Iraq halts UNSCOM cooperation
Iraq-UN, Politics, 10/31/1998
Following up on previous threats, Iraq has suspended all cooperation with United Nations weapons inspectors, with Trade Minister Mohammed Mahdi Saleh accusing UNSCOM of being "biased" and "spying against Iraq." The Iraqi decision comes after the UN Security Council decided yesterday to conduct a comprehnsive review of Iraqi sanctions only "after" Iraq reestablishes full cooperation with UNSCOM, as per resolution 1194.
Iraq has insisted that the UN Security Council provide a full review of the progress made in complying with the sanctions, with the result that there would be a set date for the end of the sanctions. The UN Security Council rejected in a resolution the Iraqi request, insisting that Iraq must cooperate first with the UNSCOM inspection, and after that, the request for a comprehensive review of would may be considered.
In an adopted UN resolution, passed in September in response to Iraqi announcement that it was suspending cooperation with UNSCOM inspectors and reducing the ability of the monitors to complete their planned program of inspections, the Security Council put all periodic reviews of the sanctions on hold.
This decision by Iraq also follows this week's report on Iraqi chemical weapons, after laboratory tests conducted in the United States, Switzerland, and France for the presence of VX nerve agent on Iraqi warheads.
The Security Council position will be delivered in a letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
The US, which Iraq accuses as controlling the UNSCOM inspection team with its head Richard Butler, has repeatedly rejected any loosening of the sanctions. Iraq alleged that UNSCOM is under US control and the comments by Scott Riters (previously with UNSCOM) that he shared information with Israel about his findings in Iraq was proof of that. US Undersecretary of State for Middle East Affairs Martin Indyk on Sep. 15 commented regarding Ritters accusations that the US often called UNSCOM to "tell" them what do as"It may be precisely the opposite of his intentions, but Mr. Ritter's allegations have profoundly undermined the perception that UNSCOM is independent."
US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright had described Iraq's previous decision of partial suspension of cooperation with the UN as not being effective in achieving Iraq's objectives of lifting the sanctions. Albright described Iraq as being in a "strategic box." Albright described the US position on Sept 9 saying"For all its bluster, Iraq remains within the strategic box Saddam Hussein's folly created for it seven years ago. As we look ahead, we will decide how and when to respond to Iraq's actions based on the threat they pose to Iraq's neighbors, to regional security and to U.S. vital interests. Our assessment will include Saddam's capacity to reconstitute, use or threaten to use weapons of mass destruction. The bottom line is that if Iraq tries to break out of its strategic box, our response will be swift and strong."
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