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"I learned so much about arms control and disarmament at ACA! I learned more about arms control here in four months than I had in all three years at my college."

– Alicia Sanders-Zakre
Intern, Fall 2016
December 16, 2016
Iraq

Disarming Iraq: How Weapons Inspections Can Work

On October 7, the Arms Control Association held a press conference to discuss the capability of United Nations inspections to disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction. Panelists spoke on the successes and difficulties of previous inspections, which ended in 1998, and offered suggestions for strengthening future inspections. The briefing came amid debate in the UN Security Council and the United States regarding potential U.S.-led military action against Iraq.

The panelists were Robert Gallucci, dean of the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and former deputy executive chairman of the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM); Jessica T. Mathews, president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, which recently produced a report on “coercive inspections” called “Iraq: A New Approach”; and Jonathan B. Tucker, a senior fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace and a former UNSCOM inspector in Iraq. Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, moderated the briefing.

The following is an edited version of the panelists’ remarks and the question-and-answer session that followed.

Daryl G. Kimball

Despite the overall success of the nonproliferation regime, a small number of states threaten to undermine the norm against the development, possession, and use of weapons of mass destruction. Among them is Iraq, which has violated nonproliferation treaties and resisted UN Security Council mandates for the disarmament of its proscribed weapons of mass destruction capabilities.

Even without full Iraqi cooperation and Security Council support over the last decade, the UN Special Commission on Iraq [UNSCOM] and the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] succeeded in ridding Iraq of most of its prohibited weapons capabilities. But with the absence of inspectors since 1998, the United Nations, the Bush administration, and the Congress are once again debating the nature of the threat posed by Iraq, its unfulfilled disarmament obligations, and what actions are most appropriate and effective to deal with that threat. Central to that debate is whether and how weapons inspections can be effective in disarming Iraq. This is the main subject of this morning’s press briefing.

Just a few weeks ago, it was not clear whether President Bush would pursue renewed UN weapons inspections in Iraq at all or whether he would attempt a pre-emptive, unilateral military strike against Iraq. But for now the president appears to have made the common sense choice to work through the Security Council to reach agreement on a strengthened inspections regime. Also significant is the fact that Iraq, under pressure from the international community, has expressed its willingness to allow unfettered access to its facilities, including the presidential sites, which had been off limits in 1998.

Over the course of the next few days and weeks, the sincerity of President Bush’s appeal to the UN, the will of the Security Council’s support to uphold nonproliferation norms, and Iraq’s willingness to cooperate with the United Nations will all be tested. Top-level Bush administration officials continue to assert that strengthened inspections are bound to fail and that pre-emptive military invasion is necessary. In fact, the stated goal of the administration is the removal of Saddam Hussein from power. Such talk suggests to many that the administration supports the new and extremely tough new resolution at the United Nations only to provide a convenient trigger and justification for all-out military action against Baghdad. This should not be the purpose of renewed and strengthened UN inspections. Instead, the Arms Control Association and the expert panelists we have here today all agree that for now the most prudent and feasible means to deny Saddam Hussein access to weapons of mass destruction is a strategy of multilateral prevention through effective UN weapons inspections.

To explain, we have three panelists with substantial experience on Iraq and weapons inspections. First, we’re going to hear from Bob Gallucci, who’s currently dean of the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. He’s a former assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, and in 1991 he was appointed deputy executive chairman of UNSCOM. Then we’ll hear from Jonathan Tucker, currently a senior fellow at the United States Institute of Peace, who served as an UNSCOM biological weapons inspector in Iraq in 1995. Finally, we’ll hear from Jessica Mathews, who is president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and who is responsible for the Carnegie Endowment’s recent report, “Iraq: A New Approach.”

Robert Gallucci

It seems to me that U.S. policy has come a long way in a relatively short period of time. We have come from a situation in which regime change was essential to a situation in which regime change in Iraq is still desirable but not necessarily essential in order—to use the administration’s phrase—to separate Saddam Hussein from his weapons of mass destruction. In fact, Secretary [of State Colin] Powell seems to be saying that, if Iraq accepts the intrusive inspections that are described in the American draft UN resolution, it will have effectively changed the regime. I like that.

The United States is now pressing for a new inspection regime that, among other things, would eliminate any sanctuaries, would do away with any requirement for advance notice of inspections, would be guided by intelligence, would be permissive of interviews with Iraqi experts, would be accompanied by an armed military unit of some kind, would follow Iraq’s full and complete declarations, and would require Iraqi cooperation in the logistics of an inspection.

This type of inspections regime, it seems to me, can indeed work if Iraq understands two things: one, that rejecting the regime will mean that it will have to suffer an invasion and two, that acceptance of the regime will mean that it does not have to suffer an invasion. Both of those must be true. The question then becomes whether an inspection regime will ensure our security in the face of the threat from Iraq.

A few observations about the inspections. First, the threat derives from Iraqi capabilities in weapons of mass destruction. There are some uncertainties, but we have high confidence that Iraq has a chemical weapons capability in mustard and nerve agents, and a biological weapons capability in toxins and bacteriological weapons. There are uncertainties beyond that, and there are questions with respect to when Iraq might have a nuclear weapons capability.

Second, the threat is urgent in Iraq to the extent that the transfer of this capability to a terrorist group like al Qaeda is perceived to be imminent. Al Qaeda or another terrorist group, one could well argue, is open to neither defense nor deterrence by the United States and therefore cannot be tolerated with that capability. There is at the same time, to the best of my knowledge, no good evidence that Iraq would transfer such a capability to such a group.

Third, Iraq itself, even with weapons of mass destruction, could be open to deterrence and therefore be a manageable threat. But over time, it seems to me, it’s an unacceptable threat. Over time, Iraq will improve its capabilities and add a nuclear weapons capability. Given its past violation of UN Security Council resolutions, its invasion of Kuwait, and other indications that it is a rogue-like regime, deterrence and containment are too passive a response to the Iraqi threat over time. By saying that, however, I don’t mean to endorse the strategy of preventive war described in the new National Security Strategy.

The fourth point I’d like to make is that we should have confidence in the effectiveness of an inspection regime in a reasonable way, which is to say that we ought to compare an inspection regime to realistic alternatives—an invasion, for example. If the United States does eventually resort to military force, hopefully in coalition with its allies, an Iraqi threat could arise again a year after that or five years after that because we could not be absolutely sure that the regime that we initially installed would remain and because the capabilities to produce weapons of mass destruction could always be rebuilt. The technology is not reversible. We must, I think, look at Iraq the way we look at other states with emerging weapons capabilities and ask how we deal with them. We have concerns about Iran, Syria, Libya, North Korea, and other countries, but it is not a good idea to plan on invading all of them.

Finally, then, we are at a moment when we have an opportunity to use diplomacy to broaden the consensus on the nature of the threat and the need to respond with UN Security Council allies and those in the region. We are also at a point where we have an opportunity to let arms control work—and by arms control, I mean an intrusive set of inspections that will give us high confidence that we can separate Saddam from his weapons. This is not the instinct of this administration—at least it has not been up until now. So, the Iraqi case could well be the administration’s first test-case in its new strategy of pre-emptive war, or it could be a counterpoint to that strategy in which diplomacy and arms control prove to be effective. I hope it is the latter.

Jonathan B. Tucker

In assessing the successes and shortcomings of the UNSCOM inspection regime, it’s important to recall its main objectives. There were three phases of the inspection process. First was the discovery phase, in which the inspectors tried to obtain a full accounting of Iraq’s past programs and supplier networks and to compile a comprehensive inventory of its dual-use facilities—that is, factories that were ostensibly engaged in legitimate commercial production but could be easily diverted to weapons production. Second was the destruction phase, in which the UN agencies, both UNSCOM and the IAEA, sought to eliminate Iraq’s stockpile of prohibited weapons, to the extent they could be found, as well as facilities that were specifically involved in weapons of mass destruction programs. And finally, there was the ongoing monitoring and verification phase, during which the inspectors kept a close watch on Iraq’s dual-capable facilities and tracked its imports and exports of sensitive technologies, with the aim of preventing Baghdad from reconstituting its weapons programs in the future. In practice, the three phases of the UNSCOM operation overlapped extensively.

What can one say about the accomplishments of the inspection regime and how well it worked? Well, first, it was clear from the outset that Iraq was not going to cooperate fully with UNSCOM. Iraq’s declarations of its weapons and facilities were incomplete and contained numerous false statements and distortions. When confronted with contradictory evidence, Iraqi authorities typically responded with partial admissions, indicating at each stage they were making a full disclosure, but each “full, final, and complete” declaration was far from full, final, or complete.

The Iraqi authorities tried to lead the inspectors away from sensitive sites, and they developed elaborate and sometimes preposterous cover stories to protect their clandestine programs. They also conducted counterintelligence operations, infiltrated the inspection system, destroyed evidence, used various means to impede and delay inspections, confronted and intimidated inspectors, and employed what are called “deception and denial” techniques. Deception involves the use of active or passive measures to convey a false or inaccurate picture of a clandestine activity, such as disguising a biological weapons facility as a vaccine plant, whereas denial involves the use of active measures to conceal the very existence of a clandestine activity. Iraq became quite skilled at these techniques, which included camouflage, control of electronic emissions and chemical pollution from weapons plants, and various forms of personnel and communications security.

Nevertheless, the Iraqi declarations were useful as a point of departure and provided a basis for planning and carrying out the initial inspections. Discrepancies between the declarations and other evidence often gave the inspectors valuable leads. Despite pervasive Iraqi noncooperation, UNSCOM’s detective work and dogged persistence produced a broad overview, if not every last detail, of Iraq’s prohibited weapons programs. UNSCOM inspectors, who had initially told the Iraqis what they knew, soon learned to make it harder for Baghdad to tailor its declarations by withholding some of their information. They placed greater emphasis on technical means of verification, including the use of a U-2 aircraft provided by the United States and other forms of aerial surveillance, and they conducted no-notice inspections of undeclared sites. So in response to Iraq’s noncooperation, the inspectors became more aggressive and used more intrusive techniques.

UNSCOM analysts also learned how to piece together bits of information from a wide range of sources, including aerial and satellite imagery, confidential trade data from Western companies that had supplied dual-use materials and equipment to Iraq before the Gulf War, ongoing monitoring of Iraq’s imports of sensitive technologies, and reports by Iraqi defectors.

In particular, UNSCOM inspectors made excellent use of what are called “mass-balance” calculations. They determined the amounts of raw materials Iraq had imported, compared this information with the quantities of biowarfare agents Iraq had admitted to having produced, and then calculated the differences to obtain estimates of undeclared production. For example, UNSCOM learned from Western suppliers that during 1988 alone, Iraq had imported nearly 39 tons of complex growth media suitable for cultivating large quantities of bacteria such as anthrax, as well as for culturing patient specimens for hospital use. So, this was a dual-use material. UNSCOM could only account for 22 tons of the media imported by Iraq, leaving 17 tons unexplained. That’s a huge quantity of material.

When confronted with this evidence, the Iraqi authorities stated that the missing media had been imported for medical diagnostics and had been destroyed in riots affecting health clinics in the aftermath of the Gulf War. There were three problems with this explanation. First, Iraq’s total hospital consumption of diagnostic media from 1987 to 1994 had been less than 200 kilograms per year, yet 17 tons of media were unaccounted for. Second, the imported media did not include the types most often used for hospital diagnosis, but they were suitable for culturing agents such as anthrax. Third, since culture media spoils rapidly once a package has been opened, hospitals typically use small packages of a tenth of a kilogram to a kilogram, yet Iraq had imported the media in large drums of 25-100 kilograms.

These discrepancies made it clear that the official Iraqi cover story was false and provided strong circumstantial evidence for large-scale production of anthrax, botulinum toxin, and other biological agents. When the Iraqi authorities were confronted with this information, they ultimately admitted to large-scale production. So, that’s an example of how UNSCOM’s use of analysis forced the Iraqis to acknowledge prohibited activities.

At the end of the day, was the glass half full or half empty? Different analysts have come to different conclusions about the effectiveness of the inspection regime. I would argue that the glass was at least half full. UNSCOM’s successful detective work, as in the case of the culture media story I just told you, persuaded the Security Council to maintain economic sanctions on Iraq despite political pressures from France and Russia to lift them.

The new revelations also put senior Iraqi officials in the increasingly untenable position of getting caught telling outright lies, creating serious tensions within the Iraqi regime. Arguably, those tensions contributed to the defection to Jordan in August 1995 of the mastermind of the Iraqi weapons programs, Lieutenant General Hussein Kamel. Kamel’s defection proved to be a key break in the UNSCOM investigation because he revealed that, prior to the 1991 Gulf War, Iraq had loaded biological agents into aerial bombs and Scud missile warheads.

The UN inspection regime was also successful in eliminating major elements of Iraq’s weapons programs, setting them back several years. Tens of thousands of chemical munitions were destroyed, as well as key facilities involved in the nuclear, chemical, biological, and missile production complexes.

In addition, ongoing monitoring and verification at dual-capable facilities, including the installation of closed-circuit video cameras and air-sampling devices, helped to increase the difficulty, expense, and political cost to Iraq of attempting to reacquire weapons of mass destruction, serving to deter further violations. And monitoring of Iraqi imports of sensitive dual-use technologies made it more difficult for Iraq to reconstitute its weapons programs.

On the negative side, UNSCOM could not account for major historical gaps in the chemical and biological weapons programs and never found Iraq’s stockpile of VX, the most deadly type of chemical nerve agent, or any filled biological munitions. Although ongoing monitoring and verification prevented Iraq from using its dual-use facilities to reconstitute its chemical and biological programs, the monitoring continued only as long as the inspectors were on the ground.

It’s also important to point out that the inspectors were unarmed and that their authority derived from a united Security Council and the implicit threat of military action if Iraq did not comply. The political foundation of the inspection regime was gradually weakened, however, as Iraq shrewdly played the permanent members of the Security Council against one another. Iraq also managed to negotiate directly with the UN secretary-general over special inspection procedures for so-called presidential sites, such as Saddam’s palaces, seriously undermining UNSCOM’s authority and credibility.

Finally, the revelation that the United States was piggybacking on UNSCOM to conduct its own intelligence operations, and reports that UNSCOM Executive Chairman Richard Butler was working closely with the Clinton administration, lost the public relations war for UNSCOM.

In terms of lessons learned for a future inspection regime under UNMOVIC, it’s clear that the inspectors must have access to all facilities of interest throughout Iraq and that presidential and “sensitive” sites (such as government ministries) must not be subject to less intrusive inspection procedures, as they were under UNSCOM. Of course, even with an “anywhere, anytime” inspection system, Iraq will be able to constrain the timeliness of inspections to some extent by means of logistical delays. But there should be a general principle that any suspect site in Iraq can be subjected to immediate inspection on demand.

Also, it’s important that UNMOVIC have the authority to interview Iraqi weapons scientists without the presence of Iraqi officials. During the UNSCOM period, Iraqi government “observers” sat in on all such interviews, which had an intimidating effect and prevented cooperative sources from revealing much of what they knew.

Some carrots as well as sticks will be required to secure Iraqi cooperation. As Bob Gallucci pointed out, the Security Council should make it clear that the Iraqi regime will be allowed to remain in power if—and only if—it cooperates fully in eliminating its stocks of weapons of mass destruction and submits to ongoing monitoring and verification for a period of years. Absent an assurance of regime survival as a quid pro quo, Saddam Hussein has no long-term incentive to cooperate.

Another key factor is that UNMOVIC can be effective only to the extent that the inspectors know where to look. Iraq is a large country, about the size of California, with many places to hide weapons and clandestine production facilities, so the inspection process must be supported with accurate and timely intelligence. This need will require the United States and like-minded countries to share sensitive data on clandestine Iraqi weapons production and storage sites. UNMOVIC must also have, as UNSCOM did, intelligence-gathering assets such as U-2 aircraft and its own analytical unit.

Short-notice inspections can increase the likelihood that Iraq will make mistakes and leave behind telltale indicators of illicit activity. In addition, the combined use of various tools, such as overhead surveillance, trade flow monitoring, visual inspection, sampling and analysis, and other techniques, can yield valuable synergies. Overhead surveillance can serve both to cue onsite inspections and to monitor the Iraqi response while an inspection is underway—observing, for example, if Iraqi officials are trying to remove sensitive documents or materials out the back door.

In conclusion, a realistic goal of the UN inspection regime is not to eliminate every last weapon, which is probably impossible, but to deny Iraq a militarily significant mass-destruction capability. I believe that goal is probably achievable if UNMOVIC is given full access to relevant facilities throughout Iraq, supplied with accurate and timely intelligence, and supported by a united Security Council.

Jessica T. Mathews

I agree with virtually everything my colleagues have said, but I have a few additional thoughts. Let me describe some of the crucial elements behind the concept of coercive inspections and then give you a sense of where I think we are in terms of policies in the administration.

The Carnegie Endowment’s study on coercive inspections began with the belief that, among all the grievances the United States has against Saddam Hussein, his weapons of mass destruction are the only aspect of his regime that pose a threat to us. We therefore began with the premise that U.S. policy ought to be aimed at weapons of mass destruction rather than at regime change per se. At that time, that was a very radical belief.

Having determined that, we then asked the question of whether there was any policy that could get us beyond the more than half- decade of impotence in the face of Iraqi behavior, that could deal effectively with its weapons of mass destruction short of regime change, and we came to the conclusion that the answer was yes. In our view, however, such a policy required a radically different inspection regime than either UNSCOM or UNMOVIC.

We looked at the history of Iraqi behavior, the technical successes and failures of UNSCOM, and the political successes and failures of the Security Council, and we concluded that three factors accounted for the success of UNSCOM in its first five years. The first of these was the credible and immediate threat of force that began with the presence of U.S. Desert Storm forces in the region when UNSCOM was formed. The second was unity among the permanent five members of the Security Council, which persisted, I think, until the United States undermined it, beginning in about 1995, by equivocating about whether its goal was disarmament or regime change. After that, Iraq became increasingly confident and increasingly successful at the techniques of divide and conquer in the Security Council. And the third was Saddam Hussein’s belief, which he held at the outset of inspections, that he could successfully hide what he had.

Now, all three of those conditions for success are currently gone, but we believe the first two could be reconstituted—the third is obviously gone for good. We felt that because of Saddam Hussein’s political success over the past five years and also the relative painlessness and ineffectiveness of pinprick bombing against his weapons of mass destruction, the new inspection regime had to be more than just marginally strengthened. And we came to the conclusion that the tougher the inspection regime, the tougher the initial resolution under which inspectors begin their work, the more likely we will be able to avoid war.

The report therefore proposed not only strengthening UNMOVIC’s mandate, but a good deal more—namely, having inspectors accompanied by an armed force that would provide security for the inspectors themselves, major technological resources, and the ability to determine the pace of inspections and achieve go-anywhere, go-anytime inspections.

This is a regime we call “comply or else” inspections, and the “or else” is obviously an invasion, which is where I think we are at this point. It’s a regime that depends a great deal less on Iraqi cooperation but rather more simply on Iraqi compliance, and it was designed not to be negotiated but to be presented as a take-it-or-leave-it deal. I still believe, as I think most of us who worked on this do, that that is the only way to approach Iraq—that the only thing that will separate Saddam Hussein from his weapons of mass destruction is the immediate threat of the end of his regime, but that faced with that choice, he will choose even this inspections regime. Nobody knows whether we’re correct or not, but I believe that if you look at the record of his behavior over the last 15 years, there are solid reasons for believing that the man is not insane and will make the rational choice.

We also agreed that inspections can be successful in the way they have been in the past. So, why a military requirement now? First, the current situation is much more dicey and could end, if challenged, in failure, and therefore there is a much higher risk of hostage-taking. This force is designed to prevent, if it should come to that, any hostage-taking of inspectors. Second, we also feel that a military force is required to get Saddam Hussein’s attention and change his mindset. Third, it is designed to prevent Iraq from causing delays that affect what the inspectors can find and to provide the elements of really strong operational and communications security that we believe are essential.

The core of this plan is the ability to impose both no-fly zones, which we have used before and currently have in effect over part of Iraq, and military no-drive zones. For example, with little advance notice, Iraq would be told that in this broad region all day tomorrow there is both a no-fly and a military no-drive zone. The region would be large enough that the Iraqis would not know exactly where the inspectors intended to go.

Where are we now? Well, last week two core beliefs of administration policy changed, at least for the time being, and that is of enormous importance. The first is that inspections cannot effectively disarm Saddam Hussein of weapons of mass destruction, and the second is that even if they could that would not be enough, that it was necessary to get rid of him. Instead, we heard a statement by Minority Leader Trent Lott as he left the White House and several statements by Secretary Powell that, if Saddam Hussein could be divested of his weapons of mass destruction, that would be “ideal.”

This is a hugely important change, which I think the press largely missed in its attention to two secondary issues. One is this obsession about one resolution versus two, when what matters is not how many there are but what they say. And the second is the full coverage of what the Iraqis say, which matters not at all because whatever it is they say on day one will be different on day two and day three. This we know. So really, there should be no attention paid to that.

And that last comment encapsulates the spirit behind the proposal for coercive inspections: it is feckless to give Iraq another chance to prove its bona fides on inspections. We know that Saddam Hussein views inspections as the continuation of war by other means, so if we’re going to conduct inspections, we’ve got to do them in a way that really accomplishes their objective. Inspections under the old regime or the old regime-plus are almost certain to lead both to the embarrassment of the United Nations and ultimately to war.

I am not really clear where the administration stands right now. There are elements in what we know of the draft UN resolution that are very encouraging. There is no evidence, however, that the Pentagon is doing planning on the kind of coercive inspection regime that I believe is necessary, and of course, none of us knows what elements of the resolution are bargaining chips and what elements are bottom line, although we can make some inferences.

Finally, I want to just point out that it’s hard to look beyond Iraq right now, but this situation has broader implications for arms control and for the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. If war proves to be necessary to control weapons of mass destruction, that will almost certainly be a very heavy blow—perhaps somewhat paradoxically—to the strength and resilience and effectiveness of the nonproliferation regime because the United States is not going to go to war with country after country after country. If, on the other hand, the international community proves it is possible to levy a dire threat with determination and persistence and unity over time, that sends a very, very different message to current and possibly future proliferators.

Questions and Answers:

Question: Given UNSCOM’s experience with the technical aspects of inspections—like using the U-2 aircraft—what additional intelligence assets might be required for the new inspections regime?

Tucker: I think basically the same assets should be provided to UNMOVIC, although some new technologies could be applied—for example, rapid detection techniques for biological agents, which were not available 10 years ago. More broadly, it is essential not only for UNMOVIC to have its own analytic and intelligence-collection capabilities but for like-minded countries to provide information on suspect sites in Iraq because, of course, the intelligence-gathering resources of the United States and other countries are vastly greater than UNMOVIC’s. And just to reiterate, Iraq is a large country. There are many possible hiding places. It’s also likely that Iraq has built underground facilities, which are difficult to detect without advanced-technology systems. So sharing of national intelligence with UNMOVIC is really critical if the inspectors are to be effective.

Mathews: We have urged the deployment not just of U-2s but AWACS, JSTARS, Global Hawks, Predator—the whole panoply of the top of the line U.S. intelligence collection, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities—as being vital to the success of this effort.

Gallucci: When we talk about this range of intelligence collection, it can sound awfully intrusive, which makes some people uncomfortable. But it needs to be understood that this is a very special case. I direct this comment mostly to those in Paris and Moscow who are contemplating this new resolution. It should go without saying, but apparently it doesn’t, that this is not a cooperative arrangement. The Iraqis have established themselves as hostile to inspections. This is not a game, but it certainly is a contest where an inspection regime is trying to find things that the Iraqis are trying to hide. So, there should be no arguments about Iraqi sovereignty being compromised because Iraq compromised Kuwait’s sovereignty when it invaded it in 1990.

The intrusiveness of the inspection regime and the intelligence that must go along with it should not be thought of as compromising an international organization—this is the argument about whether there are spies associated with the regime. We have to understand that the inspection teams are not simply looking to hire chemists or biologists or nuclear engineers; they’re looking for experts in chemical weapons and biological weapons and nuclear weapons. These people come from the governments of various countries and sometimes from intelligence communities. A certain amount of maturity about this is absolutely essential.

So, using intelligence from various governments is not compromising an international organization; it is supporting an international organization in conducting inspections against a member state that has violated international rules and laws. If it’s understood that way, I think it should be more acceptable in those capitals that appear to be having some difficulty with the intrusiveness of the regime.

Question: Will the Security Council, particularly the Russians and the French, agree to such a tough new resolution for inspections?

Gallucci: First, to underline what Jessica said, that’s the right question. The question is not what Iraqis will accept. Second, I think that the decision for countries on the Security Council has to be put in terms of “compared to what?” The United States has been very clear in saying that the alternative will be military action, so that should provide an incentive. I can’t say whether they’ll end up doing the right thing, but it seems to me that this is a way to have an inspection regime in which you can have reasonably high confidence of separating Saddam from his weapons.

Mathews: I think the elements of a compromise are clearly on the table. That is one of the reasons that I mentioned how major the U.S. shift was last week and how underplayed I think media reports of this have been. The French and the Russians both have, in effect, won a major victory in the shift of the administration’s position from defining regime change as the removal of Saddam Hussein to defining it as a change in his behavior. That is a huge reversal. And it is exactly what the other permanent five members of the Security Council were arguing for in August.

Even this hang-up on the question of whether military action would be automatic if the inspections fail has the elements of compromise. It is essential to the success of inspections that the link to war is explicit. It’s essential for the Iraqis to believe that the choice is totally unfettered inspections or invasion for regime change. That’s absolutely essential. It is also essential, as Bob said, that they have to believe that if they do comply we won’t invade, or else there’s no reason for them to comply.

The French don’t mind that link being made in the first resolution, but they don’t want military action to be triggered by violation of that resolution. In other words, they want some kind of second action to approve military action, and now they are suggesting that it doesn’t have to be a formal Security Council resolution. So, a compromise is to leave the linkage in the resolution but not include the actual trigger, which is what the United States has been rightly insisting on. You have to spell out the consequences.

Of course, there are a million ways this could fail between now and whenever a vote takes place, but the elements of a compromise are clearly there.

Question: The inspections, at least initially, were predicated on a cooperative Iraqi regime, which might have allowed us to be certain that Iraq had disarmed. But clearly, Iraq did not cooperate and, even with a coercive arrangement, how do you get around the fact that the inspectors would still be in a position of trying to prove a negative—that is, that Iraq no longer has weapons of mass destruction?

Gallucci: I would disagree with the premise that when we began inspections we thought that were working with a cooperative state. We didn’t. The International Atomic Energy Agency, which was implementing a part of Resolution 687, I think had an ethic of cooperation with the host government, but that fell away very quickly. Within the first two inspections, the IAEA team that was working with UNSCOM was extremely aggressive. So, I don’t really think that we proceeded on any assumption of cooperation.

With respect to the proposition that inspectors are trying to prove a negative, that there’s nothing there, I’m not sure I consider that the political challenge to the inspection regime. It seems to me that what they need to do is to find what’s there that is not supposed to be there and to continue the inspection process, which makes it very difficult—hopefully nearly impossible—for Iraq to regenerate militarily significant programs in any of the weapons areas. The idea that they’re trying to prove that nothing is there may, in fact, be captured in some of the language of the resolution, but it is not the political charge of the inspection regime.

Question: But you’re still left with a predicament, are you not, of proving the negative? If Saddam Hussein doesn’t tell you where the bodies are buried, so to speak, how can you certify that the country is disarmed?

Tucker: Well, for one thing the United States and the British governments have claimed recently that Iraq retains significant capabilities in the chemical, biological, and missile disciplines. It is to be hoped that both governments will provide some or all of their information to UNMOVIC for the inspectors to track down.

Second, the inspection regime, as I mentioned, is not focused exclusively on finding weapons and destroying them but also on preventing reconstitution of the various weapons programs through ongoing monitoring and verification of dual-use facilities, which presumably will continue for a period of years. That element of preventing Iraq from reacquiring its mass-destruction capabilities in the coming years is complementary to efforts to ferret out whatever weapons Iraq may currently possess.

Kimball: This is a question that comes up in arms control all the time: how do you verify with 100 percent confidence that a particular state is not violating a particular legal obligation? One hundred percent confidence is impossible, but one of the chief advantages of a strengthened inspections regime is that it can provide high confidence that Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction programs are contained and do not pose a threat.

Mathews: I think Jonathan Tucker gave a nice feel for how this thing proceeds. It is a huge puzzle, and when you start it, it’s kind of like a thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle. At first you think it’s impossible, that you’ll never get through this, but the more pieces you put in place, the smaller the number of unknowns that remain. It is true that Saddam Hussein has had a number of years to alter records, to hide things, to move things, to improve his capabilities. But the UNMOVIC team has had a lot of time to learn what we do know and, as Jonathan has said, there’s a lot more intelligence that they can get access to.

Another key point is that a lot of what inspectors do is interview people. And while there are an awful lot of places in a country the size of California, there are fewer people that are key to the success of these weapons programs. So, one can look at where those people are, where they were trained, where they work, what trucks go to and fro. There are a thousand pieces to put together, but over time you can zero in with higher and higher confidence on what’s around.

Question: The president has focused national and world attention on Iraq as an imminent threat, but aren’t there other, similar threats? Is this the most important one? Why go to war at this moment?

Gallucci: I think the most salient threat posed to the security of this country is al Qaeda, and as a citizen I hope, expect, and believe that the Bush administration is doing everything it can to deal with that threat. I know that there are those who have suggested that a military engagement with Iraq might distract us from the war against terrorism broadly and al Qaeda specifically, but I rather think we can, in fact, do both, particularly if we judge that the Iraqi threat is getting worse with each passing day.

I don’t think that you can say that a switch has been thrown that has made the threat from Iraq catastrophic today where it wasn’t six months ago. But there haven’t been inspectors in Iraq since 1998, and we have good evidence that the Iraqis have been working to regenerate programs in the nuclear, chemical, and biological areas, as well as their ballistic missile program. So, the threat is getting worse over time, and it will not simply grow incrementally. When Iraq does enrich uranium to high levels or acquire plutonium or highly enriched uranium, the threat will all of a sudden jump in seriousness, and that will be an enormous concern. And we don’t want to get to that point, given Iraq’s past behavior.

I understand the administration has been making an effort to link Iraq to al Qaeda specifically, and what I have heard has not been overwhelmingly persuasive to me. But from my perspective, absent that, there is still a good reason for concluding that passively containing Iraq is not a prudent, durable policy for the United States and that we have been driven to our current course of action by the Iraqi resistance of inspections over time. Containment has failed as a policy. The situation is worsening, and I think the administration and the international community does have an obligation to deal with it.

Tucker: I would just add that Iraq is a special case because it is a country that invaded its neighbors, both Iran and Kuwait, and lost the Gulf War. It was the object of a series of Security Council resolutions that it then proceeded to violate. So, I think that the Security Council does have an obligation to enforce those resolutions, to make sure that other countries are not emboldened by Iraqi noncompliance to acquire weapons of mass destruction or to invade their neighbors. A general principle of international law is at stake here.

Kimball: Let me add a different facet to the answer. Although quick action is needed, as many experts and observers have pointed out, the administration has not been able to present evidence about Iraq’s program that is particularly new. Nevertheless, action is needed to move weapons inspectors back in there under more effective rules.

I want to go back to one thing that Jessica Mathews said earlier about the administration’s shift toward embracing the idea that strengthened weapons inspections can work. I would just point out that the administration is not simply doing what its allies want, but that this approach is also clearly in the interest of the United States and the Bush administration because a war with Iraq could involve weapons of mass destruction. If the Iraqis do indeed have chemical and biological weapons capabilities, Saddam Hussein might use those weapons in a last attempt to stave off attack. That could have very serious consequences, of course, for U.S. troops and countries in the region. Israel, for one, has nuclear weapons and might respond. So, an all-out war to disarm Saddam Hussein could produce the very effect that we’re all so concerned about.

Question: There are stories where UNSCOM inspectors would enter an Iraqi facility and the Iraqis would simply go out the back door. How do you prevent that from happening again? And if you need to use force, how do you do that without putting the inspectors in danger?

Tucker: I’m uncomfortable with the idea of inspectors being accompanied by armed troops because I think it could put the inspectors in jeopardy. It would also make their work more difficult because the inspectors need to talk to Iraqi scientists, technicians, and plant managers, and people generally won’t talk with a gun pointed at their head, at least not freely.
So, I think there should be a credible threat of military force if Iraq refuses to comply, but the forces should not be right there on the scene. They should perhaps be deployed nearby in the region, but it would be highly problematic for troops and inspectors to be intermingled.

Gallucci: There’s a nice contrast here that can be built between what we had in UNSCOM in one of our more aggressive inspections that was successful and what we could have had if we’d had more aggressive inspections. If you remember in September of 1991, we had what inspectors called the “parking lot tour,” where we spent four days in a parking lot because we wouldn’t give up some documents on the design of Iraqi nuclear weapons.

Now, what people have forgotten is that the day before the parking lot standoff happened, we were at another building where we tried to do without any military capability what the Carnegie report recommends with coercive inspections. We had inspectors armed only with little Sony Handycams, and we arrived at o-dark-thirty and surrounded the building before we started to search. The idea was to contain the situation and then launch a thorough search of the building. In the course of that, there was an awful lot of movement by the Iraqis as they began to figure out that we had actually come upon the right place.

When the end of the day came and we had actually found nuclear weapons design information, the Iraqis took a lot of the material from us. They physically just took it away from us. We had boxed it up and put it in our vehicle. They shoved us aside and they took the material from us. The next day, we were a little smarter and we put the material on our bodies to raise the level that the Iraqis would have to go to to seize the material that we had found. They decided not to strip search 41 UN inspectors, so that led to the parking lot situation.

What we were trying to do was raise the threshold in a small way—and that could be done in a much more demonstrative way. There’s a proposal for a no-fly, no-drive zone so that you have military capability to contain an area for an inspection. Then you can make sure that, if the Iraqis want to prevent an inspection team from a successful inspection, they have to use force greater than the force that’s deployed, in which case they have tripped a wire, which unambiguously leads to an invasion, and that’s the whole point.


Despite the overall success of the nonproliferation regime, a small number of states...

Disarming Iraq: How Weapons Inspections Can Work

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An ACA Press Conference

On October 7, the Arms Control Association held a press conference to discuss the capability of United Nations inspections to disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction. Panelists spoke on the successes and difficulties of previous inspections, which ended in 1998, and offered suggestions for strengthening future inspections. The briefing came amid debate in the UN Security Council and the United States regarding potential U.S.-led military action against Iraq.

The panelists were Robert Gallucci, dean of the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and former deputy executive chairman of the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM); Jessica T. Mathews, president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, which recently produced a report on “coercive inspections” called “Iraq: A New Approach”; and Jonathan B. Tucker, a senior fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace and a former UNSCOM inspector in Iraq. Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, moderated the briefing.

The following is an edited version of the panelists’ remarks and the question-and-answer session that followed.

Daryl G. Kimball

Despite the overall success of the nonproliferation regime, a small number of states threaten to undermine the norm against the development, possession, and use of weapons of mass destruction. Among them is Iraq, which has violated nonproliferation treaties and resisted UN Security Council mandates for the disarmament of its proscribed weapons of mass destruction capabilities.

Even without full Iraqi cooperation and Security Council support over the last decade, the UN Special Commission on Iraq [UNSCOM] and the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] succeeded in ridding Iraq of most of its prohibited weapons capabilities. But with the absence of inspectors since 1998, the United Nations, the Bush administration, and the Congress are once again debating the nature of the threat posed by Iraq, its unfulfilled disarmament obligations, and what actions are most appropriate and effective to deal with that threat. Central to that debate is whether and how weapons inspections can be effective in disarming Iraq. This is the main subject of this morning’s press briefing.

Just a few weeks ago, it was not clear whether President Bush would pursue renewed UN weapons inspections in Iraq at all or whether he would attempt a pre-emptive, unilateral military strike against Iraq. But for now the president appears to have made the common sense choice to work through the Security Council to reach agreement on a strengthened inspections regime. Also significant is the fact that Iraq, under pressure from the international community, has expressed its willingness to allow unfettered access to its facilities, including the presidential sites, which had been off limits in 1998.

Over the course of the next few days and weeks, the sincerity of President Bush’s appeal to the UN, the will of the Security Council’s support to uphold nonproliferation norms, and Iraq’s willingness to cooperate with the United Nations will all be tested. Top-level Bush administration officials continue to assert that strengthened inspections are bound to fail and that pre-emptive military invasion is necessary. In fact, the stated goal of the administration is the removal of Saddam Hussein from power. Such talk suggests to many that the administration supports the new and extremely tough new resolution at the United Nations only to provide a convenient trigger and justification for all-out military action against Baghdad. This should not be the purpose of renewed and strengthened UN inspections. Instead, the Arms Control Association and the expert panelists we have here today all agree that for now the most prudent and feasible means to deny Saddam Hussein access to weapons of mass destruction is a strategy of multilateral prevention through effective UN weapons inspections.

To explain, we have three panelists with substantial experience on Iraq and weapons inspections. First, we’re going to hear from Bob Gallucci, who’s currently dean of the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. He’s a former assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, and in 1991 he was appointed deputy executive chairman of UNSCOM. Then we’ll hear from Jonathan Tucker, currently a senior fellow at the United States Institute of Peace, who served as an UNSCOM biological weapons inspector in Iraq in 1995. Finally, we’ll hear from Jessica Mathews, who is president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and who is responsible for the Carnegie Endowment’s recent report, “Iraq: A New Approach.”

Robert Gallucci

It seems to me that U.S. policy has come a long way in a relatively short period of time. We have come from a situation in which regime change was essential to a situation in which regime change in Iraq is still desirable but not necessarily essential in order—to use the administration’s phrase—to separate Saddam Hussein from his weapons of mass destruction. In fact, Secretary [of State Colin] Powell seems to be saying that, if Iraq accepts the intrusive inspections that are described in the American draft UN resolution, it will have effectively changed the regime. I like that.

The United States is now pressing for a new inspection regime that, among other things, would eliminate any sanctuaries, would do away with any requirement for advance notice of inspections, would be guided by intelligence, would be permissive of interviews with Iraqi experts, would be accompanied by an armed military unit of some kind, would follow Iraq’s full and complete declarations, and would require Iraqi cooperation in the logistics of an inspection.

This type of inspections regime, it seems to me, can indeed work if Iraq understands two things: one, that rejecting the regime will mean that it will have to suffer an invasion and two, that acceptance of the regime will mean that it does not have to suffer an invasion. Both of those must be true. The question then becomes whether an inspection regime will ensure our security in the face of the threat from Iraq.

A few observations about the inspections. First, the threat derives from Iraqi capabilities in weapons of mass destruction. There are some uncertainties, but we have high confidence that Iraq has a chemical weapons capability in mustard and nerve agents, and a biological weapons capability in toxins and bacteriological weapons. There are uncertainties beyond that, and there are questions with respect to when Iraq might have a nuclear weapons capability.

Second, the threat is urgent in Iraq to the extent that the transfer of this capability to a terrorist group like al Qaeda is perceived to be imminent. Al Qaeda or another terrorist group, one could well argue, is open to neither defense nor deterrence by the United States and therefore cannot be tolerated with that capability. There is at the same time, to the best of my knowledge, no good evidence that Iraq would transfer such a capability to such a group.

Third, Iraq itself, even with weapons of mass destruction, could be open to deterrence and therefore be a manageable threat. But over time, it seems to me, it’s an unacceptable threat. Over time, Iraq will improve its capabilities and add a nuclear weapons capability. Given its past violation of UN Security Council resolutions, its invasion of Kuwait, and other indications that it is a rogue-like regime, deterrence and containment are too passive a response to the Iraqi threat over time. By saying that, however, I don’t mean to endorse the strategy of preventive war described in the new National Security Strategy.

The fourth point I’d like to make is that we should have confidence in the effectiveness of an inspection regime in a reasonable way, which is to say that we ought to compare an inspection regime to realistic alternatives—an invasion, for example. If the United States does eventually resort to military force, hopefully in coalition with its allies, an Iraqi threat could arise again a year after that or five years after that because we could not be absolutely sure that the regime that we initially installed would remain and because the capabilities to produce weapons of mass destruction could always be rebuilt. The technology is not reversible. We must, I think, look at Iraq the way we look at other states with emerging weapons capabilities and ask how we deal with them. We have concerns about Iran, Syria, Libya, North Korea, and other countries, but it is not a good idea to plan on invading all of them.

Finally, then, we are at a moment when we have an opportunity to use diplomacy to broaden the consensus on the nature of the threat and the need to respond with UN Security Council allies and those in the region. We are also at a point where we have an opportunity to let arms control work—and by arms control, I mean an intrusive set of inspections that will give us high confidence that we can separate Saddam from his weapons. This is not the instinct of this administration—at least it has not been up until now. So, the Iraqi case could well be the administration’s first test-case in its new strategy of pre-emptive war, or it could be a counterpoint to that strategy in which diplomacy and arms control prove to be effective. I hope it is the latter.

Jonathan B. Tucker

In assessing the successes and shortcomings of the UNSCOM inspection regime, it’s important to recall its main objectives. There were three phases of the inspection process. First was the discovery phase, in which the inspectors tried to obtain a full accounting of Iraq’s past programs and supplier networks and to compile a comprehensive inventory of its dual-use facilities—that is, factories that were ostensibly engaged in legitimate commercial production but could be easily diverted to weapons production. Second was the destruction phase, in which the UN agencies, both UNSCOM and the IAEA, sought to eliminate Iraq’s stockpile of prohibited weapons, to the extent they could be found, as well as facilities that were specifically involved in weapons of mass destruction programs. And finally, there was the ongoing monitoring and verification phase, during which the inspectors kept a close watch on Iraq’s dual-capable facilities and tracked its imports and exports of sensitive technologies, with the aim of preventing Baghdad from reconstituting its weapons programs in the future. In practice, the three phases of the UNSCOM operation overlapped extensively.

What can one say about the accomplishments of the inspection regime and how well it worked? Well, first, it was clear from the outset that Iraq was not going to cooperate fully with UNSCOM. Iraq’s declarations of its weapons and facilities were incomplete and contained numerous false statements and distortions. When confronted with contradictory evidence, Iraqi authorities typically responded with partial admissions, indicating at each stage they were making a full disclosure, but each “full, final, and complete” declaration was far from full, final, or complete.

The Iraqi authorities tried to lead the inspectors away from sensitive sites, and they developed elaborate and sometimes preposterous cover stories to protect their clandestine programs. They also conducted counterintelligence operations, infiltrated the inspection system, destroyed evidence, used various means to impede and delay inspections, confronted and intimidated inspectors, and employed what are called “deception and denial” techniques. Deception involves the use of active or passive measures to convey a false or inaccurate picture of a clandestine activity, such as disguising a biological weapons facility as a vaccine plant, whereas denial involves the use of active measures to conceal the very existence of a clandestine activity. Iraq became quite skilled at these techniques, which included camouflage, control of electronic emissions and chemical pollution from weapons plants, and various forms of personnel and communications security.

Nevertheless, the Iraqi declarations were useful as a point of departure and provided a basis for planning and carrying out the initial inspections. Discrepancies between the declarations and other evidence often gave the inspectors valuable leads. Despite pervasive Iraqi noncooperation, UNSCOM’s detective work and dogged persistence produced a broad overview, if not every last detail, of Iraq’s prohibited weapons programs. UNSCOM inspectors, who had initially told the Iraqis what they knew, soon learned to make it harder for Baghdad to tailor its declarations by withholding some of their information. They placed greater emphasis on technical means of verification, including the use of a U-2 aircraft provided by the United States and other forms of aerial surveillance, and they conducted no-notice inspections of undeclared sites. So in response to Iraq’s noncooperation, the inspectors became more aggressive and used more intrusive techniques.

UNSCOM analysts also learned how to piece together bits of information from a wide range of sources, including aerial and satellite imagery, confidential trade data from Western companies that had supplied dual-use materials and equipment to Iraq before the Gulf War, ongoing monitoring of Iraq’s imports of sensitive technologies, and reports by Iraqi defectors.

In particular, UNSCOM inspectors made excellent use of what are called “mass-balance” calculations. They determined the amounts of raw materials Iraq had imported, compared this information with the quantities of biowarfare agents Iraq had admitted to having produced, and then calculated the differences to obtain estimates of undeclared production. For example, UNSCOM learned from Western suppliers that during 1988 alone, Iraq had imported nearly 39 tons of complex growth media suitable for cultivating large quantities of bacteria such as anthrax, as well as for culturing patient specimens for hospital use. So, this was a dual-use material. UNSCOM could only account for 22 tons of the media imported by Iraq, leaving 17 tons unexplained. That’s a huge quantity of material.

When confronted with this evidence, the Iraqi authorities stated that the missing media had been imported for medical diagnostics and had been destroyed in riots affecting health clinics in the aftermath of the Gulf War. There were three problems with this explanation. First, Iraq’s total hospital consumption of diagnostic media from 1987 to 1994 had been less than 200 kilograms per year, yet 17 tons of media were unaccounted for. Second, the imported media did not include the types most often used for hospital diagnosis, but they were suitable for culturing agents such as anthrax. Third, since culture media spoils rapidly once a package has been opened, hospitals typically use small packages of a tenth of a kilogram to a kilogram, yet Iraq had imported the media in large drums of 25-100 kilograms.

These discrepancies made it clear that the official Iraqi cover story was false and provided strong circumstantial evidence for large-scale production of anthrax, botulinum toxin, and other biological agents. When the Iraqi authorities were confronted with this information, they ultimately admitted to large-scale production. So, that’s an example of how UNSCOM’s use of analysis forced the Iraqis to acknowledge prohibited activities.

At the end of the day, was the glass half full or half empty? Different analysts have come to different conclusions about the effectiveness of the inspection regime. I would argue that the glass was at least half full. UNSCOM’s successful detective work, as in the case of the culture media story I just told you, persuaded the Security Council to maintain economic sanctions on Iraq despite political pressures from France and Russia to lift them.

The new revelations also put senior Iraqi officials in the increasingly untenable position of getting caught telling outright lies, creating serious tensions within the Iraqi regime. Arguably, those tensions contributed to the defection to Jordan in August 1995 of the mastermind of the Iraqi weapons programs, Lieutenant General Hussein Kamel. Kamel’s defection proved to be a key break in the UNSCOM investigation because he revealed that, prior to the 1991 Gulf War, Iraq had loaded biological agents into aerial bombs and Scud missile warheads.

The UN inspection regime was also successful in eliminating major elements of Iraq’s weapons programs, setting them back several years. Tens of thousands of chemical munitions were destroyed, as well as key facilities involved in the nuclear, chemical, biological, and missile production complexes.

In addition, ongoing monitoring and verification at dual-capable facilities, including the installation of closed-circuit video cameras and air-sampling devices, helped to increase the difficulty, expense, and political cost to Iraq of attempting to reacquire weapons of mass destruction, serving to deter further violations. And monitoring of Iraqi imports of sensitive dual-use technologies made it more difficult for Iraq to reconstitute its weapons programs.

On the negative side, UNSCOM could not account for major historical gaps in the chemical and biological weapons programs and never found Iraq’s stockpile of VX, the most deadly type of chemical nerve agent, or any filled biological munitions. Although ongoing monitoring and verification prevented Iraq from using its dual-use facilities to reconstitute its chemical and biological programs, the monitoring continued only as long as the inspectors were on the ground.

It’s also important to point out that the inspectors were unarmed and that their authority derived from a united Security Council and the implicit threat of military action if Iraq did not comply. The political foundation of the inspection regime was gradually weakened, however, as Iraq shrewdly played the permanent members of the Security Council against one another. Iraq also managed to negotiate directly with the UN secretary-general over special inspection procedures for so-called presidential sites, such as Saddam’s palaces, seriously undermining UNSCOM’s authority and credibility.

Finally, the revelation that the United States was piggybacking on UNSCOM to conduct its own intelligence operations, and reports that UNSCOM Executive Chairman Richard Butler was working closely with the Clinton administration, lost the public relations war for UNSCOM.

In terms of lessons learned for a future inspection regime under UNMOVIC, it’s clear that the inspectors must have access to all facilities of interest throughout Iraq and that presidential and “sensitive” sites (such as government ministries) must not be subject to less intrusive inspection procedures, as they were under UNSCOM. Of course, even with an “anywhere, anytime” inspection system, Iraq will be able to constrain the timeliness of inspections to some extent by means of logistical delays. But there should be a general principle that any suspect site in Iraq can be subjected to immediate inspection on demand.

Also, it’s important that UNMOVIC have the authority to interview Iraqi weapons scientists without the presence of Iraqi officials. During the UNSCOM period, Iraqi government “observers” sat in on all such interviews, which had an intimidating effect and prevented cooperative sources from revealing much of what they knew.

Some carrots as well as sticks will be required to secure Iraqi cooperation. As Bob Gallucci pointed out, the Security Council should make it clear that the Iraqi regime will be allowed to remain in power if—and only if—it cooperates fully in eliminating its stocks of weapons of mass destruction and submits to ongoing monitoring and verification for a period of years. Absent an assurance of regime survival as a quid pro quo, Saddam Hussein has no long-term incentive to cooperate.

Another key factor is that UNMOVIC can be effective only to the extent that the inspectors know where to look. Iraq is a large country, about the size of California, with many places to hide weapons and clandestine production facilities, so the inspection process must be supported with accurate and timely intelligence. This need will require the United States and like-minded countries to share sensitive data on clandestine Iraqi weapons production and storage sites. UNMOVIC must also have, as UNSCOM did, intelligence-gathering assets such as U-2 aircraft and its own analytical unit.

Short-notice inspections can increase the likelihood that Iraq will make mistakes and leave behind telltale indicators of illicit activity. In addition, the combined use of various tools, such as overhead surveillance, trade flow monitoring, visual inspection, sampling and analysis, and other techniques, can yield valuable synergies. Overhead surveillance can serve both to cue onsite inspections and to monitor the Iraqi response while an inspection is underway—observing, for example, if Iraqi officials are trying to remove sensitive documents or materials out the back door.

In conclusion, a realistic goal of the UN inspection regime is not to eliminate every last weapon, which is probably impossible, but to deny Iraq a militarily significant mass-destruction capability. I believe that goal is probably achievable if UNMOVIC is given full access to relevant facilities throughout Iraq, supplied with accurate and timely intelligence, and supported by a united Security Council.

Jessica T. Mathews

I agree with virtually everything my colleagues have said, but I have a few additional thoughts. Let me describe some of the crucial elements behind the concept of coercive inspections and then give you a sense of where I think we are in terms of policies in the administration.

The Carnegie Endowment’s study on coercive inspections began with the belief that, among all the grievances the United States has against Saddam Hussein, his weapons of mass destruction are the only aspect of his regime that pose a threat to us. We therefore began with the premise that U.S. policy ought to be aimed at weapons of mass destruction rather than at regime change per se. At that time, that was a very radical belief.

Having determined that, we then asked the question of whether there was any policy that could get us beyond the more than half- decade of impotence in the face of Iraqi behavior, that could deal effectively with its weapons of mass destruction short of regime change, and we came to the conclusion that the answer was yes. In our view, however, such a policy required a radically different inspection regime than either UNSCOM or UNMOVIC.

We looked at the history of Iraqi behavior, the technical successes and failures of UNSCOM, and the political successes and failures of the Security Council, and we concluded that three factors accounted for the success of UNSCOM in its first five years. The first of these was the credible and immediate threat of force that began with the presence of U.S. Desert Storm forces in the region when UNSCOM was formed. The second was unity among the permanent five members of the Security Council, which persisted, I think, until the United States undermined it, beginning in about 1995, by equivocating about whether its goal was disarmament or regime change. After that, Iraq became increasingly confident and increasingly successful at the techniques of divide and conquer in the Security Council. And the third was Saddam Hussein’s belief, which he held at the outset of inspections, that he could successfully hide what he had.

Now, all three of those conditions for success are currently gone, but we believe the first two could be reconstituted—the third is obviously gone for good. We felt that because of Saddam Hussein’s political success over the past five years and also the relative painlessness and ineffectiveness of pinprick bombing against his weapons of mass destruction, the new inspection regime had to be more than just marginally strengthened. And we came to the conclusion that the tougher the inspection regime, the tougher the initial resolution under which inspectors begin their work, the more likely we will be able to avoid war.

The report therefore proposed not only strengthening UNMOVIC’s mandate, but a good deal more—namely, having inspectors accompanied by an armed force that would provide security for the inspectors themselves, major technological resources, and the ability to determine the pace of inspections and achieve go-anywhere, go-anytime inspections.

This is a regime we call “comply or else” inspections, and the “or else” is obviously an invasion, which is where I think we are at this point. It’s a regime that depends a great deal less on Iraqi cooperation but rather more simply on Iraqi compliance, and it was designed not to be negotiated but to be presented as a take-it-or-leave-it deal. I still believe, as I think most of us who worked on this do, that that is the only way to approach Iraq—that the only thing that will separate Saddam Hussein from his weapons of mass destruction is the immediate threat of the end of his regime, but that faced with that choice, he will choose even this inspections regime. Nobody knows whether we’re correct or not, but I believe that if you look at the record of his behavior over the last 15 years, there are solid reasons for believing that the man is not insane and will make the rational choice.

We also agreed that inspections can be successful in the way they have been in the past. So, why a military requirement now? First, the current situation is much more dicey and could end, if challenged, in failure, and therefore there is a much higher risk of hostage-taking. This force is designed to prevent, if it should come to that, any hostage-taking of inspectors. Second, we also feel that a military force is required to get Saddam Hussein’s attention and change his mindset. Third, it is designed to prevent Iraq from causing delays that affect what the inspectors can find and to provide the elements of really strong operational and communications security that we believe are essential.

The core of this plan is the ability to impose both no-fly zones, which we have used before and currently have in effect over part of Iraq, and military no-drive zones. For example, with little advance notice, Iraq would be told that in this broad region all day tomorrow there is both a no-fly and a military no-drive zone. The region would be large enough that the Iraqis would not know exactly where the inspectors intended to go.

Where are we now? Well, last week two core beliefs of administration policy changed, at least for the time being, and that is of enormous importance. The first is that inspections cannot effectively disarm Saddam Hussein of weapons of mass destruction, and the second is that even if they could that would not be enough, that it was necessary to get rid of him. Instead, we heard a statement by Minority Leader Trent Lott as he left the White House and several statements by Secretary Powell that, if Saddam Hussein could be divested of his weapons of mass destruction, that would be “ideal.”

This is a hugely important change, which I think the press largely missed in its attention to two secondary issues. One is this obsession about one resolution versus two, when what matters is not how many there are but what they say. And the second is the full coverage of what the Iraqis say, which matters not at all because whatever it is they say on day one will be different on day two and day three. This we know. So really, there should be no attention paid to that.

And that last comment encapsulates the spirit behind the proposal for coercive inspections: it is feckless to give Iraq another chance to prove its bona fides on inspections. We know that Saddam Hussein views inspections as the continuation of war by other means, so if we’re going to conduct inspections, we’ve got to do them in a way that really accomplishes their objective. Inspections under the old regime or the old regime-plus are almost certain to lead both to the embarrassment of the United Nations and ultimately to war.

I am not really clear where the administration stands right now. There are elements in what we know of the draft UN resolution that are very encouraging. There is no evidence, however, that the Pentagon is doing planning on the kind of coercive inspection regime that I believe is necessary, and of course, none of us knows what elements of the resolution are bargaining chips and what elements are bottom line, although we can make some inferences.

Finally, I want to just point out that it’s hard to look beyond Iraq right now, but this situation has broader implications for arms control and for the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. If war proves to be necessary to control weapons of mass destruction, that will almost certainly be a very heavy blow—perhaps somewhat paradoxically—to the strength and resilience and effectiveness of the nonproliferation regime because the United States is not going to go to war with country after country after country. If, on the other hand, the international community proves it is possible to levy a dire threat with determination and persistence and unity over time, that sends a very, very different message to current and possibly future proliferators.

Questions and Answers:

Question: Given UNSCOM’s experience with the technical aspects of inspections—like using the U-2 aircraft—what additional intelligence assets might be required for the new inspections regime?

Tucker: I think basically the same assets should be provided to UNMOVIC, although some new technologies could be applied—for example, rapid detection techniques for biological agents, which were not available 10 years ago. More broadly, it is essential not only for UNMOVIC to have its own analytic and intelligence-collection capabilities but for like-minded countries to provide information on suspect sites in Iraq because, of course, the intelligence-gathering resources of the United States and other countries are vastly greater than UNMOVIC’s. And just to reiterate, Iraq is a large country. There are many possible hiding places. It’s also likely that Iraq has built underground facilities, which are difficult to detect without advanced-technology systems. So sharing of national intelligence with UNMOVIC is really critical if the inspectors are to be effective.

Mathews: We have urged the deployment not just of U-2s but AWACS, JSTARS, Global Hawks, Predator—the whole panoply of the top of the line U.S. intelligence collection, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities—as being vital to the success of this effort.

Gallucci: When we talk about this range of intelligence collection, it can sound awfully intrusive, which makes some people uncomfortable. But it needs to be understood that this is a very special case. I direct this comment mostly to those in Paris and Moscow who are contemplating this new resolution. It should go without saying, but apparently it doesn’t, that this is not a cooperative arrangement. The Iraqis have established themselves as hostile to inspections. This is not a game, but it certainly is a contest where an inspection regime is trying to find things that the Iraqis are trying to hide. So, there should be no arguments about Iraqi sovereignty being compromised because Iraq compromised Kuwait’s sovereignty when it invaded it in 1990.

The intrusiveness of the inspection regime and the intelligence that must go along with it should not be thought of as compromising an international organization—this is the argument about whether there are spies associated with the regime. We have to understand that the inspection teams are not simply looking to hire chemists or biologists or nuclear engineers; they’re looking for experts in chemical weapons and biological weapons and nuclear weapons. These people come from the governments of various countries and sometimes from intelligence communities. A certain amount of maturity about this is absolutely essential.

So, using intelligence from various governments is not compromising an international organization; it is supporting an international organization in conducting inspections against a member state that has violated international rules and laws. If it’s understood that way, I think it should be more acceptable in those capitals that appear to be having some difficulty with the intrusiveness of the regime.

Question: Will the Security Council, particularly the Russians and the French, agree to such a tough new resolution for inspections?

Gallucci: First, to underline what Jessica said, that’s the right question. The question is not what Iraqis will accept. Second, I think that the decision for countries on the Security Council has to be put in terms of “compared to what?” The United States has been very clear in saying that the alternative will be military action, so that should provide an incentive. I can’t say whether they’ll end up doing the right thing, but it seems to me that this is a way to have an inspection regime in which you can have reasonably high confidence of separating Saddam from his weapons.

Mathews: I think the elements of a compromise are clearly on the table. That is one of the reasons that I mentioned how major the U.S. shift was last week and how underplayed I think media reports of this have been. The French and the Russians both have, in effect, won a major victory in the shift of the administration’s position from defining regime change as the removal of Saddam Hussein to defining it as a change in his behavior. That is a huge reversal. And it is exactly what the other permanent five members of the Security Council were arguing for in August.

Even this hang-up on the question of whether military action would be automatic if the inspections fail has the elements of compromise. It is essential to the success of inspections that the link to war is explicit. It’s essential for the Iraqis to believe that the choice is totally unfettered inspections or invasion for regime change. That’s absolutely essential. It is also essential, as Bob said, that they have to believe that if they do comply we won’t invade, or else there’s no reason for them to comply.

The French don’t mind that link being made in the first resolution, but they don’t want military action to be triggered by violation of that resolution. In other words, they want some kind of second action to approve military action, and now they are suggesting that it doesn’t have to be a formal Security Council resolution. So, a compromise is to leave the linkage in the resolution but not include the actual trigger, which is what the United States has been rightly insisting on. You have to spell out the consequences.

Of course, there are a million ways this could fail between now and whenever a vote takes place, but the elements of a compromise are clearly there.

Question: The inspections, at least initially, were predicated on a cooperative Iraqi regime, which might have allowed us to be certain that Iraq had disarmed. But clearly, Iraq did not cooperate and, even with a coercive arrangement, how do you get around the fact that the inspectors would still be in a position of trying to prove a negative—that is, that Iraq no longer has weapons of mass destruction?

Gallucci: I would disagree with the premise that when we began inspections we thought that were working with a cooperative state. We didn’t. The International Atomic Energy Agency, which was implementing a part of Resolution 687, I think had an ethic of cooperation with the host government, but that fell away very quickly. Within the first two inspections, the IAEA team that was working with UNSCOM was extremely aggressive. So, I don’t really think that we proceeded on any assumption of cooperation.

With respect to the proposition that inspectors are trying to prove a negative, that there’s nothing there, I’m not sure I consider that the political challenge to the inspection regime. It seems to me that what they need to do is to find what’s there that is not supposed to be there and to continue the inspection process, which makes it very difficult—hopefully nearly impossible—for Iraq to regenerate militarily significant programs in any of the weapons areas. The idea that they’re trying to prove that nothing is there may, in fact, be captured in some of the language of the resolution, but it is not the political charge of the inspection regime.

Question: But you’re still left with a predicament, are you not, of proving the negative? If Saddam Hussein doesn’t tell you where the bodies are buried, so to speak, how can you certify that the country is disarmed?

Tucker: Well, for one thing the United States and the British governments have claimed recently that Iraq retains significant capabilities in the chemical, biological, and missile disciplines. It is to be hoped that both governments will provide some or all of their information to UNMOVIC for the inspectors to track down.

Second, the inspection regime, as I mentioned, is not focused exclusively on finding weapons and destroying them but also on preventing reconstitution of the various weapons programs through ongoing monitoring and verification of dual-use facilities, which presumably will continue for a period of years. That element of preventing Iraq from reacquiring its mass-destruction capabilities in the coming years is complementary to efforts to ferret out whatever weapons Iraq may currently possess.

Kimball: This is a question that comes up in arms control all the time: how do you verify with 100 percent confidence that a particular state is not violating a particular legal obligation? One hundred percent confidence is impossible, but one of the chief advantages of a strengthened inspections regime is that it can provide high confidence that Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction programs are contained and do not pose a threat.

Mathews: I think Jonathan Tucker gave a nice feel for how this thing proceeds. It is a huge puzzle, and when you start it, it’s kind of like a thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle. At first you think it’s impossible, that you’ll never get through this, but the more pieces you put in place, the smaller the number of unknowns that remain. It is true that Saddam Hussein has had a number of years to alter records, to hide things, to move things, to improve his capabilities. But the UNMOVIC team has had a lot of time to learn what we do know and, as Jonathan has said, there’s a lot more intelligence that they can get access to.

Another key point is that a lot of what inspectors do is interview people. And while there are an awful lot of places in a country the size of California, there are fewer people that are key to the success of these weapons programs. So, one can look at where those people are, where they were trained, where they work, what trucks go to and fro. There are a thousand pieces to put together, but over time you can zero in with higher and higher confidence on what’s around.

Question: The president has focused national and world attention on Iraq as an imminent threat, but aren’t there other, similar threats? Is this the most important one? Why go to war at this moment?

Gallucci: I think the most salient threat posed to the security of this country is al Qaeda, and as a citizen I hope, expect, and believe that the Bush administration is doing everything it can to deal with that threat. I know that there are those who have suggested that a military engagement with Iraq might distract us from the war against terrorism broadly and al Qaeda specifically, but I rather think we can, in fact, do both, particularly if we judge that the Iraqi threat is getting worse with each passing day.

I don’t think that you can say that a switch has been thrown that has made the threat from Iraq catastrophic today where it wasn’t six months ago. But there haven’t been inspectors in Iraq since 1998, and we have good evidence that the Iraqis have been working to regenerate programs in the nuclear, chemical, and biological areas, as well as their ballistic missile program. So, the threat is getting worse over time, and it will not simply grow incrementally. When Iraq does enrich uranium to high levels or acquire plutonium or highly enriched uranium, the threat will all of a sudden jump in seriousness, and that will be an enormous concern. And we don’t want to get to that point, given Iraq’s past behavior.

I understand the administration has been making an effort to link Iraq to al Qaeda specifically, and what I have heard has not been overwhelmingly persuasive to me. But from my perspective, absent that, there is still a good reason for concluding that passively containing Iraq is not a prudent, durable policy for the United States and that we have been driven to our current course of action by the Iraqi resistance of inspections over time. Containment has failed as a policy. The situation is worsening, and I think the administration and the international community does have an obligation to deal with it.

Tucker: I would just add that Iraq is a special case because it is a country that invaded its neighbors, both Iran and Kuwait, and lost the Gulf War. It was the object of a series of Security Council resolutions that it then proceeded to violate. So, I think that the Security Council does have an obligation to enforce those resolutions, to make sure that other countries are not emboldened by Iraqi noncompliance to acquire weapons of mass destruction or to invade their neighbors. A general principle of international law is at stake here.

Kimball: Let me add a different facet to the answer. Although quick action is needed, as many experts and observers have pointed out, the administration has not been able to present evidence about Iraq’s program that is particularly new. Nevertheless, action is needed to move weapons inspectors back in there under more effective rules.

I want to go back to one thing that Jessica Mathews said earlier about the administration’s shift toward embracing the idea that strengthened weapons inspections can work. I would just point out that the administration is not simply doing what its allies want, but that this approach is also clearly in the interest of the United States and the Bush administration because a war with Iraq could involve weapons of mass destruction. If the Iraqis do indeed have chemical and biological weapons capabilities, Saddam Hussein might use those weapons in a last attempt to stave off attack. That could have very serious consequences, of course, for U.S. troops and countries in the region. Israel, for one, has nuclear weapons and might respond. So, an all-out war to disarm Saddam Hussein could produce the very effect that we’re all so concerned about.

Question: There are stories where UNSCOM inspectors would enter an Iraqi facility and the Iraqis would simply go out the back door. How do you prevent that from happening again? And if you need to use force, how do you do that without putting the inspectors in danger?

Tucker: I’m uncomfortable with the idea of inspectors being accompanied by armed troops because I think it could put the inspectors in jeopardy. It would also make their work more difficult because the inspectors need to talk to Iraqi scientists, technicians, and plant managers, and people generally won’t talk with a gun pointed at their head, at least not freely.
So, I think there should be a credible threat of military force if Iraq refuses to comply, but the forces should not be right there on the scene. They should perhaps be deployed nearby in the region, but it would be highly problematic for troops and inspectors to be intermingled.

Gallucci: There’s a nice contrast here that can be built between what we had in UNSCOM in one of our more aggressive inspections that was successful and what we could have had if we’d had more aggressive inspections. If you remember in September of 1991, we had what inspectors called the “parking lot tour,” where we spent four days in a parking lot because we wouldn’t give up some documents on the design of Iraqi nuclear weapons.

Now, what people have forgotten is that the day before the parking lot standoff happened, we were at another building where we tried to do without any military capability what the Carnegie report recommends with coercive inspections. We had inspectors armed only with little Sony Handycams, and we arrived at o-dark-thirty and surrounded the building before we started to search. The idea was to contain the situation and then launch a thorough search of the building. In the course of that, there was an awful lot of movement by the Iraqis as they began to figure out that we had actually come upon the right place.

When the end of the day came and we had actually found nuclear weapons design information, the Iraqis took a lot of the material from us. They physically just took it away from us. We had boxed it up and put it in our vehicle. They shoved us aside and they took the material from us. The next day, we were a little smarter and we put the material on our bodies to raise the level that the Iraqis would have to go to to seize the material that we had found. They decided not to strip search 41 UN inspectors, so that led to the parking lot situation.

What we were trying to do was raise the threshold in a small way—and that could be done in a much more demonstrative way. There’s a proposal for a no-fly, no-drive zone so that you have military capability to contain an area for an inspection. Then you can make sure that, if the Iraqis want to prevent an inspection team from a successful inspection, they have to use force greater than the force that’s deployed, in which case they have tripped a wire, which unambiguously leads to an invasion, and that’s the whole point.

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ACA Press Conference

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Analysis and Resources on Iraq and Weapons of Mass Destruction

Body: 

For Immediate Release: October 2, 2002

Contact: Daryl Kimball, (202) 463-8270 x107 or Paul Kerr, (202) 463-8270 x102

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

Now, Bush administration officials argue that renewed inspections cannot adequately address the threat of WMD in Iraq. They argue that the only viable option for solving the Iraqi WMD problem is pre-emptive military action to overthrow Saddam Hussein. But a growing number of world leaders, members of Congress, and former government officials oppose unilateral, U.S. military invasion because, they argue, it would further destabilize the Middle East and undermine international rule of law.

ACA Resources on Iraq

The September and October issues of Arms Control Today, the monthly journal of the Arms Control Association (ACA), include important new articles and analysis from leading experts on options and challenges for containing Iraq's WMD programs. Also, an online resource guide contains a series of authoritative Arms Control Today interviews with former weapons inspectors, as well as detailed news reports and commentaries dating back to 1997. These resources are available online at: http://www.armscontrol.org/country/iraq/.

  • ACA's special report, "Iraq: A Chronology of UN Inspections in Iraq and an Assessment of Their Accomplishments," is a comprehensive guide to the history of inspections in Iraq from the beginning of the Persian Gulf War to present.
  • In "Disarming Iraq: Nonmilitary Strategies and Options," David Cortright of the Fourth Freedom Forum and George Lopez of the University of Notre Dame call for a credible, coercive Iraq policy that consists of "continuing revenue controls, intensive diplomatic efforts to resume weapons inspections, and the creation of an enhanced containment system through strengthened border monitoring."
  • In "The Inevitable Failure of Inspections in Iraq," the former deputy executive chairman of UNSCOM, Charles Duelfer, outlines the limitations of past weapons inspection efforts. He writes "any weapons inspectors sent into Iraq under the existing UN Security Council resolutions are doomed to fail." He argues that "permanent disarmament goals imposed on Iraq were out of proportion with the inspectors' tools and the rewards and punishments the Security Council could practically impose."
  • Extensive Interviews by Arms Control Today with the current chief of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, Hans Blix; chairman of the UN Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM) from 1997-98, Ambassador Richard Butler; and the first chairman of UNSCOM, Ambassador Rolf Ekeus. Former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter also provided his views on the past challenges and future prospects for successful inspections in Iraq in a June 2000 article.
  • Documents, fact sheets, and news reports from Arms Control Today on key developments.
  • Commentary from Association director, Daryl G. Kimball, on the case for focused U.S. diplomatic efforts "to secure Security Council reaffirmation and Iraqi acceptance of UN inspections under new, more effective rules."

 

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

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Iraq To Accept UN Inspectors; U.S. Officials Skeptical

October 2002

By Paul Kerr

UN weapons inspectors can return to Iraq “without conditions,” Baghdad said September 16, reversing a stance that has barred inspectors from the country for almost four years. The announcement followed a September 12 speech by President George W. Bush before the UN General Assembly, calling on the United Nations to enforce its resolutions on Iraqi disarmament and suggesting that, if it did not, the United States would take unilateral action.

UN Security Council Resolution 687, passed in 1991, required Iraq to submit to UN weapons inspections and dismantle its weapons of mass destruction and long-range missile programs, but Iraq has refused entry to inspectors since they were withdrawn just prior to U.S. and British air strikes in December 1998. The Bush administration has repeatedly cited Iraqi noncompliance as a potential justification for military action against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

After Iraq and the United Nations failed several times to reach agreement earlier this summer, Iraq finally sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on September 16, four days after the Bush speech, saying it would allow inspectors to return. At first, Baghdad did not promise unfettered access to all sites, but on September 24 Amir al-Saadi, an adviser to Hussein, stated that UN inspectors “would have unfettered access and [can go] wherever they want to go,” according to a Reuters news report.

In addition, when asked during a September 23 press conference about the possibility that Iraq would restrict inspectors’ access, Annan replied that he viewed the Iraqi letter as “a commitment” for inspectors to work in “an unimpeded manner.” Annan had advised the Iraqis on the letter.

How much freedom inspectors will actually have in Iraq, however, remains unclear. Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri read a letter from Hussein before the United Nations September 19 asserting that Iraq “is clear” of weapons of mass destruction and stating that the inspectors are expected to “respect” Iraqi “national security and sovereignty.” Iraq has used these conditions to restrict inspectors’ access in the past. The letter also stated that Iraq wanted to discuss inspections “on a comprehensive basis,” echoing demands the country made in August.

A day after Iraq sent the letter to Annan, members of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) met with an Iraqi delegation to hold “preliminary talks related to the resumption of inspections,” according to an UNMOVIC statement. UNMOVIC, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and Iraqi delegates are scheduled to meet again in Vienna from September 30 to October 1. UNMOVIC is responsible for verifying Iraq’s dismantlement of its chemical, biological, and prohibited missile programs, and the IAEA is responsible for Iraq’s nuclear program.

One of the items on the agenda for the Vienna meeting is Iraq’s backlog of semi-annual reports, which it was required to provide to inspectors, listing its holdings of dual-use equipment and materials related to weapons of mass destruction. The reports, which Baghdad has said it will deliver to UNMOVIC at the meeting, include information on the location and use of the equipment and materials since 1998.

According to an informal UNMOVIC paper circulated in the Security Council September 19, an advance party of inspectors could arrive in Baghdad as early as October 15. The paper estimates UNMOVIC will need two months to procure equipment and recruit inspectors, as well as conduct preliminary inspections of certain sites, before it can officially begin inspections and determine what key disarmament tasks remain.

Iraq’s announcement represents significant progress from recent diplomatic exchanges between the United Nations and Iraq. The last meeting between Iraqi officials, Annan, and UNMOVIC Executive Chairman Hans Blix took place in Vienna July 4-5 but failed to reach an agreement for returning inspectors. Annan also rejected an August invitation for UNMOVIC experts to visit Baghdad, saying it did not allow for the immediate admission of inspectors, as required by Security Council Resolution 1284. (See ACT, September 2002.) Annan met with Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz September 3 during the Johannesburg summit on sustainable development but again failed to make progress on an agreement.

As recently as August 15, Iraq had demanded a “comprehensive settlement” that would link discussing the return of weapons inspections to resolving a series of other issues, including economic sanctions, a nuclear-weapons-free-zone in the Middle East, the removal of the U.S.-and U.K.-enforced no-fly zones, and the U.S. policy of creating regime change in Iraq. The United States and the United Nations both considered this position unacceptable.

Bush Calls on UN to Act

The Iraqi decision to accept inspections came on the heels of President Bush’s September 12 UN address, in which he encouraged the United Nations to take action on Iraq’s continued refusal to obey Security Council resolutions.

During the speech, Bush presented the U.S. case for action and listed steps Iraq must take if it “wishes peace,” including eliminating its weapons of mass destruction programs, ending support for terrorism, ceasing its violations of the oil-for-food program, and respecting human rights. The inclusion of these issues represented a shift in the administration’s justification for its Iraq policy, which had previously focused on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction programs.

Bush added that the United States would work with the Security Council to “hold Iraq to account” and suggested that Washington might take unilateral action against Iraq if the United Nations did not enforce its resolutions. “The purposes of the United States should not be doubted. The Security Council resolutions will be enforced…or action will be unavoidable,” Bush said.

Earlier that day, Annan had made a speech stressing the importance of multilateralism, adding that “for any one state…choosing to follow or reject the multilateral path must not be a simple matter of political convenience,” signifying disagreement between the United Nations and the United States as to how best to proceed.

A September 12 White House background paper for the speech listed Iraqi violations of Security Council resolutions, including its pursuit of weapons programs and human rights violations. In addition, British Prime Minister Tony Blair released a dossier September 24 charging that Iraq is producing chemical and biological agents, trying to obtain uranium for weapons purposes, working to extend the range of its missiles, and conducting other activities prohibited under UN resolutions.

Despite Iraq’s promises, U.S. leaders expressed doubt that Iraq intends to actually provide complete access to inspectors. In September 19 testimony before the House International Relations Committee, Secretary of State Colin Powell said that “there is absolutely no reason at all to expect” that Iraq’s offer “is not another ploy,” citing Iraq’s past refusal to comply with inspectors. He also indicated in a interview with National Public Radio the same day that the administration reserves the option to take unilateral military action. Iraq’s subsequent offer of unfettered inspections did not change this stance, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said September 24.

It is unclear if Iraqi compliance with inspectors would affect the U.S. goal of removing Hussein from power. Washington expressed skepticism about the efficacy of inspections, and Fleischer said in a September 20 press briefing that “the inspection process is not the end result…. The end result is destruction of weapons.” In a September 25 interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation, Powell said that the best way to disarm Iraq was to effect regime change.

Meanwhile, the White House sent a resolution to Congress September 19 seeking authorization to take military action against Iraq. The resolution would give Bush broad power to “use all means that he determines to be appropriate, including force” in order to enforce UN Security Council resolutions and “defend the national security interests of the United States against the threat posed by Iraq.” Congress is divided over the measure because of its broad mandate and endorsement of unilateral action. It is uncertain when a vote will take place.

U.S., U.K. Seek New Resolution

The United States and the United Kingdom have drafted a resolution to present to the Security Council in an attempt to strengthen the inspection regime, igniting sharp debate among its members. They argue that Iraq has repeatedly violated its obligations under earlier resolutions and that the United Nations must pass a new resolution augmenting inspectors’ authority and identifying the consequences of noncompliance. It is uncertain when the draft resolution will be formally presented.

One of the top U.S. and British concerns is the status of “presidential sites” under existing resolutions. Resolution 1154 endorsed a February 23, 1998, memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Annan and Iraq, which placed special conditions on inspections of these sites. Although the MOU does not give Iraq the right to impede the inspectors, Iraq has used these sites to conceal potential weapons activities, according to some former UN inspectors. The terms of the MOU are still in force, according to a September 25 interview with a UN official.

In his September 19 testimony, Powell said that the United States would take a hard line on a new resolution, requesting that the Security Council find Iraq in “material breach” of existing resolutions and specifying that must comply with conditions called for in Bush’s September 12 speech. Powell said that inspectors would need a stronger resolution “that removes any weaknesses” of the previous inspections system. He added that the resolution must “produce disarmament, not just inspections,” and implied that it could call for the use of force, saying “[T]here must be hard consequences…. Iraq must comply…or there will be decisive action to compel compliance.”

Some Security Council members, however, have questioned the need for a such a resolution. “We favor a rapid resolution” based on existing resolutions, Russian President Vladimir Putin said, according to a September 26 Associated Press report. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan also called on countries September 19 to resolve the situation “on the basis of relevant UN Security Council resolution.”

The French position is more ambiguous. A French Foreign Ministry spokesperson stated September 20 that Paris does not believe a stronger resolution to be necessary but that a “resolution that would firmly remind Iraq of its [disarmament] obligations…could be useful.” French President Jacques Chirac supports a two-step process in which one resolution would demand the return of inspectors and the second would authorize any action needed to be taken, according to a statement by French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin quoted on the ministry’s Web site.

Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan said Iraq would not accept any new resolution regarding inspections, The Washington Post reported September 28, adding to the uncertainty of the degree of access inspectors will have.

 

Iraq To Accept UN Inspectors; U.S. Officials Skeptical

U.S. Says Ukrainian President Approved Arms Sale to Iraq

October 2002

By Wade Boese

The United States has concluded that Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma authorized an illegal arms sale to Iraq two years ago, the State Department announced September 24. In response, Washington is putting a hold on a portion of its aid to Ukraine and is reviewing U.S. policy toward the country.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher told reporters that the U.S. action stems from a recent determination that tapes recorded secretly by a former Kuchma bodyguard are authentic. On the tapes, Kuchma approves selling Kolchuga early-warning systems to Iraq, which was and is still banned by an August 1990 UN arms embargo from importing weapons and military equipment.

A passive system designed to pick up electronic signals sent out by potential targets, the Kolchuga system can reportedly detect aircraft, possibly including stealth fighters and bombers if they are transmitting signals, at reported distances of 600-800 kilometers. Boucher said it is unclear whether any Kolchuga systems were actually shipped to Iraq, but he stated, “There are some indications which suggest it may be there.”

Although the United States is concerned about whether the system is in Iraq, the focus at this time is on Kuchma approving the sale. “We have the smoking gun,” commented a State Department official in an interview September 27.

Allegations about Kuchma’s role in illegal arms sales to Iraq were first broached publicly less than a year ago by opposition Ukrainian lawmakers, and the former bodyguard, who now lives in the United States, testified in early April on the issue before a U.S. court. Both Iraq and Ukraine have repeatedly denied that the deal occurred although Ukrainian officials concede Kuchma might have approved it.

The U.S. aid suspension, according to Boucher, “doesn’t affect the bulk of our assistance to Ukraine” but applies only to funding going directly to the central government under the U.S. Freedom Support Act—a figure that totaled approximately $54 million over the past 12 months. U.S. assistance to Ukraine’s private sector, local and regional governments, nonproliferation projects, and military will not be halted.

The other State Department official emphasized that the suspension is only a “pause,” which could last a “matter of days or weeks” or much longer depending on the results of the review. It is uncertain when the review will be completed.

Claiming the United States lacked “any worthwhile evidence,” the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs denied any delivery of arms to Iraq and labeled the aid suspension in a September 25 statement as “symbolic, yet totally negative.” The statement, however, ended on a conciliatory note, expressing Ukraine’s willingness to cooperate in proving that it had done nothing wrong.

The United States is sending Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs A. Elizabeth Jones to Ukraine October 1-2 to discuss the issue.

U.S. Says Ukrainian President Approved Arms Sale to Iraq

Relevant UN Security Council Resolutions

Relevant UN Security Council Resolutions

An ACT Update

687: Cease-Fire Terms (April 3, 1991)

Demanded that Iraq “unconditionally accept the destruction, removal, or rendering harmless” of its chemical and biological weapons; ballistic missiles with a range greater than 150 kilometers; and related components, research programs, and facilities. Required that Iraq pledge “not to use, develop, construct or acquire” chemical and biological weapons or the specified missiles.

Established the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) to verify that Iraq complied with the resolution’s disarmament tasks.

Demanded that Iraq “unconditionally agree not to acquire or develop nuclear weapons” or weapons-grade material and to end related research and development programs. Called for placing all weapons-grade nuclear material under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) control “for custody and removal” with UNSCOM assistance.

Required the UN secretary-general, with the cooperation of UNSCOM, and the IAEA to develop plans for the “future ongoing monitoring and verification of Iraq’s compliance” with the ban on weapons of mass destruction and prohibited missiles. The resolution did not specify an end to these monitoring activities.

Maintained the economic embargo against Iraq established in Resolution 661 in 1990 after Iraq invaded Kuwait. Specified that the UN Security Council would lift the embargo when the council agreed that Iraq had met all its disarmament obligations.

707: Condemning Iraqi Noncompliance (August 15, 1991)

Found Iraq in “material breach” of its disarmament commitments under Resolution 687. It was the first of several resolutions—including Resolutions 1060, 1115, 1134, 1137, 1194, and 1205—to condemn Iraq’s refusal to comply with weapons inspections.

Demanded that Iraq “provide full, final and complete disclosure” of its weapons of mass destruction programs and prohibited ballistic missiles, including the location of weapons components, production facilities, and civilian nuclear infrastructure.

Called upon Iraq to immediately grant inspections teams unconditional access to areas they wished to inspect and halt efforts to move or conceal weapons-related materials and equipment or “other nuclear activities.”

715: Ongoing Monitoring and Verification (October 11, 1991)

Approved the plans for ongoing monitoring and verification developed by UNSCOM and the IAEA, and submitted by the secretary-general to the Security Council, as required by Resolution 687. Demanded that Iraq “unconditionally” comply with the plan and “cooperate fully” with UNSCOM and the IAEA.

986: Creation of the Oil-for-Food Program (April 14, 1995)

Created a program allowing Iraq to sell up to $2 billion of oil every 180 days, although the Security Council later removed the limit on the amount of oil Iraq could sell. The UN holds proceeds from these sales in an escrow account, and the funds are reserved for buying medicine, health supplies, food, and other supplies “essential” for civilian needs. The rules governing the import of civilian goods were later changed by Resolution 1409.

1154: Addressing Inspections of Presidential Sites (March 2, 1998)

Endorsed the February 27, 1998, memorandum of understanding between UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Iraq, in which Baghdad agreed to cooperate fully with the inspectors. The memorandum also established “special procedures” for inspecting eight “presidential sites,” to which Iraq had wanted to restrict access:
• At least two senior diplomats appointed by the UN secretary-general will accompany inspectors to presidential sites.
• The Iraqi government will be provided with information prior to the inspection of a presidential site, including the number of inspectors and the time of inspection.
• Inspectors must show respect for Iraqi sensitivities regarding presidential sites.

Called on Iraq to comply immediately and fully with its obligations under previous Security Council resolutions, including providing unfettered access to inspectors, warning that “any violation would have severest consequences for Iraq.”

1284: Creation of UNMOVIC (December 17, 1999)

Authorized the creation of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) to replace UNSCOM and verify that Iraq has fulfilled its disarmament obligations under Resolution 687. Required UNMOVIC and the IAEA to develop a program for implementing a monitoring system and to create a list of remaining disarmament tasks within 60 days of beginning work in Iraq.

Said the Security Council intends to suspend sanctions for 120 days after it determines that Iraq is in compliance with its disarmament duties. Specified that “Iraq shall allow UNMOVIC teams immediate, unconditional and unrestricted access” to all areas the teams want to inspect and allow them to interview any Iraqi officials.

1409: Smart Sanctions (May 14, 2002)

Allowed Iraq to import most civilian goods through a streamlined review process, although sanctions on military items remain in effect. UNMOVIC and the IAEA will review proposed contracts with Iraq and send any items on a new “goods review list” to a UN committee for additional scrutiny. The list includes items with potential military applications, and the UN committee can block their export to Iraq. Items not on the list will be quickly approved.

Iraq: A Chronology of UN Inspections

An ACA Special Report

In April 1991, as part of the permanent cease-fire agreement ending the Persian Gulf War, the UN Security Council ordered Iraq to eliminate under international supervision its biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons programs, as well as its ballistic missiles with ranges greater than 150 kilometers. The Security Council declared that the comprehensive economic sanctions imposed in 1990 on Iraq after its invasion of Kuwait would remain in place until Baghdad had fully complied with its weapons requirements.

Baghdad agreed to these conditions but for eight years deceived, obstructed, and threatened international inspectors sent to dismantle and verify the destruction of its banned programs. This systematic Iraqi effort to conceal and obscure the true extent of its weapons of mass destruction programs began almost immediately, when Baghdad lied about the status of its programs in its initial declarations and obstructed an inspection team. Iraq continued to harass, hinder, and frustrate inspectors until late 1998, when the inspectors withdrew from Iraq just hours before the United States and the United Kingdom launched three days of military strikes against Iraq for its noncooperation. Since that time, Iraq has permitted only limited inspections of declared nuclear sites but has not yet allowed the return of intrusive inspections to verify that it has lived up to its commitment to get rid of its prohibited weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs.

The inspectors’ job was hampered not only by Iraq but also by key countries on the Security Council whose support for the inspections waned. As time passed, the combination of unending confrontations between weapons inspectors and Iraqi officials; the reported growing humanitarian toll of sanctions on Iraqi civilians; and the economic costs of forgoing exports, imports, and energy deals with a former trading partner, undermined the willingness of China, France, Russia, and others from enforcing the inspections and sanctions regimes against Iraq. Quarrels erupted between these countries, which were sympathetic to Iraq and claimed that it had sufficiently disarmed, and the United States and the United Kingdom, both of which repeatedly contended Baghdad had not fulfilled the obligations laid out in the cease-fire agreement.

Shortly after leaving Iraq in 1998, weapons inspectors of the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM), which was tasked with overseeing the destruction of Iraq’s chemical, biological, and missile programs, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), responsible for uncovering and dismantling the Iraqi nuclear weapons program, described their work as unfinished. The IAEA made much more progress than UNSCOM, but both sets of inspectors left Iraq with unanswered questions about Baghdad’s proscribed weapons.

UNSCOM reported numerous discrepancies, particularly with regard to biological weapons, between what Iraq claimed it had and evidence discovered by weapons inspectors. For four years, Baghdad denied the very existence of its biological weapons program. When Iraq finally did acknowledge having such a program, UNSCOM officials judged its declarations so insufficient—an assessment shared by independent experts—that the UN team claimed it could not even form a baseline by which to measure its progress in revealing and abolishing Iraq’s germ warfare program. More headway was made in the chemical weapons and missile areas, but by 1998 UNSCOM contended that key issues remained unresolved. For example, Iraq had failed to account for thousands of chemical warheads that it claimed, without any proof, to have used, lost, or unilaterally destroyed.

Iraq also sought to mislead the IAEA, but IAEA inspectors were largely successful in obtaining a relatively complete picture of the Iraqi nuclear weapons program and dismantling it. The IAEA, which removed from Iraq all known fissile material that could be used to make weapons, reported in February 1999 that there were no indications that meaningful amounts of weapon-usable material remained in the country or that it possessed the physical capability to produce significant amounts of such material indigenously. But the IAEA cautioned that because nuclear weapons material or infrastructure could be hidden, it could not verify with absolute certainty that Iraq had no prohibited materials.

A UN panel of experts tasked in 1999 with reporting on the results of the UNSCOM and IAEA efforts concluded that “the bulk of Iraq’s proscribed weapons programmes has been eliminated,” but the experts emphasized that important issues remained unresolved. They further warned that, if weapons inspectors were kept outside Iraq, the risk that Iraq might reconstitute its programs would grow, and the initial assessments from which inspectors had been working would be jeopardized. The experts said the status quo was unacceptable, and they called for re-establishing an inspection regime in Iraq that was “effective, rigorous and credible.”

Following is a year-by-year summary of major events in Iraq and an assessment of what arms inspectors accomplished and what remains undone in Iraq.


A Chronology of UN Inspections


Pre-Persian Gulf War

Despite signing treaties forbidding the development or use of biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons, Iraq initiates programs to acquire such weapons. Iraq repeatedly violates the international norm against using chemical weapons during its eight-year war with Iran, which began with Iraq’s invasion of Iran in September 1980. Iraq also uses chemical weapons against some of its own villages, most notably against Halabja in a March 16, 1988, attack that kills an estimated 5,000 people. In addition to its chemical weapons program, Iraq is also suspected by some countries of pursuing nuclear weapons, prompting Israel in June 1981 to bomb and destroy Iraq’s Osiraq nuclear research reactor, which it acquired from France. The attack reportedly leads Iraq to intensify its illegal effort to acquire nuclear weapons.

1990

On August 2, Iraq invades Kuwait and is immediately condemned by the UN Security Council. The Security Council calls for Iraqi forces to withdraw unconditionally from Kuwait and imposes an arms embargo and economic sanctions that cut off all trade with Iraq except for the import of foodstuffs in humanitarian circumstances and items with medical purposes. Within a week of the invasion, the United States begins deploying military forces to Saudi Arabia. Iraq continues to defy UN demands to withdraw its forces from Kuwait, and on November 29 the Security Council approves Resolution 678, authorizing countries to use “all necessary means” to force Iraqi compliance if its troops do not return to Iraq by January 15, 1991.

1991

The January 15 deadline for the Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait passes without action by Baghdad. A U.S.-led coalition initiates an air offensive January 17 against Iraq and its forces in Kuwait, followed by a ground attack on February 24 that drives Iraqi forces out of Kuwait within four days. A cease-fire is declared February 28.

On April 3, the Security Council adopts Resolution 687, mandating that Iraq eliminate all of its biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons programs as well as all of its ballistic missiles capable of traveling more than 150 kilometers. The resolution requires that the United Nations establish a special commission, UNSCOM, to verify that Iraq’s biological, chemical, and proscribed missile programs are eliminated, and the IAEA is charged with doing the same for Iraq’s nuclear weapons program. Pledging to review the situation every 60 days, the Security Council declares that the sanctions imposed on Iraq after its invasion of Kuwait will remain in effect until the country complies with its disarmament obligations.

Iraq accepts the terms of this resolution three days later and provides initial declarations on the extent of its proscribed programs April 18, although it will revise all the declarations several times when confronted with evidence discovered by inspectors disproving its claims. UNSCOM later finds that Iraqi officials initially decided to report only their least modern weapons and to keep indigenous production capabilities and documentation secret so they could resume the programs.

Weapons inspections under the direction of Hans Blix, director-general of the IAEA, and Rolf Ekeus, executive chairman of UNSCOM, start in May and June and almost immediately face Iraqi obstructionism. Iraq is caught moving prohibited items away from inspection sites and denies access to other facilities. The Security Council responds August 15 with Resolution 707, the first of many resolutions condemning Iraqi noncooperation with weapons inspectors. In addition to describing Iraq as being in “material breach” of its commitments, the resolution further demands that Baghdad provide inspectors with “immediate, unconditional and unrestricted access” and supply new “full, final and complete disclosure” of all its weapons programs subject to elimination.

Iraq ignores the demands, and in September it temporarily blocks UNSCOM’s use of helicopters in the inspection process. A four-day standoff also ensues over the Iraqi confiscation of documents seized by inspectors, which are returned only after the Security Council threatens military action. The next month, the Security Council passes Resolution 715 demanding again that Iraq unconditionally carry out its obligations and “cooperate fully” with weapons inspections. This resolution also formally approves IAEA and UNSCOM plans for ongoing monitoring and verification to determine that once Iraq disarms, it does not reconstitute its weapons programs. Baghdad rejects the plans and does not accept them until November 1993.

Despite Iraq’s concerted efforts to thwart weapons inspectors, they succeed in starting destruction activities, and the IAEA begins shipping Iraq’s weapons-usable material out of the country.

1992

Weapons inspections and destruction activities continue without Iraq’s full cooperation, leading the Security Council in February to charge Iraq again with being in material breach of its obligations. This is the first of three such statements during the year. Iraq subsequently admits to having had more ballistic missiles and chemical weapons than it had previously acknowledged but claims that it unilaterally destroyed most of these items—a violation of the requirement that the destruction process be supervised by independent inspectors. Weapons inspectors later determine that Iraq unilaterally destroyed weapons to make it more difficult for inspectors to establish a comprehensive picture of its arms programs.

While actively obstructing inspectors, Baghdad seeks to preserve a veneer of compliance between May and June by submitting separate “full, final and complete disclosures” on its relevant weapons programs. Each declaration is subsequently found to be incomplete, particularly the biological weapons disclosure, in which Baghdad claims to have had only a “defensive” program. Iraq will eventually revise all disclosures several times.

Iraq refuses for three weeks in July to allow weapons inspectors inside the Iraqi Ministry of Agriculture, which is suspected of housing documents detailing Iraq’s ballistic missile programs. A deal is eventually brokered allowing inspectors into the building, but no British, French, or U.S. inspectors are permitted to participate in the inspection, creating what some consider a bad precedent that allows Iraq to dictate the composition of inspection teams. During the standoff, the United States threatens to use force to gain entry, but the Security Council does not, revealing growing differences among Security Council members about enforcing Iraq’s disarmament.

Weapons inspectors make additional headway during the year, destroying key nuclear facilities, as well as chemical weapons and related production capabilities. The year, however, concludes with Iraqi officials verbally threatening the lives of the weapons inspectors.

1993

At the beginning of the year, Iraq refuses to allow UNSCOM aircraft to fly into the country, an action the Security Council deems a material breach and threatens might result in “serious consequences” for Baghdad. Iraq also steps up military activities along the Kuwaiti border and in the two no-fly zones in northern and southern Iraq that the United States and its allies imposed on Iraq after the Persian Gulf War.

U.S.-led coalition forces carry out air strikes against Iraqi air defenses, radar and communication facilities, and nuclear-related sites in January, prompting Baghdad to temper its military activities and rescind its decision to block UNSCOM aircraft. Iraq soon resumes its belligerent behavior, however, aiming anti-aircraft weapons at UN helicopters and then initially rejecting inspectors’ efforts in June to install monitoring cameras at missile launch sites.

Also in June, the United States launches a limited cruise missile attack against Iraq in response to an alleged plot to assassinate former President George H. W. Bush.

Near the end of the year, Iraq permits the monitoring cameras to be installed and makes additional conciliatory steps, naming previous foreign suppliers of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction programs and formally agreeing to the IAEA and UNSCOM monitoring and verification plans originally approved in October 1991 by the Security Council.

1994

In February, the IAEA ships Iraq’s last quantities of highly enriched uranium, which can be used to produce nuclear weapons, to Russia. The first half of the year is marked by relative cooperation from Iraq and statements of progress by weapons inspectors. But in September, Iraq sets an October 10 deadline for sanctions to be lifted, warns that it will cease cooperation with weapons inspectors if the Security Council does not drop sanctions, and moves its military forces toward Kuwait. The Security Council deems Iraq’s ultimatum unacceptable and approves Resolution 949, demanding that all Iraqi forces return to their original positions and that Iraq fully cooperate with UNSCOM. Iraq withdraws its forces, and weapons inspections continue.

1995

Under increasing pressure from some countries, particularly China, France, and Russia, to ease the sanctions imposed on Iraq to address worsening humanitarian problems in the country, the Security Council on April 14 unanimously approves the so-called oil-for-food program, which permits Iraq to sell up to $1 billion of oil every 90 days to buy food, medicine, and other civilian goods. The revenue from the sale of oil is kept in an escrow account controlled by the United Nations to prevent Iraq from purchasing items with potential military uses. Despite its significant economic hardship Iraq does not embrace the plan for more than a year, accepting it only in November 1996.

Confronted by evidence uncovered by weapons inspectors, Iraq admits for the first time on July 1 that it had an offensive biological weapons research and development program, but it denies having ever produced actual weapons. That same month, Baghdad issues another ultimatum, saying that it will end all cooperation with weapons inspectors if sanctions are not lifted by the close of August.

Iraq changes its tack, however, after the August 8 defection of Hussein Kamel, Saddam Hussein’s son-in-law, who directed Iraq’s illicit weapons programs. In the following weeks, Iraqi officials take inspectors to Kamel’s farm, revealing hundreds of thousands of pages of documents that detail Iraqi weapons efforts. Iraq claims Kamel was pursuing the weapons on his own initiative. Kamel returns to Iraq months later and is killed.

Through a combination of Iraqi declarations and analysis of the recovered documents, weapons inspectors learn that Iraq had weaponized biological agents, had a more advanced indigenous ballistic missile program than previously believed, had produced more chemical weapons than disclosed earlier, and had initiated a crash program in 1990 to try to acquire a nuclear weapon in less than a year. In addition, an ongoing covert Iraqi operation to obtain banned missile gyroscopes is exposed in November.

1996

In March, Iraq delays weapons inspectors’ visits to five different sites, drawing condemnation from the Security Council. Three months later, Iraq again denies weapons inspectors access to sites they want to inspect. The Security Council responds June 12 by passing Resolution 1060, which demands yet again that Iraq provide inspectors unhindered access but which stops short of authorizing or threatening the use of force to support the inspectors. Iraq blocks another inspection the following day, leading the Security Council to criticize Iraqi cooperation again, even though some Security Council members are beginning to voice reservations about what they consider UNSCOM’s confrontational tactics.

UNSCOM Executive Chairman Rolf Ekeus travels to Baghdad June 19-22 to work out how inspections of “sensitive” Iraqi sites will be conducted, but within weeks Iraq prevents weapons inspectors from searching several such sites. The Security Council again tells Iraq in August that it is violating its obligations. Before the year closes, Iraq rejects efforts by weapons inspectors to remove remnants of destroyed missiles for outside, independent analysis, resulting in yet more Security Council criticism of Iraq’s behavior.

1997

After a three-month standoff, Iraq allows UNSCOM to remove destroyed missile parts from the country for outside analysis in March. The following month, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright asserts that the United States opposes automatically lifting the sanctions on Iraq once it has been disarmed of its weapons of mass destruction. She clearly implies that the United States will work to keep sanctions in place until Saddam Hussein no longer rules Iraq, effectively removing the only inducement for Iraqi cooperation with weapons inspections. Albright’s declaration contradicts Resolution 687, which states that the sanctions will be reviewed every 60 days and lifted once Iraq disarms.

Baghdad soon steps up its obstructionist activities. Iraqi officials in June jeopardize the safety of weapons inspectors by grabbing at the controls of UNSCOM helicopters while they are airborne, and Iraq blocks access to several sites. The Security Council responds June 21 by adopting Resolution 1115, which condemns Iraqi actions. In order to punish Iraq, the resolution also suspends the council’s usual 60-day review of sanctions. Australian Ambassador Richard Butler becomes UNSCOM executive chairman July 1, replacing Swedish Ambassador Rolf Ekeus.

Another round of Iraqi noncooperation begins in September, highlighted by Iraq barring weapons inspections at locations it describes as “presidential sites.” The Security Council responds October 23 with Resolution 1134, which again demands that Iraq cooperate with weapons inspectors, but the message sent is significantly weakened by the fact that five Security Council members—most notably China, France, and Russia—abstain from the vote.

Days later, Iraq, perhaps bolstered by the evident rift in the Security Council, announces it will not deal at all with U.S. weapons inspectors, orders them to leave the country, and then blocks inspection teams including US inspectors. UNSCOM and the IAEA withdraw most of their inspectors in response, and the Security Council calls on Iraq November 12 to rescind its decision and refrain from imposing any conditions on inspectors.

The United States builds up its military forces in the region and threatens action, but its aggressive stance is not backed by the Security Council. Averting a possible US attack, Russia negotiates the return of all inspectors to Iraq November 20. In spite of its pledge to cooperate with inspectors, Baghdad informs UNSCOM in mid-December that the so-called “presidential sites” are still off-limits to inspections. The Security Council replies that Iraq’s declaration is unacceptable.

1998

Iraq continues to block inspections at the eight locations it labels as presidential sites and refuses another inspection elsewhere, charging that too many US and British inspectors are on the team. In February, as Iraq stands firm on barring visits to presidential sites and a U.S.-led military buildup continues in the region, both the United States and Britain release reports detailing what weapons and equipment they believe Iraq is still hiding. With the prospect of renewed hostilities looming, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan travels to Iraq and reaches an agreement February 23, which reiterates that weapons inspectors are to have unfettered access in Iraq but which also spells out special procedures for inspecting presidential sites. At the end of the same month, Security Council members agree to increase the amount of oil Iraq can export to a little more than $5.2 billion every six months.

Inspectors visit the presidential sites in March and April without incident, and the Security Council issues a May statement expressing satisfaction with Iraq’s recent cooperation. Some Security Council members want to officially declare Iraq disarmed of its nuclear weapons and relax IAEA inspections, but the United States and Britain resist, claiming there are still unanswered questions. At the same time, UNSCOM holds that there has been little recent progress in resolving outstanding issues in the biological, chemical, and missile areas.

To Iraq’s dissatisfaction—as well as to that of its supporters on the Security Council—the IAEA reports at the end of July that it cannot close Iraq’s nuclear file, and on July 29 the council rejects a Russian proposal to stop investigating Iraq’s nuclear program. A few days later, UNSCOM Executive Chairman Richard Butler tells a top Iraqi official that UNSCOM’s inspections also need to continue.

On August 5, Iraq announces that it is suspending cooperation with UNSCOM and IAEA inspections. The Security Council condemns Iraq’s decision the next day and one month later passes Resolution 1194, calling for Iraq to resume cooperation with the weapons inspectors. The resolution does not brandish a stick but a carrot, holding out the possibility of a comprehensive review of Iraq’s disarmament progress—a condition Iraq had long demanded—after it readmitted inspectors. On October 30, the Security Council approves a plan to conduct the review, but Baghdad declares the next day that in addition to not allowing inspections, it would no longer permit UNSCOM and IAEA activities to conduct less intrusive monitoring activities intended to determine Iraq’s continued compliance with its disarmament obligations. The Security Council condemns the move November 5 amid US and British preparations to punish Iraq with military strikes.

With a U.S.-British attack imminent, Iraq announces November 14 that it will cooperate with inspectors. Baghdad’s cooperation is short-lived, however, and the IAEA and UNSCOM withdraw their personnel from Iraq December 16, just hours before the United States and the United Kingdom begin three days of air strikes, during which Baghdad declares that weapons inspections are finished. The attacks surprise other Security Council members, some of whom condemn the action.

1999

Amid news reports and allegations that the United States used UNSCOM weapons inspections to collect intelligence for its own purposes, the Security Council authorizes a review of UN policy toward Iraq, including the status of Iraq’s disarmament. The panel charged with assessing Iraq’s disarmament reports at the end of March that “the bulk of Iraq’s proscribed weapons programmes has been eliminated,” but it also notes that “important elements still have to be resolved.” The panel acknowledges that reaching absolute certainty that Iraq has completely disarmed is unattainable and recommends focusing on resolving a few key outstanding issues. To achieve this objective, the panel calls for a reinforced monitoring and verification system that should, “if anything,” be more intrusive than the previous system. The panel also cautions that the longer weapons inspectors are kept out of Iraq, the greater the risk that Iraq might reconstitute its programs.

Months of debate ensue among Security Council members over how to resolve the Iraq situation. While the United States and the United Kingdom insist that Iraq fully disarm before sanctions are relaxed, China, France, and Russia contend that Iraq has already fulfilled the bulk of its disarmament commitments and that sanctions should be eased to induce Iraq to complete its final obligations. For its part, Iraq insists that sanctions must be lifted before inspectors can return.

The Security Council passes Resolution 1284 on December 17, creating a successor to UNSCOM—the UN Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC). China, France, and Russia abstain from the vote, revealing that divisions between Security Council members on Iraq still exist. The resolution erases the limit on the amount of oil Iraq can sell under the oil-for-food program and holds out the possibility that sanctions could be suspended for 120-day increments if Iraq cooperates with the new UN team, which is to be given unconditional and unrestricted access. The resolution also demands that within 60 days of their entry into Iraq, UNMOVIC and the IAEA draw up a list of key remaining disarmament tasks so that Iraq knows exactly what it must do to comply fully. Iraq rejects Resolution 1284.

2000

An IAEA team returns to Iraq in January but only to conduct a regular inspection at a declared Iraqi nuclear site. As a state-party to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), Iraq is obliged to allow IAEA inspectors to visit declared sites at least every 14 months. The IAEA makes clear, however, that the limited inspections under the NPT are no substitute for its intrusive inspections in years past and that it cannot give assurances that Baghdad is not covertly seeking nuclear weapons.

The Security Council remains divided throughout the year on relaxing sanctions. Despite disagreements among Security Council members about the new inspection regime, Hans Blix, who previously served as head of the IAEA, is named to run UNMOVIC following a contentious appointment process. The council approves a UNMOVIC work plan, but no UNMOVIC inspector sets foot inside Iraq, which still opposes the return of weapons inspectors.

2001

Seeking to bolster the Iraq sanctions regime, which has been weakened as countries and companies illegally buy oil from Iraq and export prohibited goods to the country, the United States and the United Kingdom suggest overhauling the sanctions to focus more on military and dual-use goods and less on civilian trade. The aim of the “smart sanctions” is to help insulate the sanctions regime from the charges that it has caused widespread humanitarian suffering in Iraq. Other Security Council members, however, are skeptical and favor a more general easing or elimination of sanctions.

A heated debate lasts until November 29 when all Security Council members approve Resolution 1382, which establishes a Goods Review List that is subsequently adopted in May 2002. The list includes items with potential military use that must receive UN approval before Iraq can import them; civilian goods are exempted. Under the new sanctions, UNMOVIC and the IAEA will review all proposed contracts with Iraq to search for items included on the Goods Review List. According to the plan, items not on the list with no military application will be approved, while items on the list will go to the sanctions committee for further review. Items that would likely be used for military purposes will be denied.

2002

In his January State of the Union address, President George W. Bush labels Iraq a member of an “axis of evil,” along with Iran and North Korea. The president’s speech is the first of many statements by top US officials on the dangers posed by Iraq, many of which question the ultimate worth of arms inspections and advocate the overthrow of Saddam Hussein as the only way to guarantee that Iraq will not develop weapons of mass destruction in the future.

Less than two months after Bush’s speech, Iraqi officials meet with Secretary-general Annan and UNMOVIC Executive Chairman Blix to discuss arms inspections for the first time since 1998. UN officials fail to win the return of inspectors at this meeting or two subsequent ones that occur in May and July.

On September 12, amid increasing speculation that the United States is preparing to invade Iraq to oust Saddam Hussein, President Bush delivers a speech to the United Nations calling on the organization to enforce its resolutions for disarming Iraq. Bush strongly implies that if the United Nations does not act, the United States will—a message that US officials make more explicit the following week.

Four days later, Baghdad announces that it will allow arms inspectors to return “without conditions.” Iraqi and UN officials meet September 17 to discuss the logistical arrangements for the return of inspectors and announce that final arrangements will be made at a meeting scheduled for the end of the month. The United States contends that there is nothing to talk about and warns that the Iraqis are simply stalling. The Bush administration continues to press the Security Council to approve a new UN resolution calling for Iraq to give weapons inspectors unfettered access and authorizing the use of force if Iraq does not comply.


An Assessment of UN Accomplishments in Iraq

 

Biological Weapons

Iraqi Claims

  • Baghdad initially stated in April 1991 that it did not have biological weapons (BW) or related items. Over the next four years, Iraq held that its germ warfare research had been for defensive purposes only, not for an offensive capability.
  • On July 1, 1995, Iraq admitted for the first time that it had had an offensive biological weapons program, but it denied ever producing germ weapons.
  • After the August 1995 defection of Hussein Kamel, who directed Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction programs, Iraq acknowledged for the first time that it had weaponized biological agents.
  • Iraqi officials gave conflicting accounts on how many and what types of biological weapons the country actually produced, although they say no more than 25 Al-Hussein missile warheads and 157
    R-400 aerial bombs were filled with biological agents.
UNSCOM Accomplishments
  • UNSCOM supervised destruction of Iraq’s key biological weapons production facility at Al-Hakam and destroyed some 60 pieces of equipment from three other facilities.
  • UNSCOM destroyed some 22 tonnes of growth media for biological weapons.
UNSCOM Findings and Assessments
  • UNSCOM reported that it could not confirm the number of biological weapons Iraq produced, but the inspectors asserted that evidence suggested that more than 200 R-400 aerial bombs had been available for germ weapons.
  • UNSCOM estimated that Iraq had understated its imports of growth media by at least 600 kilograms. UNSCOM assessed that at a total of at least 2,160 kilograms of key growth-media types had not been accounted for.
  • Iraq claimed to have produced four drop-tank weapons to be used with aircraft to deliver biological agents, but UNSCOM only accounted for three and no evidence was offered that only four had been manufactured.
  • UNSCOM could not account for 12 helicopter-borne aerosol generators that Iraq claimed to have made and then unilaterally destroyed.
  • Few documents related to the biological weapons program were recovered by UNSCOM, and noticeably absent were any documents on planning and production.
  • UNSCOM contended that the amount of biological agents produced by Iraq could be “far greater than those declared.”
  • In a final January 1999 report, UNSCOM concluded it had “no confidence that all bulk agents have been destroyed; that no BW munitions or weapons remain in Iraq; and that a BW capability does not still exist in Iraq.”
  • UNSCOM further added, “[I]t needs to be recognised that Iraq possesses an industrial capability and knowledge base, through which biological warfare agents could be produced quickly and in volume, if the Government of Iraq decided to do so.”
Key Outstanding Issues
  • Citing the lack of documentation and Iraq’s past incomplete and inadequate declarations on its biological weapons program, UNSCOM identified the key outstanding issue as nothing less than obtaining a full understanding of the scope of Iraq’s germ warfare efforts. This would require Iraq submitting a complete disclosure of its program and then having it verified by outside experts.
What the United States and the United Kingdom Charge
  • Both countries charge that Iraq has an active biological weapons program, citing its continued production of biological warfare agents, efforts to refurbish previous biological production sites, and attempts to procure dual-use equipment and materials that could be used in a weapons program.
  • In his September 12 speech to the UN General Assembly, President George W. Bush said, “Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were used for the production of biological weapons.”
  • In a September 12 White House report, the administration further charged that Iraq is trying to get mobile biological weapons laboratories, and a September 24 report by the British government asserts that “recent intelligence confirms that the Iraqi military have developed mobile facilities.”
  • CIA Director George Tenet has said that Iraq possesses “an active and capable” biological weapons program.
  • A January 2002 CIA report also noted that Iraq is continuing work on its L-29 unmanned aerial vehicle program, which Baghdad is believed to have modified for delivery of chemical or biological agents.
  • The September British report described Iraq as having a “useable” biological weapons capability that could be deployed within 45 minutes.

 

Chemical Weapons

Iraqi Claims

  • Following the Persian Gulf War, Baghdad initially declared it had 11,131 chemical weapons and warheads and 1,005 tonnes of stockpiled sarin, tabun, and mustard agents.
  • Iraq initially reported that there were 553 pieces of chemical weapons production equipment located at its 15 chemical weapons facilities.
  • Iraq claimed it had never successfully produced or weaponized the nerve agent VX.
UNSCOM Accomplishments
  • UNSCOM destroyed more than 38,000 filled and unfilled chemical munitions.
  • UNSCOM also oversaw the destruction of 690 tonnes of chemical warfare agents, more than 3,000 tonnes of precursor chemicals, and roughly 600 pieces of production equipment.
  • With varying degrees of confidence, UNSCOM further certified that another 34,000 special munitions and 823 tonnes of key precursors had been destroyed during the Gulf War and that Iraq had unilaterally destroyed another 13,660 special munitions and about 200 additional tonnes of key precursors after the war. UNSCOM also verified that more than 600 additional pieces of production and analytical instruments were no longer operational.
  • Inspectors also succeeded in uncovering Iraq’s VX program, which Baghdad had tried to conceal, as well as additional chemical weapons research and development projects on which Iraq had not volunteered information.
  • UNSCOM supervised the dismantlement of Iraq’s top chemical weapons complex, the al-Muthanna State Establishment, and put other sites under monitoring.
UNSCOM Findings and Assessments
  • UNSCOM admitted it could not verify that Iraq’s declarations about its total past procurement and production of chemical precursors and agents were true because of a lack of documentation and information on these activities from both Iraq and its foreign suppliers.
  • UNSCOM could not verify Iraq’s claim that it had unilaterally destroyed some 16,000 unfilled munitions.
  • Through its inspections process, UNSCOM believed it had developed a “good understanding of the extent” of Iraq’s chemical weapons projects that moved beyond the research and development stage and into production, but it admitted it did not have as clear of a picture on other, less advanced research and development programs.
  • UNSCOM also noted it had little information on actual Iraqi military plans, deployment, and use of its chemical weapons, making it difficult to say with certainty what types of and how many chemical weapons Iraq still had.
  • Inspectors also had little success in obtaining production manuals for precursors and weapons.
  • UNSCOM cautioned that the material balances it had developed with regard to Iraq’s chemical weapons program were based on Iraqi declarations, which could not be fully verified.
Key Outstanding Issues
  • Iraqi officials confiscated a document from inspectors that indicated Iraq had used 6,000 fewer chemical munitions than it had previously stated. UNSCOM identified the handover of this document, as well as an explanation for the discrepancy, as essential for determining the accuracy and validity of Iraq’s initial declarations on its chemical weapons.
  • Iraq claimed it lost 550 shells filled with mustard gas, but no evidence was found of these weapons.
  • About 500 R-400 aerial bombs, including 157 filled with biological agents, have not been accounted for.
  • Samples of warhead remnants left over from unilateral Iraqi destruction activities suggest that Iraq, despite its claims to the contrary, may have weaponized VX. Iraq admits to producing 3.9 tonnes of VX, but it has not accounted for its alleged unilateral destruction of 1.5 tonnes. UNSCOM declared Iraq must provide evidence to support its claims.
  • Iraq has not provided enough evidence to give UNSCOM confidence that all chemical weapons production equipment has been accounted for, particularly since Iraq successfully hid nearly 200 pieces of equipment for five years before UNSCOM discovered them.
What the United States and the United Kingdom Charge
  • President Bush charged in his September 12 UN speech that Iraq is “rebuilding and expanding facilities capable of producing chemical weapons.”
  • The White House added in its September 12 report that Iraq is “seeking to purchase chemical weapons agent precursors and applicable production equipment, and is making an effort to hide activities at the Fallujah plant, which was one of Iraq’s chemical weapons production facilities before the Gulf War.”
  • The White House further claims that Iraq’s current production capacity for chlorine is in excess of civilian needs and that some chlorine imports are going toward military purposes.
  • In its September 24 report, the United Kingdom said its intelligence community believes that Iraq “retained some chemical warfare agents, precursors, production equipment and weapons from before the Gulf War. These stocks would enable Iraq to produce significant quantities of mustard gas within weeks and of nerve agent within months.”
  • London also said Iraq has built new chemical facilities that are “probably fully operational or ready for production.”
  • As with its biological weapons capability, Iraq also has “useable” chemical weapons that could be readied for use in 45 minutes, according to the British report.

Nuclear Weapons

Iraqi Claims

  • In its initial 1991 declaration, Iraq claimed that it had no nuclear weapons and no nuclear-weapon-usable material.
IAEA Accomplishments
  • Despite Iraqi concealment efforts, weapons inspectors developed what they claimed was a “technically coherent picture” of Iraq’s entire nuclear weapons program.
  • By February 1994, the IAEA finished a complete accounting of and removal of all weapon-usable nuclear material from Iraq, including the nearly 50 kilograms of highly enriched uranium that the IAEA reported Iraq had imported from France and the former Soviet Union.
  • The IAEA supervised or verified the destruction of all known facilities and specialized equipment used in Iraq’s nuclear weapons program.
IAEA Findings and Assessments
  • In a February 1999 report after leaving Iraq in December 1998, the IAEA declared that no evidence suggested Iraq had succeeded in producing nuclear weapons.
  • The same report concluded that IAEA activities “have revealed no indication that Iraq possesses nuclear weapons or any meaningful amounts of weapon-usable nuclear material, or that Iraq has retained any practical capability (facilities or hardware) for the production of such material.”
  • At the same time, the IAEA cautioned, “[A] statement by the IAEA that it has found ‘no indication’ of prohibited equipment, materials or activities in Iraq is not the same as a statement of their ‘non-existence.’”
  • The IAEA further noted it could not give absolute assurances that Iraq’s revised declarations about the past extent and state of its nuclear weapons effort were accurate.
Key Outstanding Issues
  • Iraq has failed to provide key technical documents, such as nuclear-weapon and gas-centrifuge design drawings.
  • Iraq has not provided the name or location of a foreign individual who allegedly offered to assist Iraq’s nuclear weapons program.
  • No evidence or documentation has been submitted by Baghdad to prove it abandoned its nuclear weapons program.
What the United States and the United Kingdom Charge
  • In his September 12 speech to the UN General Assembly, President Bush detailed a host of concerns about the status of Iraq’s nuclear weapons program, including that Baghdad retains the physical infrastructure as well as the personnel to build nuclear weapons. Bush said that Iraqi media has reported on “numerous meetings between Saddam Hussein and his nuclear scientists, leaving little doubt about his continued appetite for these weapons.”
  • Bush asserted that if Iraq succeeded in acquiring fissile material, the essential element for a working nuclear weapon, it could build a nuclear weapon “within a year.” The United Kingdom offered a slightly longer estimate of between one and two years.
  • If Iraq was unable to acquire fissile material from abroad but was able to subvert sanctions successfully, London projected that it would take Iraq at least five years to produce enough fissile material to make a nuclear weapon indigenously.
  • In its September 12 report, the White House declares, “Iraq has stepped up its quest for nuclear weapons and has embarked on a worldwide hunt for materials to make an atomic bomb.” As evidence, the Bush administration cites Iraq’s attempts to purchase thousands of specially designed aluminum tubes, which some US officials contend were going to be used in centrifuges to enrich uranium.
  • The United Kingdom further charged in its September 24 report that Iraq has sought to get “significant quantities” of uranium from Africa.
  • In addition to trying to procure technologies and materials that could be used in a nuclear weapons program, Iraq is “almost certainly seeking an indigenous ability to enrich uranium to the level needed for a nuclear weapon,” according to British intelligence.

Ballistic Missiles With a Range of 150 Kilometers
Or More

Iraqi Claims

  • Iraq initially declared that it possessed only 52 ballistic missiles with a range of more than 150 kilometers remaining after the Gulf War.
  • Iraq did not admit to having any forbidden indigenous missile programs.
UNSCOM Accomplishments
  • UNSCOM supervised or accounted for the destruction of 817 out of 819 proscribed ballistic missiles imported by Iraq before the start of its ordered disarmament.
  • All of Iraq’s 15 declared operational mobile missile launchers were destroyed or verified as destroyed by weapons inspectors.
  • A total of 56 fixed launch sites, including those under construction, were dismantled or certified as no longer operable by UNSCOM.
  • UNSCOM supervised the destruction of 50 missile warheads, including 30 chemical ones.
  • UNSCOM oversaw the destruction of 20 tonnes of main missile fuel and 52 tonnes of oxidizer.
  • UNSCOM further destroyed various facilities, equipment, materials, and components associated with Iraq’s indigenous efforts to produce two different types of ballistic missiles, named Al-Hussein and BADR-2000, and two different “superguns” designed to launch rocket-assisted projectiles more than 150 kilometers.
UNSCOM Findings and Assessments
  • Baghdad initially attempted to mislead UNSCOM substantially about its ballistic missile programs. Iraq decided to keep secret two-thirds of its operational missile inventory and to conceal its capabilities to produce outlawed missiles.
  • Iraq continued to work on its proscribed programs and even initiated new projects while inspectors were in the country. Most notably, Iraq attempted to import missile gyroscopes.
  • Iraq did not provide any information on how many surface-to-air missiles it converted to surface-to-surface missiles, even though UNSCOM destroyed nine such missiles.
  • Iraq did not turn over any records or documents on its missile warhead purchases or production and it has offered conflicting statements about its numbers of chemical and biological missile warheads.
  • Despite evidence that Baghdad ordered missile factories in 1988 to plan for the production of 1,000 Al Hussein missiles, it contended that not a single missile had been produced by January 1991.
  • UNSCOM asserted in its final assessment of January 1999 that it could not verify that Iraq had unilaterally destroyed all of the components and capabilities it had claimed to.
Key Outstanding Issues
  • The actual number of missile warheads produced for carrying chemical and biological agents has not been determined. Iraq claimed that none of the warheads it destroyed unilaterally had been filled with chemical agents, but sampling of the warhead remnants suggest otherwise, casting doubt on Iraq’s statements about how many “special” warheads it produced.
  • Iraq needs to provide evidence on where it hid special warheads before destroying them.
  • Iraq has not accounted for 50 conventional warheads it claimed to have unilaterally destroyed.
  • Baghdad has not supported its claim to have unilaterally destroyed more than 500 tonnes of liquid missile propellants.
  • No evidence has been provided by Iraq to verify that seven indigenously produced missiles were destroyed. It is also unclear how many more missiles Iraq made domestically.
  • Iraq has not accounted for its reported unilateral destruction of key components for indigenously produced ballistic missiles.
What the United States and the United Kingdom Charge
  • President Bush charged in his September 12 speech to the UN General Assembly that Iraq possesses a “force” of missiles capable of striking targets 150 kilometers away and that it is “building more long-range missiles [so] that it can inflict mass death throughout the region.”
  • The White House’s September 12 report on Iraq’s prohibited capabilities further contended that Iraq is enhancing a missile engine test site for use in testing proscribed missile engines and rebuilding a facility previously used to build motors for one of Iraq’s indigenous ballistic missile efforts.
  • The United Kingdom claimed in its September 24 report that Iraq is working illegally to extend the range of its ballistic missiles to over 1,000 kilometers, an effort at which London believes Iraq could succeed within five years even if sanctions remained in force and were effective.
  • Iraq is also illicitly seeking to buy chemical propellants for its ballistic missiles abroad, according to the British report.
  • London asserts Iraq has rebuilt “much” of its missile production infrastructure.
  • The United Kingdom further believes that Iraq retained up to 20 proscribed Al-Hussein missiles.

 

An ACA Special Report on UN Inspections of Iraq

Prevention, Not Pre-emption

Daryl G. Kimball

Yielding to pressure from members of Congress and major U.S. allies, President George W. Bush made the common sense decision to appeal to the United Nations to address the chronic problem of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction programs. As a result of the renewed international focus on its unfulfilled obligations to comply with UN Security Council disarmament resolutions, Baghdad agreed to allow UN inspectors back in the country “without conditions.”

But this is only the beginning of a difficult process. Now, all the key players must give the weapons inspectors the time, authority, and support necessary to allow them to freely operate in a manner that can eliminate and prevent the re-emergence of Iraq’s proscribed weapons programs. Over the course of the next few weeks, the sincerity of Bush’s appeal to the United Nations, the will of the Security Council to uphold nonproliferation norms, and Iraq’s willingness to cooperate will be tested.

Despite Iraq’s past history of deceit and obstruction, in 1999 the United Nations assessed that “the bulk of Iraq’s proscribed weapons programmes has been eliminated” by the previous inspections regime. But Iraq’s past behavior makes it clear that the Security Council should deliver a new resolution outlining more effective conditions for Iraqi compliance.

The Security Council should insist that Iraq provide, in a timely manner, a full and accurate declaration of its current and past weapons activities, that inspections rules should be changed to allow for a freer exchange of intelligence on prohibited weapons, and that interviews with Iraqi scientists be free of intimidation. UN inspectors must be also allowed to conduct inspections anytime and anywhere, including “presidential sites.”

In addition, the Security Council should clarify that the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)—not Washington—should determine whether and when Iraq fails to meet the requirements of a strengthened inspections regime. If Iraq repeats its past pattern of blatant noncooperation, the council should authorize the use of force only to ensure the safety of the inspectors and the completion of their mission. Furthermore, because the work of the inspectors will take time to complete properly, the Security Council (and Iraq) must not set arbitrary deadlines for the inspection process.

Quick action is needed, but the evidence presented thus far does not suggest that Iraqi weapons capabilities pose an imminent threat that warrants immediate military action. Though Iraq apparently possesses dangerous chemical and biological weapons capabilities, the British government estimates that even if Iraq could obtain fissile material and other essential components from foreign sources, it would still need at least 1-2 years to build a nuclear device. Clearly, there is the time and the need to commence inspections.

Because Russia, France, and China eroded vital support for earlier UN inspections, they now have a special responsibility to help craft a resolution calling for inspections under new and more effective rules. In light of recent Bush administration statements, however, they are right to be concerned that Washington is seeking a resolution that is cynically designed to trigger and justify a pre-emptive invasion aimed at “regime change” in Baghdad.

Since the president’s UN speech, administration officials have said that disarming Iraq is only a part of their aim, which is ultimately to remove Saddam Hussein from power. The White House initially asked Congress to give the president authorization “to use all means that he determines to be appropriate, including force,” to enforce UN resolutions and “restore international peace and security in the region.”

Such language would amount to a blank check for US military adventurism well beyond the core issue of getting rid of Iraq’s prohibited weapons programs. In light of Bush administration nuclear-use policy, it could also leave the door open to US nuclear strikes in retaliation for Iraqi chemical or biological attack or to the preemptive destruction of suspected weapons caches. Two weapons of mass destruction wrongs do not make a right.

Given the likely human toll of an all-out war and the current status of Iraq’s weapons programs, for now the most prudent and feasible means to deny Saddam Hussein access to weapons of mass destruction is a strategy of multilateral prevention through effective UN weapons inspections. If, on the other hand, President Bush is really seeking UN approval for regime change through a preemptive unilateral attack, he will have undermined the very institutions and the norms against weapons of mass destruction he seeks to enforce. In the long run, such an approach will increase, not decrease, global weapons threats.

UN-Iraq Talks Fail to Yield Progress on Inspections

September 2002

By Paul Kerr

As Washington debated taking military action against Iraq, representatives from the United Nations and Baghdad exchanged views during July and August over the return of weapons inspectors to Iraq but were unable to resolve their differences.

Following up their previous meetings in March and May, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Hans Blix, executive chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), met with an Iraqi delegation in Vienna July 4 and 5. UNMOVIC is the organization charged with overseeing Iraq’s compliance with its disarmament obligations. The officials discussed remaining disarmament issues, as Iraq had requested, and logistical arrangements for inspections, at UNMOVIC’s request, but the meeting ended without agreement.

The crux of the dispute is Iraq’s wish to discuss weapons inspections in conjunction with what it terms a “comprehensive settlement,” which would address other issues, such as the no-fly zones enforced by the United States and the United Kingdom, and compensation payments related to the Persian Gulf War. The UN, however, insists that inspections begin before other issues can be discussed, as required by Security Council resolutions.

After the July meetings failed to reach a resolution, the Iraqi foreign minister, Naji Sabri, sent a letter August 1 to Annan inviting Blix and UNMOVIC experts to Baghdad to review the results of weapons inspections conducted between 1991 and 1998 and to discuss how to resolve outstanding issues. “We cannot think of starting a new stage without solving the pending issues of the previous stage,” Sabri said in the letter.

In an August 6 letter, Annan welcomed Iraq’s “desire to continue our dialogue” but rejected its proposal because it did not allow for inspections to begin immediately. Resolution 1284, passed in 1999, mandates that inspectors start work in Iraq prior to drawing up a list of remaining disarmament tasks, in order to first determine what those tasks should be.

Iraq replied to Annan in an August 15 letter that reiterated its previous proposal and addressed the terms of the “comprehensive settlement” it envisions. Iraq wants an agreement that will link inspections to such issues as economic sanctions, a nuclear-weapon-free-zone in the Middle East, the no-fly zones, and the U.S. policy of regime change. The letter stated that these issues and Iraq’s compensation payments should be addressed before discussing inspections.

Iraq disputes the United Nations’ contention that Resolution 1284 clearly requires inspections to begin before other issues are discussed. According to Baghdad, Resolution 1382, passed in 2001, states that Resolution 1284 is vague and calls for a comprehensive settlement. The relevant portion of Resolution 1382 states that the Security Council “reaffirms its commitment to a comprehensive settlement on the basis of the relevant resolutions of the Security Council, including any clarification necessary for the implementation of resolution 1284.”

U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Negroponte characterized Annan’s rejection of Iraq’s August 15 invitation as consistent with the views of Security Council members and said that the council would not take up Iraq’s proposals. The United States held the presidency of the Security Council in August.
Secretary of State Colin Powell said August 3 that the requirements for Iraq to come into compliance with UN resolutions are clear and that “there is no need for further clarification or discussion of a comprehensive approach.”

Iraq also extended an invitation August 5 for members of the U.S. Congress to conduct a fact-finding mission in Iraq and inspect suspected weapons facilities, but no member of Congress accepted.

Debate in Washington

The exchange between Iraq and the United Nations occurred against a backdrop of vigorous debate over whether, when, and how the United States should use military force to counter a potential threat from Iraq, the need for U.S. allies’ support for military action, and the utility of weapons inspections.
The debate was propelled by Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hearings about Iraq July 31 and August 1, as well as comments from Brent Scowcroft, Lawrence Eagleburger, and James Baker—all of whom held high-level positions in the administration of George H. W. Bush—expressing concern about possible plans the current administration has for attacking Iraq.

Several prominent administration officials have issued statements that are widely regarded as supporting pre-emptive use of military force to overthrow Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. Vice President Dick Cheney said in an August 26 speech regarding Iraq that “the risks of inaction are far greater than the risk of action. If the United States could have pre-empted 9/11, we would have, no question. Should we be able to prevent another…attack, we will.”

The widespread discussion of invasion signifies a change in emphasis in the Bush administration’s Iraq policy. During its first year, the administration stressed “smart sanctions” and the importance of Iraqi compliance with weapons inspections. As recently as July 31, White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer stated that the Bush administration is working with the United Nations, citing efforts to return inspectors to Iraq and earlier work to implement smart sanctions. (See ACT, June 2002.)

The administration maintains that its policy on Iraq is to effect “regime change” in Baghdad while supporting efforts to enforce UN Security Council resolutions. “We continue to leave all our options available regarding Iraq. Saddam Hussein’s regime remains a serious threat…. So we are going to continue working to secure Iraq’s full compliance with all UN Security Council resolutions,” State Department spokesman Philip Reeker stated August 8.

Some administration officials, including Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, have expressed doubt that UNMOVIC would be effective in disarming Iraq, even if inspectors were allowed back into the country. Cheney said in his August 26 speech that the “return of inspectors would provide no assurance whatsoever of [Saddam Hussein’s] compliance with UN resolutions…. There is a great danger that it would provide false comfort.”

Blix expressed concern that a U.S. policy committed to invasion could discourage Iraq from accepting inspectors. In an August 23 interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation, Blix said, “If the Iraqis conclude that an invasion by someone is…inevitable, then they might conclude that it’s not very meaningful to have inspections.”

UN-Iraq Talks Fail to Yield Progress on Inspections

Relevant UN Security Council Resolutions

(Also available as PDF file, requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)

687: Cease-Fire Terms (1991)

Demanded that Iraq “unconditionally accept the destruction, removal, or rendering harmless” of its chemical and biological weapons; ballistic missiles with a range greater than 150 kilometers; and related components, research programs, and facilities. Required that Iraq pledge “not to use, develop, construct or acquire” chemical and biological weapons or the specified missiles.

Established the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) to verify that Iraq complied with the resolution’s disarmament tasks.

Demanded that Iraq “unconditionally agree not to acquire or develop nuclear weapons” or weapons-grade material and to end related research and development programs. Called for placing all weapons-grade nuclear material under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) control “for custody and removal” with UNSCOM assistance.

Maintained the economic embargo against Iraq established in Resolution 661 in 1990 after Iraq invaded Kuwait. Specified that the UN Security Council would lift the embargo when the council agreed that Iraq had met all its disarmament obligations.

986: Creation of the Oil-for-Food Program (1995)

Created a program allowing Iraq to sell up to $2 billion of oil every 180 days, although the Security Council later removed the limit on the amount of oil Iraq could sell. The UN holds proceeds from these sales in an escrow account, and the funds are reserved for buying medicine, health supplies, food, and other supplies “essential” for civilian needs. The rules governing the import of civilian goods were later changed by Resolution 1409.

1284: Creation of UNMOVIC (1999)

Authorized the creation of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) to replace UNSCOM and verify that Iraq has fulfilled its disarmament obligations under Resolution 687. Required UNMOVIC and the IAEA to develop a program for implementing a monitoring system and to create a list of remaining disarmament tasks within 60 days of beginning work in Iraq.

Said the Security Council intends to suspend sanctions for 120 days after it determines that Iraq is in compliance with its disarmament duties. Specified that “Iraq shall allow UNMOVIC teams immediate, unconditional and unrestricted access” to all areas the teams want to inspect and allow them to interview any Iraqi officials.

1409: Smart Sanctions (2002)

Allows Iraq to import most civilian goods through a streamlined review process, although sanctions on military items remain in effect. UNMOVIC and the IAEA will review proposed contracts with Iraq and send any items on a new “goods review list” to a UN committee for additional scrutiny. The list includes items with potential military applications, and the UN committee can block their export to Iraq. Items not on the list will be quickly approved.

Relevant UN Security Council Resolutions

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