Once again UNSCOM provocation in Iraq
By Dave Muller

Year in year out, Rolf Ekeus, Chairman, UN Special Commission on Iraq or his office continue to make provocative statements just before the Security Council considers the status of the sanctions against Iraq. UNSCOM statements have become the critical factor in overcoming opposition in the United Nations and the international community to sanctions against the people of Iraq. He has repeatedly permitted himself and his office to be used by the UN Security Council to justify continuation of the sanctions while he searches for "items" he is convinced still exist in Iraq. This cruel and endless hoax of new disclosures and provocation every two months has become so repetitive and predictable that the whole process has become a farce.

Like clockwork Rolf Ekeus has complained again to the UN Security Council that Iraq blocked a UN team.- two sites last Thursday and a third location on last Wednesday. Despite being granted access to some 40 other sites he complains that the government of Iraq blocked inspections of the Iraqi intelligence service headquarters and two presidential sites.

According to INA, Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz has accused some UN arms inspectors of trying to probe into Iraq's internal security apparatus. He said that Iraq had banned UN inspectors from entering three sites last week because they were sensitive for security reasons.

" Colonel Ritter, the chief inspector who insisted without any justification on the entry into these sites, is an officer in the U.S. Army,'' Aziz said, adding that the Council was ``aware of the United States' position towards Iraq and its political regime.''

`` We have serious concern that the entry into these sites does not aim to implement the mandate of the Special Commission...but to make use of the facilities available to the Special Commission as a cover to detect the security systems of Iraq ...and the security of its leadership,'' Aziz said, according to INA. `` Colonel Scott Ritter...requested to enter the office of the political section in the Intelligence Service which contains the secrets of this service. We did not allow him to do so. `` Colonel Ritter requested to go to a site related to the security of the Presidency which had been already inspected twice...This time we did not allow him to do so,''

It comes as no surprise that the government of Iraq will not help the US intelligence community gather information that will used for yet another US funded covert assassination attempt. It is Ekeus and Ritter that the UN should censure not the government of Iraq. The credibility of Iraqi complaints about the bias of UN personnel dealing with the country can only be enhanced by the public knowledge that the entire Special Commission on Iraq is run by loan personnel. All 112 staff of the UN Special Commission responsible for disarming Iraq are gratis personnel who owe no allegiance to the world organisation but only to their national masters. The US alone supplies about 60 funded on loan personnel to the UN while withholding its UN dues that could employ genuinely independent personnel.

UNSCOM has been working in Iraq for some six years. It has sent nearly 400 inspection teams, comprising some four thousand international inspectors in addition to its established staff located in Baghdad, which comprise 90 officials. It is inconceivable that this commission has been unable until now to accomplish its mission. If not what has this huge army of inspectors been doing all this time. Did they come to Iraq for a holiday?

Yet the direct consequence of UNSCOM procrastination is the death of hundreds of thousands of innocent and helpless infants, children, the elderly and chronically ill Iraqis. Millions are presently at risk of death from malnutrition and the vast majority of the population suffer permanent physical injury from the sanctions. The current increase in the death rate, directly caused by the sanctions, is 10,000 people in Iraq per month! With the coming summer heat and the weakened condition of the people, the rate will increase more with the possibility of uncontrollable epidemics.

The notion of an impartial UN civil servant has gone out of the window and Australian ambassador Richard Butler will have a tough job reigning in these rogue UNSCOM officers when he takes over from Ekeus on July 1. No failure to comply with any United Nations resolution can possibly justify the collective punishment of the entire people of Iraq. No hidden arms, or arms program in Iraq can possibly pose a threat to life anywhere, that the sanctions inflict on the Iraqis every day.

Yet a deeper question that needs to be asked is whether the American refusal to pay all of its UN dues and paring down the budgets of the UN and its agencies underline the hidden agenda of appointing more loan personnel in key posts.

June 17 1997