Iraq delivered a new challenge to the United States on Wednesday, barring Americans from the U.N. disarmament effort in Iraq - a move that outraged the chief weapons inspector and prompted him to suspend inspections.
The 10 American weapons inspectors - who are among 40 inspectors now in Iraq - are being told to leave within a week. Iraq also asked the United Nations to stop using U.S. reconnaissance planes to monitor Iraqi compliance in eliminating the weapons.
Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz said Americans must not participate in the inspections “until America reconsiders its oppressive policy and its aggressive behavior to the people of Iraq, and its policy of espionage and intervention.”
The United States and Britain, allied against Iraq during the 1991 Persian Gulf War and afterward in insisting that Baghdad destroy its weapons of mass destruction, were outraged. The Australian chief inspector said U.N. employees would continue office work but conduct no field operations.
“I’m not prepared to have this work continue on the basis that Iraq can say to us which person from which country is or isn’t acceptable,” Richard Butler said. “Who’s next? Today the United States, tomorrow the United Kingdom? This is wrong.”