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Monday, 9 September, 2002, 22:49 GMT 23:49 UK
Profile: Scott Ritter
Scott Ritter
Ritter says US policies on Iraq are wrong
Former United Nations weapons inspector Scott Ritter is no stranger to controversy.

Iraq should be subjected to a major campaign that seeks to destroy the regime of Saddam Hussein

Scott Ritter 1998

In September 2002 he told officials in Baghdad that military action against Iraq was unjustified.

Since he resigned from the UN weapons inspection team four years ago, Mr Ritter has been the most outspoken critic of US policy towards Baghdad.

He has argued that the inspection team, Unscom, was a nest of US spies and that Iraq was disarmed long ago.

But he first made the headlines in 1997, when as a senior Unscom member he was accused by Iraq of being an American spy himself.

Confrontation

Scott Ritter was born in 1960 to a military family. He joined the armed forces after university and worked as a military intelligence officer in the 1980s.

The truth of the matter is that Iraq today is not a threat to its neighbours and is not acting in a manner which threatens anyone outside of its own borders

Scott Ritter, 2002
During the Gulf War he served as a ballistic missile expert under General Norman Schwarzkopf, and joined Unscom in late 1991.

He took part in more than 30 inspection missions and 14 as team leader.

Initially, his relationship with Iraq was bad. His unannounced visits were said to have surprised Iraqi officials, who in 1997 accused him of being a US spy.

In early 1998 an inspection by Mr Ritter's team led to the most serious confrontation between Baghdad and the UN since the Gulf War, and eventually to Unscom leaving Iraq.

In August 1998, Mr Ritter resigned from his job, accusing the Security Council and the United States of caving in to the Iraqis.

To compel Iraq into compliance, he told the BBC that year: "Iraq should be subjected to a major campaign that seeks to destroy the regime of Saddam Hussein."

'Mistake'

Soon after his high-profile resignation, Mr Ritter was back in the headlines with further criticism of Washington and the UN.

Inspectors leave Iraq in 1998
UN inspectors in Iraq packed their bags in 1998
Only this time he accused Western powers of being too tough, rather than too soft, on the Iraqis.

In late 1998, Mr Ritter called US and British military strikes against Iraq a "horrible mistake".

He forced UN chief inspector Richard Butler to apologise to him after Mr Butler accused Mr Ritter of breaking the law by speaking publicly about his work in Iraq.

In 1999 he published a book, Endgame, where he argued that Unscom's mission had been compromised by Washington's use of inspections to spy on the Iraqis.

Last year he produced a documentary entitled Shifting Sands: The Truth about Unscom and the Disarming of Iraq.

He said that his team was satisfied that Iraq had destroyed 98% of its weapons by 1995.

'No threat'

Mr Ritter accused the US Government of deliberately setting new standards of disarmament criteria to maintain UN sanctions and justify continued bombing raids.

He also said Iraq "did co-operate to a very significant degree with the UN inspection process" and blamed the US and the UK for the breakdown.

Mr Ritter essentially repeated those views during his trip to Baghdad last year.

He said the US seemed "on the verge of an historic mistake".

"My government is making a case for war against Iraq that is built upon fear and ignorance," he added.

"The truth of the matter is that Iraq today is not a threat to its neighbours and is not acting in a manner which threatens anyone outside of its own borders."


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08 Sep 02 | Media reports
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