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UNSCOM 'Provocative not professional'

BBC Online
Saturday, November 21, 1998 Published at 11:08 GMT 

Iraq accuses UN chief

Iraq has accused the United Nations chief weapons inspector, Richard
Butler, of provocative conduct in his demands for information about its
biological and chemical arsenal.

Mr Butler asked Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz to "break the
habit of a life time" and tell the truth about Iraq's capabilities.

The escalating war of words comes just three days after the inspectors
returned to Iraq.

They were only allowed back into the country after President Saddam
Hussein, faced with the threat of imminent air strikes, backed down in the
most recent weapons inspection crisis.

The UK and US have said that any further obstruction of the inspectors
would result in military action without warning.

The United States indicated on Friday it would welcome Iranian
participation in efforts to undermine President Saddam.

US State Department spokesman James Rubin said Washington would not object
if Iran assisted groups suffering under Iraqi rule. But he added that the
US was not working with the Iranian leadership or seeking its direct

'Provocative not professional'

A BBC correspondent at the UN, Jane Hughes, said the Iraqi refusal is
being treated with concern by diplomats there.

She quoted one official as saying it was a step in the wrong direction. 

The argument centres around a document which President Bill Clinton says
contains important information about chemical weapons. 

Mr Butler has written to Iraq three times in three days asking for
documents which would account for weapons of mass destruction. 

He lists in some detail the papers that inspectors want to see. 

But Baghdad has responded by describing Mr Butler's request as
"provocative rather than professional". 

A senior Iraqi official, Riyadh al-Qaysi, said the disputed document was
beyond the inspectors' mandate, although what he called "relevant
portions" of the document could be viewed.

Baghdad also says some of the documents requested do not exist, while
clarifications have already been provided for others in the past.

UK and US diplomats were waiting for a reaction from Mr Butler before
acting. He was studying Iraq's response.

Aziz accused

Mr Butler earlier accused Mr Aziz of being responsible for concealing
information, and possibly Scud missiles, from UN arms inspection teams.

The chief inspector said he had written to Mr Aziz, asking him to start

"Break the habit of a lifetime and tell us the truth," he had asked Mr

Mr Butler has also asked Iraq for documents on propellant fuel that can
only be used for Scud missiles.

"All we need is one document to prove that they destroyed it and we'll be
happy,'' he said.

Co-operation despite complaint

Reports from Iraq suggest that despite the arguments over documentation,
inspectors are otherwise receiving co-operation.

Baghdad has provided escorts for the Unscom teams - a service denied them
in the past.

But surprise inspections - which have caused the greatest problems in the
past - still lie ahead, although Mr Butler said these were unlikely to
take place for at least three weeks.

Targets for surprise visits could include the Ministry of Defence, the
Republican Guard, secret police headquarters and the private homes of some
of the Iraqi leader's friends.

Meanwhile, Iraq has protested to the UN against US reconnaissance flights,
saying they harm its security.

The planes have been collecting data to help the UN arms inspectors
identify weapons of mass destruction. 

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