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IRAQ: US pressure on inspectors

The Bush administration is constantly saying that Saddam Hussein is hiding WMD and preventing the inspectors from doing their work. Russia is one of many countries which suspect that this is a pretext for attacking Iraq. Reuters (2/21/03) reports on what the Russian foreign minister said: "Russia, in a clear attack on US policy, said on Thursday that UN arms inspectors in Iraq were being subjected to pressure to force them to leave or produce reports to be used as a pretext for military action. Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov's remarks were stronger than Moscow's previous allegations that Washington was putting pressure on the inspectors. He made no specific reference to the US, but said Russia was concerned at information it was receiving about inspections. "On the basis of this information, the inspectors are being subjected to very strong pressure in order to provoke their departure from Iraq, as occurred in 1998, or to present to the Security Council assessments which could be used as a pretext for the use of force against Iraq," he said. He urged the inspectors "to continue to fulfill their professional activity objectively. The international community should offer them all vital political assistance and not put pressure on them".

Ronald Hilton - 2/21/03