Russia seeks bigger role in U.N. arms inspections
March 6, 1998
U.N. inspectors go to work Friday in Baghdad
Web posted at: 9:49 a.m. EST (1449 GMT)
UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- Russia again is urging U.N.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan to name a Russian to a top post
in the United Nations Special Commission, or UNSCOM, which
performs arms inspections in Iraq. Last November, a similar
Russian proposal was dismissed by the group.
Such a move would significantly increase Moscow's influence
over efforts to determine whether Iraq has complied with U.N.
orders to destroy long-range missiles and weapons of mass
The proposal was made Wednesday in a letter to Annan from
Russia's U.N. ambassador, Sergey Lavrov, who suggested that
Annan appoint a Russian as UNSCOM's second deputy chairman.
UNSCOM is headed by Richard Butler, an Australian. He has one
deputy chairman -- American Charles Duelfer.
Annan has the authority to name senior officials of the
commission without seeking the approval of the Security
There was no official reaction from the U.N. but an official
there told CNN that discussions on the idea "are under way."
One source said Annan already had decided to make the
appointment, but the timing of the announcement was
politically sensitive because of the possible adverse
reaction from Washington.
The United States has long resisted any changes in the
inspection program which would undermine UNSCOM's
independence and integrity. Diplomats who oppose the idea
also say it will add unnecessary bureaucracy to the U.N.'s
weapons monitoring system.
Iraq has claimed the commission is dominated by the United
States and Britain, and that they have manipulated the
inspection program to extend U.N. economic sanctions imposed
on Iraq after it invaded Kuwait in 1990.
Correspondent Richard Roth contributed to this report.