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Vice Chairman, Nuclear Threat Initiative
October 20, 2014

Coalition Forces Still Searching For WMD in Iraq

Inspectors' Accomplishments

Paul Kerr

As coalition troops advance on Baghdad and special forces capture Iraqi sites suspected of housing weapons of mass destruction (WMD), the United States and its allies are still searching for Iraqi nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons—so far without any visible results. The United States and coalition members initiated military conflict against Iraq March 19, citing Iraq’s failure to comply with its disarmament obligations as a chief justification for military action.

Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage cautioned that the process of finding and destroying weapons of mass destruction would be “quite time consuming” in a March 25 interview on the PBS “Newshour with Jim Lehrer.”

UN weapons inspectors left Iraq March 18 after almost four months of work when the United States failed to gain support from Security Council members opposed to the immediate use of force against Iraq.

In a March 21 briefing, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld listed locating and destroying weapons of mass destruction as one of the most important U.S. military objectives. U.S. Central Command briefer General Victor Renuart said March 25 that coalition forces, consisting almost entirely of U.S. and British troops, are exploiting information gained from seized documents and interviews with captured Iraqi soldiers to find WMD facilities, although no weapons have yet been found.

Assistant Secretary of Defense Victoria Clarke said in a March 26 briefing that U.S. forces did discover 3,000 chemical protective suits, along with gas masks, nerve agent antidote, and antidote injectors in an Iraqi hospital March 25. The equipment was to protect Iraqi forces if Baghdad decides to use chemical weapons, Clarke claimed.

By month’s end, no weapons of mass destruction have been used in the war, but Rumsfeld confirmed, in a March 23 briefing, the existence of intelligence reports that Iraq has dispersed chemical weapons among some of their forces and given “selected” commanders the authority to use them.

Diplomacy Fails

The final steps to war began March 7 when the United Kingdom formally introduced a draft resolution stating that Iraq had until March 17 to comply with its disarmament obligations—implying that the council members would take military action if Iraq failed to meet the deadline.

The resolution, co-sponsored by the United States and Spain, stated that, “Iraq will have failed to take the final opportunity afforded by resolution 1441 unless…Iraq has demonstrated full…and active cooperation in accordance with its disarmament obligations…and is yielding possession to UNMOVIC and the IAEA of all weapons, weapon delivery and support systems…and all information regarding prior destruction of such items.”

Resolution 1441, adopted November 8, 2002, gave Iraq a “final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations” as set out by Security Council resolutions stretching back to the end of the Persian Gulf War in 1991. (See ACT, December 2002.) The resolution was an attempt at compromise. A similar resolution introduced by the three countries February 24 had said that Iraq had failed to comply with Resolution 1441 and did not give Iraq any further time to disarm. (See ACT, March 2003.)

Washington ultimately failed to persuade a majority of Security Council members to adopt the resolution. France, Russia, China, and Germany called for allowing inspectors more time and increasing their resources. France said it would veto any resolution that implicitly or explicitly authorized the use of force, and Russia backed the French position. Whether China would have vetoed the U.S.-U.K.-Spain resolution is unclear, but it supported France and Russia’s stance. Various compromise proposals to outline specific disarmament tasks and give Iraq more time to comply also failed.

In a March 6 speech, Bush said the United States would push for a Security Council vote on the resolution, regardless of whether it would pass. In the face of opposition to Bush’s plan for an immediate confrontation with Baghdad, however, Washington decided not to call for a vote. In a March 17 statement, U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte cited France’s previous veto threat as the reason for the decision.

The Bush administration had repeatedly said that it did not need UN authorization to go to war. After the United States had already begun the invasion, Secretary of State Colin Powell said that existing Security Council resolutions provided justification for the use of force.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan announced March 17 that he was ordering weapons inspectors to leave Iraq.

Inspectors’ Progress

On March 17, UNMOVIC Executive Chairman Hans Blix and IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei presented their last pre-war briefings to the Security Council. On March 19, Blix and ElBaradei submitted draft work programs to the Security Council outlining remaining disarmament tasks for Iraq. The work programs are required under Security Council Resolution 1284. (See ACT, April 2003.)

Since beginning work November 27, the inspectors have found no concrete evidence indicating that Iraq has reconstituted its WMD programs. ElBaradei stated in a March 7 report to the Security Council that the IAEA found “no evidence or plausible indication” that Iraq has revived its nuclear weapons program. The UNMOVIC work program states that “no proscribed activities, or the result of such activities from the period of 1998-2002 have…been detected through inspections.”

The inspectors, however, said many unresolved questions remain. Blix noted March 19 that, since his February 14 Security Council briefing, Iraq had turned over several sets of documents related to prohibited weapons programs, but they yielded little new information.

Despite outstanding issues regarding Iraq’s arsenal, Blix reported that Iraq’s cooperation with the inspectors had improved. In his March 7 briefing, which discussed and augmented the UNMOVIC quarterly report submitted March 1, Blix reported that inspectors were able to “perform professional no-notice inspections all over Iraq and to increase aerial surveillance.” Iraq had previously objected to the operation of aerial surveillance.

Perhaps the strongest indicator of Iraqi cooperation is its destruction of its al Samoud-2 missiles. Iraq complied with an UNMOVIC order to destroy the missiles, as well as their rocket motors, warheads, and any casting chambers capable of manufacturing motors for prohibited missiles. Iraq agreed to destroy the missiles late last month, and it had destroyed 72 of them as of March 17, according to an UNMOVIC press release that day.

Blix also stated that UNMOVIC continued to supervise the excavation of a site where Iraq had destroyed biological weapons—an effort which began in February.

Additionally, inspectors were able to secure more private interviews with Iraqi weapons scientists. While Blix reported February 14 that only three scientists had agreed to private interviews, 11 had agreed to do so since that briefing, according to a March 17 UNMOVIC press release. Five scientists, however, refused private interviews, according to a March 12 UNMOVIC press release.

Resolution 1441 gives inspectors the right to interview anyone they choose, without Iraqi officials present, and in any location they wish, including outside of Iraq. Most scientists had declined private interviews, insisting on recording the interviews or having an Iraqi official present.

Blix also pointed out that Iraq provided some additional names of scientists involved with Iraq’s chemical weapons program, but its disclosures fell far short of the total number of scientists UNMOVIC estimates to have been involved in the program, according to a March 15 UNMOVIC release.

ElBaradei also said in his March 7 briefing that Iraqi scientists had begun agreeing to private interviews with IAEA inspectors, citing two interviews. Subsequent IAEA press releases, however, indicate only one other such interview took place since the director-general’s briefing. In addition, ElBaradei stated that Iraq “provided a considerable volume” of documents related to procurement issues for its nuclear program.

Both the inspectors and the Bush administration suggested that the cooperation Baghdad offered was due in large part to the pressure created by U.S. military forces stationed in the Persian Gulf.
Differences with the United States

The inspectors’ assessment of Iraq’s weapons activities disputed several pieces of evidence the Bush administration has used to support its contention that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction.

ElBaradei’s March 7 report stated that documents allegedly detailing Iraqi attempts to purchase uranium from Niger were forgeries. A December 19 State Department fact sheet cited such attempts as evidence that Iraq was withholding information about its nuclear program. Powell acknowledged during a March 9 appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that the documents might be false.

In addition, the IAEA contradicted U.S. assertions that Iraq was trying to import aluminum tubes to build centrifuges for use in a uranium-enrichment program. ElBaradei said in his March 7 briefing that Iraq was probably using them for rocket production and that it is “highly unlikely” that Baghdad could have used them for centrifuges. Powell had asserted during a February 5 briefing to the Security Council that the tubes were linked to efforts to build centrifuges.

Blix also suggested March 7 that the inspectors needed better intelligence from UN member states, saying he would like to have more high-quality information about possible weapons sites. The inspectors have criticized the United States for its hesitancy to provide them with adequate intelligence.

Meanwhile, the Bush administration continued to dismiss reports about the inspectors’ progress. Powell stated in a March 5 speech that Iraq was continuing to move weapons around the country in an effort to thwart inspections. He also said that the Iraqi regime had ordered the production of more al Samoud-2 missiles to replace those being destroyed.

Vice President Richard Cheney openly expressed skepticism of the IAEA’s report during a March 16 interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” saying that the IAEA has “consistently underestimated or missed what…Saddam Hussein was doing.”

Whether UN weapons inspectors will have a future role to play in Iraq is unclear, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher stated in a March 20 press briefing.

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov stated March 26 that U.S.-British claims about WMD discoveries would not be believed without a “conclusive assessment” by “international inspectors.”

According to a March 30 Washington Post report, the Bush administration does not want to allow UN inspectors back into Iraq except, perhaps, with the limited role of verifying any U.S. and allied discoveries of weapons of mass destruction. The administration prefers to rely on its own inspectors and possibly inspectors hired through private companies, the Post reported.

Inspectors' Accomplishments

UN weapons inspectors began their work in Iraq November 27 and left March 18. Iraq submitted a declaration containing information about its weapons of mass destruction December 7, as required by UN Security Council Resolution 1441. IAEA inspectors conducted 237 inspections at 148 sites, including 27 sites not previously inspected. As of February 28, UNMOVIC inspectors had conducted approximately 550 inspections at 350 sites, including 44 sites not previously inspected.
The IAEA found no evidence that Iraq is pursuing a nuclear weapons program, but UNMOVIC found and/or supervised the destruction of some items related to proscribed weapons programs.

The UNMOVIC inspectors:

  • Supervised destruction of 72 prohibited al Samoud-2 missiles and 47 associated warheads. Iraq declared 76 of these missiles and 118 warheads to UNMOVIC.
  • Supervised destruction of three al Samoud-2 missile launchers. Iraq declared nine launchers to UNMOVIC.
  • Supervised destruction of two casting chambers capable of producing motors for prohibited missiles.
  • Discovered 231 illegal Volga missile engines.
  • Discovered 14 empty 122-millimeter rocket warheads that could be used to deliver chemical weapons.
  • Discovered a component of a cluster sub-munition designed to deliver chemical or biological weapons.
  • Discovered fuel spray tanks modified for possible use in delivering chemical or biological agents.
  • Found and destroyed one liter of a precursor chemical for the production of mustard agent.

As coalition troops advance on Baghdad and special forces capture Iraqi sites suspected of housing weapons of mass destruction (WMD), the United States and its allies...

A Perilous Precedent

Daryl G. Kimball

Abandoning a robust inspection regime that was effectively containing Iraq’s suspected weapons of mass destruction (WMD) capabilities, the Bush administration has bypassed the instruments of collective security and used massive military might to attack a state that it considers a potential threat. Was a bloody and costly pre-emptive war against Iraq the only option left? Does it provide a model for denying other states access to weapons of mass destruction? No. The war with Iraq sets a perilous precedent and a flawed formula for dealing with other global proliferation challenges.

According to President George W. Bush, the U.S. decision to invade Iraq outside of the UN framework was due to a “lack of will” on the part of the UN Security Council to enforce its resolutions. The reality is more complex. The impasse between Washington and London and the other council members stemmed from a fundamental disagreement about the nature of the Iraqi threat and how to deal with it.

Never enthusiastic about the weapons inspection process, the Bush administration tired of the mixed results of the process only weeks after it began. The chief inspectors found little evidence to prove the presence of or the verifiable destruction of suspected chemical or biological weapons. In addition, inspectors discovered no evidence of ongoing nuclear weapons work. Until the very onset of the war, the White House could only offer circumstantial evidence of continuing Iraqi weapons work—some of which was disproved by experts—and dubious claims of connections with al Qaeda. The White House nevertheless charged that Iraq represented a grave and growing threat, and it dismissed reports of Iraqi cooperation with inspectors as a further sign of delay and deception.

Most other Security Council members perceived no imminent or undeterrable threat emanating from Iraq. As CIA director George Tenet reportedly said in a letter to Bush in October 2002, Saddam Hussein was unlikely to initiate a WMD attack against any U.S. target unless provoked. With unfettered inspections, some missile destruction underway, and the inspectors saying they needed several more months to complete key disarmament tasks, most states considered immediate military action unwarranted.

Sadly, U.S. diplomats, as well as other council members, failed to pursue the option that could have effectively and peacefully denied Iraq weapons of mass destruction: a strengthened inspections regime reinforced by a clear set of disarmament benchmarks to compel full Iraqi compliance according to a practical timetable. If Iraq still failed to meet these tests, the United States would most likely have been able to win Security Council support for military action rather than undermine the council’s authority.

By invading Iraq virtually on its own, however, Washington has reinforced fears at home and abroad that it considers itself above the rules and norms governing international behavior and the institutions, such as the United Nations, designed to uphold global security. Even if the war goes according to the Pentagon’s best-case scenarios and some chemical or biological weapons are uncovered, the Iraq blueprint should not be applied to the other members of Bush’s “axis of evil.”

North Korea, unlike Iraq, is on the verge of producing nuclear bomb material. Pyongyang’s reckless nuclear brinksmanship is, in part, fueled by fears of a pre-emptive U.S. strike and made more difficult to address as a result of the administration’s policy of malign neglect. Any such U.S. attack would assuredly result in an unacceptable retaliatory attack by the North on South Korea. To arrest the North’s nuclear program, the United States and its allies will need to fashion a verifiable freeze through direct talks with Pyongyang.

Iran’s rapid acquisition of peaceful nuclear technology puts it within close reach of acquiring weapons-grade nuclear material. The situation highlights one of the loopholes in the global nuclear nonproliferation regime and the dangerous and overlooked effect of Israel’s nuclear weapons program on the proliferation behavior of rival states. Preventing Iran from acquiring the bomb will, among other things, require more effective controls on foreign nuclear and missile assistance—a task greatly complicated by U.S. and Russian disagreement over the Iraq war.

These tough proliferation cases require that Washington employ a more sophisticated, sustained, and effective style of preventive diplomacy than it demonstrated in the run-up to the war in Iraq. Each will require the help and assistance of U.S. allies and friends.

To prevent proliferation, the United States must pursue a comprehensive strategy to ensure that the acquisition, possession, and use of these weapons remains technically challenging and universally unacceptable. This requires greater support for a multilateral framework of disarmament and nonproliferation strategies, a willingness to work better with others, and a degree of self-restraint not yet exhibited by this administration.


Bush Asks for Nearly $75 Billion To Assist War Effort

Wade Boese

Days after the United States launched a military attack against Iraq, the Bush administration submitted a nearly $75 billion emergency budget request March 25 to Congress to help cover war expenses during fiscal year 2003. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said that additional war costs would be covered in future spending bills.

Rumsfeld told lawmakers March 27 that although the total cost of the war is unknowable at this point, $30.3 billion of the emergency request has already been spent or committed.

If Congress approves the request unaltered, the largest portion, almost $63 billion, would flow to the Pentagon. Most of the Pentagon’s slice, $53 billion, is devoted to mobilization costs for the Iraq war. An additional $3.7 billion would be used to replace munitions, such as laser-guided bombs and Patriot missile interceptors, used in the fighting. Another $1.1 billion is tabbed for procuring additional weapons and military equipment, including chemical and biological detection and decontamination gear. Classified activities would receive $1.7 billion.

The budget request reflects the Bush administration’s confidence that its military attack against Iraq will succeed. In addition to $2.4 billion for an Iraq relief and reconstruction fund, the proposal would authorize the president to divert as much as $50 million from Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) programs to secure and destroy Russian weapons of mass destruction. The money could be used to establish similar projects in countries outside of the former Soviet Union, and the request singles out Iraq as a potential case.

In a policy shift, the emergency budget request also calls for a repeal of the 1990 Iraq Sanctions Act. That act prohibits U.S. arms sales, other sensitive exports, and foreign assistance to Iraq. Moreover, the budget request includes a provision that would enable the president to export weapons to Iraq if he decides that it is in the national interest.

Of the funds requested for the Pentagon, $1.4 billion would be paid to countries that have backed the United States in its war on terrorism and, now, the war against Iraq. The request names Pakistan and Jordan as two potential recipients.

Countries supporting the U.S. action against Iraq would also be able to draw from an extra $2 billion pot of Foreign Military Financing (FMF), which provides military aid for foreign governments, and $2.4 billion in Economic Support Funds, which are generally untargeted cash transfers. Israel, which would be awarded $9 billion in loan guarantees through September 2005 in the emergency budget request, would receive the largest sum of additional military aid at $1 billion. That would be in addition to the more than $2 billion in U.S. military aid Israel already receives annually.

In addition to allocating funds in its emergency budget request for countries supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Bush administration announced March 26 that it would expedite reviews of their requests for U.S. arms. The State Department’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls pledged it would try to respond to proposed weapons buys from coalition partners within 48 hours.

Days after the United States launched a military attack against Iraq, the Bush administration submitted a nearly $75 billion emergency budget request March 25 to Congress to help cover war expenses during fiscal year 2003.

Indian Company Sanctioned for Proliferation

The United States levied sanctions February 4 against an Indian company and its president for aiding Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons programs. Under the sanctions, imports from NEC Engineers Private Ltd. and its successors or the company’s president, Hans Raj Shiv, are prohibited. In addition, the U.S. government may not buy goods or services from either the company or Shiv.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the United States imposed the penalties against the entities for “knowingly and materially contributing to Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons program.” Boucher refused to list the specific goods involved or to confirm whether Iraq received them. He noted, however, that Indian media has reported that NEC Engineers Private “sent 10 shipments containing titanium vessels, filters, titanium centrifugal pumps, atomized and spherical aluminum powder, and titanium anodes to Iraq.”

The sanctions “will remain in place for at least one year and until further notice,” according to the Federal Register, which published the decision February 11. This is not the first time Shiv has been penalized; in July 2002, the United States imposed sanctions against Shiv under the Iran-Iraq Arms Nonproliferation Act of 1992. (See ACT, September 2002.)

NEC Engineers Private was originally based in India but has expanded its operations into the Middle East and Eurasia, according to the Federal Register. Shiv once lived in India but is now believed to reside in the Middle East. The State Department noted that the Indian government has worked to stem proliferation-related trade by Indian companies. Boucher said India has conducted its own investigation and has arrested two principals of NEC Engineers Private and taken steps to prevent further illicit exports, but “NEC and Shiv have shifted operations to other locations.”

Decision on Iraqi Disarmament Divides Security Council

Paul Kerr

As weapons inspections continued in Iraq, permanent members of the UN Security Council submitted competing proposals February 24 intended to address Baghdad’s failure to disarm. A U.S.-British draft resolution states that Iraq has failed to comply with its disarmament obligations and would likely pave the way for military action. A memorandum submitted to the council by France and Russia is intended to slow the rush to war, calling for strengthened inspections as a means of achieving disarmament without using force. (See ACT, March 2003.)

Formally introduced by the United Kingdom and co-sponsored by the United States and Spain, the draft resolution states that Iraq “has failed to take the final opportunity afforded to it by Resolution 1441.” That resolution, adopted November 8, gave Iraq a “final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations” as set out by Security Council resolutions stretching back to the end of the Persian Gulf War in 1991. The United States has previously said that Iraq is in material breach of the resolution but has not formally submitted the matter to the Security Council before.

The draft resolution focuses on Iraq’s failure to fully explain its weapons programs. Resolution 1441 required Iraq to submit a “currently accurate, full, and complete declaration of all aspects of its [weapons of mass destruction] programmes.” Iraq turned over a 12,000-page declaration to UN officials in Baghdad December 7, but it contained little useful information and left many questions unanswered. The draft resolution says this declaration contains “false statements and omissions”—a breach of Resolution 1441.

The draft resolution references Resolution 1441’s warning that Baghdad would “face serious consequences” if it continues to ignore its disarmament obligations—a phrase widely viewed as including the use of force—but does not include stronger language. The Bush administration has repeatedly said that it will go to war without UN authorization if necessary, and a State Department official interviewed February 27 said the United States does not believe that a new resolution is required to use force.

A UN official interviewed February 27 said that the new resolution was intended to provide political cover for leaders whose citizens oppose military action.

The Russian-French proposal, submitted as a memorandum and not as a formal resolution, states that military force should be a “last resort” and that force should not yet be used because there is “no evidence” that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction (WMD). It also notes that inspections have only recent begun operating at full capacity but “have already produced results.” The memorandum also says, however, that “inspections…cannot continue indefinitely. Iraq must disarm,” adding that Baghdad’s cooperation, although improving, is not “yet fully satisfactory.”

The memorandum also argues that preserving Security Council unity and increasing pressure on Iraq “are of paramount importance.” It proposes that the inspectors submit a program of work that lists and clearly defines specific disarmament tasks. Such a report is already required under Resolution 1284, which created the current weapons inspection team—the UN Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC)—in 1999. UNMOVIC is currently assembling the list, the UN official said in a February 27 interview.

The memorandum suggests “further measures to strengthen inspections,” including increasing staff and bolstering technical capabilities. Additionally, it proposes a new timeline mandating regular reporting to the Security Council about inspectors’ progress, as well as a progress report to be submitted 120 days after the program of work is adopted.

China supports the French and Russian position, according to a February 27 Chinese Foreign Ministry statement. The stark division between the Security Council’s permanent members is reflected in a split among the council’s 10 rotating members. Even if Russia, France, and China refrained from exercising their vetoes, it is unclear whether the U.S.-British resolution would garner the nine votes needed to pass.

The State Department official said that Washington expects a decision on the resolution shortly after Hans Blix, the executive chairman of UNMOVIC, briefs the council in early March. Blix is scheduled to submit an UNMOVIC quarterly report March 1 and to give an oral presentation to the council in the first week of March. The Security Council began consultations about the resolution February 27.

In a February 24 press statement, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Negroponte would not set a specific timetable for a vote but said the “diplomatic window is now closing” and that Washington expects action within a few weeks.

The Bush administration has still not publicly committed itself to the use of military force but has been dismissive of the inspections’ incremental progress. During a February 24 press conference, Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, stopped short of saying that the United States had decided go to war but added that “there are no deals to be struck” with Baghdad.

The Security Council split is characterized by differing views over whether Iraq can be expected to comply with its disarmament obligations and whether inspectors can effectively perform their task. Secretary of State Colin Powell briefed the Security Council on February 5 in an effort to persuade members that the inspections process is failing, publicly presenting intelligence for the first time to support Washington’s claim that Iraq is hiding weapons of mass destruction and interfering with the inspections process. (See excerpts below.)

Powell presented satellite images, recordings of intercepted communications, and accounts from human intelligence sources to make his case. He cited examples of Iraqi personnel concealing weapons, altering documents, intimidating potential witnesses, and monitoring inspection teams as proof of Iraqi interference. He also stated that Iraq continues to develop prohibited weapons systems, such as long-range missiles and aircraft modified to deliver weapons of mass destruction. The briefing, however, failed to generate sufficient support to persuade France, China, and Russia to support the U.S. position.

What Inspectors Have Found

The weapons inspectors have reported no major WMD discoveries, and Iraq has continued to be cooperative in granting access to facilities. The Security Council seems to agree, however, that Baghdad has continued to show insufficient cooperation to clarify its December declaration and demonstrate that it no longer possesses weapons of mass destruction.

Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), updated the Security Council on January 27 and February 14 about their progress since they last briefed the council January 9. (See ACT, January/February 2003.) They reported that the IAEA has conducted 177 inspections at 125 locations and that UNMOVIC has conducted more than 400 inspections at approximately 300 sites. There are 86 UNMOVIC and 18 IAEA inspectors in Iraq, according to a February 26 IAEA press report.

The UNMOVIC inspectors have not found any weapons of mass destruction, Blix said February 14, but they have found a “small number of [prohibited] empty chemical munitions.” However, “many [other] proscribed weapons and items are not accounted for,” he added, calling the matter “one of great significance.”

Perhaps more importantly, UNMOVIC ordered Baghdad to destroy its al Samoud 2 missiles. Inspectors say the missiles are prohibited under Iraq’s disarmament obligations because their range exceeds 150 kilometers, the limit established by Resolution 687 in 1991. Iraq must destroy the missiles, along with their rocket motors and any casting chambers capable of manufacturing motors for prohibited missiles. Blix communicated the order to Iraq in a February 21 letter, and Iraq has agreed “in principle” to destroy them, according to a February 27 UN press release.

Blix also indicated in his February 14 briefing that the inspectors were expanding their infrastructure and technical capabilities, including the use of manned and unmanned surveillance aircraft.

ElBaradei said February 14 that the IAEA has “found no evidence” of an ongoing nuclear weapons program, but he added that the agency could not yet confirm that such a program does not exist. The IAEA is attempting to determine Iraq’s nuclear activities since inspectors left the country in 1998.

ElBaradei also pointed out that inspections can find prohibited nuclear weapons programs “even without the full cooperation of the inspected state” but added that Iraqi cooperation would “speed up” the process and produce a greater degree of confidence that Iraq has disarmed.

Marginal Cooperation

International pressure on Baghdad to comply with Resolution 1441 has increased in response to Iraqi intransigence. Blix and ElBaradei held meetings with Iraqi officials January 19-20 and February 8-9 in an effort to secure greater cooperation, with some marginal success. The chief inspectors maintain, however, that Iraq must make much more progress to fulfill its disarmament requirements.

In a sign of modest progress, Iraq has provided inspectors with some documentation of its weapons programs. Iraq gave UNMOVIC documents concerning its biological weapons program shortly after the inspectors’ February 14 presentation, according to a February 25 UN press release. A few days later, Iraq began excavating a site where biological weapons had been disposed of and invited UNMOVIC to inspect the site.

However, Blix said February 14 that documents that Baghdad had presented during the February 8-9 meeting addressed “important…disarmament issues” but contained “no new evidence.” Questions also still remain about Iraq’s destruction of its anthrax stocks and precursor chemicals for VX nerve gas. Iraq claims to have unilaterally destroyed these agents in 1991 but says the documentation was destroyed.

The IAEA removed documents from an Iraqi scientist’s home January 16, but ElBaradei reported February 14 that they revealed little new information about Iraq’s nuclear program. ElBaradei also said that documents provided during the inspectors’ February 8-9 visit contained no new information.

Securing private interviews with Iraqi scientists has been another matter of concern. Resolution 1441 gives inspectors the right to interview anyone they choose, without Iraqi officials present, in any location they wish, including outside Iraq. ElBaradei said in his January 27 briefing that Iraqi scientists had declined private interviews, but he said in his February 14 briefing that the IAEA had since been able to conduct four interviews without the presence of Iraqi observers, although the subjects tape recorded their interviews—a practice the IAEA wants to end.

The IAEA has indicated that the interview process is continuing, and ElBaradei said on February 14 that Iraq provided the agency with additional names of relevant personnel to be interviewed. Previous lists provided by Iraq were inadequate. ElBaradei added that the agency would continue to ask for additional lower-ranking personnel.

Blix said in his February 14 briefing that three people consented to private interviews just before the February talks in Baghdad, after many had refused. However, no Iraqis have agreed to private interviews since then, the UN official said in the February 27 interview. UNMOVIC has made no interview requests since February 14, the official added.

Blix added that Iraq gave UNMOVIC a list of people who had been involved with Iraq’s chemical weapons program. UNMOVIC has since received names of people involved in biological and missile programs, Blix said in a February 23 Time interview.

There have been other improvements in the inspections process. During the January 27 meeting, Blix identified some restrictions that Baghdad placed on weapons inspectors that have since been resolved. For example, Iraq was restricting flights of U2 surveillance aircraft, but Blix reported February 14 that the matter had been settled. The first U2 flight took place February 17.

ElBaradei stated during his February 14 briefing that Iraq adopted “national legislation” that same day prohibiting illegal weapons activities, complying with a longstanding inspectors’ request. Blix said in the Time interview, however, that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein only signed a “limited” decree and that actual legislation has not been adopted.

'Iraq: Failing to Disarm'

Secretary of State Colin Powell’s February 5 presentation to the UN Security Council contended that Baghdad is not fulfilling its requirements under Resolution 1441 and is involved in “an active and systematic effort…to keep key materials and people from the inspectors.” In his presentation, Powell stated that Iraq has a committee devoted to monitoring and deceiving inspectors. His briefing cited previously unrevealed intelligence information from human sources, satellite imagery, and intercepted communications.

Iraqi concealment efforts before inspections resumed

Satellite photographs show evidence of Iraq cleaning up approximately 30 weapons sites by removing prohibited material prior to the inspectors’ arrival.

  • A cargo truck moved ballistic missile components from a weapons site on November 10 and 22.
  • Rocket launchers and warheads containing biological agents were dispersed throughout the countryside during September and October to avoid detection.

A conversation intercepted November 26 reveals Iraqi officials apparently arranging to remove a “modified vehicle” in anticipation of UN inspectors’ arrival in Iraq.

Iraqi concealment efforts after inspections resumed

An intercepted conversation from January 30 indicates that, although Baghdad formed a commission to track down any remaining prohibited weapons in Iraq, Iraqi officials are actually conspiring to hide such munitions.

Iraq removed all materials from a chemical weapons site on December 22 as inspectors were arriving.

Iraq utilizes mobile biological-agent production facilities to thwart inspectors, according to four independent human sources.

Iraq is employing numerous tactics to hide relevant documents, including hiding them in Iraqi government officials’ homes, transporting them in cars around the country, and removing computer hard drives.

Iraq is also attempting to keep weapons scientists from divulging relevant information. Saddam Hussein threatened potential interviewees with death if they cooperate with inspectors, replaced weapons experts at one facility with intelligence agents, and placed several experts under arrest.

The full text of Powell’s presentation can be found at www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/02/20030205-1.html#6


As weapons inspections continued in Iraq, permanent members of the UN Security Council submitted competing proposals February 24 intended to address Baghdad’s failure to disarm. 

At the Crossroads on Iraq

Daryl G. Kimball

Three months after the return of UN arms inspectors to Iraq, chief inspectors Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei have, not surprisingly, reported mixed results. While there is broad international agreement on the need for Iraqi compliance with UN Resolution 1441, the UN Security Council is once again divided about the next steps.

After providing needed leadership for renewed and tougher inspections last fall, the Bush administration now asserts that further inspections are futile and threatens to go to war even without broad international support. Is there a need to take further action? Yes. Does this mean that armed invasion to overthrow Saddam Hussein’s government is the advisable and necessary action at this juncture? No.

If ridding Iraq of weapons of mass destruction is the real goal and war is truly the last resort, then the United States and the Security Council can and must reinforce the powers of the UN inspectors and increase diplomatic and military pressure on Baghdad. The current inspections regime need not last indefinitely, as some fear it might. Blix told Time magazine, “If [the Iraqis] cooperate fully and spontaneously, then the time should be short. If it’s a moderate amount of cooperation…it’s a question of months.”

Baghdad has cooperated more than it did in the 1990s but has yet to provide a complete explanation of past activities and evidence that it has ceased its pursuit of prohibited weapons. Perhaps of greatest concern are the suspected and unaccounted for nerve and mustard agents; chemical and biological munitions; and the presence of ballistic missiles with ranges beyond UN-imposed limits.

Even unobstructed weapons inspections will not guarantee that every prohibited Iraqi weapon has been eliminated. But tough inspections can provide the necessary confidence that Iraq cannot reconstitute militarily significant chemical, biological, and nuclear capabilities. Further inspections might also produce more definitive findings to help the Security Council members bridge their differences on the next steps.

Currently, there is no imminent threat that justifies a full-scale invasion of Iraq and the many risks and casualties such a course entails. The return of the inspectors and the presence of U.S. troops are, for now, effectively containing the potential threat posed by Iraq. The ability of the United States to maintain the diplomatic and military pressure needed to sustain this process over the next several months exceeds its ability to absorb the political, monetary, and human costs of a precipitous military invasion.

Inspectors have now conducted nearly 600 inspections of more than 425 sites but are just now beginning to use all the tools, such as U2 overflights, afforded to them under Resolution 1441. More can and must be done to make inspections more effective and to compel greater Iraqi cooperation. To start, U.S. intelligence agencies have not yet supplied the inspectors with their most useful data on suspected weapons-related activities and should do so immediately. The United States and other UN members should take steps to further limit Iraqi access to dual-use items.

For their part, Blix and ElBaradei must test Iraq’s commitment to allow its weapons scientists and engineers to be interviewed without interference. They should also substantially beef up their contingent of just over 100 inspectors. This would enable them to maintain an ongoing presence at the most worrisome sites. The inspectors should also exercise their authority to prohibit the movement of vehicles and aircraft around suspected sites in order to prevent the movement of banned weapons materials.

It is also crucial that Blix and ElBaradei establish a timetable to compel greater Iraqi cooperation. Such milestones would clarify for council members whether Iraq is meeting its obligations and help restore much needed unanimity on how to respond if Iraq complies and if it does not. Blix has wisely established a March 1 deadline to begin destruction of Baghdad’s prohibited al Samoud 2 missiles.

It is certainly past time for Iraq to account for and verifiably destroy the rest of its proscribed weapons. But if President George W. Bush abandons tougher inspections and invades Iraq without support from the Security Council and greater evidence of an imminent threat, he may well undermine the very institutions and mechanisms needed to preserve international law and order. An undertaking so complex, serious, and deadly as invasion must have broader international approval and legitimacy.

Unless Blix and ElBaradei report that their efforts have become futile because of blatant Iraqi noncooperation, it remains in the United States’ vital interests to vigorously pursue the inspections process. The prudent course for the Security Council is to further strengthen the inspections regime, maintain pressure on Iraq, and restore consensus on how best to achieve its disarmament.


New Proposals on Iraq Introduced at the UN

On February 24, 2003, key UN Security Council members submitted competing proposals for dealing with Iraq's failure to disarm, following reports from UN inspectors that indicated Iraq is improving cooperation in some areas but has failed so far to satisfactorily comply with UN resolutions.

The United Kingdom introduced a draft resolution, co-signed by the United States and Spain, that many diplomats and analysts have seen as a step toward war against Iraq. The resolution says Iraq has submitted "false statements" and "failed to take the final opportunity afforded to it by resolution 1441," through which the council provided Iraq a final chance to disarm. Resolution 1441 says Iraq will "face serious consequences" if it fails to comply with its disarmament obligations.

On the same day, Russia and France submitted a memorandum that says military action against Iraq "should only be a last resort" and that to date "the conditions for using force against Iraq are not fulfilled." The memorandum, which also has China's support, says there is no evidence to prove Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction and calls for measures to strengthen inspections, such as increasing the number of inspectors. (See ACT, March 2003.)

Following is the text of the documents:

Draft Resolution by the United Kingdom, the United States, and Spain
February 24, 2003

The Security Council,

PP1:  Recalling all its previous relevant resolutions, in particular its resolutions 661 (1990) of August 1990, 678 (1990) of 29 November 1990, 686 (1991) of 2 March 1991, 687 (1991) of 3 April 1991, 688 (1991) of 5 April 1991, 707 (1991) of 15 August 1991, 715 (1991) of 11 October 1991, 986 (1995) of 14 April 1995, 1284 (1999) of 17 December 1999 and 1441 (2002) of 8 November 2002, and all the relevant statements of its President,

PP2:  Recalling that in its resolution 687 (1991) the Council declared that a ceasefire would be based on acceptance by Iraq of the provisions of that resolution, including the obligations on Iraq contained therein,

PP3:  Recalling that its resolution 1441 (2002), while deciding that Iraq has been and remains in material breach of its obligations, afforded Iraq a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations under relevant resolutions,

PP4:  Recalling that in its resolution 1441 (2002) the Council decided that false statements or omissions in the declaration submitted by Iraq pursuant to that resolution and failure by Iraq at any time to comply with, and co-operate fully in the implementation of, that resolution, would constitute a further material breach,

PP5:  Noting, in that context, that in its resolution 1441 (2002), the Council recalled that it has repeatedly warned Iraq that it will face serious consequences as a result of its continued violations of its obligations,

PP6:  Noting that Iraq has submitted a declaration pursuant to its resolution 1441 (2002) containing false statements and omissions and has failed to comply with, and co-operate fully in the implementation of, that resolution,

PP7:  Reaffirming the commitment of all Member States to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq, Kuwait, and the neighboring States,

PP8:  Mindful of its primary responsibility under the Charter of the United Nations for the maintenance of international peace and security,

PP9:  Recognizing the threat Iraq’s non-compliance with Council resolutions and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles poses to international peace and security,

PP10:  Determined to secure full compliance with its decisions and to restore international peace and security in the area,

PP11:  Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations,

OP1:  Decides that Iraq has failed to take the final opportunity afforded to it by resolution 1441 (2002);

OP2:  Decides to remain seized of the matter.

Source: United States Mission to the United Nations

Memorandum from France and Russia
February 24, 2003

1. Full and effective disarmament in accordance with the relevant UNSC resolutions remains the imperative objective of the international community. Our priority should be to achieve this peacefully through the inspection regime. The military option should only be a last resort. So far, the conditions for using force against Iraq are not fulfilled:

  • While suspicions remain, no evidence has been given that Iraq still possesses weapons of mass destruction or capabilities in this field;

- Inspections have just reached their full pace; they are functioning without hindrance; they have already produced results;

  • While not yet fully satisfactory, Iraqi co-operation is improving, as mentioned by the chief inspectors in their last report.

2. The Security Council must step up its efforts to give a real chance to the peaceful settlement of the crisis. In this context, the following conditions are of paramount importance:

  • the unity of the Security Council must be preserved;
  • the pressure that is put on Iraq must be increased.

3. These conditions can be met, and our common objective—the verifiable disarmament of Iraq—can be reached through the implementation of the following proposals:

A. Clear program of action for the inspections:

According to resolution 1284, UNMOVIC and IAEA have to submit their program of work for approval of the Council. The presentation of this program of work should be speeded up, in particular the key remaining disarmament tasks to be completed by Iraq pursuant to its obligations to comply with the disarmament requirements of resolution 687 (1991) and other related resolutions.

The key remaining tasks shall be defined according to their degree of priority. What is required of Iraq for implementation of each task shall be clearly defined and precise.

Such a clear identification of tasks to be completed will oblige Iraq to cooperate more actively. It will also provide a clear means for the Council to assess the co-operation of Iraq.

B. Reinforced inspections:

Resolution 1441 established an intrusive and reinforced system of inspections. In this regard, all possibilities have not yet been explored. Further measures to strengthen inspections could include, as exemplified in the French non paper previously communicated to the chief inspectors, the following: increase and diversification of staff an expertise; establishment of mobile units designed in particular to check on trucks; completion of the new system of aerial surveillance; systematic processing of data provided by the newly established system of aerial surveillance.

C. Timelines for inspections and assessment:

Within the framework of resolution 1284 and 1441, the implementation of the program of work shall be sequenced according to a realistic and rigorous timeline:

- the inspectors should be asked to submit the program of work outlining the key substantive tasks for Iraq to accomplish, including missiles / delivery systems, chemical weapons / precursors, biological weapons / material and nuclear weapons in the context of the report due March 1st;

- the chief inspectors shall report to the Council on implementation of the program of work on a regular basis (every 3 weeks);

- a report of UNMOVIC and IAEA assessing the progress made in completing the tasks shall be submitted by the inspectors 120 days after the adoption of the program of work according to resolution 1284;

- at any time, according to paragraph 11 of resolution 1441, the executive Chairman of UNMOVIC and the Director General of the IAEA shall report immediately to the Council any interference by Iraq with inspections activities as well as failure by Iraq to comply with its disarmament obligations;

- at any time, additional meetings of the Security Council could be decided, including at high level.

To render possible a peaceful solution inspections should be given the necessary time and resources. However, they can not continue indefinitely. Iraq must disarm. Its full and active co-operation is necessary. This must include the provision of all the additional and specific information on issues raised by the inspectors as well as compliance with their requests, as expressed in particular in Mr. Blix’ letter of February 21st 2003. The combination of a clear program of action, reinforced inspections, a clear timeline and the military build-up provide a realistic means to reunite the Security Council and to exert maximum pressure on Iraq.

Source: Permanent Mission of France to the United Nations

Countering The 'Axis of Evil': Assessing Bush Administration Policies Toward Iran, Iraq, and North Korea



Monday, January 13, 2003
Panel Discussion
10:30 A.M. - 11:45 A.M.

At the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington, DC


The Arms Control Association's annual membership meeting and luncheon were held Monday, January 13, 2003 from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington, DC.

The Panelists:

Daryl Kimball: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. If you could find your seats, please, we are going to get started. For those of you who have coats to deal with, there is a coatroom in the back.

Thank you very much for coming this morning and for coming to this briefing on countering the so-called "axis of evil," assessing the Bush administration's policies toward Iran, Iraq, and North Korea.

I'm Daryl Kimball, the executive director of the Arms Control Association. We're a private, nonpartisan organization that has, for the last three decades, dedicated itself to education about arms control, promotion of effective arms control policies to make America and the world safer.

We've organized this briefing this morning, I think, at a very, very interesting time. We are here to assess how the United States and the international community can most effectively address the urgent chemical, biological, and nuclear proliferation challenges in Iraq, Iran, and North Korea, and how the actions of these three states are influenced by regional security issues and by United States policies.

Before I introduce our panel of experts who are going to address each of these states, let me begin by making a few remarks to frame our discussion and to raise some issues that I hope the panelists will cover.

As you will recall, 40 years ago the Cuban missile crisis and the prospect of dozens of nuclear weapon states drove U.S. leaders-Democratic and Republican-to pursue arms control strategies to manage the dangerous nuclear, chemical, and biological arms competition with the Soviet Union, and also to stop the dangerous spread of weapons of mass destruction to new states.

In the last decade, the bedrock of that effort that emerged out of that period-the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty-has been under tremendous stress as the recognized nuclear-weapon states have not fulfilled their nuclear disarmament commitments and as states such as India, Pakistan, and Israel have maintained and advanced their nuclear weapons programs with relative impunity.

At the same time, a new wave of nuclear proliferation and chemical and biological weapons proliferation has erupted, particularly concerning Iran, Iraq, and North Korea. How the United States and the United Nations respond to these immediate challenges will profoundly affect American credibility, the future of the nonproliferation regime, and the future security of millions of people in the United States and around the globe.

In many ways, the security debate surrounding these cases right now has been shaped by last year's State of the Union address by President Bush in which he prominently labeled Iraq, Iran, and North Korea as part of an axis of evil that is supporting terrorism and seeking weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them. The president is to be commended for focusing attention on the ongoing threat of nuclear, chemical, and biological proliferation and missile proliferation from these dangerous states, but I would say that his administration's gratuitous name calling and its allergy to multilateral diplomatic and arms control strategies, and its strong rhetorical emphasis on coercive pre-emption, including the possible use of nuclear weapons to defeat chem and bio threats, has complicated the United States' task in addressing these proliferation problems, particularly in North Korea, where recently, as we all know, North Korea has unfrozen its plutonium facilities and declared that it will leave the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty-I would say a reflection of the failure of the administration's approach toward North Korea in the last couple of years.

And though the recent announcement by the United States that it will resume talks or is willing to talk with North Korea and Governor Bill Richardson's mediation efforts is a good sign that provides some hope, there are many, many obstacles that lie ahead.

With Iraq, of course, we are on the verge of a war to deal with its weapons of mass destruction capabilities. After leaning toward unilateral military action this summer, the president did respond to domestic and international opinion and criticism and sought a new and stronger UN Security Council resolution aimed at returning UN inspectors to Iraq under a stronger mandate, with better tools and greater cooperation. But as the process continues, it's not clear whether Iraq will continue to comply with Resolution 1441-if it is, some would say-whether inspectors will find positive evidence that Iraq maintains WMD, or whether the United States will or should pursue an invasion without such evidence and without Security Council backing.

In Iran, President Bush has all but given up on establishing a dialog with Iran's reformists and seems to be resting hopes on cutting off nuclear cooperation from Russia, which continues to this day, and we now have new, fresh news reports that suggest that Iran might be building secret nuclear facilities, facilities that the IAEA will soon be inspecting. So a year after the president's "axis of evil" speech, it's clear that blunt talk and practical accomplishments are not quite the same thing.

To help us explore how U.S. policy can better address these proliferation challenges, we have three expert panelists, and I'm going to briefly introduce each one, and then we're going to hear from them, and then we're going to take questions from the audience.

First we'll hear from Michael Eisenstadt. He's senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy where he specializes in Arab, Israeli, and Persian Gulf security affairs. He is going to provide us with his perspective on Iran's WMD capabilities and motivations, the impact of administration policies, and the challenges to address in the near future.

Following him, we will hear from Michael O'Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a very active writer and commentator on a wide range of issues. Michael will provide his assessment of Iraq's nuclear ambitions, chemical and biological weapons capabilities, and the differing threats these weapons pose as well as whether military action against Iraq is justified under the current circumstances that we have.

Finally we'll hear from Joel Wit, who has been very busy in the last few days. We're happy to have him with us here today. He is senior fellow with the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He served for 15 years in the Department of State in various positions; most recently and most relevant to our session today as the coordinator for the 1994 U.S.-North Korea Agreed Framework, and was responsible for implementation of that agreement. And Joel has also authored a comprehensive article on the current North Korean crisis in the most recent issue of Arms Control Today, and there will be copies of that article outside as you leave when the panel session is over.

So following their comments, we'll take questions. The floor is yours, Michael.

Michael Eisenstadt: Thank you, Daryl, and thanks to the Arms Control Association for inviting me here today to talk about Iran.

If Iraq is a crisis at our doorstep and North Korea is a crisis we keep kicking down the road, then Iran, I believe, could well turn out to be the crisis just around the bend in the road. This is not only because Iran is the example par excellence of a state that supports terrorist groups with global reach and it possesses weapons of mass destruction. To paraphrase from President Bush's last State of the Union address, it is also because Iran may, within just a few years, be standing at the nuclear threshold, either through its own clandestine efforts or as a result of the emergence of North Korea as a supplier of nuclear technology and, perhaps in the near future, nuclear weapons.

In the past 10 to 15 years, Iran's missile and WMD programs have been plagued by numerous problems and delays. These continue. As a result, progress in these programs has generally been slow and incremental, though in the nuclear arena, recent revelations about heretofore unknown nuclear facilities hint at greater progress than previously appreciated.

With regard to ballistic missiles, during the tenure of President Bush, Iran has continued to expand its family of strategic rockets, tested its first solid fuel short-range ballistic missile, the Fateh 110, in May 2001, and conducted its fifth test flight of the Shahab 3 medium-range ballistic missile in July of 2002. This last flight test was reportedly a failure, indicating that Iran is still encountering problems with the Shahab 3, and most of the speculation circles around the engines, and reportedly, Iran has acquired additional engines from North Korea to put in the indigenously produced airframes. Despite these problems, the Shahab 3 has probably been introduced into operational service in small numbers.

Iran's missile programs continue to benefit from assistance from Russia, China and North Korea. Iran is also involved in a Chinese-led consortium to produce a civilian earth-imagining satellite. This could eventually abet long-standing Iranian ambitions to build a military reconnaissance satellite of their own.

In the nuclear arena, the Bushehr 1 reactor may finally be completed in the next year or so. According to Russian press reports, Iran may take delivery of reactor fuel from Russia by the end of this year or early next year, so the status of efforts to conclude an agreement on the return of reactor fuel to Russia for reprocessing remains uncertain. And as an aside, I would say the Russians, under U.S. pressure, have stated that the fuel will not be shipped to Iran until such an agreement is signed.

Delays have, however, dogged the nuclear program from its inception, and additional delays during the final stages of construction or teething problems during the break-in period are likely to arise, further delaying start-up of the reactor.

On the other hand, the successful completion of Bushehr 1 could pave the way for the construction of additional reactors at Bushehr and Ahvaz and eventually result in the production of prodigious quantities of plutonium in the form of spent fuel sitting in cooling pools awaiting shipment back to Russia. In a protracted crisis or a war, the temptation to divert the spent fuel in order to separate the plutonium and use it for proscribed purposes could be overwhelming.

Iran is also apparently constructing a number of fuel-cycle-related facilities, including a heavy water production plant at Arak and a uranium-enrichment facility of some sort, and the speculation centers around the gas centrifuge plant at Natanz.

The existence of these facilities, which was first revealed publicly last August and confirmed by U.S. government officials last December, raises troubling questions. If there is a heavy-water-production plant, where is the heavy-water-moderated reactor, and if there is a gas-centrifuge plant, where is the uranium-conversion facility? And are there other such facilities in Iran, and what else do we not know about Iran's nuclear program?

Finally, Iran continues its cooperation with other proliferators. In the past, it has cooperated with Syria on its missile program, and there have been reports in the past year that Iran has been providing support for Libya's missile program, in particular, the production of Scud-type missiles in Libya. And according to a report by an authoritative Israeli journalist, this year North Korea has been engaged with Iran in building a gas-centrifuge-enrichment plant, though it's unclear what the article is referring to-whether this is a small lab or a pilot-scale plant, or perhaps the aforementioned plant at Natanz, which reportedly is very large.

Given past close cooperation between North Korea and Iran in the missile arena and recent reports of cooperation in the nuclear arena, one must seriously consider the possible transfer of nuclear material or weapons from North Korea to Iran following start-up of the reactor at Yongbyon, if it occurs.

Now with regard to U.S. policy toward Iran, thus far the Bush administration's nonproliferation policy toward Iran has been marked more by continuity than change over the policies of its predecessors. The U.S. continues to rely on policy instruments that have in the past yielded some notable successes, such as political pressure, export controls, interdiction operations and sanctions, to disrupt and delay Iranian proliferation efforts. Moreover, the U.S. continues to hold formal nonproliferation consultations with Russia regarding the latter's missile and nuclear-related technology transfers to Iran, though with no more success than past efforts by the Clinton administration.

There are, however, hints of possible changes in store, which can be found in the emphasis on pre-emption in the speeches of President Bush and in various U.S. government strategy documents published since September 11. More on that in a minute.

Be that as it may, there has been a dramatic, albeit largely unheralded change in overall U.S. policy toward Iran. At various times in the past, the U.S. has sought to bolster moderates or reformers against their conservative rivals and has sought to alter Iranian policy concerning various issues of concern to the U.S.

Today it is doing none of the above. Rather it is encouraging the Iranian people in their struggle to change the Iranian political system. The U.S. is pursuing regime change in both Iraq and in Iran, though the means to the end in each case are very different. And just to give you a flavor of how much has changed in about the past decade, what I'd like to do is read to you some passages from Martin Indyk's original dual containment speech, which was given in 1993; in particular, the sections having to do with Iran, and then I would like to read excerpts from a speech given by Dr. Zalmay Khalilzad, who is a senior national security council official who is responsible for U.S. policy toward Iran, so you could see the contrast.

Now in Indyk's original speech, which was given as I said in 1993, and which in many ways was a template and really set the tone for U.S. policy for nearly a decade after that, he identified what he called a five-part challenge to the United States in terms of Iranian policy, which was problematic for us, and he talked about Iran being the formal state sponsor of terrorism and assassination, their efforts to thwart peace talks between Israel and the Arabs, Iran's efforts to subvert governments that are friendly to the U.S., their efforts to acquire offensive weapons-conventional weapons, that is, and their pursuit of weapons of mass destruction.

He then goes on to say, and I quote, "I should emphasize that the Clinton administration is not opposed to Islamic government in Iran. Rather we are firmly opposed to these specific aspects of the Iranian regime's behavior as well as its abuse of the human rights of the Iranian people. We will not normalize relations with Iran until and unless Iran's policies change across the board. We are willing to listen to what Iran has to say, provided that it comes through authoritative channels."

Now the talk-Khalilzad's speech, which was given in August of this year. He starts off by saying that the United States is pursuing a dual-track policy toward Iran, based, quote, unquote, "on moral clarity." One, tell the world specifically what is destructive and unacceptable about Iran's behavior: sponsorship of terror and pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and repression of the clearly expressed desires of the Iranian people for freedom and democracy; two, while laying out a positive vision of partnership and support for the Iranian people.

What's interesting is that the emphasis is not on changing the behavior, but I think policymakers have come to the conclusion, after a decade of trying, that there is probably not a lot we can do to change its behavior, and that's I think why-where we get to or why we are looking at regime change, in addition to the fact that I would also mention that conditions in Iran are considered by many specialists on the country to be ripe for-or may in the near future be ripe for change, and provide a congenial environment for U.S. efforts to encourage an evolution of the system there.

Further on, he states that U.S. policy is not to impose change on Iran, but to support the Iranian people in their quest to decide their own destiny. Our policy is not about Khatami or Khamenei, reform or hardline. It is about supporting those who want freedom, human rights, democracy, and economic and educational opportunity for themselves and their fellow countrymen and women.

The U.S. government's vision for a future of Iran, however, is unclear. Exactly what a post-clerical regime would look like is not spelled out in U.S. policy documents, nor are the implications of regime change for proliferation. As best we can tell, Iranian motivations to proliferate are not specific to the current regime. The Shah wanted the bomb, so do the mullahs, and whoever follows him is likely to follow suit. Moreover, support for these efforts, to the degree that these matters are discussed and debated in Iran-which for the most part they are not, as far as I could tell-comes from across the political spectrum. For many Iranians, the issues of WMD, the country's military power, is not a partisan political issue but a matter of national pride and national security. There is therefore no reason to believe that political change will necessarily lead to changes in Iran's proliferation policies.

That is not to say, however, that proliferation by Iran is inevitable or that a regime change will not create new opportunities to deal with Iran's proliferation. A deal with a new regime may be do-able if Iran's nuclear capabilities are still relatively immature and if the new regime can be convinced that by acquiring the bomb, it will pay a high price in terms of its other vital or key interests, such as its ability to attract foreign investment, to resuscitate the economy, and to improve its relations with the United States.

At the very least, even if a deal with the new regimes proves untenable or unworkable, a new regime that eschews the use of terrorism and the pursuit of an aggressively anti-Israel foreign policy would be easier for the United States to deal with, and in this way, the U.S. might at least be able to mitigate the consequences of a nuclear Iran if and when it happens.

That change in Iran will occur seems certain. When change will occur is unclear. Accordingly, the U.S. has to consider the possibility that the current regime may be around for a number of more years, that relations with Iran might get worse before they get better, and that Iran might acquire the bomb before it's increasing beleaguered, conservative clerical leadership can be removed from power.

Now where does this lead us in the future with regard to policy recommendations? First, because the current regime in Tehran might be around for awhile, the U.S. needs to continue with its policy of delaying Iran's efforts to acquire missiles and WMD through arm twisting, arms control, and sanctions in order to buy time for political change in Tehran and for the U.S. and its allies to strengthen their defense against missiles and WMD.

At the same time, Washington must continue seeking ways to curtail Russian assistance to Iran's missile and WMD programs and strengthen safeguards on ongoing activities, and the U.S. should continue to urge the IAEA and its allies to press Iran to adopt the additional protocol under the IAEA 93+2 program.

Second, the U.S. must seek to leverage regime change successes in Afghanistan and, perhaps in the near future, Iraq, by ensuring stability and successful political transitions in both countries in order to encourage and embolden those seeking political change in Iran. We should likewise use these military successes to bolster (unintelligible) capability vis a vis Iran.

Third, the U.S. government needs to seriously and systematically contemplate the risks and benefits of pre-emptive action against Iran's nuclear infrastructure, if it isn't doing so already.

Now again, this is not an imminent threat or imminent necessity, but it's something that might have to be considered down the road. In considering U.S. options regarding pre-emption, the United States will need to balance the imperative of preventing an Iranian nuclear breakout against the imperative not to squander the reservoir of pro-American goodwill among the Iranian people or to derail the positive evolutionary trajectory of the Iranian political by a reckless act that could discredit Westward-leaning Iranians and generate a popular backlash against the United States. Perhaps the only way to square the circle is through covert action so that the U.S. can preserve at least a thin veneer of deniability.

Finally, North Korea must be part of the solution. North Korea must not be allowed to become an exporter of nuclear technology, materials, or weapons, for then, should Tehran's own efforts to acquire nuclear weapons fail or be thwarted to the U.S., it might have the option of buying from the North Koreans. For these reasons, the coming year is likely to be a fateful year, a year of decisions that will influence the future of nuclear proliferation in East Asia and the Middle East for many years to come.

Thank you.


Kimball: We'll move on to our other Michael-Michael O'Hanlon.

Michael O'Hanlon: Thanks, Daryl. It's a treat to be here. I'm, I think, the least specialist on my assigned topic talking about the most over-analyzed issue of the three, so I'll try to make up for that by being brief, and the overall theme of my short remarks is that I'm becoming a reluctant supporter of the administration's apparent proclivity now to go to war to overthrow Saddam. I'm not a major proponent of this, but even given the evidence available now, I would not personally fall on my sword to oppose this war. I'm going to give you my reasons why in just a second. I hope there will be clearer evidence, however, that will allow those of us who are in my sort of shoes to feel more comfortable advocating one way or another whatever decision is made. We would like to have that final convincing piece of evidence if we have to go to war, and we'd like most of all to still figure out how not to go to war. I think there's some small chance of that, but the chance is pretty tiny. So let me explain how I get to this nuanced position of being willing to support the president's apparent decision to go to war without being a major proponent of it myself.

There's pro and con, clearly, for any decision about going to war to overthrow Saddam, and I'm going to focus primarily on the WMD aspect of this question. I'm not going to get into questions of estimating casualties in a war or this or that, but focusing primarily on the WMD issue.

If you want to argue against war, you can say that, listen, Saddam has chemical and biological weapons. He is denying that he does, but we all know he almost certainly does, but big deal. He's had them for a quarter century, he's generally been deterrable in his use of those weapons when we've made it clear that we care a lot about whether or not he does. He probably does not have smallpox; there is some worry that he might -- these longstanding ties to certain Soviet-era scientists, but there's, to my mind-and others in this room may know this question much better-to my mind, not a convincing enough stream of data or circumstantial reports to lend a lot of credence to this worry, so chances are he has sort of a garden variety arsenal of chemical and biological agents, and what's the big deal. Granted, it's a big deal in the 1980s if you're an Iranian or a Kurd, but at this point in time, Saddam is not going to be able to use those weapons, even against those populations, without almost certainly incurring a major international response, and he won't use them against us out of the blue based on the track record. So that's one argument that says let containment work, let sleeping dogs lie.

Another argument would be that even if you're worried that the nuclear question is a different sort of issue and that a Saddam Hussein with nuclear weapons might become emboldened to again attack his neighbors, or again become aggressive in the region, or again threaten Israel, believing that those weapons gave him some measure of protection or regime survival insurance because we would surely not dare go after him if he had a nuke, just as we apparently don't dare go after the North Koreans because-perhaps Saddam's thinking is that their nuclear program gives them some insurance. Even if that's your worry, that this possible Iraqi acquisition of a nuclear capability is something that would radically change the whole situation and make Saddam less deterrable, it appears that he's not making much progress toward nuclear weapons. The recent discussion about why he was trying to buy aluminum tubes last summer seems to suggest that, one, he didn't get them-which is the most important fact of all; and two, he may not have been trying to get them for a nuclear program in any case.

So if you look at the evidence of how far he's come, granted, as [Secretary of Defense Donald] Rumsfeld says, we don't know what we don't know, but what we do know is actually a fair amount on the nuclear issue, and it tends to be pretty reassuring. Of course Saddam Hussein hasn't given up his desire for nuclear weapons. No one in his right mind is going to argue that Saddam has reformed himself in some fundamental way. The question is not his intention so much here as his capability or his progress toward a future capability, and there the evidence suggests there isn't much progress. And moreover, the evidence suggests that inspectors can actually do a fairly good job of keeping a nuclear program from getting started because, unlike chemical and biological programs, nuclear issues, nuclear programs, even if they are basement-bomb-style technologies, they're pretty elaborate, pretty sophisticated, and fixed technology. It's hard to put these things into an 18-wheeler and move them around the country or to somehow make it look like they are a hospital laboratory one day and producing illicit weaponry the next day.

So the kinds of worries we have about chemical and biological production in Iraq probably are not nearly as serious for the nuclear question. There is a very good chance that especially now, with inspectors inside of Iraq, we can be pretty confident Saddam is not making any progress toward a nuclear capability. So you put all this together and the WMD argument doesn't seem all that compelling for war, and it looks like deterrence and containment can continue to work here pretty well.

A couple more quick points sort of arguing against war and then I'll get to the case for why I'm not quite so confident as these considerations may sound or make me sound.

Saddam has generally been deterrable, as I mentioned earlier, and certainly when we have made it clear what we oppose and which actions of his we would take counteraction against, he has tended to be deterrable, and this is not just in regard to the last few years, but even in 1994 he thought about testing Bill Clinton, moving some brigades south toward Kuwait, and we responded with Operation Vigiliant Warrior, and he backed down. There are a number of other situations. He hasn't used WMD since the late 1980s, he didn't use WMD against us in Desert Storm, he hasn't attacked our allies in the region since Desert Storm, and so it looks like he is deterrable, that for the most part he values his own neck more than he does willy-nilly aggression or adventurism.

Another argument is that he doesn't seem to have any major ties to al Qaeda, and this is something where Donald Rumsfeld again has tried to make a mountain out of a molehill. There may be a tie we don't yet know about, and some of these occasional passings through Baghdad by one al Qaeda operative or another may really just be the tip of the iceberg, but from what we can tell, there has been no material Iraqi collaboration in any major anti-Western terrorism since the attempted assassination of President Bush in 1993. That's the bottom-line view of the U.S. intelligence community last I was able to ascertain, and that suggests that the links between Saddam and al Qaeda, if they exist at all, are very tenuous, very limited, and really have to do as much as anything with the fact that some of these terrorist organization do have joint and multiple memberships, and sometimes there may be sort of a-almost a circumstantial or accidental contact, but it doesn't seem to be advanced to the point of material collaboration. That could be false, but based on the evidence that I've seen, that's the best assessment.

Finally, Richard Betts just wrote a very good article in Foreign Affairs talking about the risk to the homeland of possible Iraqi response to any American invasion, and that suggests that-it's sort of a different sort of argument against war, but it suggests that to the extent Saddam does have WMD today, chemical and biological agents in particular, the overall logic of the situation suggests that leaving him alone is the better course of action and the one that's more likely to produce our best security because going after him changes the whole logic of deterrence. He no longer has reasons to hold back; he has reasons to threaten, certainly, and perhaps even carry out terrorist action against Western or American targets, and that, too, argues against war.

That's the overall argument. It's mostly an argument about containment and deterrence, but it has also got that little asterisk at the end, the Richards Betts argument about how we maybe should be a little bit nervous that if we upset the apple cart, Saddam will no longer be deterred the way he has been.

Moving now quickly-in a talk that I promised would be brief-to arguments for using force, let me go quickly down the list because these are all familiar to everyone in this room.

First of all, Saddam may have only limited links to al Qaeda, if any, but he has enough links to other terrorist organizations, and there are enough sort of occasional contacts with al Qaeda that you have to be a little bit worried. And you combine that with the attempted assassination of former President Bush in 1993, and you recognize in Saddam a certain over-developed sense of vengeance and a certain willingness, perhaps, to go after people if he thinks he can get away with it. If he can convince himself there's a chance he'll get away with a vengeance attack against the United States, his own personal track record, specifically the '93 attempted assassination, suggests that we'd better be a little more worried than some proponents of containment and deterrence are.

And here I think that Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer went a little too far in their Foreign Policy article of recent times suggesting that deterrence was relatively airtight. I think you have to take the '93 attempted assassination into serious account when you're trying to understand Saddam's mentality, and granted, maybe it was just one aberrant example, but can you imagine if it had succeeded? What if he had actually carried out that attack successfully? And there is little doubt any more about the fact that Iraqi intelligence was behind that attempt and their real clear goal was to kill the former president. What does that tell us about Saddam's deterrability?

We also have to be a little bit nervous that Saddam passed up $150 to $200 billion in oil revenue in order to hang on to weapons that he probably could have manufactured again in the future if he had just let us come in, inspect, eliminate them, set up some long-term monitoring, and then found a way to produce a little bit on the side here and there. He probably could have had his cake and eat it too. Somehow his desire or attachment to these WMD capabilities was so great that he was willing to forego perhaps $200 billion now in oil revenue to thwart the international community's efforts and his own obligations to disarm. That has to make you a little bit worried, too, about where he is coming from.

Finally, his own track record-he has used WMD in the past, so there is clearly a stronger argument for going after someone who has already done this than just the average person who is holding WMD as sort of a deterrent of last resort. For Saddam it's clearly not a weapon of last resort. It's also not a weapon of first resort, and so he's not in the category, perhaps, of al Qaeda. He would clearly recognize that there are different qualities to these weapons, and if he uses them, he's running risks above and beyond the use of other weapons, but he has used them before.

And the whole integrity of the UN system, to some extent, is at stake here, and I think on this point President Bush is correct, that the idea that Saddam could be required to give up his WMD and not do it for a decade should be of concern to all of us who care about nonproliferation, not just because it's one more country keeping it's WMD stocks, but because it suggests the international community, even in this extreme case, was unable or unwilling to back up its demands with enough action to produce the results that were required.

And the December 7 declaration by Saddam in this regard has to be seen for what it is. [Secretary of State] Colin Powell-who many of us in this room, I suspect, see as the most pragmatic, moderate, reasonable, thoughtful member of this administration's senior foreign policy team-nonetheless was scathing in his assessment of the December 7 declaration. The polite way to describe it is incomplete. The blunt way to describe it is a bunch of lies, and I subscribe to the latter more than the former.

Right now that declaration is not a sufficient basis for doing inspections in Iraq. He told us nothing about weapons of mass destruction that he almost certainly has, and people in this room, again, are familiar with the evidence, but it's not just U.S. evidence; it's a whole body of UN-accumulated evidence throughout the 1990s about precursor chemicals and growth media and all sorts of things that Saddam imported and never could account for.

Now you can believe if you want to that they spilled them off in some hole in the ground near Baghdad and just forgot to write it down. That's the sort of thing you have to believe multiple times over to believe that Saddam really has no weapons of mass destruction today, and if we let him get away with small lies right now, even as we have nearly 100,000 American troops in the Persian Gulf, what's going to happen in a year or two once that troop presence can no longer be maintained at that level, and perhaps George Bush is no longer president, and the whole international consensus in favor of action has eroded? What's going to happen to the WMD elimination and inspection process at that time?

So I come reluctantly to believing that something has to give. It's not good enough to just sort of play this process out indefinitely, and therefore, while I still hope for more clear evidence before we have to make a decision on war, I would be prepared to support the administration even today should it make that decision-let's say after the January 27 report by the UN inspection teams to the UN Security Council.

My overall preference-and I'll finish on this point-is still that we can convince Saddam, with the threat now of 100,000 American forces soon to be in the region and pushing 150,000 by February, that under those circumstances he will finally see the light-that we are serious, that he'd better not try to split the international community too much because at some point we'll do it with a small coalition, if necessary, and without a second resolution, if necessary-and he'll see the light and realize he's got to take some action to come clean on his WMD holdings.

If that is finally his decision, I think he has to take irreversible action at that time-not simply admit to a few little holdings here and there, but actually produce and come clean on most of the weaponry we know he had and allow us to destroy it quickly-the chemical and biological stocks and production capabilities. If we can still produce that outcome this winter and eliminate these stocks, then I think as an arms controller and as a believer in trying to resolve this problem, if possible, without force, that we could be satisfied. But otherwise, my bottom line is we're in a tough position here, and the overall ledger is pretty mixed, but given the UN demands on Saddam, given the history of 12 years of resolutions, and given his blatant lies on December 7, I am in the reluctant position of having a hard time seeing how we can avoid war unless we get a fundamental change in his behavior from this point on.

Thanks a lot.

Kimball: Thank you, Michael.


Kimball: Joel Wit, the floor is yours. Are you going to stay there?

Joel Wit: Yes, I think I'll just stay here and talk a little. Thanks, Daryl.

Michael mentioned that Iraq is over-analyzed, and I think North Korea is rapidly overtaking Iraq as being over-analyzed, so I'm not sure if I'm going to have a lot new to say, particularly since I see in the audience there are some of our Korean colleagues from the embassy who have heard a lot of this before, and people like John Steinbruner, who participated in discussion groups on this. But let me just try to give you kind of a brief overview of the situation today in terms of North Korea's programs, the U.S. administration's policies, and maybe what we should be doing next.

I think it's fair to say that we stand now at the threshold of North Korea becoming a growing nuclear power for everyone to see. And let me just briefly go through what their programs are just so you have a sense of where they are at the moment.

There are three components to North Korea's nuclear program. The first is, as everyone knows, it has a very well developed plutonium production program that was frozen by the 1994 agreement and now probably will restart within the next month or two. Initially that program will churn out small amounts of plutonium, at least until the end of 2004, but at that point, if North Korea resumes construction of two larger reactors, their production may start ramping up to a point where they will be able to produce about 250 kilograms of plutonium a year, and depending on how much they use for a bomb, that could be as much as 35 to 40 nuclear weapons a year.

The second component of their program is the one we've heard a lot about recently, and that's this secret uranium-enrichment program they've had. It's much smaller, as far as we know; the information is very sketchy about it. It's not clear where it's located, although I'm sure that there are some sites that are suspected. The best we can tell, this program started in the late 1990s as a research and development effort. If you go back to that time period, there are press reports of North Korea looking to acquire equipment for uranium-enrichment overseas, and there were also press reports about contacts with Pakistan.

According to more recent information, this program took off in 2001, the first year of the Bush administration, when Pyongyang started to buy large amounts of material to build a production facility. And as best as I can tell from the press, the estimates are that it will be completed in one to three years, which is a pretty broad range of uncertainty, and when it is done, it will be able to produce enough enriched uranium for one to two bombs by mid-decade.

The third component of the program is the weaponization effort. Once again, as far as we can tell, North Korea has been trying to produce a weapons design for at least 15 years, if not longer, and the reason I say that is we know that in the late 1980s North Korea conducted high explosives tests at its nuclear facilities, and there are also press reports more recently, in the late 1990s, of more high-explosive tests-maybe not at those facilities, but at other places.

Still, it's not clear whether North Korea can actually build a bomb, although some of us would probably give them the benefit of the doubt after all this time. The 1993 intelligence estimate, which is cited in the press so often, said that there was a better-than-even chance that North Korea had one to two nuclear weapons, but there were no smoking guns that led the intelligence community to that conclusion, and it was the most controversial part of the estimate.

The nonproliferation and security implications are, of course, quite clear. On the first count, having a hostile North Korea in the middle of Northeast Asia with a growing nuclear weapons arsenal right next door to two major U.S. allies-Japan and South Korea-and also with 37,000 American troops across the DMZ [demilitarized zone] is not a good situation, and it's really amazing that the administration could say publicly that this really doesn't matter, it's not a big deal.

I'm not sure whether this development would trigger South Korea and Japan to acquire nuclear weapons, but it would certainly set off a new political dynamic in the region, and, at the very least, it would trigger a debate in both of those countries about whether they should re-evaluate their defense posture, and I'm almost certain there will be other military countermeasures that will follow, including possibly a stepped-up effort for theater missile defense.

On the second count, the proliferation risks-once again they are fairly obvious. Aside from the negative impact on the nonproliferation treaty, it's quite possible that North Korea could send plutonium to other countries or even sell it to terrorists, although I think that is still something of a stretch for the North Koreans. But this link between North Korea and countries like Iran, I think, is very interesting, and North Korea would be the only game in town in terms of being able to supply technology and material to these other countries.

Michael is taking his watch away, so I need to see how much-(audio break, tape change)-policy been and why? Well, I think the answer is pretty clear. The administration's policy has been not only ineffective, but I would say very ineffective. The fact is the Bush administration has never had a policy toward North Korea. There have always been deep splits in the administration about how to deal with the North, and those splits have never been resolved. And those deep splits are between what my colleague, Bob Einhorn, has called the far right, the near right, and the center.

The far right in the administration wants North Korea to go away. They want them to collapse. So they see North Korea building nuclear weapons as an avenue to getting what they want. And the theory is that if North Korea builds nuclear weapons, everyone will band against them, isolate them, and then they will collapse. Well, it's a nice idea, and it has a certain logic to it, but I think it's pretty risky, particularly if North Korea doesn't collapse. And in the past, North Korea has, of course, confounded many predictions that it was about to go away. The near right-extremely leery about talking to North Korea under any circumstances, and particularly the current circumstances where we would seem to be succumbing to blackmail-I'm not sure if they really know what to do about the situation. The center, well, it's an endangered species in this administration, and I think that the center at least realizes that at this point we have no choice but to sit down and talk to North Korea and maybe even cut a deal with them.

These splits have been manifested in a number of different ways, if you look back over the past two years of U.S. policy, and I'll just briefly mention a few of them.

The initial policy review that was conducted during the first half of 2000 never resolved anything. It just papered over the differences and actually came to a conclusion only because the South Korean foreign minister was about to visit the United States in June 2001. The second manifestation has been the administration's inability to engage North Korea over the next year, in spite of statements that it would meet anywhere, anytime, and in spite of periodic feelers from Pyongyang that it would like to talk to the United States. The third manifestation has been periodic hostile statements about North Korea by administration officials and the president himself. The fourth one, [Assistant Secretary of State James] Kelly's visit to North Korea in October, which essentially threw the gauntlet on the table in terms of dealing with North Korea's uranium-enrichment program; it was not a problem-solving approach, and I think that is the reason why the meeting ended so badly. And finally, and most obviously, these splits are reflected in the administration's current approach, which, as far as I can tell, consists of no negotiations, no economic sanctions, and no military measures, but we would be willing to talk, not negotiate, and provide incentives to Pyongyang after it unilaterally quickly dismantles its uranium-enrichment program.

The other, I think, really major manifestation of this mismanagement has been the deterioration of relations with South Korea, which in the past has been our closest ally in dealing with the North. Now, to be fair, South Korea is undergoing a number of dynamic domestic changes that would make it difficult for any administration to deal with Seoul. But nevertheless, I think the administration's track record in U.S.-South Korean relations is particularly bad. It got off on the wrong foot from the very beginning with [South Korean] President Kim's visit to Washington in 2001, and it really hasn't recovered since then. It's made no secret of its distaste for his policies-his Sunshine Policy toward the North-and it's made no secret of its hope that a more conservative candidate would be elected president. Unfortunately, that hasn't happened.

In short, the United States, in this administration, has maneuvered itself into a position that every U.S. government official in the past has realized must be avoided at all costs when dealing with South Korea, and that is that it looks like we are sacrificing South Korean interests for our own interests. That creates an enormous amount of tension between our two countries.

This close relationship, and the deterioration of it, I think in part accounts for why we're in such a bind now, because in order to take tough measures against North Korea, such as seeking sanctions or even considering some military steps, we need South Korean support. We don't have that now, and indeed, what we have is a South Korean effort to mediate between the United States and North Korea, and that's something that most of us thought we would never see in our lifetime.

For the moment, I'll just skip over the other regional players, but needless to say, the others are not going to pull our bacon out of the fire. In spite of what the administration says publicly, China, Russia, and others are not going to support the current U.S. approach. So the third question I was asked to answer is, what should the U.S. and allies now do to curb proliferation dangers? Someone told me-I haven't read the Wall Street Journal today-but someone said that there was an op-ed or an article or an editorial that's in there that said the best way to deal with the North is to deal with Iraq first, and that will send a message to the North Koreans. Well, you know, I would submit that's probably one of the worst ways to deal with North Korea. It's not quite as bad as some of the other trial balloons I've seen floated, like encouraging Japan to become a nuclear-weapon state or withdrawing U.S. troops from South Korea, but it probably ranks third behind those two.

The fact is there are a couple of problems with that approach. First of all, we can't wait that long. We are not determining the pace of events here. I think it's very clear to most of us-and maybe not to some in the administration-but to most of us that North Korea is determining the pace of events. And the next event will be when North Korea actually restarts some of the nuclear facilities that it has said it will restart, particularly its reprocessing plant. That could come in February or March. So time is not on our side. But secondly, there is no substitute for a real policy here. You know, we're not going to find a magic bullet by waiting until after we deal with Iraq, or by doing these other crazy things. We need a real policy for dealing with North Korea, and unfortunately we've dug a very deep hole for ourselves.

As far as I can tell, the only way to recover our footing at this point is to sit down with North Korea and hold a true dialogue with them on what it will take to stop the current crisis. And I'm not advocating that we should sit down and negotiate and, you know, that's all we should be doing, but negotiations, sitting down with Pyongyang, are key to being able to regenerate our ability to take some of these tougher measures. We can't move forward very far in the United Nations without the support of other countries like South Korea, China, and Russia, and yet we are not going to get that support without starting some sort of dialogue with North Korea and demonstrating that it may be them, not us, who are intransigent. We can't get support for maybe taking military steps-and I'm not talking about pre-emptive strikes; I'm talking about other steps short of that-we can't get support for that from South Korea unless we demonstrate that we've tried to negotiate. So it's key that we move into this negotiations phase and also start to regenerate these other two tracks that I'm talking about.

Immediately I think what we need to do is to seek a freeze on the current situation on both sides; no more steps that will make it get worse until we can sit down and talk. The other thing we need to do-and this is purely from the U.S. angle-is I think the U.S. seriously needs to consider appointing a Korea czar. We've heard this idea before, and indeed the Clinton administration did it at the end of the administration when it appointed [former Defense Secretary William] Perry. I think this administration is desperately in need of someone, some senior American, with enough prestige and influence to pull our policy together.

And it's not only to deal with the current crisis, but the fact is-and this will be my last point-the fact is that I think there is a 50-50 chance that even if we take this approach we can't resolve the situation. It may be-and none of us know for sure-but it may be that North Korea has already decided that it's going to move forward no matter what, and that its public statements that it's interested in negotiating may just be a smokescreen for moving forward with their nuclear weapons program. If that's the case, I think the czar is still important because in the aftermath of that, when it becomes apparent to everyone that North Korea is moving forward no matter what, there's going to be a lot of serious work that needs to be done between the United States-certainly first and foremost between the United States and its regional allies, South Korea and Japan.

So I'll stop there. I think my 15 minutes are up.

Mr. Kimball: Thank you very much for your presentation. We'll move to the questions. Actually, before we do, if someone has a large SUV outside illegally parked, it's going to soon be pre-empted by the D.C. police.

So let's move to the floor and questions. Miles Pomper, and then we'll go to John and others.

Question: You mentioned military measures other than pre-emption. Can you give us some examples of that?

Wit: I see all my South Korean colleagues are poised to write this down (chuckles), but the fact is this is no mystery. During the 1994 crisis, in fact, the United States took a number of military steps to prepare for whatever contingencies might take place if the crisis deteriorated. A lot of those steps had to do with ensuring the readiness of U.S. forces on the peninsula and in the region, as well as moving some additional forces to the Korean Peninsula in the guise of modernization programs, which in fact were supposed to happen but which were accelerated at that time.

So there is a broad range of steps that you can take without provoking a North Korean response, and that was very critical. The North Koreans knew that we were taking these steps, yet they were not major enough to provoke some sort of military response on their part. And it's just a way of communicating to them that we're serious. Right now, I can't see how they would think we were serious about anything. We've said no sanctions, we've said no military measures; we're not going to negotiate. I mean, if I was sitting in Pyongyang I would [think] that, you know, the United States is pretty confused about what it's going to do, and I may use this opportunity to kind of run for the door and start building more weapons.

Question: Do you think it was a mistake to take the military option off the table?

Wit: I don't want to be too unfair here. I think the fact is that without South Korean support, it's very difficult to take some of these steps. And unfortunately we've mismanaged our relationship with South Korea so much that it's going to be very hard to regenerate these possibilities.

Kimball: John Rhinelander.

Question: Let me ask a question for each of these sequentially, and that's on what I would call the U.S. decision-making process, or absence of it.

I'd like to hear your views in terms of the involvement of the president and the involvement of the vice president in each area, kind of from inauguration date forward, because I see in some cases there has been, at least recently, I think, a well-coordinated one (off mike)-a total absence of what we used think as a process. But I would like to get the views of each of you in the areas you've addressed today.

Kimball: Gentlemen, if you can try to answer that-it may not be possible. (Chuckles.)

Eisenstadt: Sitting where I sit, the process is rather opaque, so it's really hard for me to make a judgment. All I'll say is this though: I think in the Middle East, the administration has been heavily preoccupied with planning for Iraq, and recently-well, it's receding into the past now, the efforts to manage the Arab-Israeli-the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Despite that, I think it's interesting to see that the administration did unveil a new policy toward Iran, despite its preoccupation with these other issues. And this was, as I read to you before, a dramatic departure from past policy. But, again, I think our ability to get there will have to be deferred until after a war with Iraq, although I think for a lot of people in this administration, war in Iraq is seen as a facilitator for achievement of our policy objectives in Iran-if you will, a necessary condition-or at least successful regime change in Iraq and the creation of a transition toward a broad-based representative government and eventual democratization there for many people in this administration is seen as a facilitator for achieving our policy objectives in Iran.

I can't talk about the process, but I can say that-I'll just throw out this prediction: just as after the 1991 Gulf War, the profile of Iran grew dramatically after the defeat of Iraq in Desert Storm. I believe that after, barring a quagmire in Iraq, we'll see Iran's profile rise dramatically, and that will be quite possibly the next major issue in the Middle East after Iraq. But I can't really speak to the process and the role of the president and V.P.-I'm sorry.

O'Hanlon: This is just a guess, but I think in short the story on Iraq is that after September 11, the hardliners in the administration succeeded in putting Iraq on the policy agenda on a very high position, right after al Qaeda. And, clearly, during the summer of 2002, you heard [Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul] Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, and Vice President Dick Cheney all very clear in their desire to go to war promptly at a time when the president, you know, was subjecting himself to parody by saying things like, my Iraq policy is they've got to get serious-now watch this drive. And we all remember that golf course episode; he didn't quite seem to have his mind on the issue. Meanwhile, Cheney is out giving speeches about how inspections can't work, and Rumsfeld is alleging major ties between al Qaeda and Saddam.

And so in the summer, the hardliners had not only won in elevating Iraq high as the policy issue, they seemed to be foreshadowing an eventual decision to go quickly to war. And then I think, in a very historically important situation and set of events, Powell and Bush put the hardliners in their place. And I think the hardliners flat-out lost, at least on the tactics of how to address the Iraq situation, and created the entire U.S. process ultimately leading up to UN Security Council Resolution 1441, which gave Saddam a way out of this if he had been smart enough to choose it. And unfortunately, from my point of view, he didn't choose it. The way to choose it was to 'fess up on the chemical and biological stuff in his December 7 declaration. And maybe Saddam thought this administration was going to find a way to go to war against him no matter what he said and decided to do, so you might as well not admit to previous crimes, but I think he made a fundamentally incorrect decision.

Nonetheless, I think Powell and Bush told Cheney, Wolfowitz, and Rumsfeld, we're doing this through the UN, which means focusing on the WMD and giving Saddam the final, clear chance to avoid war, should he want it. Now, again, at this point I don't know what Cheney's role will be because now we're into sort of act four. If act one was getting the issue high on the agenda, act two was the summer set of speeches, act three was Powell and Bush going through the UN, now we're into act four. We're in this murky area where Saddam did not come clean the way he should have, and yet there is no smoking gun and the inspections are working sort of visibly on the surface okay. We're back in a tough position from a policy point of view, and maybe Cheney will now win act four the way he won, or seemed to win, act one and then lost his momentum by act three.

That's the way I would sum it up. It's obviously all speculative, and I can't do nearly as good of a job as Bob Woodward, so I probably should just pass, but that's how I would sum it up.

Kimball: Who's in charge, Joel?

Wit: Oh, boy. You know, it's very interesting. I think we've all read periodic public blurbs from the president about how he feels about [North Korean leader] Kim Jong Il, and I can't quite figure out where these have come from, but he seems occasionally to blurt out how much he hates Kim Jong Il. I mean, he called him a pygmy once and, you know, other statements like that, which, you know, I think we could all agree that North Korea is an awful place, but I'm not sure how that plays into the decision-making process, except I think it gives you a flavor for, you know, what it might be like sitting in a principals committee meeting talking about North Korea.

I have friends in the State Department who have told me that the interagency papers are really fascinating because, you know, they of course read the North Korean party newspaper, and you've heard about it in the press recently; all the shrill statements about the United States. And my friends say, well, you know, the administration's interagency papers sound like the North Korean party newspaper, except from the opposite vantage point.

I mean, what we're talking about here, I think, is a decision-making process that is colored, to a large degree, by these very ideological thoughts, and at times is dragged back into reality, it seems to me, not just by the current crisis but also by our need to deal with South Korea and our alliance relationship with South Korea. And I'm pretty sure that centrists in the administration use that as a way of banging the right and the far right over the head about how the U.S. needs to change its position. I'm not sure whether ultimately that will work or not, but it seems to be the only lifeline that the center people have at the moment.

Kimball: All right. We'll take a couple more questions. Greg, please.

Question: I've been especially struck lately that using the term "weapons of mass destruction" will ultimately lead to confusion rather than clarity, and I'm afraid Michael Eisenstadt has given me another example in a statement he made about Iran, and I want to deconstruct a little bit.

For Iran, developing WMD is a matter of pride and national security. If I'm not mistaken, Ayatollah Khomeini said that nuclear weapons were immoral. The Iranians developed chemical weapons very reluctantly in response to continual usage by Iraq against them. So I would assume that for CW and BW-and I'm not knowledgeable about what kind of BW Iran has-it is a matter of national security and not national pride. And I assume from your statement that you're really talking about nuclear weapons, but I wonder if you could break that down, without asking you to publish a matrix, which WMD are you talking about, and (off mike)?

Eisenstadt: Yeah, I think you raise some valid points there, but I would say I think nuclear weapons most of all, you know, have the greatest psychological cache. And clearly this is what separates the big boys-or the men from the boys internationally. So I think, from the point of view of national pride at least, nuclear weapons are probably the most important, but the fact is those are not capabilities that they have right now. And right now their capabilities are limited, at least as far as we know, and their capabilities are limited to chemical and biological weapons.

The idea, though, you know, the reason I use the term WMD, it's because I'm not sure that people in Iran-there isn't, as far as I can tell, a sophisticated public debate on these issues. You know, people tend to be focused more on the issues of day-to-day survival and the economy and social and political conditions in the country. I think in general, you know, the category of WMD can be subsumed under the larger category of national strength, and most Iranians want to have a strong country in order to preserve their independence, in order to ensure that Iranian national interests are preserved, and to the degree that chem and bio, or in the future, nuclear weapons, are seen as key to ensuring the country's national security, Iranians, I think, of all political stripes will support the country's pursuit of WMD even though they are also signatories to every major arms control agreement.

Now, this poses a dilemma for some people of a certain political stripe in Iran. For the conservatives, who are not so much interested in relations with the Western world and Iran's integration into the international community and who see the Islamic world as more Iran's natural milieu, they're not so concerned about the impact of the violation of arms control treaties, although I think they recognize it's important to go forward with these programs in a certain way in order to minimize unnecessary costs to Iran.

But for those Iranians who do want Iran to be integrated into the community of nations, who want to improve the economy and want to attract foreign investment, they have a dilemma, because on the one hand they want Iran to be strong, and WMD writ large, nuclear weapons in particular, are the fastest way to that route for them, given their economic circumstances. On the other hand, they realize if they go down that route and violate their arms control obligations, it could be at the price of attracting foreign investment and fixing the economy and improving relations with the outside world.

Again, you know, I gave kind of a wave-top assessment here. If you go down one level further, things are more complicated. I would say that, you know, the differences among Iranians on these issues provide policy opportunities for us in the future. But, you know, the bottom line is I think national pride is extremely important in the context of Iran, and the power of Iranian nationalism cannot and should not be underrated. I subscribe to a number of Iranian news groups, and it comes through on the e-mails-you know, when you have debates about, you know, the Persian versus Arab Gulf, and you know on any number of issues you could raise you could see how it's a factor.

So I would not underrate the importance of national pride with regard to the full range of WMD, especially nukes, but they don't have nukes now, so CBW is important in that context.

Kimball: Admiral Turner-and we'll take one more question.

Question: Michael O'Hanlon, I wonder if we're being realistic with expecting Saddam Hussein to comply completely with 1441 right off the bat. In our culture, we make an agreement, and we try to live up to it exactly. This (unintelligible) a Middle Eastern desire. Isn't this a negotiation in which the UN made the first move-1441? Saddam Hussein made the second move with much greater compliance than he did in 1991 in terms of letting the inspectors in and so on. The third move comes on January 20 when Blix goes back to Iraq-and who knows what Saddam may put on the table? And then the fourth move will be the UN response to that.

I mean, are we not asking too much from a Middle Eastern mentality to say, I'm going to come totally clean in one sweep here? You bargain this thing down the line. Don't we have a chance of getting a reasonable deal out of this in the long term?

Kimball: That's a good question. If I could just add one question to that, which is that in your case for possible military action you cited the importance of maintaining the integrity of the UN system, the international rule of law. What would it do to the UN system, the international rule of law, if the United States decides to take military action, absent positive evidence from the inspectors that there has been a violation of 1441?

O'Hanlon: Well, two good questions. Admiral Turner, it seems to me that we do have to force this issue within roughly, say, a year. I think Rumsfeld, again, is up to his ways, and he's trying to force the issue this winter by making troop deployment at such a high level that we can't sustain them very long. And I question just how much internal dialogue led to that consensus decision; of how much really Powell has to understand that too, as do you, as do other people who know the military well. But somehow this seems to be getting a little bit ahead of the game. I'd rather keep the numbers in sort of the 50,000 to 75,000 range until we've made a decision. But if you were to do that, and walk back a little from what Rumsfeld's doing in the way of a buildup, I think you have maybe a year.

I'm not sure you have a lot more than that-maybe you wouldn't disagree, I don't know-but it seems to me you do have to take advantage of the fact that we have forced this to the top of the policy agenda, and it won't stay there naturally unless we do something about this, and once we do something about it, it's fairly short order.

I'm not sure Saddam is behaving fundamentally better than he did in 1991. In the early years, it seems to me, he did not impede inspectors very much; he just hoped we wouldn't find anything. And for a while that strategy worked. Then we did start to find things, and he let us find whatever we found-it didn't help-and then his son-in-law defected-you know the history better than I.

But, in any case, all he's doing now is letting us walk around in places that have no illicit weaponry inside of them. That's not a great concession on his part. My real worry is over time, if we seem uncommitted to resolving this, at some point he'll start to thwart the inspectors, put conditions on their movement, and that will give his nuclear scientists more confidence they can begin a nuclear program. That's my real worry. If he keeps the few chemical and biological agents for a long time, I don't really care that much-you can live with that and deter that-but to the extent he can weaken the inspection process over time and then ultimately start a nuclear program, that is worse. So I think we have to push this within the next year and a half or so-maybe not this winter.

In terms of international law, again, here I'll take the point that right now our case is-I think the case is convincing. But it's convincing to me; it's not convincing to most of the world. And part of what international law is is a body of well-accepted judgments and principles. And, so to the extent that you can make the case in sort of a lawyerly point-by-point manner-and I think you can-international law should not be seriously impeded. And I don't believe 1441 really requires a second resolution. It certainly requires a second debate, but I think we can again argue that we don't have to have a second resolution to go to war.

On the other hand, international law is partly about politics and partly about consensus and partly about international public opinion. And in that sense, if we have to go to war based on current evidence, we are in a bit of a pickle. So it's going to be-there will be some strengthening elements and some weakening elements if we have to go to war under current circumstances.

Kimball: All right. One last question, sir, and if the panelists can keep their answers brief, that would be helpful.

Question: James Rosen, McClatchy Newspapers. There has been talk on and off for the last six to eight months about the timing of a war in Iraq, with all sorts of constraints that are mentioned. Some of them, Mr. O'Hanlon, you just mentioned-(off mike) and so forth. People talk a lot about climate and weapons.

The question for either you or any of the panelists is, do you believe that there are absolute constraints of any sort on the timing of a war happening late winter, early spring? In other words, is there an absolute last deadline, beyond which if it doesn't happen, then we're into a waiting period? And if so, what do you think the constraints are?

O'Hanlon: I'll give a quick start, and anybody else can follow-up. First of all, if you could fight at night, you could fight any time. The desert cools enough at night that-at least in Iraq and Baghdad-it's in the 70s even in July, at night. So if you wear chemical protective gear and you can fight at night, you'd be okay. The problem is, of course, that we can't always dictate the length of tactical engagements. And if you want to make sure that most of your fighting occurs when the temperature is in the 70s because you think you have to be in chemical protective gear, you really have to finish this thing by sometime in April. By mid-April, average daily highs in Baghdad are 85; by early May they're 90; by mid-May they're 95. And I think you have to work under the assumption that we're going to have to wear chemical protective gear and that we're sometimes going to have to fight in the heat of the day.

So based on that set of arguments, I would say you want to either have this war, if you have to have it at all, in March-primarily in March of 2003, or wait until next fall and winter and do it in 2004. But I personally would say that even though we certainly can win the war anytime of year, the difficulty of fighting with chemical protective suits will go up astronomically. We may have to make that terrible choice of whether we want to fight without chemical protective gear or wear our troops down in the space of 15 to 20 or 30 minutes while they are wearing it during the summer.

Kimball: All right. Thank you.

Yes, Stanley? Please.

Question: Just one more question. On the inspection, we apparently haven't given Blix much of our classified information. From today's Times, I gathered that the French and the Russians are indicating that they want to have some of our (off mike) before they act. How do you see that playing out? Have we really hard data? Will we produce it? And if we don't appear to, then what do you see at the result?

O'Hanlon: It's a tough question, and maybe I want to, again, invite others who may want to comment on this as well. My sense is we don't have a smoking gun at any site because if we did we would have already either bombed it or produced that evidence in the course of making our case for war earlier. So I think what we have is places we're highly suspicious about that you might want to send inspectors to, but even there it's going to take some luck, good or bad, depending on your perspective, to find anything. And I think all we have, again, is the set of-we've watched a lot going on there; we know where trucks are coming in and out at different hours, we know where there is more electricity usage than there probably would otherwise be, based on certain data about those facilities. We have reasons to be suspicious about a number of places. We have some defector reports that the Iraqis moved things around, so whatever the defectors knew a year ago may no longer be true.

My guess is we don't have hard data, and I think it's not going to provide a clear answer in the end unless we get awfully lucky.

Kimball: We're going to have to stop there. This conversation is obviously incomplete, and there are more developments that we will see in the days and weeks ahead. I want to thank everyone for coming. Please thank our panelists for their presentations. (Applause.) And for those of you who are joining us upstairs for the luncheon with Congressman John Spratt, please move upstairs, either the elevators or the stairs, register outside, and we'll look forward to seeing you there in a few minutes.

(End of panel discussion.)

ACA Panel Discussion

Country Resources:

Confusing Ends and Means: The Doctrine of Coercive Pre-emption

John Steinbruner

In a speech at West Point last June, in a more formal statement of national security strategy submitted to Congress in September, and in a White House document published in December, President George W. Bush has proclaimed what appears to be a new security doctrine. Reduced to its essentials, the doctrine suggests that the United States will henceforth attack adversaries to prevent them not only from using but also from acquiring the technologies associated with weapons of mass destruction. If it were systematically implemented, this doctrine would represent a major redirection of policy and a radical revision of established international security rules.

The Bush administration evidently intends to make Iraq the first test case, but the doctrine also has direct implications for the two other countries—North Korea and Iran—that the president has named as members of an “axis of evil.” The doctrine is backed by the unprecedented degree of military superiority the United States has acquired. It has also been accompanied by repudiation of prominent agreements that have long been pillars of international regulation—most notably the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. In that context, the announced doctrine projects an assertive form of American nationalism that is sure to inspire considerable animosity—and not just among potential adversaries. Signs of an international backlash are already evident to those who are willing to look for them—in the recent elections in South Korea and in Germany, for example.

In attempting to understand the significance of this development, it is important to remember that blunt talk and practical accomplishment are not the same thing. The president’s inherently provocative pronouncements will force deliberation and reaction throughout the world. The eventual consequences of Bush’s declared doctrine will be shaped by compelling interests and competing principles that his pronouncements only dimly acknowledged. When those are considered, as eventually they must be, the importance of cooperatively establishing greater control over mass destruction technologies will overpower the impulse to attack alleged rogues pre-emptively. The idea of using decisive force against implacable evil may be emotionally satisfying, but it is hardly the basis for responsible policy against today’s most likely threats. Pre-emptive actions are the result of policy failures, not the triumph of superior virtue or strategic reason.

The Vital Importance of Legitimacy

The central problem with the Bush administration’s doctrine is that it fundamentally confuses ends and means. Obviously, the aspiration to prevent warfare is intrinsically legitimate and increasingly important. It is also much better to pre-empt the conditions that generate violence than to prevail in a process of countervailing destruction. The question has to do with the methods that are used to accomplish these purposes. The Bush doctrine of pre-emption apparently proposes to rely primarily on coercive power, that is, to initiate violence in order to prevent it, and it appears to neglect and indeed to disdain international legal restraint. In the judgment of much of the world, that formula is more likely to generate violence than to contain it. Civilized security policy is primarily a matter of establishing and preserving a viable rule of law, and the use of coercive power is subordinate to that objective for very practical reasons. Coercion alone is too inefficient and too ineffective to provide adequate protection. Most of normal life depends on consensual rules, so they are necessarily the foundation of security.

A related problem with the Bush administration’s doctrine concerns the scale and character of threat. Before and during the Cold War, security policy was primarily concerned with territorial aggression on a continental scale and with massive destruction by remote bombardment. Preparations for missions of that magnitude would have to be very extensive, readily observable, and centrally organized. Now, threats of primary concern are smaller in scale; much more readily concealed; and, potentially at least, more widely distributed and more diffusely organized. The legitimacy and effectiveness of pre-emptive action depends a great deal on the type of threat to which it is applied.

The most broadly accepted form of pre-emption would be directed against an observably imminent threat of conventional invasion. The prohibition on territorial aggression and the right to defend against it are the most solidly established international legal standards. It is plausible to believe that World War II and the 1991 Persian Gulf War could both have been prevented had timely pre-emption been undertaken. In October 1994, the United States and the United Kingdom successfully reversed a second Iraqi mobilization against Kuwait by credibly threatening a pre-emptive attack, and their actions were backed by a UN Security Council resolution. In any currently foreseeable situation of that sort in which the United States is seriously engaged, the doctrine is likely to be successfully applied. The Bush administration documents cite this established application but attempt to extend it to circumstances where the perceived threat is neither large nor imminent. They do not explain how they will determine aggressive intent before it is demonstrated in deeds or how they will prevent errors of judgment that would make the enacted punishment outweigh the anticipated threat.

Pre-emption against the threat of massive nuclear attack was seriously considered when U.S. and Russian forces were first being formed. Indeed, today U.S. and Russian nuclear forces remain configured to attack enemy nuclear forces in the hopes of destroying them before they can be launched—an operational inclination that could be extremely dangerous during a crisis. It is so difficult, however, to execute a first strike that destroys all enemy weapons—and to be certain that you have that capability—that pre-emption has never been a responsible option for nuclear self-defense. It has also been recognized that a systematic effort to acquire that level of military ability and psychological confidence would lead to destructive competition between potential adversaries (i.e., an arms race). The ABM Treaty and associated offensive force limitation treaties were devised to prevent that from happening.

Bush’s new strategic pronouncements reopen this issue with a new twist. They assert the right to use coercive force against the acquisition of mass destruction weapons and imply that mass destruction weapons might themselves be used for this purpose. That form of pre-emption, traditionally termed preventive war, might well succeed if practiced against a smaller adversary early enough in the cycle of weapons development. It sets an inherently discriminatory and implicitly imperial standard, however, that has no chance of ever being broadly accepted, and in forfeiting legitimacy it promises to incite an interminable process of clandestine retribution. When resistance is widely considered justified, even socially mandatory, coercive pre-emption against all forms of clandestine retribution becomes infeasible, as is evident in the many current instances of active civil conflict.

Over the past decade, the United States and the international community have been repeatedly entangled in instances of civil conflict that could not be resolved by the direct combatants and the nominally responsible sovereign authority. There is as yet no settled interpretation of this experience, but the outlines of an intervention doctrine with pre-emptive implications are nonetheless visible. Interventions in Bosnia and Kosovo generated a reluctant and belated but ultimately acknowledged understanding that sustained violence in those areas would pose an intolerably dangerous threat to the surrounding region. UN Security Council Resolution 1244, which authorizes an indefinite international occupation of Kosovo, asserts an international interest in basic standards of legal order that overrides the traditional prerogatives of sovereignty. In retrospect, it is apparent that these interventions could have been more successful and less costly had they been undertaken earlier than they were. Similarly, it is now widely believed that a forceful intervention could have and should have halted the 1994 genocide in Rwanda well before more than half a million people had been slaughtered and millions more driven from their homes.

In the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks, it has been widely recognized that a sustained breakdown of legal order anywhere in the world would provide an organizational base for global terrorism and that forceful intervention to establish basic civil order is justified. The U.S. assault on Afghanistan was generally accepted under that understanding. The implication is that situations of that sort demand pre-emptive correction, but repeated instances would have to be authorized by the international community as a whole for reasons of general interest. Despite September 11, the United States will not be conceded exclusive responsibility for determining the circumstances under which pre-emptive intervention is required to restore civil order, and it does not have the capacity to assert that prerogative against widespread resistance.

Coercive pre-emption against terrorists and terrorist organizations is presumed to be legitimate, as dramatically demonstrated by an incident in Yemen on November 3. On that day, the CIA used an unmanned aerial vehicle to fire a missile at a car traveling in a remote area of the country, killing all five of the vehicle’s occupants. One of them was said to be a key al Qaeda figure, and that assertion was generally accepted as valid justification for the attack. There was no public protest from the Yemeni government, which was apparently consulted in advance but not otherwise involved in the operation. The precedent is nonetheless inherently contentious. The Yemeni operation was in effect a summary execution with no semblance of legal due process—no disputable presentation of evidence, no equivalent of an impartial judge or jury. If repeated often enough, that type of action will assuredly generate incidents that exceed the bounds of accepted justification and will incite recrimination. One cannot defend legal order by violating its central principles. One cannot fight terrorism by actions that are themselves terrorist in character. In fact, terrorism’s strategic purpose is to exploit the target’s natural impulse to respond in kind—to provoke a decisively stronger opponent into reactions that damage and discredit it.

Practical Judgments

Whether ultimately wise or not, coercive pre-emption against Iraq is obviously an imminent possibility. Saddam Hussein’s regime has so indicted itself that due process concerns are not likely to be a significant restraint. The legitimacy of denying Iraq access to mass destruction technology is established in UN resolutions, and a substantial part of the world would apparently acquiesce to a U.S. military campaign dedicated to that purpose. No one doubts the United States’ ability to undertake such a campaign. The major question is whether an attack perceived to be designed for the broader notion of “regime change” would trigger a cascading political reaction sufficiently adverse to discredit pre-emption as a doctrine. If so, that might take some time to recognize.

Even a decisive and enduring success in Iraq would not establish coercive pre-emption against programs to build weapons of mass destruction as a general principle. The international community cannot categorically deny the right of North Korea, Iran, or any other country to nuclear weapons. As non-nuclear-weapon states under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, both North Korea and Iran committed themselves not to exercise their inherent right, but that did not take away the right itself or the associated right to acquire fissile material. North Korea can legally withdraw from the treaty as it stated it did January 10. In the current diplomatic crisis concerning its uranium-enrichment program, North Korea has cited that right, and in its evident reluctance to apply the doctrine of coercive pre-emption the Bush administration has so far implicitly conceded it.

The categorical prohibition on the offensive application of biotechnology formulated in the 1925 Geneva Protocol and in the Biological Weapons Convention is more plausibly considered a inviolable standard. Although the United States has accused some 13 countries, including North Korea and Iran, of having illegal offensive programs, none of them admits to that allegation, and no country currently claims either the right to biological weapons or the possession of them. All countries, however, assertively and legitimately proclaim the right to conduct biomedical research, and most of them actively do it. The United States cannot restrict that right by simplistically labeling a country “evil.”

In addition to having to concede that states have the right to pursue nuclear and biological technology—an admission that undermines the justification for coercive pre-emption—the United States will have to acknowledge that its capability to pre-emptively attack North Korea and Iran is more questionable than its ability to attack Iraq. Since the U.S. military operates within a network of foreign basing rights and access agreements that require consent from the host governments, it would be difficult to organize a pre-emptive attack that did not enjoy general approval. The bottom line is that the United States needs not merely permissive acquiescence but active collaboration of most major countries in order to deal with emerging security problems that cannot be addressed by military force of any sort.

The most urgent of these problems is the management of biotechnology. Fundamental understanding of basic life processes emerging out of a global biomedical research community is enabling extremely powerful applications, both therapeutic and destructive. The eradication of some devastating diseases is becoming feasible as is the deliberate creation of yet more devastating ones. In general, the prospective benefits and the potential dangers are both greater than is the case for any of the other technologies that carry the “mass destruction” label.

The pattern of development is also distinctive. Biotechnology is the product of a worldwide research enterprise operating through open literature primarily for public health purposes. Dedicated weapons projects are a small part of the whole picture and are not the major source of scientific development. The momentum and diffusion of the research base makes it infeasible for any country to appropriate this technology for its exclusive use or to control the flow of information. Current attempts to impose such controls in the hopes of frustrating bioterrorists are unlikely to succeed. Moreover, since biomedical facilities need not be large and do not have inherently identifying features—unlike nuclear facilities—it is more difficult to fathom their activities through satellite imagery and other means.

The relentless implication is that the deliberately destructive use of biotechnology is a threat to all human societies of a scope and magnitude greater than any other. That threat could be developed and delivered by clandestine means, and current national security methods cannot provide adequate protection no matter how they might be elaborated. Under prevailing circumstances of access, it would be impossible to identify and disable all dedicated terrorists and rogues before they have accomplished nefarious deeds, and it would be foolish to attempt to do so by national military operations. A campaign of that sort conducted by the United States under the doctrine of coercive pre-emption is more likely to stimulate the destructive application of biotechnology than to prevent it.

The only reasonable hope is to establish comprehensive oversight procedures within the scientific community robust enough to make dangerous research far more difficult to conceal and simultaneously to organize the research process so that protective applications of biotechnology outpace any destructive ones that might evade oversight. An arrangement of that sort would require intimate, equitable collaboration on a global basis without exception. Impossible as that kind of cooperation might seem given current attitudes, it will be considered, and probably attempted, as the nature of the threat from biotechnology is absorbed. The process of deliberation will impose a major amendment on the doctrine of coercive pre-emption.

The management of fissile material presents a similar imperative in somewhat weaker form. It is technically feasible for terrorists or rogues to use nuclear explosives to wreck devastating havoc with small operations that could be successfully concealed and would therefore evade coercive pre-emption. Doing so is inherently more difficult than using biotechnology to cause damage because the scale of activity required to produce fissile material is far more difficult to conceal and access controls over material already produced are far more developed. Current national standards of accounting and physical security for fissile material are not impermeable, however, and they could be substantially improved by establishing a common international arrangement. The problems involved are more political than technical in character. If the confrontational policies forged during the Cold War were transcended in fact as well as in rhetoric, more robust protection of fissile material could be achieved, but that would assuredly require very convincing restriction on the doctrine of coercive pre-emption. No country will subject its fissile material to international accounting if it believes that coercive pre-emption is a serious possibility.


In the end, the Bush administration’s doctrinal pronouncements may prove to be a transient political exercise of little enduring significance or possibly a useful threat with exclusive application to the Iraq situation. They also might spark major international disputes and eventual adjustment. However it turns out, the central contention—that pre-emptive attack can prevent the acquisition of mass destruction technology—is not realistic and does not provide a responsible basis for protecting the United States or anyone else. Preventive action against potentially unmanageable threats is indeed an increasingly vital security interest, but that cannot be accomplished by coercive methods. It will require the systematic exchange of sensitive monitoring information for mutual protection, and arrangements of that sort cannot be established while one party is wielding a confrontational threat against the others. If coercive pre-emption is to be done at all, it must be done by the international community as a whole for common benefit, not by the United States alone for its own exclusive purposes. The confusion of ends and means presented in the Bush administration’s documents will have to be corrected. That is a direct responsibility of the U.S. political system in which the rest of the world has a very substantial stake.

John Steinbruner is director of the Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland.



Inspectors Try to Fill Gaps in Iraqi Declaration

Paul Kerr

After six weeks of work in Iraq, UN inspectors announced January 9 that they had yet to find a “smoking gun” indicating that Baghdad still has prohibited weapons programs, but they maintain that there are significant gaps in Iraq’s weapons declaration that leave many unresolved questions.

Inspections have generally gone smoothly and without Iraqi interference since they began November 27, according to Hans Blix, executive chairman of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC). In a briefing January 9 at the United Nations, Blix said that inspectors had found no direct evidence of chemical or biological weapons, although he did say Iraq had imported illegal missile components.

Mohamed ElBaradei, the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), likewise said in a CNN interview January 7 that inspectors had found no “smoking gun” to prove Iraq is developing nuclear weapons.

Despite the lack of findings and Iraq’s relative cooperation, both Blix and ElBaradei have said—first to the Security Council in a December 19 briefing and then again in January—that significant questions remain. The inspectors, they say, cannot yet conclude that Iraq does not have weapons of mass destruction.

Central to the problem of proving Iraq’s disarmament is the insufficiency of Baghdad’s weapons declaration. UN Security Council Resolution 1441, adopted November 8, required Iraq to submit a “currently accurate, full, and complete declaration of all aspects of its [weapons of mass destruction] programmes.” Iraq turned over a 12,000-page declaration to UN officials in Baghdad on December 7.

Iraq submitted periodic declarations of information concerning its weapons programs between 1991 and 1998 while inspectors were working in the country, but Blix said in the December 19 briefing that those declarations had never provided an adequate accounting of Baghdad’s weapons programs or “confidence” that the weapons had been eliminated.

Unfortunately, according to Blix, Iraq’s most recent declaration consists largely of recycled versions of the declarations made between 1991 and 1998 and provides little new information or evidence about prohibited weapons programs. Blix said the declaration states that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction “when inspectors left at the end of 1998 and that none have been designed, procured, produced or stored…since then.”

Blix identified several parts of the declaration that “need clarification,” such as the omission of information about the importing of growth media for bacteria that could be used in biological weapons programs; the development of the al-Samoud missile, which has exceeded the permitted range in flight tests; and the “repairing and installing” of chemical manufacturing equipment that had previously been destroyed under the supervision of weapons inspectors.

Blix also indicated December 19 that UNMOVIC had information that contradicted some of Iraq’s declaration. Speaking to reporters after the briefing, he said UNMOVIC will ask Iraq for further evidence to address the declaration’s gaps.

ElBaradei’s assessment of the declaration regarding Iraq’s nuclear programs was similar. He stated that the declaration “contains no substantive changes” from the one submitted in 1998, adding that the agency cannot verify the “accuracy and completeness” of Iraq’s claim that it has not conducted nuclear activities since inspectors left. Iraq stated in its report to the IAEA that it has not conducted work on its nuclear program since 1991, according to ElBaradei.

ElBaradei also cited Iraq’s failure to address reports that it had attempted to import uranium, although Baghdad had denied these reports during a November meeting. The IAEA would pursue the issue with Iraq, he said in his report.

Mohammed Salmane, Iraq’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, said in a December 19 press briefing that the declaration is “complete and comprehensive” and termed accusations that Iraq possesses prohibited weapons “baseless.”

Into the Breach

Secretary of State Colin Powell said after Blix and ElBaradei’s December 19 briefing that the Iraqi declaration contains a “pattern of systematic…gaps” that constitute “another material breach”—language that could be used to justify an invasion of Iraq. He suggested that the United Nations continue to evaluate the declaration and that inspectors “intensify their efforts.” Washington, however, decided not to submit the matter to the Security Council at that time.

Other permanent Security Council members were more measured in their assessments. French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said that “it will be solely up to the Security Council to reach any and all conclusions” about instances of material breach, Agence France-Presse reported December 19.

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov asserted that Iraq’s declaration is not “a violation” of the resolution and that council members should wait for the council to analyze information provided by the inspectors, Agence France-Presse reported December 20, citing the Russian news agency Interfax.

Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan argued in a December 20 interview with Xinhua News Agency that the inspectors should be the ones to assess weapons activities, adding that Beijing had not yet reached a conclusion about the declaration, he said, according to a December 20 Agence France-Presse report.

The United Kingdom’s position was closest to Washington’s view. Jeremy Greenstock, British ambassador to the United Nations, stated December 19 that the declaration did not address the outstanding issues with Iraq’s weapons programs and that “there is further work to do.” He would not say that Baghdad was in material breach but said that Iraq must provide “100 percent proactive cooperation” with the inspectors.

What actions actually constitute a material breach has been an ongoing controversy. (See ACT, December 2002.) The relevant portion of Resolution 1441, paragraph 4, reads: “False statements or omissions in the declarations submitted by Iraq…and failure by Iraq at any time to comply with…this resolution shall constitute a…further material breach…and will be reported to the Council for assessment in accordance with paragraphs 11 and 12.” Those paragraphs state that inspectors are to report “any” instances of Iraqi noncompliance and that the Security Council should meet to “consider the situation.”

A UN official said in a December 16 interview that a false declaration is sufficient for Iraq to be in material breach of the resolution. Greenstock, however, referred to the “second part” of that paragraph when he called for Iraqi cooperation to resolve outstanding arms issues, apparently implying that further cooperation with the inspectors would avoid a declaration of material breach.

Inspections and Controversy

By many measures, inspections in Iraq have proceeded smoothly. According to Blix’s January 9 statement, 150 inspections of 127 sites have taken place. A January 7 UN press release indicated that there are 105 inspectors in Iraq—16 based in Mosul and the rest in Baghdad.

Inspectors have incorporated a variety of tactics to increase their effectiveness. Blix stated in his December 19 briefing that inspectors avoid acting in “patterns” to decrease their predictability. He also said they plan to use overhead surveillance flights from a variety of aircraft.

Inspectors began using helicopters in early January to increase their ability to access sites quickly. In a January 8 interview, a UN official said inspectors are using a total of eight helicopters.

Inspectors also visited presidential palaces, starting December 3. Such sites had been subject to special conditions, but Resolution 1441 removed those conditions to allow the inspectors more freedom to inspect the sites.

There have been some tensions between UNMOVIC and Washington, however. Blix said in a December 20 interview with the BBC that the United States was not supplying inspectors with enough intelligence for them to be effective. Resolution 1441 encourages governments to provide “any information related to prohibited programmes or other aspects of their mandates.”

State Department spokesman Philip Reeker said December 30 that the United States was “giving intelligence” to inspectors, adding that UNMOVIC has implemented means to protect intelligence sources and methods, one of Washington’s chief concerns. Powell, however, told The Washington Post January 9 that Washington was still withholding some information, waiting to determine whether the inspectors can use it.

The question of interviewing scientists has also been contentious. Resolution 1441 gives inspectors the right to interview anyone they choose, without Iraqi officials present, in any location they wish, including outside Iraq. Powell said December 19 that inspectors should “give high priority” to conducting interviews with Iraqi scientists outside the country. However, during a December 19 interview on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, Blix expressed doubts as to whether this would be feasible. Reeker stated December 23 that the United States has been working with inspectors to put “interview modalities in place.”

Blix requested December 12 that Iraq provide the inspectors with the required list of scientists involved in its weapons programs, according to a December 16 UN press report. IAEA inspectors interviewed two scientists in Iraq—one December 24 and one December 27. The United Nations received the list December 28, but Blix said in his January 9 briefing that it was incomplete. He said the inspectors would press Iraq for more information about the scientists. ElBaradei told reporters after the briefing that Iraq was not allowing inspectors to conduct private interviews.

Iraq has also expressed dissatisfaction with aspects of the inspections process. In an interview on state television aired January 2, Vice President Taha Ramadan described inspectors’ behavior as “tactless” and accused them of harassing Iraqis and demanding information irrelevant to their mission. Iraqi President Saddam Hussein also accused inspectors of carrying out “intelligence work” for hostile governments in a January 6 speech.

Next Steps

Blix and ElBaradei are to provide the council with another update January 27, and they are scheduled to meet with Iraqi leaders in Baghdad January 19-20, according to the UN official interviewed January 8.

The Bush administration has demonstrated frustration with the inspection process but has not yet committed to using military force against Iraq. Bush said in a January 2 statement that he is “hopeful we won’t have to go to war” but that Saddam Hussein’s “day of reckoning is coming,” adding that Iraq has not yet shown its willingness to disarm.

The Bush administration’s policy on regime change remains unclear. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said in a January 2 press briefing that “Iraq has to disarm,” adding that Hussein could do this voluntarily or abandon his country. The United States will use force if necessary, he said.

The administration has previously indicated that Iraq’s compliance with the UN resolution would be sufficient to meet Washington’s standard for regime change. Washington has also suggested, however, that issues unrelated to weapons inspections could still be grounds for regime change and that Hussein could be tried for war crimes, even if he complies with Resolution 1441. In addition, the 1998 Iraq Liberation Act, which the administration has cited in its discussions of regime change, says it is U.S. policy to replace the current government in Iraq.

The administration has emphasized that Iraq has to be forthcoming with evidence about its weapons programs, rather than simply allowing the inspectors access to suspected weapons sites. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said in a December 4 interview with various Arab media that “it is up to Iraq to demonstrate that they do not have weapons of mass destruction.” White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer indicated in a January 6 statement that Washington will not let inspections continue indefinitely without Iraq’s compliance, adding that compliance is essential for inspections to succeed.

Rumsfeld also indicated in a December 23 press briefing that Baghdad’s continued attempts to shoot down U.S. aircraft patrolling the no-fly zones over Iraq signified lack of cooperation with the resolution. The administration has previously said that Iraqi violations of the no-fly zones constitute a material breach of the resolution.

After six weeks of work in Iraq, UN inspectors announced January 9 that they had yet to find a “smoking gun” indicating that Baghdad still has prohibited weapons programs...


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