UNITED Nations weapons inspectors colluded with British secret service agents
to spread disinformation about Saddam Hussein's nuclear, biological and chemical
weapons programs as part of a campaign to justify military strikes, according
to the head of the UN inspection team in Iraq.
In an interview with The Herald, Scott Ritter, who led the United Nations
Special Commission (UNSCOM) team in Iraq for seven years in the 90s, claims he
helped to leak propaganda to journalists. He resigned from the post in 1998 but
said his experience then suggested that recent claims that Iraq was developing
weapons of mass destruction should be treated skeptically.
Hawks within the US administration insist Iraq's suspected nuclear, chemical
and biological weapons programs should be the next target in the war on terrorism.
Last week, Kofi Annan, UN secretary general, failed to persuade Naji Sabri,
Iraqi foreign minister, to allow weapons inspectors back into the country. The
stance could make a US military strike more likely. President George W Bush has
reportedly been briefed on a Pentagon plan to send 250,000 troops into Iraq, though
he has yet to approve it.
However, Ritter, a former intelligence officer in the US marines, maintains
there is scant evidence that Iraq is a threat.
He says claims that Iraq is re-arming come from unreliable witnesses and that
factories bombed in 1998 during Operation Desert Fox had not breached UN resolutions.
"Every single one of those facilities was subjected to repeated inspections and
never did we detect anything to remotely suggest that these were involved in producing
anything prohibited. There's nothing there. Nothing."
©2002 smg newspapers ltd