UNSCOM accused of workin

Spy charge: Finding the weapons that Saddam Hussein hid took espionage of a high order.

January 13, 1999

OF COURSE the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) spied on Iraq. How else could it fulfill its mission?

The organization of technical experts from several countries tried valiantly to discover Iraq's chemical and biological weapons and missile delivery systems. Saddam Hussein, Iraq's dictator, threw every obstacle in its path.

On its face, Iraq's spying charges were always true. That's why UNSCOM was created by the U.N. Security Council.

But the spying charge was never a reason to drop UNSCOM or to end the sanctions that respond to the continued concealment of weapons of mass destruction.

A little candor has come out about UNSCOM because some believe that after the bombing of Iraq, it will not be allowed to return. Among the reports: U.S. intelligence agencies planted a high-tech listening device through UNSCOM and shared the resulting intelligence.

It would be wrong for UNSCOM to gather intelligence for U.S. purposes that were not approved by the Security Council, such as the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. But it is right for U.S. agencies to help UNSCOM retrieve data that UNSCOM and the United States want.

The real rap against UNSCOM is that it worked. This week, chief U.N. weapons inspector Richard Butler suggested inspections will resume. They should.

Without effective weapons inspections, the loser is the United Nations. The winner is the deceitful dictator Saddam Hussein.

Disarming Iraq of weapons of mass destruction remains the goal. Iraq's threat to its neighbors has not disappeared.

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