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Guardian article on Ritter's resignation

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

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