Iraq, the US and Richard Butler
Iraq, International, 1/28/1998
Chief UN weapons inspector Richard Butler said yesterday, while addressing an American Jewish organization, "It is _reasonable_ for us to _extrapolate_ from what we know" that Iraq has not fully disclosed its weapons program. Butler went on to voice his opinion on the increasing tension between the US and Iraq over the sanctions, saying, "I wouldn't give up on diplomacy."
The Russian ambassador to the UN, visibly upset over the political role Butler has been playing to the detrement of Butler's assigned role as an objective investigator, said, "We don't hear anything fact-wise being presented to the Security Council, but we read about it in the paper." Referring to Butler's comments, remarks, and allegations in regard to Iraq, the Russian ambassador said, "The council has not been informed."
Butler's comments were received with skepticism from French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine, who also suggested that Butler has overstepped his role, according to a BBC report.
Yves Doutriaux, a spokesman for the French Foreign ministry, where international contacts are currently underway regarding the Iraq situation, told ArabicNews.com, "We are still trying to promote a political, pacific, and diplomatic solution to the crisis."
"We have spoken about that with [Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny] Primakov," Doutriaux said. France will also discuss the situation with US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in Paris tomorrow.
"The Iraqi position is not acceptable," he said, commenting on the current Iraqi refusal to discuss access to "presidential" sites.
Despite this, Doutriaux emphasized France's efforts to find a peaceful diplomatic solution to the situation, "In the past we've seen that it's not always efficient regarding Saddam to use military means and sometimes in the past it [military action] had reinforced him."
Meanwhile the US continues to mull over the possibility of military action, should Iraq not change its position. A US Pentagon spokesman said "The president has not yet made a decision on which way to go, but there is an increasing feeling that the diplomatic options have exhausted themselves, and that leaves us little choice to achieve our goals than to look at military action."
The military spokesman said that US Secretary of Defense William Cohen will be leaving to visit the Gulf in early February to meet with Gulf regional military officials.
The US has not been able to muster international support for the military option. The Arab states have not approved of any such action. The task of convincing them will be on the agenda of US Secretary of State that is heading to the region shortly, with Secretary of Defense to follow.
Meantime, UN's Butler is being increasingly seen as part of the problem by taking on the political role of the UN Security Council itself, instead of abiding to the task asigned to him of certifying Iraq's certification with UN resolution. Russia has expressed great displeasure with Butler's public relations and lack of keeping the Security council informed.
It remains to be seen if Butler's behavior will effect his ability to stay in his current capacity, or wether he will get away with a reprimand.
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