us guilty of 'double standards'

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    SYDNEY, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Former U.N. arms inspector Richard
    Butler said on Tuesday that Washington was promoting "shocking
    double standards" in considering taking unilateral military
    action to rid Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction.
    Butler, who led U.N. inspection teams in Iraq until Baghdad
    kicked them out in 1998, said Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein
    undoubtedly possessed weapons of mass destruction, and was trying
    to "cheat" his way again out of the latest U.N. demand to disarm.
    But a U.S. attack, without United Nations backing, and
    without any effort to curb the possession of weapons of mass
    destruction globally, would be a contravention of international
    law and sharpen the divide between Arabs and the West.
    "The spectacle of the United States, armed with its weapons
    of mass destruction, acting without Security Council authority to
    invade a country in the heartland of Arabia and, if necessary,
    use its weapons of mass destruction to win that battle, is
    something that will so deeply violate any notion of fairness in
    this world that I strongly suspect it could set loose forces that
    we would deeply live to regret," Butler said.
    Butler's successor as the chief U.N. weapons inspector in
    Iraq, Hans Blix, reported on Monday to the 15-member Security
    Council that Baghdad had only reluctantly complied with its
    latest demand to disarm.
    Washington is pressing the United Nations to take firm action
    but says it is prepared to go it alone and has amassed a
    considerable military force in the region.
    Butler, addressing a conservative Australian think-tank, The
    Sydney Institute, said the stated U.S. motive -- to rid Iraq of
    weapons of mass destruction -- lacked credibility because of
    Washington's failure to deal with others on the same terms.
    Countries such as Syria are suspected of possessing chemical
    or biological warfare capabilities, he said.
    U.S. allies Israel, Pakistan and India have nuclear arsenals
    but have not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
    The United States and other permanent Security Council
    members were themselves the possessors of the world's largest
    quantities of nuclear weapons, he said.
    "Why are they permitting the persistence of such shocking
    double standards?" Butler said.
    He said that, instead of beating the drums of war, the United
    States should propose an international mechanism -- similar to
    the Security Council -- to enforce the application of the three
    main conventions controlling the proliferation of nuclear,
    chemical and biological weaponry.
    It should also take the lead by reducing its own stockpiles.
    "I hope we don't have to await the train wreck before we
    decide to change history," Butler said.
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