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EDITIONS
Monday, 2 March, 1998, 23:15 GMT
Iraq tests limits of weapons inspections deal
clash
Richard Butler and Nizar Hamdoon differ over who is now in charge
A new row has erupted between the head of the United Nations weapons inspectors, Richard Butler, and Iraqi officials.

The dispute is over the deal agreed in Baghdad by the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan.

annan
Kofi Annan's peace deal is already the focus of argument
Iraq's UN ambassador, Nizar Hamdoon, said that, under the agreement, Mr Annan will now be in charge of site inspections. But Mr Butler has insisted he will retain control as before.

In response to whether Mr Butler would be in charge of the operation, Mr Hamdoon said: "Well, it depends on how you see it."

Mr Butler replied that Mr Hamdoon's answer "troubled" him "because actually it doesn't depend on how you see it."

"It's perfectly clear ... It is unambiguous," he said.

Crucial issue

The dispute relates to a crucial issue in the agreement between Iraq and the UN.

Under the deal, diplomats appointed by a UN commissioner will accompany the weapons inspectors in visits to the so-called 'presidential' sites at the centre of the dispute.

The UN insists the arrangement does not undermine the authority of the weapons inspection team, UNSCOM, but Baghdad thinks otherwise.

A resolution endorsing the deal between Iraq and the UN could be adopted by the Security Council on Monday, but it is still not clear whether Britain and the US will persuade the other members of the council to include a tough warning of serious consequences if Iraq does not live up to its obligations.

According to the BBC correspondent in Baghdad, China and Russia have said that a resolution is not necessary because Mr Annan's agreement, which averted a US-led military strike, has legal authority on its own.

Britain and the US however, want to make sure that anything achieved by Mr Annan is also approved by the council.

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Richard Butler: The core of what we do stays the same
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