The head of the United Nations Special Commission on Iraq, Richard Butler, abruptly left the State of the World Forum in San Francisco this morning (Oct. 31). Reuters news service said he was called back to New York by the U.N. Security Council after Iraq announced it would bar all monitoring activities inside its country as of today.
Iraq also demanded the U.N. Security Council fire Richard Butler. He is executive chairman of UNSCOM, the agency charged with keeping an eye on Iraq's suspected nuclear arms program.
The Security Council was called into emergency session this afternoon immediately after the Iraqi announcement.
Mr. Butler was in San Francisco to receive a State of the World Forum Award. These are given to individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to human development.
On Wednesday he participated in a State of the World Forum panel that included Nizar Hamdoon, Iraq's representative to the U.N. Some of the exchanges that night were heated. It is believed the debate was one of the last communications between Butler and a representative of Iraq before today's diplomatic rupture.
An Iraqi Radio report Saturday morning said President Saddam Hussein and his Revolution Command Council had until now put up with "unjust and tyrannical' U.N. resolutions, even with "all the bitterness and sacrifices it entails," in the hope that it would lead to a lifting of world sanctions against Iraq.
The radio report said that President Saddam and the council had concluded that the U.N. Security Council was aware that UNSCOM and Mr. Richard Butler had played "a dirty game" of "lying and toying with the facts." Yet the Security Council had taken no punitive action against him. Therefore, the radio report said, "Iraq has decided to stop all forms of co-operation with UNSCOM ... and all its activities inside Iraq ...until the decisive action of sacking UNSCOM Chairman Butler" was taken.
Some observers say the Iraqi move seems to be a reaction to a Security Council decision yesterday to review Iraq's compliance with U.N. resolutions - without any indication that this would lead to a lifting of trade sanctions.
The U.N. has repeatedly said it will lift sanctions - imposed because of Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in the Gulf War - only when Baghdad has fully cooperated with its weapons inspectors.