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Re: Ex-U.N. Inspector Ritter to Tour Iraq, Make Documentary



When the heat is on the fritter has to turn!
Valerie Jabir

On Fri, 28 Jul 2000 09:38:02 -0400 Ramsey Kysia 
<mbakery@erols.com> wrote:
> Ex-U.N. Inspector Ritter to Tour Iraq, Make Documentary
> 
> By Colum Lynch
> Special to The Washington Post
> Thursday , July 27, 2000 ; A18
> 
> UNITED NATIONS, July 27  Scott Ritter, the former U.N. arms
> inspector who badgered Iraq with his aggressive pursuit of hidden
> weapons, said he will return to Baghdad on Saturday at the
> invitation of President Saddam Hussein.
> 
> The Iraqi leader has agreed to provide Ritter and a documentary
> film crew access to weapons facilities throughout the country so
> that Ritter can judge whether Iraq has rebuilt its arsenal since U.N.
> inspectors left 19 months ago. Ritter said he is also hoping to get
> an interview with the Iraqi leader.
> 
> The trip comes weeks after Ritter published an article in an arms
> control magazine asserting Iraq has essentially disarmed and
> challenging speculation by the Clinton administration that Baghdad
> has the capacity to reconstitute its chemical, biological and
> nuclear weapons programs.
> 
> "My personal feeling is that Iraq is qualitatively disarmed and the
> Security Council should reassess its position," Ritter said in an
> interview.
> 
> This marks a bizarre turnaround for Ritter, who resigned from the
> United Nations almost two years ago in protest over the U.S. failure
> to support even tougher U.N. inspections. Iraqi leaders, having
> frequently accused Ritter of spying on Iraq for the CIA, seem to
> view their erstwhile enemy as an asset in their propaganda war
> against the United States.
> 
> Ritter said his reassessment of the danger posed by Iraq's weapon
> programs was brought about by a change in his own job title. As a
> U.N. inspector, he was under orders from the U.N. Security Council
> to achieve 100 percent disarmament regarding prohibited weapons
> in Iraq, a standard Baghdad never met. As an independent
> observer, Ritter said he believes that Iraq's military has been
> sufficiently degraded by the U.N. inspectors to prevent Saddam
> Hussein from threatening his neighbors. However, Ritter has not
> articulated a persuasive explanation of why he is convinced Iraq will
> not present a future threat to the region.
> 
> Under terms of the 1991 Persian Gulf War cease-fire, Iraq is
> required to forgo the development of medium- and long-range
> missiles, and all chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. But
> U.N. inspectors have not been allowed into Iraq to test whether the
> government has met its obligation since they left in December
> 1998, on the verge of a U.S. and British bombardment.
> 
> U.S. officials contend Ritter is naively allowing himself to be used
> by Baghdad to further its efforts to reconstitute its weapon
> programs and say his visit will be used to support Baghdad's claim
> that it has abandoned its illegal programs.
> 
> "Having Iraq host Scott Ritter for a 'thanks for the memories'
> documentary is lovely, but it doesn't substitute for full cooperation
> with the U.N. inspection regime," said national security spokesman
> P. J. Crowley. "They had the opportunity to cooperate with Ritter
> when he was actually an inspector and didn't."
> 
> The documentary project has aroused the interest of federal law
> enforcement authorities. Ritter said that FBI agents have followed
> and questioned him and the film's producer, Tom Osborne, about
> their contacts with Iraqi officials and warned that Baghdad would
> seek to manipulate them into joining the Iraqi cause or at least into
> presenting a more favorable portrait of the regime.
> 
> U.S. citizens are prohibited from traveling to Iraq under an embargo
> imposed after Iraq invaded Kuwait. Violators face up to 12 years in
> prison and $1 million in fines, though there is an exemption for
> journalists, which Ritter maintains he meets.
> 
> Ritter said he intends to interview Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq
> Aziz and Oil Minister Amer Rashid, and visit existing and
> destroyed weapon facilities where he will investigate claims by
> Western intelligence sources that Iraq is developing new viral
> warfare agents in an underground installation.
> 
> "I thought a documentary that went in and actually gained access
> to these sites and interviewed the Iraqis would go a long way
> toward dispelling some of the rumors" about Iraq's arsenal," Ritter
> said. "But this isn't going to be a patsy rollover thing."
> 
> Ritter said he was first invited to Baghdad last year by the Iraqi
> government after the publication of his book "Endgame," which
> argued that the continuation of economic sanctions on Iraq was
> more "evil" than doing business with Saddam Hussein. "They were
> shocked by my position in the book," Ritter said.
> 
> Ritter said that several months later, at a hearing on Capitol Hill, he
> met Iraqi-born American businessman Shakir Alkafajii, who had
> heard Ritter attack U.S. policy toward Iraq. Alkafajii asked what
> Ritter could do to end the sanctions and break the impasse in
> relations between the United States and Iraq. "I said I could do a
> documentary," Ritter answered.
> 
> Alkafajii, who is accompanying Ritter as a "translator and cultural
> adviser," secured the travel visas for the crew and agreed to put up
> a $400,000 line of credit to finance the documentary.
> 
>                        2000 The Washington Post Company
> --
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