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ARAB-CIS RELATIONS - Apr. 20 - Russia Concerned About Inspection Agency.

Russia says it is concerned that the new UN arms inspection agency for Iraq is not different enough from its contentious predecessor, and wants new measures to help head off friction between the agency and Baghdad. (Russia had joined in the Security Council's unanimous endorsement of the organisational plan submitted by Hans Blix, the executive chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission.) But in a statement issued in New York on Apr. 20, Russia's foreign ministry says: "The practical aspects of the new commission's activities require substantial revision". The statement says Blix's plan for his office lacks provision for political advisers who would work with inspectors "and make it possible to avert potential clashes and disputes with Iraq". (Russia has repeatedly complained that the former chief inspector, Richard Butler, was too quick to complain to the council over problems with access to suspected weapons sites - problems Russia believes could have been worked out by legal or political advisers.) In the statement, Moscow also questions Blix's "overstated assessment" about the benefits of retaining inspectors from the previous arms agency, the UN Special Commission, which Butler headed. And it criticises what it calls the lack of procedures for monitoring and obtaining Baghdad's support. The statement says: "There must be no return to Butler's working methods". (The Security Council created the new commission, known as UNMOVIC, in December to replace the Special Commission, which was stung by allegations that UN inspectors spied on Iraq on behalf of the US. Blix's organisational plan took pains to outline ways he would guard against similar problems, saying all employees would be paid for by the UN - not individual countries - and would be forbidden from accepting any instructions from governments.) The Russian statement, however, indicates that deep divisions over Iraq weapons monitoring remain among the Security Council members and that Moscow will keep a close eye on how the new agency goes about its work. (Russia, along with China, France and Malaysia, abstained from the December resolution creating UNMOVIC, saying it was unclear. Weapons inspectors left Iraq in Dec. 1998 ahead of US and British air-strikes, launched to punish Iraq for failing to co-operate with arms searches. Top Iraqi officials have said Baghdad would not accept new UN weapons inspectors, but others have left open the possibility of compromise. Iraq has said it has destroyed all of its weapons of mass destruction and deserves to have sanctions imposed after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait lifted. UN inspectors say there are still questions about Iraq's weapons programs.)
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Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:7IRAQ
Date:Apr 22, 2000
Words:421
Previous Article:ARAB-AFFAIRS - Apr. 21 - 'Anti-Syrian Demonstrators Being Manipulated'.
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