Analysis and Resources on Iraq and Weapons of Mass Destruction

For Immediate Release: December 9, 2002

Press Contacts: Paul Kerr, (202) 463-8270 x102 or Wade Boese, (202) 463-8270 x104

(Washington, D.C.): From 1991 to 1998, United Nations weapons inspectors worked to rid Iraq of much of its weapons of mass destruction (WMD), which Baghdad pursued in violation of international nonproliferation agreements. But since the inspectors left in December 1998, Iraq has been free to resume its WMD programs unchecked.

UN weapons inspectors are now back in Iraq, seeking to verify Iraqi claims that it no longer has weapons of mass destruction. UN Security Council Resolution 1441 gives weapons inspectors a strong mandate to carry out their mission, including unconditional access to Iraq's previously restricted presidential sites. Washington has supported the resolution and the inspections process, but the depth of its support is unclear. The Bush administration has reserved the right to take unilateral military action in the event that it is dissatisfied with the UN process, although the administration has not yet clearly described the circumstances under which it might act. The rest of the international community is united in demanding that the inspection process be given the time to produce results and for Iraq to fully cooperate with the inspectors.

ACA Resources on Iraq

The ACA Web site includes important analysis from leading experts on options and challenges for containing Iraq's WMD programs. An online resource guide contains a series of authoritative Arms Control Today interviews with former weapons inspectors, as well as detailed news reports and commentaries dating back to 1997. These resources are available online at

Some key examples of Association materials on Iraq are:

  • An October 2002 ACA press conference, "Disarming Iraq: How Weapons Inspections Can Work," featuring Robert Gallucci, dean of the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University; Jessica Matthews, president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; and Jonathan Tucker, senior fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace. The panelists discussed the successes and shortcomings of earlier weapons inspections and ways to strengthen future inspections.
  • ACA's special October report, "Iraq: A Chronology of UN Inspections in Iraq and an Assessment of Their Accomplishments." This report is a comprehensive guide to the history of inspections in Iraq from the beginning of the Persian Gulf War to present.
  • "Disarming Iraq: Nonmilitary Strategies and Options," a September 2002 article by David Cortright of the Fourth Freedom Forum and George Lopez of the University of Notre Dame. The authors call for a credible, coercive Iraq policy that consists of "continuing revenue controls, intensive diplomatic efforts to resume weapons inspections, and the creation of an enhanced containment system through strengthened border monitoring."
  • "The Inevitable Failure of Inspections in Iraq," a September 2002 article by the former deputy executive chairman of UNSCOM, Charles Duelfer. He outlines the limitations of past weapons inspection efforts, writing that "any weapons inspectors sent into Iraq under the existing UN Security Council resolutions are doomed to fail." He argues that "permanent disarmament goals imposed on Iraq were out of proportion with the inspectors' tools and the rewards and punishments the Security Council could practically impose."
  • Extensive interviews by Arms Control Today with the current chief of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, Hans Blix; chairman of the UN Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM) from 1997-1998, Ambassador Richard Butler; and the first chairman of UNSCOM, Ambassador Rolf Ekeus. Former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter also provided his views on the past challenges and future prospects for successful inspections in Iraq in a June 2000 article.
  • Documents, fact sheets, and news reports from Arms Control Today on key developments.

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The Arms Control Association is an independent, nonprofit membership organization dedicated to promoting public understanding of and support for effective arms control policies. Established in 1971,the Association publishes the monthly journal, Arms Control Today.