AMBASSADOR RICHARD BUTLER
August 6, 1998
On Monday, Iraq declared that it would no longer allow U.N. arms inspectors to conduct searches for weapons of mass destruction. The U.N. Security Council condemned the decision but has not decided on a course of action. After this background report, the U.N.'s chief arms inspector, Amb. Richard Butler, discusses the latest confrontation with Iraq.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: The latest standoff between Iraq and the United Nations is first tonight. We begin with some background from Tom Bearden.
A RealAudio version of this segment is available.
August 6, 1998
A Newsmaker interview with U.N. chief arms inspector Amb. Richard Butler on the latest conflict with Iraq.
June 24, 1998
A Newsmaker interview with Ambassador Butler.
May 4, 1998
The U.S. decides six Iraqis detainees pose a security risk and must return home.
April 27, 1998
Iraqi exiles search for an alternative to Saddam Hussein.
March 13, 1998
A panel of experts debate whether it is time to lift sanctions on Iraq.
Noam Chomsky and James Woolsey debate U.S. foreign policy.
March 4, 1998
An interview with U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan.
March 2, 1998
An interview with Iraq's Ambassador to the U.N. Nizar Hamdoon.
February 27, 1998
Congressional views of the U.N. deal with Iraq.
February 24, 1998
James Baker and William Perry discuss the deal's impact on U.S. foreign policy.
February 20, 1998
A panel of experts examine the crisis from the Iraqi perspective.
Browse the NewsHour's coverage of the Middle East and the United Nations.
TOM BEARDEN: In Iraq on Monday, Ambassador Richard Butler, the chief U.N. Weapons Inspector, laid out what he called the road map for concluding inspections of Iraq's chemical and biological weapons and missile programs. But Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz rejected that plan and demanded the immediate end of both the U.N. inspection program and economic sanctions.
Iraq says the U.N. is confusing "the major and the minor issues."
TARIQ AZIZ, Deputy Prime Minister, Iraq: UNSCOM is back to its old games, to its old tricks, games of confusing the major issues and the minor issues, since this is the wish of the American administration to perpetuate the situation, to prolong the current situation, to keep the sanctions on the people of Iraq. As long as this is the American wish, you are serving the American policy.
TOM BEARDEN: Butler promptly left Baghdad. Talking to reporters at the London airport, on his way back to New York, Butler said he was mystified by the latest developments.
AMBASSADOR RICHARD BUTLER: It's a slightly weird thing, because, as I said, we're doing quite well in missile and chemical. I mean, we were getting there. If this was a five-lap race, you know, we were halfway into the fifth lap. Why stop the race when you're getting towards the finishing line? I don't know.
Arms inspectors still have questions about biological and chemical weapons.
TOM BEARDEN: There and elsewhere Butler said the major sticking point has been over biological weapons inspections. Another issue exacerbating tensions between Iraq and the inspectors was the recent detection of weapons fragments contaminated with VX, a deadly nerve agent. After Butler's departure, Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein issued a statement demanding Butler's dismissal. He said Iraq would end all cooperation with U.N. weapons inspectors, a team of about a hundred arms experts and scientists working in Iraq. Saddam's statement followed a resolution from the Iraqi parliament demanding an end to both the inspections and U.N. economic sanctions that have been in effect since Iraq invaded Kuwait eight years ago. U.N. resolutions after the 1991 Gulf War link the end of sanctions to full Iraqi compliance on weapons inspections. U.S. officials immediately responded to Iraq's statement.
P. J. CROWLEY, U.S. National Security Council Spokesman: The sanctions that are currently in place that Saddam says he wants lifted are costing Iraq $15 billion a year if Iraq thinks that this is the way to get sanctions relief, once again, they are sadly mistaken.
TOM BEARDEN: The latest stand-off went to the U.N. Security Council this morning. No decisions were made, but the Iraqi moves drew sharp criticism.
BILL RICHARDSON, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N.: Iraq is in clear violation of Security Council resolutions and the memorandum of understanding with the Secretary-General. The Security Council has deemed the Iraqi action totally U.N.acceptable. We believe that a strong Security Council response is needed. We'll be consulting in the days ahead on what that might be. We, the United States, feel very strongly that Iraq is playing games, defying the international community, and making sure that sanctions last in perpetuity.
Secretary General Annan urges more diplomacy.
TOM BEARDEN: U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, who brokered a deal in February averting a U.S. and British military strike against Iraq, said some of the latest Iraqi demands were unacceptable but urged more diplomacy.
KOFI ANNAN, U.N. Secretary-General: I also had a chance to talk to Mr. Tariq Aziz this morning and to make it clear to him that the Iraqi suggestion that UNSCOM should be restructured and possibly moved from New York is something that was not acceptable. It is in the purview of the Security Council and only the Security Council and the United Nations can make such decisions. No individual member state can tell the U.N. how to structure itself to carry out tasks or mandates given to it and also indicated that a decision that they have taken was in violation with Security Council resolutions and the MOU. I made certain suggestions to the Council that I thought maybe that the time has come for all of us to stand back and take-make a comprehensive reassessment of where we are, where we are going, and how to get there.
TOM BEARDEN: U.N. Security Council deliberations are expected to continue for the next several days.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Late today, President Clinton issued a statement calling Iraq's actions unacceptable and said the U.S. will stop any move to these sanctions unless Iraq reverses course.