[Documents menu] Documents menu

Message-Id: <199802121841.NAA29335@hermes.circ.gwu.edu>
Date: Sun, 8 Feb 98 12:53:57 CST
From: rich@pencil (Rich Winkel)
Organization: PACH
Subject: US Rejects Iranian and Cuban Arms Inspectors from UN Probe!!
Article: 27371

/** ips.english: 427.0 **/
** Topic: POLITICS: US Rejects Iranian and Cuban UN Arms Inspectors **
** Written 3:17 PM Feb 7, 1998 by newsdesk in cdp:ips.english **

US Rejects Iranian and Cuban UN Arms Inspectors

By Thalif Deen, IPS, 4 Feburary 1998

UNITED NATIONS, Feb 3 (IPS) - The United States has quietly struck out the names of Cuban and Iranian nationals from a U.N. arms inspection team due to probe U.S. chemical weapons facilities.

Ironically, the U.S. is exercising the same right it refuses to concede to the Iraqis, an Asian diplomat told IPS, The United States may have the right to do so under the existing Convention, but it is interesting to note that Iraq is virtually fighting for the same principle.

Currently, the Oganisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in the Hague employs about 126 inspectors and assistants who undertake inspections of chemical weapons facilities, mostly in countries which are declared possessors of chemical and biological agents. The United States is reported to have about 30,000 tons of chemical agents and Russia about 40,000 tons.

Long before an inspection team visits a country possessing chemical weapons - such as the United States or Russia - it is given a list of inspectors who should have unrestricted access to arms facilities. But Washington has rejected both Cubans and Iranians from U.N. inspection teams, presumably for political and security reasons.

Currently, the U.S. does not have diplomatic relations with either country. Both are also on the list of seven countries the U.S. State Department considers terrorist states- the others being Iraq, North Korea, Sudan, Libya and Syria.

Under the rules of the Convention, any qualified expert included in a list of arms inspectors shall be regarded as designated unless a state party declares its non-acceptance no later than 30 days after its receipt of the list.

In a U.N. television interview last October, OPCW Director- General Jose Mauricio Bustani was asked about the element of surpise in chemical arms inspections. Yes, we give them notice. We give them the plan of the inspection, the conditions for the inspection team to be followed by the state party, because it is an intrusive matter..., he said.

Asked if they always accept this without a protest, Bustani said: They are supposed to do this because this is part of the deal - the political decision they made when they joined in the Convention. Of course, there are minor problems that may arise in the field, but minor problems that can be solved by the team itself.

The current deadlock in Baghdad can be traced to an Iraqi demand to determine the composition of the U.N. arms inspection team looking for weapons of mass destruction, namely nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. Since the inspection teams consists mainly of British and U.S. nationals, Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz has complained they are dominated by Anglo- Saxons.

Aziz has also charged that some of the U.N. inspectors are working for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). He has also accused the team leader, Scott Ritter, who served in the Gulf War, of being an American spy.

We are going to explain our case to real (arms) experts, not to cops, Aziz said last month.

The 44-member team led by Ritter, a US national, includes 28 who are classified as arms inspectors. Of the 28, there are 10 US nationals, five Britons, three French, two Austrians and one each from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Finland, Germany, India, Ireland, Sweden and Switzerland.

Asked why there were so many U.S. nationals, U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said last month that UNSCOM needs experts in weapons of mass destruction. There are a limited number of countries in the world who have those experts or have a surplus of those experts that they can lend to the United Nations to carry out these inspections.

In January, Iraq blocked U.N. weapons inspectors by refusing to provide escorts to facilitate entry into state-controlled sites. A similar stand-off took place in November last year but Iraqi President Saddam Hussein reversed his decision later permitting U.N. inspectors to continue with their work.

Iraq not only wants the right to reject arms inspectors who are considered security risks, but is also seeking to widen the geographical balance of the inspection team. It also wants more inspectors from the other three permanent members of the Security Council, namely France, China and Russia.

The Chinese have concurred with this view. The composition of the (arms) inspection team should, as far as possible, reflect the characteristic diversification of the United Nations, and should be made up of people from more countries, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Shen Guofang said.

Iraqi Ambassador Nizar Hamdoon told reporters that his government was protesting the fact that nationals of the United States and Britain on those teams is affecting the impartiality of those teams because of the very well known hostile American/British policy towards Iraq.

Russia, France and China - three of the five veto-wielding permanent members of the Security Council - have already volunteered more of their arms experts to the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) investigating Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

Last month Russia offered 60 additional experts, China three and France two. France has also offered Eric Fournier, a senior political counsellor in Paris, to join the UNSCOM headquarters staff in New York. Fournier is regarded an expert in non- proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The three Chinese have already been incorporated in the team.

Meanwhile a new panel of UNSCOM experts will reflect wider geographical representation because it includes nationals of China, France, Germany, Russia and Iraq, as well as U.S. and British nationals.

This panel has already begun an evaluation of the progress on ending Iraq's production of special warheads for biological and chemical weapons. Aziz has welcomed the re-designed inspection panels.