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Iraq interfering with surveillance equipment, U.N. says

Nov. 7, 1997

Hussein dividing coalition between U.S., U.N., Baylor professor says

By Brian Allison

Reporter for The Baylor Lariat

Iraqi forces have used a break from U.N. arms inspections to move important equipment and interfere with surveillance cameras, a top U.N. official said.

In a letter sent to the U.N. security council, William Butler, the chief weapons inspector accused the Iraqis of covering camera lenses and turning off lights in monitored sites. Butler also stated that the Iraqis have moved equipment that could be used to calibrate missiles' guidance systems.

To prevent Iraq from taking any more advantage of the lag between inspections, Butler announced that his team would inspect two suspicious sites on Thursday.

It could take Iraq 'only a few hours. . .to produce seed stocks of biological warfare agent,' Butler told the Associated Press.

The presence of Americans in the inspection teams have caused the delays. Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has declared that no Americans will be allowed to inspect the sites.

'There is a tremendous dislike by Saddam Hussein toward the U.S. government,'

Dr. William Mitchell, associate professor of political science, said.

Mitchell has had much first-hand experience in the Middle East. He spent more than 10 years in the area, including as an Air Force base commander in Turkey during Operation Desert Storm.

According to Mitchell, Hussein is barring the American inspectors as a way to 'divide and weaken' the coalition between the U.S. and the rest of the U.N.

Samantha Fleck, a graduate student in political science, agrees that Hussein is exploring the rifts between the U.S. and other U.N. powers.

'He's not trying to start a war,' Fleck said. 'But he is trying to test the waters. It's a great chance for Hussein to test the alliance.'

Fleck added that France and Egypt have stated that they do not support any military action against Iraq. Egypt would not want war against a fellow Middle East country, and France wants to participate in oil trade with Iraq.

However, no country can trade with Iraq until the economic sanctions levied by the U.N. are lifted.

'The [Iraqi] people have been suffering enormously since the [Gulf] War,' Mitchell said, causing 'a bitter dislike toward the U.S. government.'

'I think it's going to take a change of government,' to improve the condition of the average Iraqi, Mitchell said.

The inspections and sanctions are part of the conditions agreed upon by Iraq and the U.N. as a part of ending the Persian Gulf War.

'I think you'll see a reduction in tension,' Fleck said, leading to a diplomatic resolution of the situation.

However, Mitchell believes that if Hussein refuses to allow the American inspectors in a short amount of time, the solution will not be made by diplomacy.

'There will be military action,' Mitchell said. 'There's no doubt in my mind.'

President Bill Clinton responded to the situation on Wednesday. He said inspecting Iraqi installations 'requires long-term patience and discipline.'

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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