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Butler, and UNSC views on attack

Wednesday December 16, 8:41 PM

UN Council meets on Iraq; Russia blasts Butler

By Evelyn Leopold 

UNITED NATIONS, Dec 16 - The Security Council went into an urgent session
on Wednesday with Russia suggesting chief U.N. arms inspector Richard
Butler should resign for pulling out weapons teams from Iraq in
anticipation of a possible U.S. military attack.

The meeting, adjourned until late afternoon, was called by Russia and
France on a report Butler filed late on Tuesday that said Iraq had broken
its promise to cooperate with his arms experts, the apparent catalyst for
any air strikes.

Diplomats said that with Russia, China and France critical of Butler and
the United States and Britain defending him, it was doubtful the Security
Council could reach any consensus.

Russia's U.N. ambassador Sergei Lavrov told reporters that evacuating the
inspectors should not have been done without Security Council permission.

He said Butler could speak for himself and not for UNSCOM, the U.N. 
Special Commission in charge of dismantling Iraq's weapons of mass

"For UNSCOM, the Security Council speaks. But if he cannot work in Iraq,
then he should think of some other job," he said.

Butler late on Tuesday delivered a crucial report that said Iraq did not
keep its promise to cooperate with arms inspectors since they returned to
Baghdad on November 17.

He said Iraq's lack of full cooperation made it impossible for inspectors
to determine that Baghdad had eliminated its prohibited weapons, a key
requirement for lifting stringent U.N. sanctions imposed in August 1990
after Iraq's troops invaded Kuwait.

Sweden, Japan, Brazil were among members who agreed with Butler's decision
to pull out his inspectors, who on Wednesday were leaving by air and road.

"That's my most important concern, that everyone is out and safe," Butler
told reporters, adding that he had informed Secretary-General Kofi Annan
of the evacuation.

Lavrov raised possible air strikes by the United States and Britain in
passing but other members did not mention the issue at all, diplomats at
the morning meeting said. 

One envoy said discussions also focused on leaks to the press of Butler's
report late on Tuesday rather than the possibility of air strikes.

"Maybe they don't support them but they understand why it may happen," he
said. Both countries have said they would not consult with the council on
military action.

Iraq's U.N. ambassador Nizar Hamdoon told reporters UNSCOM's report was
"heavily influenced"  by the United States and was not factual. [*** see
additional extract below --seb]

"The question of the timing is obviously determined by Washington and
London and nobody else in the council is really in the picture of what was

"I think everybody is concerned," he said in answer to questions. "It
looks like the United States is determined to go for a military strike
regardless of what the Security Council membership feel about it, and that
is very bad," he said. 

"We are prepared to take any action, depending on what happens," he said. 

He also said that if the United States launched air strikes oil exports
would stop. "Physically speaking, practically speaking, if there is a
military strike, there will be no oil pumped," he said. 

In November, the United States was on the point of launching attacks on
Iraqi targets after Baghdad restricted cooperation with UNSCOM on August 5
and halted it completely on October 31. But after a last minute appeal
from Annan Iraq reversed its position on November 14.

The inspectors returned three days later with the United States and
Britain threatening military action if Iraq did not allow them unimpeded
access to suspected weapon sites.

Annan, who attended the council meeting, did not make any comments. The
secretary-general, according his spokesman, Fred Eckhard, has always
favored a peaceful solution of the Iraqi crisis. 

"The secretary-general has consistently urged a peaceful solution to this
crisis and he has twice personally intervened to try to keep the
diplomatic option alive," he said. 

He was referring to Annan's trip to Baghdad last February and then his
appeal to Iraq in November. In both instances, American-British air
strikes were called off.

Aside from UNSCOM, about 125 U.N. humanitarian workers also left Iraq with
another 142 international staff remaining.

In addition, the British Lloyd's Register company, which has over 50
inspectors to certify incoming food and medical supplies for the United
Nations, pulled off its inspectors at all border points except in the
north near Turkey.


>From article ("Iraq Hasn't Cooperated, Arms Inspector Reports;  Finding
Revives Prospect of Airstrikes", by Barton Gellman, Washington Post Staff
Writer) in the Washington Post, Wed 16th Dec. final edition:

> Butler's conclusions were welcome in Washington, which helped 
> orchestrate the terms of the 
> Australian diplomat's report. Sources in New York and Washington said 
> Clinton administration 
> officials played a direct role in shaping Butler's text during multiple 
> conversations with him Monday 
> at secure facilities in the U.S. mission to the United Nations. 
> Spokesmen for Butler and the Clinton 
> administration declined to comment on those conversations. 

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