In the Iraq-United Nations chronicle, 1998 started with Unscom 227. Consisting of forty-three inspectors and their support staff, all working under Scott Ritter, it was divided into two operational teams, one headed by Ritter and the other by Dr Gabrielle Kraatz-Wadsack, a German biologist. On January 12, by Ritter's own account, Unscom 227 carried out seven inspections, including one at the General Security headquarters and another at the Abu Ghraib prison 6 miles (10 km) west of Baghdad. Following the earlier, incomplete inspection by Dr Diane Seaman, these investigations were focused on finding documents showing that the Iraqi government had conducted biological and chemical weapons experiments on political prisoners, arrested by General Security and held at the Abu Ghraib jail, in 1994-95. According to Ritter, his teams found the records on the dates in question missing.
Apparently, the Iraqis did not like the thrust of Unscom 227's investigation. But they could not possibly say so publicly. So they came up with an objection they had raised before and which had not been addressed - namely, the imbalanced composition of Unscom teams - and issued the following statement:
Iraq has decided to stop the work of the inspection team headed by Scott Ritter, and to withdraw permission for him to undertake any activities on its territory, starting from today, until the composition of the team is changed with the balanced participation of the permanent Security Council member states.
Unscom protested, saying that its team members came from seventeen countries. However, two-fifths of Unscom 227 inspectors were from America and Britain, with the remaining from fifteen other countries. Ritter's 16-member operational team consisted of 9 Americans, 5 Britons, 1 Australian and 1 Russian. 1 With nothing to do, Unscom 227 left Iraq on January 15. While Russia and China at the Security Council called for a more balanced composition of Unscom inspection teams, Washington rejected Moscow's offer to replace the US-made and operated U-2 reconnaissance aircraft used by Unscom with comparable Russian planes.