11 January 1999
(UN Security Council will soon decide UNSCOM's future role) (530) By William B. Reinckens USIA Staff Writer Washington -- Richard Butler, Chairman of UNSCOM (United Nations Special Commission), repeated his denial January 11 that UNSCOM's weapons inspections programs for Iraq were used for spying. "All assistance given to us were for the purposes of disarmament and monitoring," Butler told a group of non-proliferation experts at a conference sponsored by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. "Over the next few weeks or months," Butler said, the United Nations Security Council will make a final decision about the future role of UNSCOM. He said council members are now engaged in a vigorous debate and predicted that a new "modernized" UNSCOM would emerge with better tools to carry out its mission. Butler noted that while the Security Council debate continues, he has ordered intelligence flights over Iraq by the United States and France to cease. "Our record is outstanding," Butler asserted when asked if the weapons inspection program had lost it credibility because of recent news accounts that it allegedly shared information with U.S. intelligence agencies. Butler noted that over the past eight years, between 7,000 - 8,000 inspectors from 35 to 40 countries have served as weapons inspectors in Iraq. "We have destroyed more weapons than during the (Gulf) war," he added. Having UNSCOM inspectors inside Iraq has been a deterrent to Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction programs, pinpointed weapons that were to be destroyed and identified dual use items that could be used to produce chemical or biological weapons or for missiles, Butler said. Even though UNSCOM is not operating inside Iraq today, Butler noted that its work continues and that the organization is finding valuable information in its archives. He also said that he had no intention of resigning from his post and predicted that once the Security Council completes its review, UNSCOM will return to Iraq to complete its work. "The purpose of all this is to bring Iraq into final compliance," Butler said. "It has taken eight years and the job is still not completed." He blames Iraq for dragging out the arms inspection process because "Iraq never kept its side of the bargain by not making honest disclosure statements of its prohibitive weapons and weapons capabilities." Butler also denounced Iraq for "an active policy of concealing weapons and components from the commission." "Iraq is a party to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and the biological weapons convention. Yet it cheated on them," he said. "Iraq's behavior has raised very grave challenges to the authority of the Security Council and the to the credibility of efforts to verify compliance with the non-proliferation regime," he contended. Butler further stated that there is international consensus supporting UNSCOM's efforts to conduct weapons inspections and expanded monitoring inside Iraq and that the current debate is "about what plan to adopt." Only through cooperation with UNSCOM inspections can Iraq ever have a chance to see economic sanctions lifted, Butler declared.