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Tuesday, November 17, 1998 Published at 16:27 GMT


Butler: Iraqi hate figure

Richard Butler: Tough line has infuriated the Iraqis

The Head of the United Nations Special Commission (Unscom) in Iraq is accustomed to being in the hot seat.

Since he replaced Rolf Ekeus on 1 July 1997, as head of the UN weapons inspectors, Richard Butler has been repeatedly criticised by the Iraqi government and media, who consider him "America's man".

One government-controlled newspaper described him as a "mad dog".

The 56-year-old Australian diplomat made his reputation as a disarmament negotiator while ambassador to the conference on disarmament in Geneva from 1983 to 1988.

Back in the 1960s, he worked with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). He has also spent five years as Australia's envoy to the UN.

Tough diplomat

Despite intense pressure from Iraq and its supporters, Richard Butler has refused to give Baghdad a clean bill of health, and thus allow the lifting of sanctions.

Not all UN Security Council members share Washington's appreciation for his tough stance.

Recently Moscow suggested appointing a Russian as a second deputy chairman of Unscom, so as to balance the commission and mollify the Iraqis.

The move was rejected by the US, which said that such an appointment could only be made by Mr Butler himself.

Currently he has one deputy, the American Charles Duelfer.

Known for his bluntness

His remarks have often caused controversy.

During the latest crisis with Iraq, he was quoted as saying that Baghdad has enough biological weapons to "blow away Tel Aviv" - a remark that had caused panic in Israel.

In a recent interview in Sydney he described the Iraqi presidential palaces that were to be inspected by his team as "marbled edifices of kitsch".



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