Differences between Russia and the United States over UN policy toward Iraq seem likely to sharpen following a briefing by UNSCOM weapons inspectors delivered to Security Council members yesterday. According to Bill Richardson, Washington’s ambassador to the UN, “UNSCOM has dealt a devastating blow to Iraq’s credibility.” Diplomats said that UNSCOM chief inspector Richard Butler had demonstrated a pattern of concealment by Iraq of its missile production. Weapons inspectors working under Butler reportedly showed council members U-2 spy plane photographs, documents and other previously classified data–all raising questions about Iraq’s compliance with its commitments to the UN. The briefing by UNSCOM is set to resume this morning. Richardson, meanwhile, said after yesterday’s session that sanctions against Iraq “are not near to being lifted. (Reuter, UPI, June 3)
Yesterday’s developments came a day after an Iraqi delegation –at Russia’s invitation–came to the UN in order to present its own informal briefing to Security Council members. After that meeting, British Ambassador John Weston dismissed the Iraqi presentation as “an exercise in obfuscation.” Despite the questions left unanswered by the Iraqi authorities, however, and the evidence supplied by UNSCOM, diplomats say that pressure continues to build within the Security Council for a lifting of the sanctions on Iraq. (AP, June 2) Moscow has long embraced that position, and has worked with France and China to ease UN policy toward Iraq. The United States, backed particularly by Britain, has taken a harder line on the sanctions issue. Baghdad must be cleared by both UNSCOM and the International Atomic Energy Agency before the Security Council can move to lift the sanctions imposed following Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
PERMANENT SECURITY COUNCIL MEMBERS MEET IN GENEVA.