News

 


DATE=3/5/98
TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT
NUMBER=2-227664
TITLE=IRAQ/INSPECTORS (L)
BYLINE=AL PESSIN
DATELINE=CAIRO
CONTENT=
VOICED AT: 

INTRO:  AN AMERICAN U-N INSPECTOR WHO WAS EXPELLED FROM IRAQ ON 
CHARGES OF SPYING HAS RETURNED TO THE COUNTRY TO RESUME HIS 
DUTIES UNDER THE LATEST U-N / IRAQ AGREEMENT.  V-O-A'S AL PESSIN 
REPORTS FROM OUR MIDDLE EAST BUREAU IN CAIRO.

TEXT:  WEAPONS INSPECTOR SCOTT RITTER AND ABOUT 40 COLLEAGUES 
SWEPT INTO THE U-N BAGHDAD HEADQUARTERS THURSDAY AFTERNOON, READY
TO PICK UP WHERE THEY LEFT OFF.  IRAQ BARRED MR. RITTER AND HIS 
TEAM FROM DOING THEIR JOB IN JANUARY, SAYING THE TEAM HAD TOO 
MANY AMERICANS AND BRITONS WHO WERE NOT OBJECTIVE, AND THAT MR. 
RITTER WAS A SPY.  MR. RITTER DENIED THE CHARGES, AND ACCUSED 
IRAQI OFFICIALS OF BLOCKING LEGITIMATE INSPECTIONS. 

THE INCIDENT TOUCHED OFF THE CONFRONTATION WITH IRAQ WHICH NEARLY
CAUSED A WAR LAST MONTH.  THE SITUATION WAS EASED JUST 10 DAYS 
AGO BY THE AGREEMENT NEGOTIATED BY U-N SECRETARY GENERAL KOFI 
ANNAN.  IN THAT DOCUMENT, IRAQ PROMISES TO GIVE THE U-N 
INSPECTORS UNRESTRICTED ACCESS TO ALL SUSPECTED WEAPONS SITES IN 
THE COUNTRY.  A SPECIAL GROUP WAS ESTABLISHED TO INSPECT WHAT 
IRAQ CALLS "PRESIDENTIAL SITES."

SINCE THEN, IRAQ HAS CONTINUED TO COMPLAIN ABOUT THE INSPECTIONS 
PROGRAM.  IN REMARKS PUBLISHED IN A BAGHDAD NEWSPAPER ON 
THURSDAY, A SENIOR IRAQI MILITARY OFFICER CALLED FOR THE REMOVAL 
OF THE PROGRAM'S DIRECTOR, RICHARD BUTLER, CALLING HIM BIASED, 
DISHONEST AND HOSTILE.  MR. BUTLER HAS INSISTED ON FULL ACCESS 
FOR HIS INSPECTORS AND HAS  NOT  MINCED WORDS IN CRITICIZING 
(BLUNTLY CRITICIZED) IRAQI ATTEMPTS TO BLOCK ACCESS.  STILL, THE 
IRAQI MILITARY OFFICER WAS QUOTED AS SAYING IRAQ WILL WORK WITH 
MR. BUTLER, IF NECESSARY.

PRESIDENT CLINTON HAS CALLED ON THE U-N INSPECTORS TO TEST IRAQ'S
SINCERITY UNDER THE NEW AGREEMENT AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.  MR. 
CLINTON IS KEEPING A SIZABLE MILITARY FORCE IN THE PERSIAN GULF 
READY TO STRIKE, IF IRAQ DOES  NOT  COMPLY WITH THE ACCORD.

                       /// REST OPT ///  

MEANWHILE, WITH THE CRISIS DEFUSED AT LEAST TEMPORARILY, IRAQ'S 
FOREIGN MINISTER IS HEADING TO NEW YORK THIS WEEKEND TO SEEK AN 
EASING OF THE U-N TERMS UNDER WHICH IRAQ CAN EXPORT OIL IN ORDER 
TO BUY FOOD AND OTHER VITAL COMMODITIES.  THE UNITED NATIONS 
RECENTLY INCREASED THE AMOUNT OF OIL IRAQ IS ALLOWED TO SELL 
UNDER THE POST-GULF WAR SANCTIONS, BUT IRAQ SAYS THERE ARE TOO 
MANY RESTRICTIONS ON HOW THE MONEY CAN BE SPENT.  MOST OF THE 
MONEY MUST BE USED FOR FOOD, WITH SOME FOR IMPROVING IRAQ'S 
CRUMBLING INFRASTRUCTURE.  IRAQ CAN  NOT  TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE 
INCREASE, UNTIL AGREEMENT IS REACHED ON THE SPECIFICS.  (SIGNED)

NEB/AWP/PCF/JO 

05-Mar-98 11:25 AM EST (1625 UTC)
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Source: Voice of America
.