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NY Times Editorial on Weapons Inspections

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With regards,
  Nathaniel Hurd

January 19, 2000
Security Council Stalling on Iraq

For the past 14 months the world has been in the dark about whether Saddam Hussein has rebuilt his 
stocks of biological and chemical weapons. Last month the United Nations Security Council passed a 
resolution aimed at getting international arms inspectors back inside Iraq. But that goal is now 
being thwarted by Russia, France and China, which yesterday objected to Secretary General Kofi 
Annan's able nominee to head the new inspection commission, Rolf Ekeus. 

All three countries are permanent members of the Security Council. It will be up to Washington to 
make sure that Mr. Ekeus or an equally firm and credible chief inspector is approved this month. 
Richard Holbrooke, America's U.N. representative and council president for the month of January, 
has the diplomatic skills to be the point man in this effort, but he will need the energetic 
involvement and support of President Clinton and his secretary of state, Madeleine Albright. 
Appointing a qualified inspections chief would increase pressure on Iraq to readmit U.N. weapons 

Russia and France are the chief obstacles here. Both are putting narrow commercial interests ahead 
of their broader international responsibilities. Instead of working to ensure that council 
resolutions are enforced, they are cultivating Baghdad's good will in the hope that Iraq will 
reward them with valuable contracts once sanctions are no longer in effect. 

Mr. Ekeus served as chief arms inspector for Iraq from 1991 to 1997. He was widely regarded as both 
tough and diplomatic in his efforts to ensure that the disarmament provisions of the peace 
agreement that ended the Persian Gulf war were obeyed. That agreement requires Baghdad to supply 
complete information on its programs for making biological, chemical and nuclear weapons as well as 
longer-range missiles, and to cooperate in shutting these programs down. 

Despite the best efforts of Mr. Ekeus and his successor, Richard Butler, Iraq continued to defy its 
international obligations, exploiting every division in the Security Council to stall, evade and 
obstruct. The last U.N. inspection team was withdrawn just before the United States' bombing of 
Iraq in December 1998. Baghdad remains intransigent, saying it has no intention of readmitting U.N. 
inspectors, although that is the only way it can qualify for relief from economic sanctions. 

Before Mr. Ekeus's nomination, Secretary General Annan informally suggested more than 20 other 
candidates. All of those willing to be considered had been turned down by one or another member of 
the Security Council, several by countries friendly toward Iraq. As a result, the original Jan. 16 
deadline for naming a commission chairman has already been missed. Further delay is extremely 
dangerous, giving Baghdad additional time to reconstitute its germ weapons and nerve gas programs, 
undetected and unmolested, 

Mr. Holbrooke, working closely with Washington, must now try to reunify the Security Council behind 
its own Iraq resolutions. The world needs a robust system of international arms inspectors under 
tough and unflinching leadership to protect itself from the dangers posed by Saddam Hussein's 
diabolical weapons programs.
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