[news] raq Arms Experts Probably Spied - Swed

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Posted by Jeff from pcp02828637pcs.roylok01.mi.comcast.net ( on Thursday, October 03, 2002 at 10:08PM :

raq Arms Experts Probably Spied - Swede Inspector
Thu Oct 3, 6:28 PM ET

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Some United Nations ( news - web sites) inspectors looking for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in the 1990s probably spied on behalf of their governments, a Swede who worked as an inspector said on Thursday.

"There were episodes you could sense were strange. One team member made too many copies of documents. Then there were those who went to their embassies at night although they were not really allowed to do so," Ake Sellstrom told Swedish public service SVT television news.

Sellstrom was employed by the U.N. weapons inspection organization UNSCOM led by American Scott Ritter, whom Baghdad repeatedly accused of spying. The inspectors were forced to leave Iraq in December 1998.

A divided U.N. Security Council is currently debating whether a new team of inspectors, now called UNMOVIC and led by Swede Hans Blix, should travel to Iraq and begin a new search for Baghdad's alleged stockpiles of chemical, biological and possibly nuclear weapons.

Sellstrom said information obtained by means of electronic surveillance of Iraqi security forces' communications had clearly fallen into wrong hands -- such as the U.S. and Israeli military -- during his time with UNSCOM.

Some targets checked out by the weapons inspectors were bombed by the United States and its allies just a week later, Sellstrom said.

Jean Pascal Zanders, head of chemical and biological warfare studies at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), told a news conference earlier on Thursday that new Iraqi weapons inspections would be extremely difficult to carry out.

"If they don't come up with something in one or two months, then the United States will say 'This shows that inspections don't work' while Iraq will say 'You see, we don't have any weapons'."

"We need inspections over a large timeframe," Zanders said.

SIPRI researcher John Hart said Iraq had managed to keep its biological weapons program secret for four years after the inspections began in the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War ( news - web sites).

Pointing out that "chemical and biological weapons leave very small footprints that cannot be picked up by satellites," Zanders said it was vital that UNMOVIC's inspectors get unfettered access to all areas in Iraq.

Discrepancies between information provided by Iraq and data gathered by UNSCOM by the time the inspectors had to leave suggested Baghdad may have had more than 20,000 pieces of munitions and 1.5 tons of VX nerve gas by the end of 1998, he said.

U.N. arms inspectors made clear on Thursday they would delay their initial inspections in Iraq until the U.N. Security Council completed work on a new resolution the United States and Britain have drafted.

-- Jeff
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