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Time of truth for UN's Butler

Time of truth for UN's Butler

South News May 26

SYDNEY: The UN chief weapons inspector for Iraq on Tuesday said UNSCOM
would lay its cards on the table showing Baghdad still had weapons of mass
destruction despite world scepticism .

Iraq claims U.N. estimates of what it held before the Gulf War are
inflated. The Iraqis claim much of its arsenal was destroyed during the
war or unilaterally scrapped before inspections began seven years ago.

Butler said he intended to use U2 spyplane photographs, declassified
intelligence material and previously secret evidence from his own United
Nations Special Commission to lay out exactly which weapons of mass
destruction were left in Iraq.The goal is to try to convince an
increasingly sceptical Security Council that Iraq has still not provided
persuasive evidence that it is hiding dangerous amounts of chemical and
biological weapons and long-range missiles. 

Chief weapons inspector Richard Butler will appear before the council June
3 to explain what his team believes are major gaps in Baghdad's accounting
for weapons and materials banned after the 1991 Gulf War. The data, he
hopes will the convince the council, especially the Russians, French and
Chinese, that the gaps are significant and must be explained before the
sanctions imposed on Iraq are lifted. 

But he head of the United Nations weapons inspection team, Richard Butler,
says he's about to embark on a risky strategy to end the long running
dispute over Iraq's weapons of destruction. There was a "classic risk''
inherent in his strategy he said to in that Iraq might reveal only those
weapons the United Nations asked it to declare and no others that U.N.
inspectors did not know about.

"As the verifying agency, if we say what we know in full we always run the
risk that they will simply match that and say it's all over and we'll
never know if there was any more or not," Butler told a foreign
correspondents' lunch in Sydney. 

"I propose to take it next week and show to the Security Council and to
Iraq what we know about what they haven't told us and what needs to be
done so that we can bring to account Iraq's missile, chemical and
biological weapons," Butler said. UNSCOM has long maintained that the
failure to find illegal weapons does not mean such arms are not hidden
somewhere. That argument is increasingly difficult to sustain within the
15-member council. 

A growing number of members, led by Russia, China and France, are nearly
as anxious to lift the sanctions and resume trade with Iraq as with
accounting for every last illegal weapon.  Iraq's foreign minister,
Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf, and Lt. Gen. Amer al-Saadi are due in New York
next week to argue Baghdad's case that it has complied with U.N. orders to
scrap those weapons so that sanctions should be ended. 

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