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Article from today's Independent. Write in!
US seeking arms clash with Iraq, says ex inspector.
The new UN commision for arms inspection in Iraq is likely to be used to trigger a confrontation with President saddam Hussein in the run up to the American presidential elections in November, a former UN inspector claimed yesterday.
scott Ritter said it was commonly recognised in washington and New York that the nbew commision has no realistic chance of being allowed into Iraq while sanctions and air strikes by America and Britain continue. this, he maintained, would be used by Washington as an example of non compliance to the UN, paving the way for an escalation of the bombing, without the security Council being asked to vote on the matter.
the former US Marine intelligence colonel left his post with UNSCOM in August 1998, after complaining that information covertly gathered by the UN was turned over to the US by the team's chief, Richard Butler, and used in the Operation desert fox bombing campaign.
In an interview with The Independent, Mr Ritter, who was in London to address the inaugural meeting of the Great Britain Iraq society , said "The new commision , UNMOVIC, will not be allowed into Iraq in August, three months away from the election. You have got a vice President, Al Gore, trailing ibehind in the polls and what better way to appear tough than to switch attention away to a so called foreign threat. The UN Security Council did not vote on Desert Fox and we can expect the same thing again. The US would not like to take unilateral action. It needs Britain to give the appearance of something multilateral. And , sadly, when the US says jump, Tony Blair asks 'how high?'
"The ironic thing is that the longer the inspectors stay away from Iraq, the mnore time the hardliners there have time to rebuild their weaponry. The intelligence services of the US, Britain and Israel realise [this], but there is nothing they can do while the US administration wants to keep Iraq as the whipping boy they can wheel out at times of domestic difficulties.
"Both Republicans and Democrats accept the current policy on Iraq is a mess. But it seems little will be done this side of the election."
Mr Ritter said his strident criticism has led to the US government launching an FBI investigation into allegations that he had supplied intelligence to the Israelis. "That started in 1996 and is still going on," he said. "It has cost me $120,000 in legal fees so far.
"After endless requests, the FBI finally agred to meet me last month. I am not demeaning their investigation, it is a very serious issue, but I have nothing to hide."
Voices in the Wilderness