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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Butler: Lies Hurt Arms Checks in Iraq




UNITED NATIONS -- Former chief UN weapons inspector Richard Butler has accused Russia, China and France of trying to "kill" the UN special commission that he headed by exaggerating the threat of chemical samples.


Speaking to Associated Press Television News, Butler said the countries, Iraq's closest allies on the powerful Security Council, had deliberately lied about a tiny quantity of VX nerve agent left in a UN laboratory in Baghdad.


"To me, it was a bit like one of those scenes in a B-grade movie where someone shoots someone. They're obviously dead, but they go on and empty the further five bullets into their body," he said.


France, China and Russia knew that tiny samples of VX and other chemical agents in the laboratory were used to test Iraqi material and that the quantities were so minuscule they posed no danger, Butler said.


"When they put on their fuss in the Security Council, saying those ridiculous standards were VX agent, they were not telling the truth. They knew they weren't, and it was an utter disgrace.


"Sadly, I think what was going on was their attempt to absolutely, finally kill UNSCOM. They wanted ... to demonstrate that UNSCOM was an evil organization that misled the council."


In an article in the debut issue of Talk magazine and the subsequent APTN interview, Butler spoke out for the first time since he stepped down as the Special Commission executive director on June 30 and delivered the same message: UNSCOM told the truth and was destroyed by Iraq's Security Council allies, especially Russia, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's "misguided decisions" and former weapons inspector Scott Ritter's false allegations that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency was somehow directing the commission's activities.


The result, he said, is that there have been no inspections in Iraq for 12 months, and the country could be trying to make nuclear, biological and chemical arms because Saddam Hussein is "addicted" to weapons of mass destruction.


Butler used the VX controversy to illustrate how he believes Iraq's Security Council allies and the secretary-general tried to finally destroy UNSCOM.


The VX test samples and other chemical warfare agents were left in the laboratory when Butler ordered UNSCOM inspectors to leave Baghdad in mid-December on the eve of U.S. and British airstrikes. Iraq has banned UNSCOM from returning. Even though France, China and Russia knew the test standards were harmless, he said they urged the Security Council to have the samples analyzed, intimating that UNSCOM inspectors might have laced Iraqi warheads with the agent.


Butler said Annan and his senior staff participated in the "falsehood" that the VX was deadly - and agreed to the Iraqi demand that UNSCOM experts be banned from the team sent to Baghdad to investigate the laboratory, "which set a terrible precedent for the future."


He accused the secretary-general of trying to destroy UNSCOM because it was "too independent," and of trying to paper over Iraq's cheating on its disarmament obligations with diplomacy.


Butler singled out Russia's critical support for Iraq. He said he had received intelligence information alleging that former Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov was being paid by the Iraqi government. And he said Primakov told him last year that he wanted UNSCOM "to let Iraq off the hook" and lift sanctions so Moscow could recoup $7 billion in war debts.


Butler said he had no knowledge any government used UNSCOM for its own national intelligence aims.