UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. Security Council is turning to private intelligence companies to bolster its ability to enforce U.N. sanctions and decrease its reliance on U.S. and other Western intelligence agencies, U.N. officials and diplomats say.

A committee monitoring sanctions violations in Angola has hired Kroll Associates, a U.S. corporate security company, for nearly $100,000 to trace the financial assets of UNITA rebel leader Jonas Savimbi, according to U.N. diplomats.

U.N. weapons inspectors are in discussions with the Colorado-based satellite-imaging company, Space Imaging Inc., to buy photographs of Iraqi industrial and weapons sites at up to $5,000 apiece, the diplomats said. "We do not want to depend on any one supplier of information or of technology," said Hans Blix, the executive chairman of the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, which is charged with tracking Iraqi weapons.

The Iraqi weapons inspection program became enmeshed in controversy two years ago after revelations that U.S. intelligence agents used their posts at the now defunct U.N. Special Commission (UNSCOM) to spy on the Iraqi government.

While Blix said he will continue to seek assistance from U.S. and other foreign intelligence agencies, his experts are scouring technology fairs and conferences in search of private sources of information.These include satellite imagery, weapons databases, intelligence analysts and equipment capable of detecting biological and chemical agents in the atmosphere.

"We have no particular inhibitions about going to the private sector if we can get good and effective instruments," Blix said in an interview. "Our ambition is to place ourselves as far out on the launching pad for inspections as we can."

Other international arms control institutions contract with private firms to collect intelligence. But the use of intelligence is more controversial at the United Nations because some diplomats fear it will be abused by larger member states or make the international body too powerful.

In an attempt to improve the U.N.'s ability to anticipate crises, Secretary General Kofi Annan recently proposed an in-house analysis unit be created to integrate the U.N.'s various databases and sift though the reports from tens of thousands of U.N. officials.

But the initiative has been stalled by governments that view it as an attempt to create a central intelligence agency.

The privatization trend has generated suspicions among some diplomats, who fear that private companies, often staffed by former western intelligence and law enforcement employees, will use their posts to spy on foreign governments. French diplomats have expressed concern about whether Kroll Associates would assist U.S. intelligence agencies, according to diplomats. Russia and some developing countries have voiced unease that subcontracting intelligence collection would infringe on the sovereignty of countries.

Despite initial misgivings, the 15-member Security Council, which includes the United States, France and Russia, has gone along with the decision to hire Kroll.

Proponents of privatizing the U.N.'s operations say that many companies can obtain secrets that only military and intelligence agencies were capable of acquiring a decade ago.

Failure to take advantage of their services, they say, would simply give a green light to countries that want to thwart the U.N.'s mandates.

The cost of the Iraqi weapons inspections program's operations will be borne by Iraq, which is obliged to finance the unit's activities from its oil exports. But finding the money to finance private investigations into sanctions violators in countries such as Liberia, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo is likely to present a greater long-term challenge for the financially strapped organization.

Most the Security Council's sanctions committees are funded from the U.N. budget or rely on voluntary U.N. trust funds.