Iraq standoff: The Ritter factor
January 15, 1998
Web posted at: 9:31 a.m. EST (1431 GMT)
In this story:
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraq accuses U.N. weapons inspector
Scott Ritter of being a U.S. spy. What may really bother
Baghdad, however, is not Ritter, but the job he does.
Ritter, a former U.S. Marine who served in the 1991 Gulf War,
should be carrying out a "technical or scientific job," but,
instead, is acting more like a policeman, according to Deputy
Prime Minister Tariq Aziz.
While U.N. officials won't reveal the specifics of his
assignment, Ritter's mission is to determine if Iraq is
concealing banned weapons and documents,. His no-notice
inspections are said to have surprised Iraqi officials
As members of the U.N. Special Commission (UNSCOM), Ritter
and his colleagues must certify Iraq is free of weapons of
mass destruction before the world body will lift Gulf War
But Aziz said his government could not accept a situation in
which "the adversary is the judge" of Iraq.
During his 12 years in the U.S. military, Ritter was a Scud
missile tracker with the intelligence staff of Gulf War
commanding Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf.
Ritter and his team never left the U.N. compound Thursday in Bagdad
Later, sources say, he worked with the United Nations as a
missile site inspector in Russia.
Seeking out what may be hidden
Ritter, a U.N. weapons inspector dealing with Iraq since he
left the Marines in 1991, has been leading a concealment team
set up following the defection of Hussein Kamel.
Kamel, a senior official in the Iraqi government and
son-in-law of Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, fled Iraq in
August 1995, taking with him many of Iraq's most tightly
Baghdad, in an effort at damage control, responded by taking
U.N. inspectors to Kamel's farm outside the Iraqi capital.
There, under a chicken coop, the inspectors found boxes of
documents relating to Iraq's program to develop and produce
weapons of mass destruction.
After this incident, the concealment team's job has been to
make sure that sort of deception never happens again.
Stopped after one day of inspections
While other arms monitors go out from their Baghdad
headquarters with two or three cars, Ritter's team,
officially termed mission 227, leaves in a massive convoy.
Their itinerary on the one day they went out this week before
being prevented from conducting further inspections included
a military hospital and a hotel management institute adjacent
to UNSCOM headquarters.
Iraqi officials claim the goal was to investigate allegations
it is spying on the inspectors' communication systems.
The government of President Saddam Hussein also accuses
Ritter of trying to find evidence that Iraq tested chemical
and biological agents on prisoners. U.N. reports have said
that Iraq tested biological toxins on animals, including
sheep, donkeys, monkeys and dogs.
Aziz dismissed reports that Iraq had tested chemical and
biological agents on prisoners in the summer of 1995.
"Never. It is a sheer lie," he said.
Correspondent Ben Wedeman contributed to this report.
Iraq Standoff Main |
Latest Stories |