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I didn’t approve U.S. spying in Iraq, U.N.'s Butler says

SHARE I didn’t approve U.S. spying in Iraq, U.N.'s Butler says

NEW YORK -- Chief U.N. weapons inspector Richard Butler said he never approved the use of his arms teams as a cover for American intelligence to spy on Iraq, and warned the United Nations not to let the allegations destroy disarmament efforts.

"Can I know what I didn't know? No." Butler said. "Someone piggybacking on the back of us for their purposes? I don't know. I am going to try and find out what these facts are. I haven't yet got sufficient answers."Butler, who has not given a news conference for weeks, told a Council of Foreign Relations seminar late Wednesday that the U.N. Security Council would jeopardize numerous global arms treaties by not insisting that Baghdad relinquish its weapons of mass destruction.

"If we lose the Iraq case, we will jeopardize the belief that people have in the verifiability of the main arms control treaties," he said. "We must not lose the Iraq case."

"The Security Council must be prepared to stand by the arms control treaties and in the face of serious violations, go to that state and say, 'We are on your case. We won't stand for it. Stop your behavior,"' Butler added.

He also said that Baghdad, if it wanted, could have launched another crash program to make biological weapons in the five months since his inspection teams functioned properly in Iraq.

"They could have made a lot of that stuff," he said. "They can make aspirin before lunch, and they can be making mustard gas after lunch."

Butler, executive chairman of the U.N. Special Commission (UNSCOM) in charge of dismantling Iraq's biological, chemical and ballistic weapons, was asked repeatedly about news reports saying the United States had spied on Iraqi military activities under the cover of UNSCOM.

If that were the case, he said, "then we have a serious problem. But what I am concerned about is the implications for our ability to keep safe the nonproliferation regimes."