- A leading United Nations weapons inspector
has resigned, accusing the Security Council, the United States and the
UN secretary general of surrendering to the Iraqi leadership.
- In his letter of resignation, Scott Ritter
said the Security Council's reaction to Iraq's decision earlier this month
to suspend co-operation with the inspection team made a mockery of its
- In the letter, which is described as
"explosive", Mr Ritter accused the secretary general of allowing
his office to become a "sounding board" for Iraqi grievances.
- Mr Ritter, an American, also accused
the Iraqi Government of lying to the world about the scope and nature of
its weapons systems.
- Observers say his feelings are likely
to be shared by other weapons inspectors.
- Mr Ritter has been regularly been accused
by the Iraqis of spying for the United States.
- In terms of the ceasefire which ended
the Gulf War in 1991, the UN established a Special Commission (UNSCOM)
to monitor the dismantling of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.
- In exchange for the lifting of sanctions,
Iraq was required to provide the UN with details of such weapons, to agree
to their dismantling, and to undertake not to develop any more weapons
in the future.
- The present impasse over the weapons
inspections dates to early in August, when UN Chief Weapons Inspector Richard
Butler refused to comply with an Iraqi demand that he declare the country
to be free of weapons of mass destruction, before the UN inspectors had
completed their programme.
- Two weeks ago, the US State Department
was reported to have put pressure on Mr Butler not to make surprise weapons
inspections in Iraq, in order to ease the tensions between Washington and
- However, both US Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright and Mr Butler denied these reports.