Ritter Says Administration Hindering Iraq Inspections

03 September, 1998

By Ben Anderson
CNS Staff Writer

(CNS) Former U.N. chief weapons inspector Scott Ritter has finished testifying before a joint Senate Foreign Relation and Armed Services committee seeking answers to questions about the United States' commitment to Iraqi arms inspections.

Ritter was chief of the concealment investigations unit with the United Nations Special Commission conducting weapons inspections initiated by the United Nations Security Counsel to ensure Iraq complied with arms reduction sanctions.

Ritter resigned last week to protest the lack of support by U.S. and U.N. officials to enforce arms restrictions against Iraq imposed shortly after the Gulf War. "Last week, I resigned my position with UNSCOM out of frustration because the United Nations Security Council - and the United States as its most significant supporter - was failing to enforce the post Gulf War resolutions designed to disarm Iraq," Ritter told members of a Senate Committees.

Ritter's resignation brought immediate global attention, an effect he acknowledged would bring focus to the lack of support by United Nations and United States officials. His character was subsequently targeted for verbal attacks by members of the Clinton Administration. Ritter used his testimony today to defend himself against such attacks. "It is very sad to hear the Secretary of State, Tuesday night, giving an interview from Moscow, challenging my credentials," Ritter said. "She told the world, through CNN, that Scott Ritter doesn't have a clue about what our overall policy's been - that we are the foremost supporters of UNSCOM. I do have a clue, in fact, several. All of which indicate that our government has clearly expressed its policy in one way, and then acted in another."

Ritter used the occasion to cast blame on Albright for interfering with UNSCOM's mission. He told the committee that he can say "fear of contradiction and with the confidence" that his former colleagues will agree, "that the United States has undermined UNSCOM's efforts, through interference and manipulation usually coming from the highest levels of the administrations national security team to include the secretary of state herself."

Ritter has been critical of the Clinton Administration for its lack of support in forcing Saddam Hussein to comply with Security Council resolutions calling for him to allow inspectors to monitor his weapons capabilities. In today's meeting, Ritter accused upper level Clinton administration officials of directly interfering with UNSCOM efforts.

"I can speak to you today, from first hand experience, about the effectiveness of American policy, or lack thereof, with respect to the United Nations effort to rid Iraq of weapons of mass destruction. I sincerely hope that my actions might help to change things."

Ritter made it clear that the United States shares responsibility for Iraq continuing to be a global menace. "Iraq today is not disarmed. It remains an ugly threat to its neighbors and to world peace," he said. "Those Americans who think this is important and that something should be done about it have to be deeply disappointed in our leadership."

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