Butler Accuses US of Nuclear Hypocrisy
By Gerard Noonan, Education Editor
Monday, 18 November, 2002
The former chief weapons inspector in Iraq Richard Butler has lashed out
at United States "double standards", saying even educated Americans were
deaf to arguments about the hypocrisy of their stance on nuclear weapons.
Mr Butler, an Australian, told a seminar at the University of Sydney's
Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies that Americans did not appreciate
they could not claim a right to possess nuclear weapons but deny it to
"My attempts to have Americans enter into discussions about double
standards have been an abject failure - even with highly educated and
engaged people," Mr Butler said. "I sometimes felt I was speaking to them
in Martian, so deep is their inability to understand."
Mr Butler's comments to the seminar, held on September21, are reported in
the university's latest newsletter.
"What America totally fails to understand is that their weapons of mass
destruction are just as much a problem as are those of Iraq," he said,
adding that Hollywood storylines fuelled such attitudes.
Mr Butler said the horror of September 11 had only entrenched the idea in
Americans that there are 'good weapons of mass destruction and bad ones'.
Mr Butler, who headed the United Nations weapons inspection team in Iraq
in the early 1990s, is a former Australian ambassador for disarmament.
Earlier, delivering the university's Templeton Lecture, Mr Butler said one
of the most difficult times with the Iraqi regime had been dealing with
this issue of inconsistency.
"Amongst my toughest moments in Baghdad were when the Iraqis demanded that
I explain why they should be hounded for their weapons of mass destruction
when, just down the road, Israel was not, even though it was known to
possess some 200 nuclear weapons," he said.
"I confess, too, that I flinch when I hear American, British and French
fulminations against weapons of mass destruction, ignoring the fact that
they are the proud owners of massive quantities of those weapons,
unapologetically insisting that they are essential for their national
security, and will remain so."
Mr Butler said that manifest unfairness - double standards - produced a
situation "that was deeply, inherently unstable".
"This is because human beings will not swallow such unfairness. This
principle is as certain as the basic laws of physics itself."
Mr Butler said one problem encountered in Iraq was that materials and
technologies employed in making a chemical or biological weapon were
identical to those used in a range of benign products for medical,
industrial or agricultural use.
The UN Security Council's decision in 1991 to destroy, remove or render
harmless Iraq's weapons of mass destruction was unique and far-reaching,
far tougher than past attempts to disarm defeated countries like Germany