The Security Council this morning deplored the statement by the Iraqi official spokesman of 12 January, by which the Government of Iraq informed of its decision to halt the work of a new inspection team of the United Nations Special Commission -- set up under Security Council resolution 687 (1991) in connection with the disposal of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.
In a statement read out by its President, Alain Dejammet (France), the Council also deplored Iraq's subsequent failure to fulfil its obligations to provide the UNSCOM with full, unconditional and immediate access to all sites. The Council determined that such failure was unacceptable and a clear violation of relevant resolutions.
The Council reiterated its demand that Iraq cooperate fully, immediately and without conditions or restrictions with the Special Commission in accordance with relevant resolutions, which constitute the governing standard of Iraqi compliance.
The Council expressed its full support for the Special Commission and its Executive Chairman, including in his forthcoming travel to Iraq to continue his discussions with officials of the Iraqi Government aimed at the full implementation of the relevant resolutions and at increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of the Special Commission's operations to that end.
By its statement, the Council requested a full briefing by the Executive Chairman on those discussions as soon as possible after they had taken place, so that the Council could decide on an appropriate response.
The meeting, which began at 1:05 p.m., was adjourned at 1:10 p.m.
The full text of the statement, which will be issued as document S/1998/PRST/1, reads as follows:
"The Security Council deplores the statement of the Iraqi official spokesman of 12 January 1998 and Iraq's subsequent failure to fulfil its obligations to provide the Special Commission with full, unconditional, and immediate access to all sites. The Council determines that this failure is unacceptable and a clear violation of the relevant resolutions.
"The Security Council recalls the statement of its President of 29 October 1997 in which the Council condemned the decision of the Government of Iraq to try to dictate the terms of its compliance with its obligations to cooperate with the Special Commission.
"The Security Council reiterates its demand, contained in resolution 1137 (1997), that Iraq cooperate fully and immediately and without conditions or restrictions with the Special Commission in accordance with the relevant resolutions, which constitute the governing standard of Iraqi compliance.
"The Security Council expresses its full support for the Special Commission and its Executive Chairman, including in his forthcoming travel to Iraq to continue his discussions with officials of the Government of Iraq aimed at the full implementation of the relevant resolutions and at increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of the operations of the Special Commission to this end. In this context, the Council recalls the statements of its President of 3 December 1997 and 22 December 1997 and encourages the efforts reported to it by the Executive Chairman.
"The Security Council requests a full briefing by the Executive Chairman on these discussions as soon as possible after they have taken place, so that it can decide as necessary on an appropriate response on the basis of the relevant resolutions.
"The Security Council will remain seized of the matter."
Letters to Council President
In considering the situation with respect to the Special Commission's inspection activity in Iraq, the Council had before it a 12 January letter to its President from Richard Butler, Executive Chairman of the Special Commission, as well as a 13 January letter from the Permanent Representative of Iraq.
Security Council - 3 - Press Release SC/6468 3848th Meeting (PM) 14 January 1998
Annexed to the Executive Chairman's letter (document S/1998/27) is a 12 January letter from the Permanent Representative of Iraq transmitting a copy of the statement made by the official spokesman of the Government of Iraq concerning its decision to halt the work of the inspection team led by Scott Ritter, an American. "The team will not be permitted to undertake any activities inside Iraq until such time as its composition is reviewed and made more balanced by the equal participation of the permanent members of the Security Council", the Permanent Representative states.
In his statement, the spokesman describes the arrival of the team in question as "a blatant indication of the lack of balance in the composition of the Special Commission and its working practices in Iraq. The aforementioned team has nine American and five British members, one Russian and one Australian." It goes on to state that "United States and British control of the Commission is the reason for the continuing sanctions against Iraq".
"The Americans who control the Special Commission centre and its activities in Iraq falsify facts and fabricate lies", the spokesman continues. "Their intention is to prolong matters and they submit fallacious reports to the Security Council ... We cannot accept the continuation of this situation." He states that the composition of the team also represents a lack of respect for the requests made by other States, particularly permanent Council members, to play a greater role in the Commission's work.
Addressing the issues raised by Iraq, Mr. Butler states that Mr. Ritter, as Chief Inspector of UNSCOM 227, arrived in Iraq on 11 January, accompanied by 15 visiting inspectors, with the intention of conducting inspections until 16 January. The overall team, which also draws on staff resident in Baghdad and other visiting inspectors as needed, consisted of 44 persons from 17 nations.
As arranged with the Iraqi Government the prior evening, the whole team proceeded to conduct inspections at seven sites on the morning of 12 January, Mr. Butler states. Iraq declared three of those sites as "sensitive" and was unable to decide upon the categories it would assign to one of the remaining sites. Prior to completion of the 12 January inspection, the statement by the official Iraqi spokesman was issued.
Mr. Butler stresses that, "under the inspection plan for the period from 12 to 16 January, the team to be deployed to any given site would be drawn up on the basis of the nature of the site, the objective of the inspection at the site, the expertise required for the successful conduct of an inspection and the expertise held by individual inspectors".
Security Council - 4 - Press Release SC/6468 3848th Meeting (PM) 14 January 1998
The Executive Chairman goes on to cite the Council's repeated decisions that Iraq must cooperate fully and immediately with the Commission, without conditions or restrictions, and that it may not dictate the composition of the Commission, its headquarters staff or inspection teams. He proposes to instruct the Chief Inspector to again attempt to proceed with his business on 13 January.
The letter from Iraq's Permanent Representative (document S/1998/28) responds to the letter of the Executive Chairman. With respect to the size and composition of the inspection team in question, he states that when a team comes from New York, it is normal for it to be assisted by persons working at the Baghdad Monitoring and Verification Centre (BMVC). However their participation is mostly of a logistic nature, including that of drivers and equipment operators. It is not connected with the substance of the inspection and does not alter the true nature of the composition of a particular team.
Mr. Butler's statement that the Iraqi side failed to specify the nature of the sites in question is untrue, the Permanent Representative states, as "the names of the sites indicate what they are". In visiting the three sensitive sites -- a General Security facilities complex, the Intelligence Service (Mukhabarat) site, and the Directorate of General Security headquarters -- only four BMVC personnel participated with Mr. Ritter's team. "This confirms that it was the original, unbalanced team that carried out the actual inspection activities." Also contrary to Mr. Butler's letter, the 12 January inspections concluded at 4:40 p.m., prior to the official Iraq statement which was issued at 6 p.m.
The Permanent Representative goes on to raise concerns about the reasons given by Mr. Ritter to his Iraqi escorts for the inspections. These included efforts "to ascertain the presence of any means of spying" on the Special Commission. Justifications were given as "a pretext that was fabricated in order to establish a connection to justify the inspection of a sensitive security service". It is clear that the team's objective was to demonstrate the existence of alleged connections between the Iraqi security services and dubious activities. That the team was made up of Americans and British "confirms this", since it is the United States and British authorities which are giving currency to such false allegations with a view to misleading the Council.
The main reason for Iraq's decision to halt the work of the team in question until it is restructured is that "its composition lacks balance and that this lack of balance has an essentially political significance", the Permanent Representative states. "As long as the composition of the Special Commission and the composition of the inspection teams reporting to the Security Council remains thus, the embargo will remain in place and will continue to murder Iraqis in the service of the undeclared United States policy against Iraq."
* *** *