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Iraq Special Report

  Ex-U.N. Inspector Wary of Iraq Accord

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 2, 1998; Page A12

Former chief United Nations weapons inspector David Kay said yesterday that the agreement with Iraq hammered out by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan is "a serious impediment to effective inspections" and that the only way to assure elimination of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction is to remove Saddam Hussein.

The agreement reached between Annan and Iraq last week prompted the United States to suspend plans for possible military action against Baghdad to force Iraq to give U.N. inspectors full access to suspected weapons sites and already has been criticized by leading Republicans.

Kay, who held the job in 1991 and 1992, was pessimistic about any possible inspection agreement with Saddam Hussein and said he believes Iraqi officials "have no intention of living up" to it. He said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that he is "convinced" that the Iraqis have "enough anthrax to destroy the Middle East, if they could effectively deliver it."

"I think the only way to get your arms around it is the removal of Saddam," Kay said. "As long as Saddam is in power, that program will continue, regardless of whether you have inspections or, quite frankly, regardless of whether you have air attacks. . . . I'm pessimistic that any agreement with Saddam will work."

But U.N. chief weapons inspector Richard Butler expressed a wait-and-see attitude about Iraqi compliance. "Everyone knows that we will have to see whether or not they keep that promise in practice," he said on ABC's "This Week."

Butler said Iraq had failed to fully comply with inspection agreements since the 1991 Persian Gulf War. As for the new agreement, he said, "there is nothing in it that will harm the work of the commission that I head. If they keep their promise, our access will actually be improved."

What remains crucial, particularly in inspecting what Iraq calls "presidential sites," is "the ability to turn up on no notice," Butler said. "We don't want to telegraph in advance that we're coming; that could defeat the purpose of any given inspection."

Two senators yesterday called for a U.S. attempt to oust Saddam.

"We have to have a long-term effort to overthrow him, and even the fact that such an organization were in existence would have a beneficial effect, in my view. . . . I would say it's our goal to remove him from power," said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). Also speaking on "Meet the Press," McCain said that Saddam Hussein is "the only leader on the world scene that has already used weapons of mass destruction twice, and that makes him rather unique."

Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.) said, "We ought to speak to the 22 million Iraqis who've been terrorized, who've been murdered, who've been abused by this dictator and say, 'We're going to liberate you.' "

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) noted he had introduced a resolution last week "to have Saddam Hussein tried as a war criminal."

"It would mean that the United Nations formally regards what he has done as crimes against humanity," Specter said on CBS's "Face the Nation." "And he could be tried in absentia, and then we would have a legal justification in effect to serve a warrant on him, to take him into custody. Now, that's not realistic under current circumstances. But if we were to make efforts to topple him, covert action, we would certainly be within our rights in a much broader way since he had been declared a war criminal."

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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