U.N. Weapons Chief Sees No Ready Agreement On Lifting Oil Sanctions
UNITED NATIONS (AP) _ The head of the U.N. weapons inspection program said Tuesday that the Security Council is not likely to lift the oil embargo on Iraq any time soon.
Rolf Ekeus of Sweden, executive chairman of the U.N. Special Commission dismantling Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, also confirmed that the current U.N. team in Iraq has not found any of the up to 200 Scud missiles that the CIA says may be hidden there.
Ekeus just returned from political consultations in London and Paris on program to abolish Iraq’s chemical weapons arsenal and long- and medium-range missiles as well as its programs to build nuclear and biological weapons.
He also has been sounding out the Iraqis and Security Council nations to reach an understanding about what constitutes ″full cooperation″ by the Iraqis.
The Gulf War cease-fire resolution adopted by the Security Council in 1991 links the lifting of the oil embargo to Baghdad’s total cooperation.
But Ekeus told reporters that not only are there still crucial shortcomings in Iraq’s cooperation, but also key Security Council members still are opposed to lifting the oil embargo.
″No one is prepared to commit″ to lifting the embargo, Ekeus said after a news conference, talking with a small group of reporters.
″It is too early to say″ that Iraq is fully cooperating, in any case, he said.
His comments are sure to disappoint the Iraqis, who viewed the latest U.N. inspection mission as a possible opportunity to get a clean bill of health on the weapons issue, thereby paving the way for lifting the oil embargo.
But Ekeus also said that while Iraqi officials are being more cooperative, his inspectors still are harassed in the country.
In addition, he said the Special Commission is ″not satisfied″ with the inspectors’ ability to find prohibited weapons and weapons production facilities.
The current team of inspectors in Iraq is focusing on Scud missiles and similar missiles that threaten Baghdad’s neighbors.
It is seeking information on some of their components - particularly fuel and guidance systems - and wants to know how the missiles were used in the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War and the Gulf War, Ekeus said.
The network of suppliers of weapons technology and expertise ″is the most zealously guarded secret″ Baghdad holds, Ekeus said.
In addition, Iraq has refused to formally accept long-term U.N. monitoring of industries that could be used in weapons programs, he said.
Commenting on another report, that the U.S. government had given satellite photos of a potential Iraqi nuclear site in northern Iraq to the Special Commission, Ekeus said he had received the photos and sent U-2 spyplane flights over the site.
The U.S. government has loaned a U-2 to the Special Commission to check suspicious sites.
″Our analysis hasn’t so far found any foundation for this theory,″ he said.
The belief that the site could be a nuclear plant arose due to infrared photography that showed hot water discharge there. Nuclear plants use water to cool the reactor and flush out the overheated water.
If the site were an undisclosed nuclear plant, that would be one more violation of the Gulf War cease-fire resolution.