UN Security Council carpets Butler

UNITED NATIONS, Nov 12 (South News) -The UN Security Council held a closed-door meeting Wednesday after Russia demanded an explanation for the sudden decision to pull out all UNSCOM staff from Iraq.

One diplomat said that Russia asked for the council session "to carpet Butler," referring to the top UN weapons inspector Richard Butler.

The Australian diplomat failed to inform the full council until Wednesday of his decision taken late Tuesday to withdraw all arms experts from Baghdad following a meeting with US ambassador Peter Burleigh.

Burleigh presides the 15-member council for the month of November in a short press statement after three hours of discussions described as "tense" by some delegations, did not refer to criticism by China, Russia and France of a decision to pull out UN inspectors.

Burleigh said simply that the council had received a "thorough briefing" from UN security coordinator Benon Sevan. Butler did not speak at the meeting, diplomats said. Burleigh also said the council``welcomes and fully supports in all respects the press statement issued by the secretary-general'' earlier in the day.

Russian Ambassador Sergei Lavrov told reporters before the session: ``I would prefer to be awakened in the middle of the night, and summoned to the Security Council to be informed about the decision.''

``This is a crisis, it is an emergency,'' the ambassador said.

Lavrov said he wanted to know ``the chronology of events, and who took the decision and why, and at whose hint or order''. French Ambassador Alain Dejammet also complained to Butler by telephone about his failure to inform the full council expeditiously, diplomats said.

Butler said today that he took the decision to pull out all the UN weapons inspectors from Baghdad late yesterday after receiving a ``strong recommendation'' from the US government, which is threatening Iraq with possible military action.

Butler's comments at a news conference today prompted Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz torenew a charge that the UN agency was manipulated by Washington.

``This behaviour by the Special Commission was taken without the backing of the Security Council and proves once again that it takes its orders from the American government and that its links with the Security Council are nothing but a front,'' Aziz said.

Aziz's statement was distributed by the Iraqi news agency INA was also made identical comments in a letter to Annan, released by UN headquarters. Aziz noted that the Iraqi government had not asked UNSCOM and the IAEA to leave Iraq, and that under an October 31 Iraqi decision, while UNSCOM was barred from all activities, the IAEA could do some monitoring.

Butler, during the last major crisis with Baghdad one year ago, got into hotwater with permanent members China, France and Russia for deciding to pull out the arms inspectors without consulting the council.

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