Iraq Thursday turned down a request by the chief U.N. weapons inspector to resume cooperation with his teams, saying the arms monitors were taking orders from Washington.
Richard Butler sent a letter to Baghdad on Wednesday asking Iraq to allow the resumption of weapons inspections, which were suspended by the Iraqis on Aug. 5.Tariq Aziz, Iraq's deputy prime minister, said Iraq would not allow the resumption of inspections by the U.N. Special Commission as long as its actions were dictated by the United States.
"Butler and some elements in the Special Commission are not international employees, but serve the American policies to maintain the sanctions on Iraq by following its orders," Aziz said in a statement carried by the official Iraqi News Agency.
"The decision is final and will not be changed until the Security Council seriously, responsibly and fairly looks into Iraq's demands without American pressures," Aziz said.
He accused Butler of not wanting to tell the council and the world the Special Commission has "completed its task in the field of disarmament."
The U.N. commission must certify Iraq has eliminated all its weapons of mass destruction before punishing sanctions can be lifted. Iraq accuses the United States of manipulating the inspections to maintain the sanctions, imposed after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait, which led to the Persian Gulf War.
Butler cut short a visit to Baghdad earlier this month after talks broke down with Aziz, who demanded a clean bill of health on Baghdad's weapons programs.
Butler's letter to Aziz came after the Security Council gave him only general backing earlier this week and not the clear instructions he had sought in the face of Baghdad's decision. Baghdad said it ceased cooperation with the United Nations because Butler refused to certify Iraq had destroyed its banned weapons.
The United Nations has sent similar, non-threatening messages to Baghdad recently, with the Security Council's only muted response that Iraq's decision to stop working with U.N. inspectors was "totally unacceptable."
Washington has also toned down its reaction and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has acknowledged she advised inspectors against some surprise inspections for fear a confrontation would further split the divided council.