US used UNSCOM for attack: Ritter

SYDNEY, Jan 7 (South News) -A former UN weapons inspector claimed that the US military used information gathered by UN teams in its attacks on Iraq.

Scott Ritter's claims follow reports in the American media that the US effectively used UN staff in Iraq to spy on the security surrounding President Saddam Hussein.

Mr Ritter has told SBS radio that his boss, chief weapons inspector Richard Butler, knew what was going on. He said the US used what it learned in its attacks last month.

"I think it's quite obvious when you look at the facilities bombed by the United States in Operation Desert Fox that they were targetting locations based on information that UNSCOM had developed," he said.

"I find that reprehensible. UNSCOM was carrying out a mandated disarmament task, trying to do its job and the US basically corrupted that process."

Wednesday's Boston Globe, cited ex-US inspector Scott Ritter, said Washington took over an electronic-surveillance operation within the UNSCOM in April 1998.

"The US decided this system is too sensitive to be run by UNSCOM. They bullied their way in and took it over," Ritter is quoted as saying. "Now any data collected by this activity is not being assessed by UNSCOM. Now, the US gained 100 percent access and is not feeding any of it back."

The Globe report said the UNSCOM operation had begun in February 1996 to help UN inspectors track Baghdad's methods of keeping one step ahead of UN weapons inspectors.