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The Guardian Friday August 28, 1998 Arms officer quits saying UN 'caved in' to Saddam 'The Council is partner to an Iraqi strategy of weakening the inspectors' By Mark Tran in New York International efforts to rid Iraq of weapons of mass destruction lay in shambles yesterday with the angry resignation of a top United Nations weapons inspector who said the monitoring regime had been neutralised some time ago by the Iraqis. William Ritter accused the United States and Britain of yielding to Baghdad's resistance to foreign supervision of its weapons capability. He said UN arms inspectors had not been allowed to check Iraqi sites in a meaningful way for some time. He wanted his resignation to send "a wake-up call to our friends in Washington and London to resume course and get back on track". Mr Ritter's allegations will further weaken Unscom, the UN Special Commission responsible for dismantling Iraq's lethal weapons. It emerged last week that the US and Britain had privately urged Richard Butler, the chief UN weapons inspector, to stop surprise visits to sites suspected of containing equipment or information on weapons of mass destruction. The US and Britain have adopted a low-key approach to avoid provoking a fresh crisis with Baghdad, following President Saddam Hussein's refusal last month to co-operate with Unscom. "We're learning that this is a marathon race and we cannot threaten military action every time Saddam Hussein rattles his cage," a senior American military official said. The US is looking at ways to plug leaks in the UN economic embargo against Iraq by stepping up its naval presence in the Gulf. Mr Ritter aged 37, formerly a capital in the US Marine Corps, often led Unscom inspection teams in the field. Baghdad - which has long accused Mr Ritter of working for the Israeli intelligence service, Mossad, and the CIA - said the inspector had been forced to quit because Iraq had uncovered his spy links. CBS News in the United States has reported that the FBI is investigating reports that Mr Ritter shared classified intelligence with Israel. But that was a side-issue in Mr Ritter's resignation, which he used to focus attention on Unscom's effectiveness. In his resignation letter Mr Ritter blasted the Security Council and Washington for failing to support Unscom. He said the UN secretary-general, Kofi Annan, had become a sounding board for Iraqi grievances. Mr Ritter accused the council of playing down the significance of Iraq's decision to cease co-operating with Unscom, and of being unwilling to enforce its own resolutions. "This abrogation of its most basic of responsibilities has made the Security Council a witting partner to an overall Iraqi strategy of weakening the special commission," Mr Ritter said. "The issue of immediate, unrestricted access [to weapons-related sites] is the cornerstone of any viable inspection regime. Unfortunately, others do not share this opinion, including the Security Council and the United States. The special commission of today, hobbled as it is by unfettered Iraqi obstruction and non-existent security council enforcement of its own resolutions, is not the organisation I joined almost seven years ago." Iraq's information ministry said yesterday that Mr Ritter's comments on resigning proved he worked for the Israeli and American intelligence agencies "with one aim: to maintain the unjust sanctions on the Iraqi people and to continue to instigate military attacks against it". The Unscom head, Mr Butler, sought to put a brave face on events. "We will go on with our work," he said. Despite having been criticised by Russia, he said he had no plans to resign. "I've got a job to do and I intend to continue doing it." ) Copyright Guardian Media Group plc.1998 -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To be removed/added, email email@example.com, NOT the whole list. Archived at http://linux.clare.cam.ac.uk/~saw27/casi/discuss.html