-General has 
become aware of the fact that UNSCOM directly facilitated the creation of 
an intelligence collection system for the United States in violation of its 
mandate.

"The United Nations cannot be party to an operation to overthrow one of its 
member states. In the most fundamental way, that is what's wrong with the 
UNSCOM operation."

Butler denied the claims which were based on classified US information and 
maintains he has acted strictly in accordance with the terms of the UN 
mandate on Iraqi disarmament.

Guardian readers who read Jane Howarth's report from Iraq in 
Guardian issue 937, late last year, will know how much credence to 
give that claim.

A Clinton aide, speaking on conditions of anonymity, told the Post 
that Saddam Hussein's personal security apparatus and that which "conceals 
weapons of mass destruction" were one and the same and that it was 
impossible to distinguish between them.

But, although the US-British attack served once again to demonstrate their 
ability to inflict death and destruction at will, the move failed to impose 
Washington's will on the region or in the UN.

Resistance to US policy has in fact been visibly strengthened by what is 
seen as the USA's irresponsible abuse of its power, for the furtherance of 
its own ends.

Ritter's and Annan's revelations have strengthened calls in the Security 
Council for a total revision of the UNSCOM regime  which Iraq in any case 
says will never be allowed to return there  and have reinforced Iraqi 
demands for the removal of Butler, whom Baghdad has long accused of spying 
for the CIA.

Russia, China and France have called for a revised UNSCOM mandate with a 
view to easing or even lifting entirely the crippling blockade which has 
led to the deaths of over a million Iraqis since 1990 through lack of food 
and medicines.

And the Iraqi Government has told the Security Council that American and 
British personnel involved in supervising the "oil-for-food" operation 
would no longer be welcome as the Government could not guarantee their 
safety in the face on the mounting anger of the people following the latest 
US-British air attacks.

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