Wednesday, June 2, 1999 Published at 03:02 GMT 04:02 UK
World: Middle East
Unscom lab safety probed
Unscom left a laboratory and equipment in Baghdad
United Nations weapons inspectors are to investigate the safety of a batch of chemicals they left behind in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.
Russia's UN ambassador, Sergei Lavrov, wants assurances that what he calls an unbiased team will be despatched to Baghdad to remove and neutralise the chemical agents, which were left in the organisation's offices.
Western diplomats have accused Russia of exaggerating the threat posed by the chemicals as part of a long-term campaign against both Unscom and its outgoing chief, Richard Butler.
The inspectors pulled out of Iraq in December 1998, hours before the US and Britain launched air strikes. Inspections work has now ground to a halt.
The Security Council is still considering what kind of agency should take over the job of monitoring weapons in Iraq.
There are two rival schemes under discussion - one proposed by Russia and the other by Britain and the Netherlands.
Unscom says it was already assessing how to deal with the mustard gas and with the samples, which it describes as minuscule and not dangerous.