Hoping to head off any new campaign to lift sanctions against Iraq, U.N. Ambassador Madeleine Albright on Thursday accused Iraqi President Saddam Hussein of supplying false information to the United Nations about the extent of his nation’s biological weapons program.
Her testimony to a U.S. Senate panel came on the eve of a visit by U.N. official Rolf Ekeus to Baghdad to determine whether Iraq is close to compliance with a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for the elimination of all of its programs for weapons of mass destruction.
If Ekeus, a Swedish diplomat who heads the U.N. Special Commission on Iraq, returns to New York reporting that he is satisfied Iraq has made a full accounting of its biological program, France and Russia are likely to urge the Security Council to lift the worldwide embargo on the purchase of Iraqi oil and other exports.
Iraq, which denied for more than four years that it ever had a biological weapons program, acknowledged to Ekeus several weeks ago that it had developed such a program.
But the Iraqis insisted that they never actually turned their biological agents into weapons and said they had destroyed all their deadly anthrax and botulism toxin before the start of the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
“The sad fact,” Albright, the American ambassador to the United Nations, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, “is that no initial Iraqi weapons declaration has been truthful.”
Ekeus, who is to arrive in Baghdad today, has said the Iraqis must present evidence to him accounting for all biological ingredients they bought in Europe and proving that they had destroyed all toxic agents produced. But Albright’s testimony made it clear the United States would not accept any positive conclusions reached by Ekeus.