Wednesday, August 5, 1998 Published at 16:52 GMT 17:52 UK
World: Middle East
Iraq arms talks collapse
Richard Butler (centre) - curtailing his Baghdad mission
The UN's chief arms inspector has left Baghdad after talks with Iraq collapsed, prompting the threat of a fresh crisis in the Middle East.
Baghdad rejected UN proposals designed to ensure that Iraq is fulfilling its commitments to destroy weapons of mass destruction.
The elimination of such arms is a pre-condition for the lifting of UN sanctions imposed after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait eight years ago.
The BBC correspondent in Baghdad, Roger Hearing, says Iraq appears to be challenging the whole weapons inspection process, not just a specific issue as it did in June over access to what were termed presidential sites.
Inspectors accused of pro-US bias
The inspection programme was agreed in June with Mr Butler.
Baghdad was told to comply with the plans if it wanted sanctions lifted.
Mr Butler's latest visit was intended to assess to what extent Baghdad had complied.
"We were here seven weeks ago and at that time agreed to a programme of work - I would call it an accelerated programme of work - through which we hope to get to the end of the disarmament issues," said Mr Butler.
But as the war of words escalated, the Iraqis accused UN weapons inspectors of "acting dishonestly".
He said: "The manner in which the inspection teams have acted recently is neither honest nor fast.
"This policy serves the United States.
Our correspondent says the Iraqi Government seems to have largely given up hope of early progress through the UN and normal diplomatic channels.
He says the signs are that it is looking for other ways to get what it wants.