Weapons inspector: Stop catering to Baghdad
Web posted at: 3:36 p.m. EDT (1936 GMT)
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NEW YORK (CNN) -- U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter told CNN that his resignation should serve as a "wake-up call" that the United Nations is abandoning the goal of eliminating Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.
Ritter, a seven-year veteran of the U.N. Special Commission (UNSCOM), charged with disarming Iraq after the Gulf War, announced his resignation in a scathing letter on Wednesday.
In an interview on CNN Thursday, the Gulf War veteran said the cease-fire resolution ending the war calls for Iraq to disarm before the war is officially terminated.
"Iraq is not disarming," he said. "This means that Iraq will, in effect, win the Gulf War."
Ritter said the U.N. Security Council and United States are allowing attention to be focused on Iraq's argument that sanctions should be lifted. He said this detracts from the 1991 U.N. resolution requiring the elimination of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction before sanctions are removed.
Ritter said he hopes his resignation will "send a wake-up call that their (the United States and United Nations) methodology, their path, is not working, it will not work."
"If they continue down this path, there will be a compromise solution, the special commission will be compelled to close files prematurely and the end result will be that Iraq will be allowed to maintain the weapons of mass destruction," Ritter said.
"This is a resolution. Its laws are clear. Iraq is in violation of the laws. The Security Council (including the United States) must be willing to enforce its laws," he emphasized.
Ritter charged that the Security Council's failure to enforce the mandate has made it difficult for the weapons inspectors to do their job.
"We are not able to move, we're constrained by their inaction, and we're also constrained by the fact that they've punted a large part of the responsibility to the office of the (U.N.) Secretary-General."
Ritter said U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's "role in this is not constructive, is not conducive to disarming Iraq."
Ritter said that Annan's February intervention in the weapons inspections standoff that Baghdad instigated last fall created an even more difficult atmosphere for the weapons inspectors.
"I view his role as being basically a sounding board for Iraqi beefs with the special commission, and all of these serve nothing more than to distract everybody away from the key issue at hand, which is the disarmament of Iraq," Ritter told CNN.
"Iraq is not disarmed, the commission can not verify that all weapons and capability to produce weapons are indeed disposed of, destroyed, removed, or rendered harmless in accordance with provisions of the Security Council resolution," he said.
Ritter's resignation letter was reportedly highly critical of Annan and the U.N. Security Council. Annan on Thursday issued a statement saying he does "nothing at the behest of Iraq" and that Ritter's charges are a gross misrepresentation of the things Annan has proposed.
"I'll let actions speak louder than words," Ritter told CNN, when asked his response to Annan's statement.
Ritter also said the Iraqis are "absolutely" aware that they are exploiting the sanctions issue.
"Every time the Security Council moves away from enforcement (of the resolution), it gives the Iraqis more confidence, more belief that continued obstruction by Iraq will only lead to continued moving away from confrontation," he said.
Each boost in Iraqi confidence, Ritter said, creates an even bigger gap in its relationship with the Security Council, and makes it even harder to bring the Iraqis into compliance with the disarmament mandate.
In a news conference following Ritter's interview on CNN, Butler said he unwillingly accepted Ritter's resignation.
"Scott and I agree that there is still work of disarmament to be done, contrary to what Iraq (has said)," Butler said, adding that he would continue to press for Baghdad's total compliance.
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