Global Policy Forum

Iraq Rejects Panels' Efforts to End Impasse


By Judith Miller

New York Times
April 9, 1999

United Nations - Iraq has angrily rejected the recommendations of three special panels that have tried to find a solution to the diplomatic impasse over Iraq on the Security Council. Western diplomats said Iraq's blistering response made it clear that Baghdad would not accept any further arms inspections unless economic sanctions imposed after its defeat in the 1991 Persian Gulf War were lifted.

"The net result of the recommendations is disappointing" because they "fall short of the goal, which should have been putting an end to the prolonged regime of sanctions," Iraq wrote in response to three reports issued last week by Celso Amorim, Brazil's representative to the United Nations, who was the chairman of all three panels.

The panels' conclusions not only provide "the enemies of Iraq with the pretext for future aggression," Baghdad said; they would infringe Iraq's territorial sovereignty and dignity. "Such a position," the statement declared, "will never be accepted by the government of Iraq." The three inquiries were set up in January to seek compromises that would permit arms inspections to resume, improve the health and welfare of Iraqis and resolve the fate of more than 600 people who disappeared after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

Western diplomats said Iraq's defiant rejection of the findings puts Russia, China and France, the permanent members who have argued most forcefully for an end to the sanctions, in a politically difficult position. "Iraq's most vocal advocates now have a big problem," said a senior American official. "Iraq clearly doesn't want to cooperate, and we intend to make that noncompliance and non-cooperation the major issue."

For that reason, Western diplomats said, Richard Butler, the executive chairman of the special commission charged with disarming Iraq, decided once again not to provoke a fight within the Council by trying to attend Security Council deliberations on Friday on the future of his agency.

Sergey Lavrov, Russia's representative, vowed Thursday to bar Butler from the Council's discussions on Friday, as he did on Wednesday. Butler agreed on Wednesday to send in his place his American deputy, Charles Duelfer, after Lavrov warned that unless Butler were barred, he would not enter the room.

According to associates and friends, Butler decided that provoking a fight over his presence would only distract the Council from the real issue: Iraq's unwillingness to disarm and to comply with the Council's resolutions.

The United States and Britain have argued that Council resolutions require Iraq to disarm itself of unconventional weapons and meet its other commitments before sanctions are lifted. Russia and China have argued, by contrast, that sanctions are no longer warranted because most questions surrounding Iraq's past weapons programs have been answered.

Amorim tried to strike a balance, arguing that a reinforced long-term monitoring system could both answer questions about Iraq's past programs and monitor future ones. While recommending that steps be taken to get more food and medicine to Iraq, he did not urge that sanctions be lifted.

Iraq also repeated reports that the United States has used inspection missions and the monitors' field office in Bahrain to spy on President Saddam Hussein and select targets for American air strikes.

Clearly unnerved by such allegations, Bahrain, another Security Council member, has asked Secretary-General Kofi Annan for public assurances that the monitors are not using their base there to spy or for any purposes other than disarming Iraq. "We want to be assured publicly, as we have been in private, that things have been done according to the United Nation's resolutions," said Jassim Buallay, Bahrain's representative. "We don't want our facilities to be used for anything else."

In another development Thursday, American officials and diplomats confirmed that the United States had asked Annan to help set up meetings with Libya to clarify what Tripoli must do to persuade the Council to lift sanctions imposed in 1992 and 1993. This week, Libya surrendered two men charged with downing Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, enabling Washington to abandon its longstanding prohibition on direct contacts with Tripoli, officials said.

More Information on Sanctions Against Iraq

More Information on the Iraq Crisis


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