Magazine article Newsweek

Saddam's Stone Wall: Iraq Still Hasn't Satisfied the U.N. Inspectors

Magazine article Newsweek

Saddam's Stone Wall: Iraq Still Hasn't Satisfied the U.N. Inspectors

Article excerpt

When United Nations arms inspectors arrived at the Radwaniyah presidential compound in Baghdad earlier this month, smiling Iraqi officials met them, offering tea. The smiles didn't last; the Iraqis were furious when the inspectors said they wanted to take aerial photographs of the complex. The argument became so heated that Secretary-General Kofi Annan had to intervene via telephone to get approval for the pictures. Despite the departure from their script, the Iraqis got the outcome they wanted. As the experts continued their inspection of Radwaniyah, they found what they had expected to find: nothing-no trace of Iraqi efforts to build weapons of mass destruction. But that's not the end of it.

Saddam Hussein thought perfunctory visits to his presidential palaces would be a prelude to the end of the inspections. Instead, a new U.N. assessment, released last week, said the Iraqis are still lying about their weapons program. In his semiannual report to the Security Council, chief investigator Richard Butler said Baghdad had made "virtually no progress in verifying disarmament." In fact, the inspectors found evidence that Iraq may still have the capability to produce chemical and biological weapons. "The Iraqis are behaving nicely," says a senior U.N. official, "but they haven't changed their policy."

That could set off a dispute when the Security Council meets next week to discuss the report and argue about lifting the economic sanctions imposed on Iraq. Last fall, Butler quietly made a major concession to Saddam: Iraq and the inspectors would each make their case to international panels of experts in "Technical Evaluation Meetings"--TEMs in U.N. jargon. This would offset the strong American and British presence on the inspection teams by subjecting them to review by Russian, French and other experts potentially friendlier to Iraq. …

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