Baghdad, 13 November 1997 (RFE/RL) - The United Nation's chief arms inspector, Richard Butler, says he's considering withdrawing all inspectors from Iraq after Baghdad today ordered U.S. participants to leave at once.
Speaking to CNN, Butler said he'd decide later today on whether to withdraw his team. He said he is concerned for the inspectors' safety.
Butler was responding to an earlier announcement by the government-controlled Iraqi News Agency INA that all Americans involved with the U.N. Special Commission will be expelled immediately. The agency said Iraq will continue to cooperate with the commission, which performs weapons inspections and surveillance of Iraq's disarmament efforts, but it will not accept inspectors from the U.S.
Last night, the U.N. Security Council voted new sanctions on Iraq for obstructing American arms inspectors. The sanctions stopped short of calling for the use of force.
Meanwhile, U.S. president Bill Clinton has called a meeting today with his national security advisers. The U.S. has not ruled out the use of force to resolve the conflict.