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Friday, February 27, 1998 Published at 09:45 GMT




UN weapons inspector backs Iraq deal
image: [ Chief weapons inspector Richard Butler gives his backing ]
Chief weapons inspector Richard Butler gives his backing

The United Nations' chief weapons inspector in Iraq has backed the deal agreed by the UN and Iraq to allow inspections to go ahead.

The head of the UN Special Commission, UNSCOM, Richard Butler endorsed the deal signed earlier this week by the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, and the Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister, Tariq Aziz.

Mr Butler said: "As far as I am concerned, I welcome it. The arrangements are entirely satisfactory to the organisation I lead."

The BBC UN correspondent said Mr Butler's endorsement was politically vital for Mr Annan, whose deal with Baghdad has been criticised by some American politicians as a sell-out to Iraq.

'Criticisms not unexpected'


[ image: Mr Annan: Don't be disheartened]
Mr Annan: Don't be disheartened
As part of a bid to stop UN staff being disheartened by critics of the agreement, Mr Annan told them: "It is the (Security) Council, not a few critics, who will have the last word.

"It was not unexpected that there would be some criticism of us and misrepresentations of what we have done in Iraq, but you must not be disheartened," he said. "The alternative to the agreement would have ended UNSCOM's work."

America and Britain have been pressing for a UN resolution threatening military action should Iraq fail to co-operate, but France, Russia and China have strong reservations about this.

'Serious consequences'

Britain says it hopes to circulate a draft resolution referring only to serious consequences for Iraq, and is confident it will be adopted.

A Foreign Office spokesman in London said the resolution would also re-state the Security Council's position that sanctions against Baghdad could be lifted only after Iraq complied with the Council's resolutions.

Mr Butler's endorsement comes after the appointment of Sri Lankan diplomat Jayantha Dhanapala to head the new UN special group to oversee the inspection of presidential palaces in Iraq.

The appointment of diplomats to work alongside inspectors was designed to satisfy Iraq's concerns about dignity and national sovereignty.

However, Mr Annan has emphasised that Mr Butler remains in charge of UNSCOM.








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