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  Sunday, November 1 2:46pm PST

Saatchi & Saatchi
Security Council Policies Aid 'Butchers'- Jagger
Peace activist says empty threats against Milosevic, Hussein must end

The panel listens to Nizar Hamdoon, Iraq's permanent representative to the United Nations.
United Nations Security Council policies on Iraq and Kosovo gave a clear signal to the world's "butcher" dictators that they could get away with murder, peace activist Bianca Jagger told a debate broadcast worldwide by the BBC last night (October 28).

The debate - titled "Stalemate with Iraq; and the challenge of Kosovo" was broadcast live from the State of the World Forum at San Francisco's Fairmont Hotel. It featured several prominent figures, including Robert Bell, National Security Council special assistant to President Bill Clinton; Nazir Hamdoon, Iraq's permanent representative to the United Nations, and Richard Butler, executive chairman of the U.N. Special Commission (UNSCOM) on Iraqi weapons inspections.

Former UNSCOM inspector Scott Ritter, who resigned from the inspection team earlier this year and has since criticized both UNSCOM and the U.N. Security Council, also took part in the debate.

Ms. Jagger said that whereas ultimatums were supposed to be final threats, in the case of both Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, the U.S. and NATO had made ultimatums, "over and over again", without following through when the demands were not complied with.

Ms Jagger said that thanks to this failure to follow up threats with action, the two dictators now " both know they can get away with murder."

"The danger of that is that where other butchers around the world are given ultimatums they will know that nothing will happen because there is no moral leadership," she said.

Ms. Jagger said similar empty threats against the Serbian President were undermining the credibility of the U.S., NATO and the European and United States Contact Group on Bosnia.

"Now [U.S. Special Envoy] Richard Holbrooke has cut a deal to send 2,000 unarmed men to install peace in Kosovo. And they will be able to tell the 50,000 to 70,000 troops in Kosovo what to do?" Ms. Jagger asked.

Scott Ritter and Bianca Jagger
The debate, moderated by senior BBC anchor Tim Sebastian, began with a discussion on nuclear weapons proliferation.

Iraq's Nizar Hamdoon rejected allegations from Mr. Butler that Baghdad had refused to comply with the U.N. inspection's team's demands for full and truthful disclosure of its weapon programs.

Mr. Hamdoon admitted that Iraq had tried to keep its biological weapons program secret, but said it had done so because of reasons relating to regional security.

Mr. Butler replied that Iraq's continued denials were "too pathetic for words." This was greeted with applause by the live audience.

When the inspections team was set up following the Gulf War in 1991, it had been expected to complete its task in a matter of days. "It has taken so long because Iraq lied and lied," he said.

Apparently irritated by the line of questioning, Mr. Hamdoon interjected saying Iraq had, "done its best."

Next up was John Ritter, face to face with his former boss Richard Butler for the first time. Earlier this year Mr. Ritter resigned from UNSCOM and publicly criticized the Security Council for going soft on Iraq.

Mr. Ritter said the facts were that Iraq had failed to provide a meaningful declaration on any of the categories of weapons of mass destruction that the team had been assigned to look for.

Mr. Hamdoon again showed his irritation at this, and retorted that Mr. Ritter had associated himself with Israel, implying that this meant he had no credibility.

Moderator Tim Sebastian broke back into the discussion, "When are you going to cooperate?" he asked Mr. Hamdoon.

"We have honored our agreement with [U.N. Secretary General] Kofi Annan for six months. We have opened up all the presidential sites and UNSCOM found nothing," Mr. Hamdoon replied.

Mr. Ritter said the issue of presidential sites was a diversion created by Iraq. As to whether Iraq had cooperated, he said: "They put a gun to my head and said they would kill me if I went any further. Is that cooperating? It isn't."

At this point Mr. Sebastian turned to U.S. Presidential National Security Advisor Robert Bell, asking why there had been no action taken since Iraq suspended its cooperation with inspectors in August.

"There has been action. The Security Council decided unanimously not to review sanctions, and has made it clear that they will only review sanctions if Iraq cooperates fully."

"But where are the dire consequences?" Mr. Sebastian continued. "We reserve all our rights," Mr. Bell replied.

Mr. Sebastian suggested that maybe Iraq now knew, due to the absence of a response from the Security Council, that its threats were empty.

"I think that would be a very wrong conclusion to draw," Mr. Bell said.

Asked whether there was a way for the stalemate over Iraq to be broken, Mr. Ritter launched into an attack on his former employer, describing the recent "unanimous" resolution by the Security Council as a "joke."

He said the recent 15-0 unanimous vote in favor of a resolution which would suspend indefinitely a review of the economic sanctions against Iraq misrepresented the true position. The vote, he said, had been achieved only after the votes of France, Russia and China had been "bought through a promise of a review made through the office of the Secretary General."

Again Mr. Hamdoom tried to get back into the debate. Moderator Tim Sebastian consented after he threatened to leave, and Mr. Hamdoon explained that Mr. Ritter had told Iraqi officials last year that the U.S., the U.K. and Israel knew full well that Iraq no longer had any weapons of mass destruction.

Mr. Butler, too, had a few things to which he wanted to respond.

On the question of the departure of Mr. Ritter from his team he was conciliatory - "he did a great job for us", Mr. Butler said. On the allegations of double-dealing at the Security Council over sanctions, he said he had "no problem" with the council.

Pressed by Mr. Sebastian, he said he would not reveal the reasons for his operational decisions concerning which Iraqi sites to inspect.

Further, there had been no interference on these issues from Security Council members, he said. "I heard their opinions, but I made the decisions," he said.

Mr. Sebastian returned to Ms. Jagger for his final question and asked her how the world might best advance from its present predicament.

Ms. Jagger said the situations in Iraq and Kosovo were essentially the same in terms of a lack of accountability.

"They [Presidents Milosevic and Hussein] both know they can get away with murder."


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Notable Quote "However haltingly, we have made some progress."
   --former Commander-in-chief of the U.S. Strategic Air Command, Gen. Lee Butler
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