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Vice Chairman, Nuclear Threat Initiative

UK, Russia Issue Draft Proposals To Revamp Iraqi Sanctions Regime

Alex Wagner

Seeking to overhaul the decade-old Iraqi sanctions regime, the United Kingdom, in coordination with the United States, submitted a draft proposal to the UN Security Council on May 21 that would substantially alter the existing regime, easing some sanctions while tightening enforcement of others. In what is widely believed to be a stalling tactic, Russia submitted a competing resolution that offers Iraq significant concessions without attempting to improve the troubled UN sanctions system substantially. 

The draft resolutions come as a six-month extension of the UN oil-for-food program, which Washington wants to replace as part of revamping the sanctions regime, is set to expire June 4. The program allows Iraq to sell unlimited amounts of oil and deposit revenues into a UN-controlled escrow account, which Baghdad can use to purchase construction and humanitarian supplies under UN supervision. To date, the program has been extended nine times.

The British draft resolution incorporates many of the ideas floated by Secretary of State Colin Powell over the past few months. (See ACT, April 2001.) Most significantly, the resolution lifts restrictions on the sale or supply of civilian goods to Iraq. The draft also creates a comprehensive new list of military and dual-use items that require the United Nations’ permission for import. This list replaces the full military arms embargo on Iraq and a list of restricted dual-use items. Furthermore, the draft preserves the requirement that all oil sales revenue be placed in a UN-administered escrow account.

The resolution also seeks to tighten controls on Iraq’s illegal oil exports and surcharges, which generate an estimated $2-3 billion per year. The draft would allow only trading organizations meeting specific criteria set out by the UN secretary-general to sell or supply Iraqi oil. But, realizing that compliance by Iraq’s neighbors would be critical to enforcing a tighter regime, under the proposed resolution the secretary-general would designate authorized checkpoints, monitored by UN personnel, from which Iraq could export oil to border states. Proceeds from oil sales would be deposited in separate national escrow accounts, from which Iraq could draw to pay for commercial transactions with those states. If Iraq stopped exporting oil to border states as retribution for their cooperation with the UN, the draft would protect those states’ economies by compensating them with revenue already in the UN escrow account.

The proposal would also create “new authorized border crossings with Iraq” to restrict other illegal imports or exports. It is presently unclear whether UN or national officials would staff these checkpoints. Furthermore, the resolution would allow countries to resume commercial air flights to and from Iraq, but it would require all flights to land at designated inspection points staffed by national authorities and monitored by UN observers.

On May 22, James Cunningham, acting U.S. representative to the UN, told reporters that Washington wants the British draft resolution adopted before the oil-for-food program expiration date and that it “ought to be negotiable” by that time. In addition to removing controls on Iraq’s civilian trade and focusing on security and disarmament, Cunningham said the draft addresses “a bunch of other issues that have been under discussion in the council for some time where other members have made it clear they wanted to see movement. We have met those concerns.”

On state-run Iraqi television May 23, Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz responded to the new British draft, calling it “very wicked and malicious.” He stressed that, even if the resolution is approved, neither Iraq nor its “sister states” would comply with it. And on May 7, Al-Thawrah, the newspaper of Saddam Hussein’s ruling Ba’ath party, warned Iraq’s neighbors that “compliance with this plan by any state or government would cause grievous harm to its interests.”

Apparently attempting to delay any significant overhaul of the sanctions regime, Russia’s draft incorporates the basic elements of the oil-for-food program, such as retaining the six-month renewal process, but makes several modifications. For instance, it would lower the “deduction rate” taken by the United Nations from oil revenues deposited in the escrow account from 25 percent to 20 percent. The UN uses the 25 percent deduction rate in the current phase of the oil-for-food program to finance Persian Gulf War reparations.

Most significantly, the resolution permits Iraq “unrestricted use of civil aircraft, sea and railway transport for carrying passengers and commercial and humanitarian cargo,” subject to notification of the Iraq Sanctions Committee. Unlike the British draft, no inspections would be required, effectively opening the door to unlimited, virtually unregulated imports.

By retaining the oil-for-food program’s structure, failing to offer new controls, and proposing changes favorable to Iraq, the Russian draft resolution appears politically unacceptable to the United States and United Kingdom. According to a UN source, Washington and London have ruled out consideration of the Russian resolution as a basis for negotiation.

Absent in both resolutions is any mention of a resumption of weapons inspections. During an interview on the May 20 edition of NBC’s Meet the Press, Vice President Dick Cheney refused to link easing sanctions to weapons inspections and said that, although the administration continues “to demand inspection…exactly what’s going to come out of the consultations that are now under way, I wouldn’t want to predict.”

It appears unlikely that the UN Security Council will have time to consider fully and approve any major overhaul of the sanctions regime before the June 4 expiration of the oil-for-food program. Although there would be political resistance from many members, UN sources say that the most likely result will involve a short-term continuation of the oil-for-food program in its present form.

Iraqi Radiological Weapons Program Detailed

An Iraqi government report detailing Baghdad’s efforts to build a radiological weapon was made public at the end of April by the private Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control. A radiological weapon does not involve a nuclear explosion but simply dispenses radioactive isotopes with conventional explosives.

Although the existence of Iraq’s radiological weapons program has been recognized for some time, the 1987 Iraqi Atomic Energy Agency report, which was turned over to the UN Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM) after the Persian Gulf War, provides details of Baghdad’s attempt to build and test a radiological weapon that were not previously available to the public. The Wisconsin Project obtained the report from an unnamed UN source and gave it to The New York Times, which reported on its contents April 29.

Iraq developed and reportedly tested a radiological bomb in late 1987 to achieve a means of “area denial” during the final stages of the Iran-Iraq War. According to a December 1995 UNSCOM report—and confirmed by the leaked document—Iraqi scientists tested three prototype weapons. UNSCOM reported that the Iraqis characterized the test results as “disappointing” because most of the radioactive material did not disperse in a militarily useful way. Iraq told UNSCOM that the program had been “shelved” in mid-1988.

The Iraqi ambassador to the UN, Mohammed Al-Douri, responded to the leaked document in a May 5 letter addressed to the UN secretary-general. Although admitting that “Iraqi specialists explored the technical and practical aspects” of a radiological device, “they ascertained that it was not feasible.” However, the letter directly refuted the charges in both the UNSCOM report and the Iraqi Atomic Energy Agency document that the device was ever constructed or tested, noting that “the idea died, and no radiological bombs were manufactured and none were tested.”

Shortly before the Gulf War began in January 1991, the National Intelligence Council, in response to newspaper reports, concluded that while it would be feasible for the Iraqis “to build a functioning radiological weapon,” it would not be militarily significant: “It would create no special blast effect, and it could not cause widespread radiation sickness.”

U.S. Considers Retargeting Iraqi Sanctions Regime

Alex Wagner

Looking to strengthen the deteriorating sanctions regime imposed on Baghdad after the Persian Gulf War, the Bush administration is considering focusing the restrictions solely on Iraq's proscribed weapons programs. According to Secretary of State Colin Powell, the most "attractive" approach to boosting international support for the regime would involve "eliminating those items in the sanctions regime that really were of civilian use and benefited people and focus exclusively on weapons of mass destruction."

During the past year, the sanctions regime, which the United Nations put in place after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait and which severely restricts Iraq's economic interaction with the rest of the world, has appeared to weaken considerably. Reported violations include rampant smuggling of goods into and out of Iraq, Iraqi receipt of oil surcharges not authorized by the United Nations, and illegal exports of oil from Iraq via its pipeline with Syria.

International support for the regime has also waned, with Russia, France, China, and Arab states voicing strong criticism about the humanitarian impact the sanctions are having on ordinary Iraqi citizens. After returning from a late February tour of Mideast capitals, Powell expressed concern that "more and more nations were saying let's just get rid of the sanctions, let's not worry about inspectors, let's just forget it."

Although the Bush administration has yet to provide any details about its proposal, press reports have indicated that it is considering removing controls on almost all consumer goods exports to Iraq and allowing Iraq's neighbors to purchase Iraqi oil at discounted prices in return for cooperating with the sanctions overhaul. According to the administration, the net impact of such a policy would be to encourage regional support for sanctions, discourage smuggling, and focus international efforts on inhibiting Iraq's pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. Depending on the nature of the changes, alterations to the sanctions regime would need approval from the UN committee that oversees the Iraqi sanctions or the UN Security Council.

The administration appears to have received support for modifying the sanctions regime from Iraq's neighbors. Referring to Powell's recent trip to the region, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said, "We found substantial support for the idea of keeping tight controls on weapons, on money, on smuggling, and taking steps to tighten up on those things at the same time as we were able to smooth out the flow of civilian goods to the civilian population." Russia and France have also expressed interest in the proposal.

The administration's suggested approach does not appear to address Baghdad's continued noncompliance with UN Security Council resolutions demanding inspections to verify that Iraq has eliminated its weapons of mass destruction programs. No weapons inspectors have been allowed in Iraq since December 1998, when the United States and Britain launched three days of punitive airstrikes against Iraq for its failure to cooperate fully with inspectors from the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM).

While expressing support for inspections in an interview published March 5 in The Washington Times, Vice President Richard Cheney said the U.S. priority was to revitalize the sanctions regime and then to work on reintroducing inspectors to Iraq. "I think we'd like to see the inspectors back in there," Cheney said, but "I don't think we want to hinge our policy just to the question of whether or not the inspectors go back in there."

Baghdad has not reacted favorably to U.S. interest in modifying the terms of the sanctions and has said that, even if sanctions were lifted, it would not allow weapons inspectors into Iraq unless every other country in the region, including Israel, was subjected to the same scrutiny.

IAEA Inspects Iraqi Nuclear Materials

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) conducted an inspection of Iraqi nuclear materials January 20-23, successfully verifying "the presence" of non-weapons-grade fissile materials under IAEA safeguards, according to Mohamed ElBaradei, the agency's director-general. ElBaradei's comments, made in a February 12 letter to the UN Security Council, added that Iraq had provided the inspectors with the "necessary cooperation" and access required to perform their mission "effectively and efficiently."

The inspection, known as a physical inventory verification (PIV), sought to ensure that Iraq's known remaining nuclear material—which is non-weapons-grade and all located near Baghdad at the Tuwaitha C storage facility—was accounted for and properly safeguarded. As a member of the IAEA and nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iraq is required not to divert to weapons purposes any of the 1.8 tons of low-enriched uranium or several tons of natural and depleted uranium held at the storage facility.

PIV inspections are not conducted under the terms of UN Security Council Resolution 687, which was passed after the Persian Gulf War and required Iraq to give up its weapons of mass destruction. Under the resolution, the IAEA carried out full-scale monitoring and inspection activities and removed "weapons-relevant" nuclear materials from Iraq. PIVs are conducted under the agency's 1972 safeguards agreement with Baghdad, which requires inspections at declared nuclear facilities at least every 14 months. The last PIV was conducted in January 2000.

Due to its limited scope, a PIV cannot verify that Iraq has not been attempting to develop or acquire nuclear weapons. According to the IAEA, it will only be able to give such an assurance when it resumes the activities established under Resolution 687, which were suspended in December 1998 just before U.S.-British airstrikes against Iraq.

Even the Last Superpower Needs Friends

Spurgeon M. Keeny, Jr.

Secretary of State Colin Powell's decision to re-examine sanctions policy against Iraq suggests that the Bush administration may be moving beyond campaign posturing to real-world problem solving. In reviewing its foreign policy options, the administration must remember that even though the United States is now the only superpower, it cannot act alone in Iraq or elsewhere but must seek broad support to implement successfully controversial foreign policy objectives.

By driving a wedge between the United States and much of the world community, the sanctions against Iraq have undercut the U.S. policy objective of maintaining the international consensus that Saddam Hussein must not be allowed to re-emerge as a regional threat armed with weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Ten years of sanctions have not rectified Saddam's truly outrageous behavior or brought down his regime. The sanctions have, however, come under increasing criticism by countries such as France and Russia that want to resume economic relations with Iraq and by many countries that believe the sanctions have unfairly impacted ordinary Iraqis. Although it is probably true that adequate food and medicine could have been available had Saddam not manipulated their distribution for political purposes, it is widely perceived that sanctions have resulted in serious privation among innocent civilians.

This situation can be remedied by limiting the sanctions to equipment that could potentially contribute to the reconstruction of Iraq's indigenous capabilities to produce weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles. This narrowing of sanctions would be a small price to pay to keep the countries presently seeking to end sanctions united in the effort to prevent Saddam's rearmament. In return for the relaxation of sanctions, Iraq would have to readmit United Nations inspectors, which Saddam has vowed never to accept. However, if inspections were reoriented from the almost impossible task of seeking out the last remnant of Iraq's pre-Gulf War WMD programs to the simpler but more important task of monitoring whether a WMD rearmament effort is underway, this inspections process could be a more focused and less intrusive effort. This would put UN inspectors on the ground while allowing Saddam to claim he had protected Iraqi sovereignty. If Saddam can be persuaded by countries favoring resumption of trade to accept such an arrangement, the main U.S. objective will have been achieved. If Saddam rejects the initiative out of hand, as he may well do, he will have lost much of his political leverage to end the existing sanctions.

As he reviews the world scene, Powell will also find that ample opportunities already exist to deal constructively with other non-proliferation problems. If addressed in concert with other interested parties (South Korea, Japan, China, and Russia) and not allowed to become fodder for U.S. domestic political posturing, North Korea's WMD and ballistic missile programs should be containable. And even Iran, where further political change seems likely, may present a fertile field for constructive diplomacy together with other concerned parties.

The opportunity for serious progress in bolstering the non-proliferation regime is within our grasp. But, if any of these efforts are to succeed, Powell must also listen carefully to what the world is saying about the apparent Bush commitment to deployment of a national missile defense (NMD) in clear violation of the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. Not only have Russia and China vehemently opposed the proposed U.S. NMD deployment, but Russia has also shown no interest in amending the ABM Treaty. Russia has even threatened to withdraw from START II—and possibly START I and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty—if the ABM Treaty is abrogated. Moreover, U.S. NATO allies, Japan, and even South Korea, as well as almost all members of the United Nations, have also expressed serious concerns about the consequences of unilateral U.S. action to deploy a treaty-non-compliant NMD. Unless the United States backs off from its explicit threat to withdraw from the ABM Treaty and its implicit threat to eschew arms control treaties that would in any way restrict U.S. freedom of action, the international community is unlikely to follow the U.S. lead when it jeopardizes other countries' economic and political interests.

In the process of transitioning the Bush administration from campaign rhetoric to responsible policies, Secretary Powell should draw on his considerable talents and prestige to determine and communicate objectively to his new colleagues the attitudes of other countries to U.S. military and arms control policies. As in the case of Iraq, he must bring home to the administration that the United States needs the genuine support of the world community, which must not be alienated by objectives driven by U.S. domestic political considerations.

Iraq Meets With UN Secretary-General

At the request of the Iraqi government, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan met with Iraqi Vice President Ezzat Ibrahim on the sidelines of a November 13 conference in Qatar. Although Annan would not reveal the details of his discussions, he described the meeting as "frank and useful" and confirmed that discussions included "ways and means to break the current deadlock." Baghdad has refused to allow UN-mandated weapons inspectors into the country since the December 1998 U.S.-British airstrikes against Iraq and remains subject to stringent sanctions put in place after the Persian Gulf War.

Ibrahim's meeting with Annan, however, comes as the sanctions regime appears to be weakening. Over the past few months, Iraq has tested the limits of the postwar settlement by resuming foreign airline passenger service to Baghdad and domestic commercial flights through the so-called no-fly-zones. It has also re-established diplomatic relations with several countries, most notably with Egypt on November 7.

Annan has little latitude to negotiate with Iraq, as he is limited to serving as an intermediary between the UN Security Council and Baghdad. Only the Security Council can reach an agreement with Iraq altering Resolution 1284, which lays out the terms for easing sanctions on Iraq. Annan called the current situation "unhealthy" but said he confidently believed that Iraq and the UN would "find ways of discussing things."

Though some observers have warned that Iraq is "breaking out of the box," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said November 6 that the "basic sanctions regime" remains in place and continues to work. "The only way to get any kind of serious suspension of sanctions is to go through Resolution 1284…. That continues to work and continues to have the support of the international community," Boucher remarked. At a November 22 briefing, he added, "We are not interested in negotiating 1284."

Iraq Meets With UN Secretary-General

Former Weapons Inspector Returns to Iraq

Scott Ritter, a former weapons inspector with the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM), returned to Iraq July 29 to film interviews with senior Iraqi officials, including Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz, for use in a documentary he is producing.

Baghdad authorized Ritter to visit weapons sites in Iraq, but the former inspector declined the offer, concerned that skeptics would deride the video as Iraqi propaganda. Ritter plans to have the documentary fully edited by the end of September. The film is being financed by a $400,000 line of credit from an Iraqi-American businessman, but Ritter says that he has complete control over the film's content.

In an article in the June issue of Arms Control Today, Ritter advocated redefining Iraq's disarmament obligations along "more realistic qualitative benchmarks" in return for the readmittance of inspectors, thus ending the current standoff with Iraq. (See p. 34.) Once Iraq is found to be complying with the new standards and a new monitoring regime is established, sanctions would be lifted. The former inspector asserts that, for all intents and purposes, Iraq was disarmed when UNSCOM inspectors left Iraq in December 1998 and that Iraq has not meaningfully reconstituted its weapons of mass destruction programs.

During an August 1 press briefing, State Department spokesman Philip Reeker said that "it is fairly obvious" the State Department disagrees with "some of the assertions made by Mr. Ritter."

UNMOVIC Releases Modified Readiness Report

Hans Blix, the executive chairman of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), acting on a recommendation from the College of Commissioners, has moderated language in an August 28 report to the UN Security Council stating that his inspectors are prepared to begin limited work in Iraq. UNMOVIC is the organization established by UN Resolution 1284 to replace the UN Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM).

The U.S., Russian, Chinese, and French members of the College of Commissioners, a body of experts established to advise UNMOVIC, suggested Blix indicate that UNMOVIC "could plan and commence…activities in Iraq…to prepare for monitoring, verification, and inspection," rather than saying UNMOVIC is "now in a position to start activities in Iraq." Baghdad refuses to accept Resolution 1284, and the commissioners apparently believed the report's original language would have forced a divided Security Council to revisit the Iraq issue before the council was ready. Blix is scheduled to brief the Security Council September 11.

On August 31, UNMOVIC released a statement emphasizing that "the reality is that if Iraq were to accept Resolution 1284 today, UNMOVIC could and would send a team to Iraq to prepare for the extensive activities…envisaged by the Security Council." The statement also says that "even at the current level of recruitment and training," UNMOVIC is ready "to undertake some inspections."

UNMOVIC staff recently completed four weeks of training in New York, where approximately half of the trainees will remain as a core staff to begin preparatory work. The others will form a reserve, ready for work if the commission is allowed to begin inspections, according to UNMOVIC spokesman Ewen Buchanan. A second training course for additional UNMOVIC inspectors will be held from November 7 to December 8 in France. All UNMOVIC personnel are UN employees and are not on loan from UN member states, as was the case with UNSCOM.

As UNMOVIC continues its preparations, Iraq has remained defiant. Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz told reporters after an August 23 speech to the Iraqi National Assembly that Iraq will "not receive anyone who has anything to do with the resolution," according to official Iraqi radio. At an August 22 press briefing, State Department spokesman Philip Reeker said it is up to Baghdad to break the stalemate between the UN and Iraq and that if it does not, "the resolution will remain in place, and the sanctions will continue."

Anticipating Inspections: UNMOVIC Readies Itself for Iraq


In January, Hans Blix was appointed executive chairman of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), an inspectorate established to replace the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) and assume its task of verifying that Iraq was disarmed of all weapons of mass destruction and missiles with a range exceeding 150 kilometers.

Following UNSCOM's withdrawal from Iraq in December 1998 and amid increasing pressure to ease the sanctions that had been in place since the end of the Persian Gulf War, the UN Security Council heatedly debated how to address Baghdad's continuing noncompliance with its disarmament obligations, originally laid out in Resolution 687. In March 1999, a UN panel headed by Brazilian Ambassador Celso Amorim released a report concluding that while the bulk of Iraq's weapons programs had been dismantled by UNSCOM, a "reinforced, ongoing monitoring and verification" system was needed.

In December 1999, Security Council Resolution 1284 set up UNMOVIC and charged it with monitoring Iraq's weapons programs and identifying any "key remaining disarmament tasks." It stipulated that once Baghdad had "cooperated in all respects," sanctions would be suspended. The resolution also created the College of Commissioners, a group of diplomats and disarmament experts charged with providing "professional advice and guidance" to the executive chairman.

UNMOVIC began operation in March. To date, it has submitted an organizational plan to the Security Council, which was approved, and has met once with the College of Commissioners. The first training session for UNMOVIC staff is set to begin in New York in July, but Iraq has so far given no sign that it will allow inspectors into the country.

Born in Uppsala, Sweden, Blix pursued a distinguished career in the Swedish foreign service, culminating in his appointment as minister of foreign affairs in 1978. In 1981, he assumed the post of director-general at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), where he served until 1997. Under Blix's leadership, the IAEA, working with UNSCOM, played a crucial role in dismantling and monitoring Iraq's nuclear weapons program after the Persian Gulf War.

On June 12, Arms Control Today Editor J. Peter Scoblic and Research Analyst Matthew Rice met with Blix at UN headquarters in New York to discuss UNMOVIC's mandate, its preparations for inspections, and the prospects for beginning work in Iraq. The following is an edited version of their conversation.


ACT: Former UNSCOM executive chairmen Richard Butler and Rolf Ekeus have expressed concern as to what could have happened since inspectors left Iraq in December 1998. On the other hand, former UNSCOM inspector Scott Ritter has said that 18 months is too short a time to rebuild programs that took 20 years to set up. What could Iraq have done in this time? How worried should the international community be?

Blix: Well, I do not have any preconceived notions as to what Iraq could have done. But if I take the nuclear area, which I know best, there is no way that they could have built up an enrichment capacity in that period. Of course, it is possible that they could try to buy a nuclear weapon, but the Iraqi path in the past was one of going after enrichment, and that requires a considerable infrastructure that would be seen from satellites. We have no indications of that happening.

An area in which Iraq could have conceivably done more would be the missile program because they are permitted missiles with a range of 150 kilometers and under; so factories producing them are also permissible. A number of missile factories were apparently hit in December 1998 during the airstrikes by U.S. and British forces, but there are reports that they have been rebuilt since then. Now, what has taken place inside, under those roofs, that is not seen by the satellites. I would have to rely upon the people that know much more about missiles to make a determination, but prima facie, missiles would be an area in which Iraq could have done something. It is certainly an area that will require monitoring in the future.

Concerning chemical and biological weapons, I think that is something the weapons experts will have to determine, and we will have a lot of quite competent experts.

ACT: Are you receiving any information on the current status of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs?

Blix: We should try to learn as much as possible, even without having inspections on the ground. Therefore, we have expressed gratitude to the United States for continuing to show us overhead pictures from satellites. That goes on. And of course, we are grazing the fertile ground of the media and collecting what comes from there.

We have no intelligence data, and I don't want to have any until we have our own intelligence expert on board. I've had some contact with national intelligence agencies and have had some discussions, but there has been nothing significant in this regard. What we are also focusing on is for our current staff to work on the substantial dossiers and inspection reports that we already have here. There is a lot to analyze. Clearly, however, work is not at full speed.

ACT: Is there any indication that Iraq is trying to rearm?

Blix: No, I don't think you can say that. Sometimes there are reports in the media from intelligence organizations that they are watching the procurement efforts here and there, but we have nothing to substantiate that.

ACT: Once they are in Iraq, what will be the first task for the UNMOVIC inspectors?

Blix: The first inspections will have to establish new baselines. The weapons-related facilities and weapons-capable facilities have stood there one-and-a-half years now. UNSCOM inspectors had knowledge of what they looked like in December 1998, and UNMOVIC will now go in and see if there have been any changes and, if so, what those changes suggest.

After that, we will develop a work program. Resolution 1284 demands that we come up with a work program to deal with the key outstanding disarmament issues 60 days after we have started work in Iraq. Indeed, the College of Commissioners made the point that UNMOVIC cannot very well come up with a full work program telling the Security Council what it intends to do before it has established new baselines. We need to see that rebaselining. So, work in Iraq cannot mean the moment when you send in the first inspector.

ACT: If the situation in Iraq now were the same as in December 1998, what tasks would remain in order for Iraq to be disarmed? What are the key disarmament tasks that Resolution 1284 asks you to define?

Blix: We don't know yet which particular disarmament points remain to be cleared up. It is generally believed that the biological-weapons sector has the largest number of question marks. Among the others, missiles is the most advanced in terms of being cleared up, and the nuclear is considered to have the fewest question marks. But it will be a sensitive task for us to zero in and say what the important key disarmament tasks are, as we must do under 1284.

We will also use another broader concept contained in Resolution 1284: "unresolved disarmament issues." I have already asked the current staff here what they see as unresolved disarmament issues. It is not the first time this has been done. The Amorim report listed a number of things in a condensed chapter and, in early 1999, Richard Butler issued a large report setting out what UNSCOM had achieved and what remained.

However, I do not think that I will have a final paper on the unresolved disarmament issues until the new staff is on board because the Security Council wants us to look at the issue with fresh minds. I value the experience that is here, but I also want to have new people take a look at what remains to be done. The new staff will define what they consider to be the unresolved issues. Out of those, there will be a distillation process to pick out those that are important—the key disarmament tasks. As to which issues those will be, I have no preconceived ideas.

I am sure that Iraq will be very interested to know where we are going on this matter even before they invite inspections, but as the resolution is written, they cannot. They certainly cannot have the final list. Because the report has to go to the Security Council for approval, what we say could theoretically be modified by the council. But I would imagine that our professional judgment will carry some weight with the council. At least I hope so.

ACT: The unresolved questions that are not deemed key disarmament tasks, will they fall off the work program?

Blix: No, I don't think so. Resolution 687 and its mandate of complete WMD disarmament remain in effect. But all the unresolved questions will not be relevant for the council's determination as to whether they should suspend the economic restrictions, because that only requires testimony from us about "cooperation" and "progress" on key disarmament duties.

If I take an example from the IAEA, which I still know better than the UNMOVIC area, there was a question of whether there was some foreign input into Iraq's design of a weapon. That question, I think, was never cleared up, and it was an outstanding issue for a long time. Now, you can discuss—and I'm not taking a stand on it—whether it was important to know who this foreign entity was even if you have come to the conclusion that Iraq has no nuclear infrastructure, no nuclear capacity, et cetera. Does the question of who helped them still remain a key disarmament issue? You could say that the "full, final and complete disclosure" demand of Resolution 707 is not satisfied if such an issue is still unresolved. But is it a key disarmament issue? I don't know. So, I think that's going to be an illustration of where judgment will have to be exercised.

ACT: Have former UNSCOM professionals applied for positions in UNMOVIC?

Blix: By far, the majority—two-thirds, probably more—have left. After the Baghdad operation collapsed at the end of 1998, most people left. So, a relatively small group remains here. I have said that there will be no automatic transfer of UNSCOM staff to UNMOVIC. They will have to indicate an interest to stay, and then I will have to compare their credentials with those who apply from the outside. Clearly, having been here and being knowledgeable on Iraq's weapons programs is an important factor. But it is not the only one. Some people in some governments have taken the view that we should have fresh minds all over the place, that there should be a clean slate. I have said no, there should be both innovation and institutional memory. This is what we are getting. Overall there will be a good many more people from the outside than those who remain from UNSCOM. One should remember that most of UNSCOM left earlier.

ACT: Does the fact that there could be a long wait before work begins in Iraq make recruitment any more difficult?

Blix: I haven't seen any one candidate so far in New York who has seemed worried about that. If they are sitting here for six months, then maybe it could become a problem. But that is not my hypothesis.

ACT: You have said that you intend to make full use of short-notice inspections without harassing or coercing Iraq. What did you mean by that?

Blix: We do not intend to provoke, to harass, or to humiliate Iraq with our inspections. The word "intend" is important, because I am not leaving it to Iraq to say that we cannot do something because of how they feel about it. It is UNMOVIC that will judge whether an action is provocative or humiliating in the judgment of a reasonable person. And I think I am a reasonable person.

Another adjective I will use is "correct." We don't want to have cozy relations with Iraq. We are an inspectorate, and we have the task given to us by the Security Council to solve the key disarmament questions, in addition to monitoring. This we shall do. In doing so, I would like the organization to be knowledgeable and correct.

I think we will need institutional memories. It will delay things if we were to have an all together new staff, but I want those who go in to display correct UN conduct. I'm not saying anything about the past. I am just saying that for the future, I want effective and correct inspections.

ACT: Concerning the espionage issue, you have placed a premium on maintaining what you have described as a "one-way street" of the flow of intelligence to UNMOVIC. What will you do differently than UNSCOM?

Blix: Well, I am not sure that I can tell you. I'm not exactly sure what UNSCOM did. I am following the pattern that I established myself at the IAEA. Of course, I read many allegations about what went on with UNSCOM, but I have not undertaken any investigation of UNSCOM's practices, and I don't think that I need to. I have the impression that there were many inlets for intelligence and that there were different groups handling what came in.

In our organizational diagram, which UNSCOM did not have, intelligence falls under "outside information sources." That covers both media, anything open, and other outside sources that are not so open. I will try to be firm about keeping intelligence in this area.

I have publicly taken the view that intelligence is valuable. Defectors do not come knocking at UNMOVIC headquarters. They go to governments, and it is valuable to have much of that. It can give you ideas as to where it might be useful to go or about questions that you should ask. But we also know that there is almost as much disinformation around the world as there is valid information, and I would like to have a professional in this area who would be able to assess with a critical eye what is coming in. He may have to have assistance from someone on the biological or chemical side to assess the veracity of something, but we have to be able to give assurances to those who supply us with intelligence that this is the only person who gets it, and that the providers have to decide how much further it will go. I have reserved the right to see it myself, and this person who is in charge of outside information sources should also see it all.

If we want to make use of intelligence for an inspection or for questions during an inspection, then I think the supplier should judge if such use is permissible or if it will jeopardize their source. In part, this is in order to keep the confidence of providers that their information is not going to float around freely. We are being very firm that it stays here. The providers will have to give their permission for any further dissemination. I practiced this in the IAEA, and it worked. We had intelligence from various sources. I don't think where the intelligence comes from really matters—it is the critical examination to which it is subjected that counts.

Another important point is that we are not in the intelligence-trading business. We are not an intelligence organization. We are not giving anything to suppliers in return. We are not an espionage organization, whatever Iraq has said. Now, it is conceivable, of course, that some UNSCOM staff were in double emploi, that they had two positions. That is unacceptable. All I can say is that if I find individuals working for other agencies, I will throw them out, and I think they will understand why.

However, I must also be clear that in order for us to get information that is relevant, it may well be that we will have to describe to intelligence providers what we are interested in. It is not that we are mute and governments come and offer us information. It is not that extreme.

There is an important difference between UNMOVIC and the IAEA in that the IAEA safeguards agreements specify that information that countries give shall be confidential. UNMOVIC doesn't have safeguards agreements with Iraq; we go to the Security Council and report to its members. Nevertheless, our mandate is to look for weapons of mass destruction. It is not to look for where Saddam Hussein is or where Iraq's anti-aircraft artillery is, et cetera. We should not do anything that is outside the parameters of our mandate.

ACT: What does "cooperation" mean in terms of Resolution 1284?

Blix: This may be an issue that we need to discuss with the College of Commissioners because Resolution 1284 simply says that the Security Council shall suspend economic restrictions provided that Iraq has cooperated in all respects for 120 days, and one part of that cooperation is progress with respect to the key disarmament issues. Whether UNMOVIC's judgment on such progress is the final word is a matter still for discussion.

Under Resolution 687, it is true that there was a difference between my view when I headed the IAEA and that taken by UNSCOM. I took the view, interpreting paragraph 22 of Resolution 687, that our determination on Iraq's disarmament did not automatically translate into a lifting of the sanctions, whereas the tendency in UNSCOM was to say that its determination was decisive. I was skeptical of such an attitude. It is for the Security Council to make the determination as to whether Iraq has complied with its obligations.

There will always be a residue of uncertainty, and that was a concept that eventually was accepted by the Amorim report and by the Security Council and I think by most people. There may be computer programs, engineers, scientists, and maybe even a prototype centrifuge lying around. You can never guarantee that such things do not exist. We tell the members of the council how far we have come, and it is then for them to decide whether that satisfies the resolution's articles about neutralizing Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

Because there will always be that residue of uncertainty concerning Iraq's WMD programs, I do not think it is fair, nor was it supported by the resolution, for the IAEA or for UNSCOM to determine what level of uncertainty should be tolerated. That is for the Security Council to do. I think I am inclined to feel the same way about UNMOVIC, but there I would like to defer until there has been some discussion, because these are matters that could very well be politically sensitive.

ACT: Along those lines, Scott Ritter recently argued that UNSCOM's perceived need to account for all WMD material was partially responsible for its downfall. (See ACT, June 2000.) Are you saying that you are going to move away from that—to not needing to account for every last scrap of material and documentation?

Blix: As I said, it is for the Security Council to determine how much uncertainty they will tolerate. I often draw a comparison between Iraq and South Africa. The IAEA was in South Africa and asked to verify that they had done away with their nuclear weapons. We came in and the South Africans said, "Here is a bunch of documents. And we think they are relevant to you. If you want any other documents, just tell us, and we will give them to you. And here are the sites that we think you should visit, and if you want to go to any other sites, military or whatever, just tell us and we will take you there."

That was, of course, evidence of an attitude of cooperation. They saw inspection as an opportunity to demonstrate and convince the world that they had nothing. I am trying to suggest to Iraq: "You say that you have nothing. Here is an opportunity. Convince us by what you do, and convince us by what you give us that there is nothing left. You do not have credibility." If we are firm, we have credibility. If we are cosmetic, we too have no credibility. So, we will say if we think Iraq has cooperated. But the ultimate judge, I am inclined to think, is the Security Council.

And, of course, I still maintain that we will never come to the last nut and bolt, and I think that is accepted now. But how many missing nuts and bolts are acceptable will be determined by the Security Council. We will describe in as accurate terms as we can what we have done, where we are, and then leave final judgment to the council.

ACT: How would you describe UNMOVIC's relationship with the secretary-general and the Security Council?

Blix: In formal terms, of course, the reports of UNMOVIC are channeled to the Security Council through the secretary-general. He submits them. He can add something. In doing so, he can put his gloss on it if he likes, which was the same with UNSCOM. In addition, I trust that I can continue to look to the secretary-general for advice and discussion. I don't formally have to do that. We have a mandate of our own. However, I personally appreciate [UN Secretary-General] Kofi Annan's judgment very much, and I have an excellent relationship with him. Jayantha Dhanapala [UN undersecretary-general for disarmament affairs] and I are also old colleagues, and I appreciate his judgment too. So, I look on these relationships in practical terms more than in formal terms.

UNMOVIC is a subordinate organ of the Security Council. Therefore, all of our allegiance is to the council; we take our instructions from it. Resolution 1284 is the absolute guideline for me, and nothing else. If any one member of the Security Council wants me to do something other than what is called for in Resolution 1284, I would say that I am not obliged to do so. At the same time, I think there is a clear attitude in the council that they do not want us to come running to them for help and instruction all the time. They have other things to do. I also think that we should have informal contacts with the president of the Security Council. So far, I have met with every monthly president of the Security Council, so we have a channel in that direction. What our relationship with the council will be like if the situation with Iraq gets hot, I don't know.

ACT: Does the Security Council have the political will to push this issue with Iraq, to get UNMOVIC into the country?

Blix: It is more a question that there are different wills in the council. My overall impression has been that when the Security Council stands united, the power and influence it has is considerable, but where they have divided views, even though they might only be expressed in abstentions, the influence is much more limited. This leads me to the conclusion that UNMOVIC should act in such a way as, at the very least, to avoid widening the differing views that exist there and, if possible, to help them converge.

Once again, I refer to Resolution 1284 for absolute guidance. That is a valid resolution. It was accepted—though weakened somewhat by the four abstentions—and we can see how some of the reservations of those who abstained continue to guide their attitudes. The resolution would have been stronger if there had been unanimity. On the other hand, it is still a valid resolution, and it is binding not only on Iraq, but on all of the members of the Security Council as well. So that is what we have to go by.

But for us, there is a great advantage if the members of the Security Council are agreed. I think that the College of Commissioners may be able to help because it has individuals from the permanent five members of the Security Council and other professionals, and it will permit a freer discussion then you can have in the Security Council.

ACT: Describe your interactions with the Russians, French, and Chinese over the past few months. Are they accepting Resolution 1284 as valid, and are you receiving their full support?

Blix: I have no doubt that on two principal points they are united and there is no dissent in the Security Council. One is the wish that Iraq retain no weapons of mass destruction and that it not revive any WMD programs. The other is a view that UNMOVIC shall have all of the rights of inspection that the prior organizations had—that is, immediate, unrestricted, and unconditional access. I don't think they waver on that.

But there are clearly other differences among them on Iraq policy, some not relating to Resolution 1284. There is the view among some that the current bombing [in the no-fly zones] is not sanctioned by the Security Council and should not take place. There is the view of some that the no-fly zones do not have a basis in Security Council resolutions and should not exist. Council members have not yet defined what kind of financial control regime they should have once they determine to suspend the economic restrictions; so there are unresolved matters relating to the full implementation of the resolution.

Resolution 1284 resolved a number of things, but not all, and we should try, if possible, to reduce the number of differences rather than exacerbate them. So far, we have done reasonably well. The organizational plan was successfully approved by the Security Council, with some reservations by the Russians. Nevertheless, they accepted that the plan was in line with the resolution. At this point, the Russians have said that they do not want to pass any judgment until they have seen how UNMOVIC develops and implements the plan. They will hold their card until they have seen that. And there were somewhat softer but similar attitudes by a few of the others.

The Russians also had some reservations because they wanted to have a special group dealing with potential frictions with Iraq, a group of political advisers within UNMOVIC. I have not included such a group in the organizational structure. I have said that I will have a group of senior advisers and that it will include staff that know something about the positions of Washington, Moscow, Beijing, and other places. I will listen to them, but if they are not agreed, clearly I will have to fall back on my own judgment. UNMOVIC is not operating by voting. The same applies to the College of Commissioners. If they seek and come out with some consensus and thereby facilitate consensus in the Security Council, that is fine. But there is no guarantee that they can do this. In the end, I have to do what the resolution puts me in this position to do.

So, there were some reservations over the organizational plan. Some would say that the organizational plan was the design of the ship and that now we are recruiting the sailors and developing the navigational charts. We are now in the process of hiring the crew, and the resolution talks about broad geographical recruitment, and so it shall be. It will be very broad. Of course, there are a number of areas of the world that do not have expertise in weapons of mass destruction, notably Africa. It will be much more difficult to find people from there. But there will be a broad geographical recruitment. The Security Council knows pretty well who the senior officials will be, and I have had no criticism of that. UNMOVIC's top echelon has been accepted, and I hope that we can continue with that and get a crew with good credentials and good geographic representation.

The third step will be defining the operational rules—how we will go about the inspections. We are in the beginning of that process, and we had early input from the College of Commissioners. I hope that in the summer we can go further, and that at the next meeting of the college, which will be in August, we will be able to define that even more and get their advice. Sometime later, we will see if Iraq is favorable at all.

ACT: Let's talk about that for a minute. Iraq has given no indication that they intend to cooperate. Have you seen anything different? Do you expect them to cooperate?

Blix: No, I have not seen anything different, and yes, I expect them to cooperate.

ACT: How does one move them from their present position to one that allows you and your inspectors to begin work?

Blix: I think the Iraqis should move themselves. I think that the most important thing for them is to study and assess what is in Resolution 1284 for them. Resolution 687 is still there, which speaks about lifting sanctions when there has been neutralization of all WMD and ongoing monitoring is in place. Resolution 1284 is an additional path for them to follow. Here, the criteria are different. They can have a suspension of the economic restrictions provided that there is cooperation and resolution of some key disarmament issues. I guess that they are assessing how valuable it would be for them to have a suspension of the restrictions, and exactly what suspension means. I cannot tell them; it is for members of the Security Council to decide, and I am sure that they have had preliminary discussions about that already.

Although Iraq is now rejecting Resolution 1284 and the commission, I am sure they are watching what the architecture of it is. I am sure they are watching to see whether UNMOVIC will be a true international body or if it will be a group of seconded state representatives, which is how they tended to regard UNSCOM. And they are probably interested to see how we will define the inspection procedures. Lastly, they will be interested in what things we consider unresolved disarmament issues and key disarmament tasks.

I think this will take some time. People ask me sometimes if I am trying to initiate any contact with Iraq. The answer is no. My door is open to all ambassadors, including the Iraqis, but why should they make contact at a time when their position is that the commission is irrelevant and they reject Resolution 1284? Discussion with me would not be consistent with that position.

ACT: Iraq has flat-out refused to cooperate, but you seem to be suggesting that Baghdad is considering the ramifications and potential benefits of Resolution 1284. Do you think that their public refusal is simply a ploy and that they are seriously weighing their options and considering cooperation?

Blix: No, I think they probably say to the world what they mean—that they would like to see a termination of the bombing, that they would like to see a termination of the no-fly zones, and that they would like to see a termination of the sanctions. That is their bid to the Security Council. They also seem to say that they could accept some inspections should these things happen. That is their position. What their position will be in two or four months time, I don't know. I am the servant of the Security Council. If the council assumes that UNMOVIC will go in, then who am I to depart from that assessment? I was hired on the assumption that Iraq will allow inspectors into the country, and therefore I assume that myself.

I may add that in my personal view it would be in Iraq's interest to accept 1284. I am sure that they are looking around the horizon. They have one very firm view now, but the waters under this ship will be moving, not standing still.

ACT: You are optimistic. Do you have any sort of time frame?

Blix: We have a time frame. We are moving as fast as we can to do what the Security Council has instructed us to do with the organization, the recruitment, the training, et cetera. We could not possibly do any inspections until the end of August. Toward the end of autumn, we will be up and running, as they say. I hope by that time the government of Iraq will have warmed to the idea that this commission is one with which they are ready to cooperate and they will have found that the economic restrictions will not be lifted except in fulfillment of Resolution 1284.

ACT: Do you think there is any flexibility in the Security Council about amending the sanctions sections of Resolution 1284 to induce Iraqi cooperation?

Blix: I don't see any indication in that direction. I think every comma will remain.

ACT: Do you think you can demonstrate, in the process of assembling and training the UNMOVIC team, that UNMOVIC will be a different organization from UNSCOM and thereby gain the further support of the Security Council and the cooperation of Iraq? Or will that not be apparent until your inspectors begin work in Iraq?

Blix: Well, it's not just organization and recruitment and training. It's also the other two elements we have talked about: the definition of our inspection procedures and of the remaining outstanding disarmament issues. I don't know whether those elements will be enough. I think these are part of what Iraq is going to look at. But I think that Iraq is perhaps even more interested in the paragraphs about suspension of sanctions and the financial provisions, as well as the bombing. They will look at all these things, and then we'll see.

I think it is important that they know in advance what inspection procedures we will want to follow. I don't think that there is any room for negotiation about that because the procedures are laid down by the Security Council. Those are the parameters under which we operate—neither expanding them nor reducing them. We do not expand them to cover anything but the weapons of mass destruction. We are not looking at their anti-aircraft artillery; we are looking for missiles.

But nor are we entitled to reduce and surrender anything that the Security Council has laid down. I've been saying that it is the Security Council's role to implement the resolution, and we are a part of that. It is not my task to persuade the Iraqis in any sense. It is my personal view that it would be advantageous for them, but I have not been asked by the Security Council to sell the resolution, nor am I entitled to give any discount on it. That leaves very little wiggle room to meet them. We will have to tell them how we intend to go about the inspections. The more that they know about that in advance, the better. It might encourage cooperation if they can say, "Well, fair enough, we know what you intend to do." I think that will hopefully be a way to reduce potential frictions.

But clearly, on some minor points, Iraq can suggest that it might be more practical to do something this way or another way—where the Iraqi escorts meet you in Baghdad, what time do you give them a telephone call, et cetera. There are minor points within what the Security Council has laid down, but I do not foresee myself sitting in long discussions with Iraq about how inspections are to be run. The Security Council has laid down our responsibility, and I feel no freedom to deviate from that. And I hope the Iraqis do not feel that I have that freedom.

ACT: The Iraqis have said that the burden of proof is on the international community to demonstrate that Iraq still has weapons of mass destruction. How do you respond?

Blix: This reasoning is misplaced. The argument comes from criminal procedure, where the prosecutor has to prove the guilt of the accused, and if the prosecutor doesn't do that, then there is a presumption of not guilty. However, we are not interested in that here. We are in a situation where the world wants to have confidence that Iraq does not retain or rebuild the capacity for weapons of mass destruction. You do not build confidence by presumptions. You build it by demonstrating cooperation.

It is true that the IAEA, UNMOVIC, and Iraq cannot prove the absence of the smallest pieces of things. But it is less difficult for Iraq, who sits on all of the documentation and all of the personnel, to come up and demonstrate something than it is for UNMOVIC or the IAEA to do so. Therefore, I think it is legitimate to ask them that they do that. And if, unlike in the case of South Africa, you get to a site in Iraq and you see them running out of the site with briefcases of documents, that is not likely to lead to increased confidence.

Iraq cannot prove—no one can prove—that a big country is free of everything that could be relevant. I would agree that this is not feasible. But the name of the game is to re-establish confidence. To do that, Iraq needs to do precisely what Resolution 1284 mandates: namely, cooperate.

Anticipating Inspections: UNMOVIC Readies Itself for Iraq

The Case for Iraq's Qualitative Disarmament

June 2000

By Scott Ritter

Efforts to resume weapons inspections in Iraq have long been at an impasse.It has been 18 months since inspectors from the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) were withdrawn from Iraq and six months since the Security Council created a successor organization to assume UNSCOM's mantle. Resolution 1284 established the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) in December 1999 and tasked it with verifying Iraq's elimination of its weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and ballistic missiles with a range greater than 150 kilometers.

Resolution 687, which had originally spelled out this obligation, was viewed by many in the Security Council (including Russia, France, and China) as no longer viable given UNSCOM's untidy link to Operation Desert Fox, the 72-hour aerial bombardment of Iraq conducted in December 1998. At that time, the United States and the United Kingdom had used an UNSCOM report to the Security Council that laid out the record of Iraqi non-compliance with inspections as justification for the bombing—before the Security Council had any chance to deliberate on the report and without any authorization from that body. The unfortunate fallout from this military action was that Iraq not only refused to allow the UNSCOM inspectors to return, but also rejected any future cooperation with the organization. The inspection process was dead.

In April 2000, the Security Council approved the organizational plan for the new inspectorate, in theory setting the stage for the return of weapons inspectors to Iraq. However, Iraq refuses to cooperate with either UNMOVIC or its executive chairman, Hans Blix, on the grounds that this new inspection regime is merely a repackaged version of UNSCOM. Furthermore, Resolution 1284 reduced Iraq's incentive to cooperate, stating that the Security Council would only suspend sanctions once Baghdad had complied with inspections, rather than lift them as agreed in Resolution 687. Iraq has made clear that it will never agree to anything less than the lifting of sanctions.

As the situation stands today, Iraq and the Security Council are deadlocked. There is no hope for the return of inspectors to Iraq anytime soon. With each passing day, concern increases over the status of Iraq's WMD programs because there are no inspectors in place to monitor them. Unless the Security Council can come up with a compromise, the situation will only continue to deteriorate.

What is often overlooked in the debate over how to proceed with Iraq's disarmament is the fact that from 1994 to 1998 Iraq was subjected to a strenuous program of ongoing monitoring of industrial and research facilities that could be used to reconstitute proscribed activities. This monitoring provided weapons inspectors with detailed insight into the capabilities, both present and future, of Iraq's industrial infrastructure. It allowed UNSCOM to ascertain, with a high level of confidence, that Iraq was not rebuilding its prohibited weapons programs and that it lacked the means to do so without an infusion of advanced technology and a significant investment of time and money.

Given the comprehensive nature of the monitoring regime put in place by UNSCOM, which included a strict export-import control regime, it was possible as early as 1997 to determine that, from a qualitative standpoint, Iraq had been disarmed. Iraq no longer possessed any meaningful quantities of chemical or biological agent, if it possessed any at all, and the industrial means to produce these agents had either been eliminated or were subject to stringent monitoring. The same was true of Iraq's nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities. As long as monitoring inspections remained in place, Iraq presented a WMD-based threat to no one.

The success of the UNSCOM monitoring regime may hold the key to unlocking the current stalemate between Iraq and the Security Council. The absolute nature of the disarmament obligation set forth in Resolution 687 meant that anything less than 100 percent disarmament precluded a finding of compliance. There was no latitude for qualitative judgments. As such, the world found itself in a situation where the considerable accomplishments of the UNSCOM weapons inspectors—the elimination of entire categories of WMD and their means of production—were ignored in light of UNSCOM's inability to verify that every aspect of these programs was fully accounted for. Quantitative disarmament (the accounting of every last weapon, component, or bit of related material) took precedence over qualitative disarmament (the elimination of a meaningful, viable capability to produce or employ weapons of mass destruction).

If the Security Council redefines Iraq's disarmament obligation along more meaningful—and politically and technically viable—qualitative standards, UNMOVIC should be able to reconstitute UNSCOM's monitoring program and rapidly come to closure on all outstanding disarmament issues. If such a disarmament program is linked with the lifting of economic sanctions upon a finding of compliance, Iraq will almost certainly agree to cooperate.1


Disarming Iraq: 1991-1998

Verifying Iraq's complete disarmament was complicated by the fact that in the summer of 1991 Iraq, disregarding its obligation to submit a complete declaration of its WMD programs, undertook a systematic program of "unilateral destruction," disposing of munitions, components, and production equipment related to all categories of WMD. When Iraq admitted this to UNSCOM, it claimed it had no documentation to prove its professed destruction.

While UNSCOM was able to verify that Iraq had in fact destroyed significant quantities of WMD-related material, without any documents or other hard evidence, it was impossible to confirm Iraq's assertions that it had disposed of all its weapons. UNSCOM's quantitative mandate had become a trap. However, through its extensive investigations, UNSCOM was able to ensure that the vast majority of Iraq's WMD arsenal, along with the means to produce such weaponry, was eliminated. Through monitoring, UNSCOM was able to guarantee that Iraq was not reconstituting that capability in any meaningful way.

Ballistic Missiles

UNSCOM achieved its most dramatic success in the field of ballistic missiles. In his December 1992 report to the Security Council, then-Executive Chairman Rolf Ekeus noted,

All ballistic missiles and items related to their production and development, identified as requiring destruction...have been destroyed...considerable progress has been made in obtaining information from Iraq about its operational use of missiles since 1980 and the importation of missile components, and hence in establishing a material balance for these missiles. If analysis of this data does not reveal inconsistencies and if the information provided is not refuted by new evidence from reliable sources, the Commission would appear to have a practically complete picture of Iraq's past SCUD-derivative missile programs.

Over the next six years, UNSCOM continued to investigate Iraq's proscribed missile programs, and while much new information was obtained, nothing ever altered the final conclusion of Ekeus' report.

Because of its success in tracking down Iraq's proscribed missile program, UNSCOM was able to turn its attention toward monitoring Iraq's indigenous missile research, development, and manufacturing capabilities a full year before any of the other weapons disciplines. As a direct result of this early foray into monitoring, UNSCOM was able to fully assess Iraq's capabilities in the field. The March 1993 inspection report of the first monitoring team spelled out the true extent of Iraq's capabilities:

There is no capability to mass produce missiles at the Centre2 and very little capability to produce prototypes...lack of missile design and testing experience, qualified personnel, raw materials and equipment will significantly delay the near-term development of an Iraqi produced missile system. The Team predicts that even under conditions in which they would have sufficient amount of raw material and necessary equipment it will take several years for the Centre to successfully design, produce and test a prototype missile system (solid-unguided rocket) in preparation for mass production.3

Over the years, Iraq made several efforts to acquire the additional technology needed to improve its ballistic missile capabilities. Secret deals with Russia on guidance and control equipment, with Ukraine on rocket-propulsion technology, and with Romania on guidance and control and rocket-propulsion technology were all uncovered by UNSCOM before reaching fruition. All of these covert procurement efforts, although illegal, were in support of a permitted missile system, the 150-kilometer-range Al Samoud, rather than a reconstitution of Iraq's prohibited long-range missile programs.4 UNSCOM's ability to detect and interdict these transactions only underscores the viability of its monitoring regime. Of note is the fact that once sanctions were lifted, such transactions would be legal as long as they were declared under the provisions of the export-import control regime set forth in Security Council Resolution 1051. Iraq would then have no reason to continue to pursue such covert (and illegal) procurement routes.

Chemical Weapons

Through its inspection activities, UNSCOM obtained reasonable information concerning Iraq's chemical weapons (CW) activities from 1981 to 1987, with the exception of data on the use of CW against Iran. Iraq consistently refused to provide details to UNSCOM regarding such use, probably because of the political fallout that such an admission would cause. While this refusal prevented a full accounting of Iraqi CW, Iraq could not still have viable CW from that period because the chemical agent would have long since deteriorated. As an internal UNSCOM working paper noted, an Iraqi declaration of CW use during the war with Iran was not required for any meaningful verification: "Taking into consideration the conditions and the quality of CW-agents and munitions produced by Iraq at that time, there is no possibility of weapons remaining from the mid-1980's."5

The same level of confidence did not exist concerning Iraq's CW activities during the final three years of its chemical weapons program, 1988-1991. The Iraqi leadership took a strategic decision in 1988 to improve its CW capabilities, resulting in the reorganization of the CW program. Iraq transferred precursor-chemical and CW-agent production capability from its premier production site, the Muthanna State Establishment, to alternative civilian sites in an effort to conceal its continued CW activities within Iraq's legitimate civilian chemical industry.

At the inception of the UNSCOM weapons inspection regime, Iraq put forward inaccurate and misleading declarations concerning this latter phase of CW activity. These false declarations were designed to understate the actual level of CW activity that transpired in Iraq from 1988 to 1991 and enable Iraq to retain a significant CW production capability regardless of its disarmament obligation.

UNSCOM inspectors were eventually able to uncover Iraq's incomplete declarations and track down much of the missing information regarding this critical period of Iraq's CW program. However, according to an UNSCOM presentation to the Security Council in early June 1998, there remained several priority issues that needed to be addressed before UNSCOM could issue a judgment on Iraqi compliance:

• the accounting for CW warheads for the Scud missile;

• the material balance for other Iraqi CW munitions;

• a full accounting of Iraq's attempt to produce VX nerve agent; and

• the material balance for equipment used to produce CW agent.6

These were technically valid issues that needed to be addressed in order to declare a full, quantitative disarmament. But given the Iraqi record of half-truths and outright false statements, UNSCOM had difficulty accepting any declaration by Iraq that was not backed up with documents or other verifiable evidence. The fact that Iraq maintained it did not have such documents meant that UNSCOM was faced with trying to prove a negative, which in and of itself is an almost impossible task.

What was overlooked in 1998 was the extent to which UNSCOM had actually eliminated Iraq's CW capability. The Muthanna State Establishment and most of Iraq's associated production equipment had been destroyed, either through aerial bombardment during Operation Desert Storm or under the supervision of UNSCOM inspectors. Iraq's stockpiles of CW agent had either been destroyed in the same manner or could be assumed to have deteriorated.

The two potential exceptions were VX nerve agent and mustard agent that had been loaded into 155 mm artillery shells. Iraq lied to UNSCOM about having a VX program until confronted in 1995 with irrefutable evidence that it had developed a capability to produce VX. In 1996, Iraq turned over specialized glass-lined production equipment associated with its VX program, which UNSCOM then destroyed.

The remaining question over Iraq's VX program hinges on the discovery of chemical traces unique to stabilized VX on several destroyed Scud warhead fragments that were excavated by UNSCOM in early 1998. Iraq disputes this finding, admitting that while it did succeed in producing stabilized VX on a laboratory scale, it never weaponized stabilized VX. The Iraqi argument appears to be valid. Producing significant stocks of VX for use on weapons that would still be viable today would have required an advance in CW technology that Iraq did not demonstrate.

Indeed, the glass-lined production equipment turned over to UNSCOM by Iraq in 1996 was intended for large-scale VX production, but it had never been used. In addition, the fact that UNSCOM conducted numerous inspections of ammunition depots, chemical production plants, and potential storage areas, using some of the most sensitive chemical detection technology available, and found no trace of CW agent minimizes the likelihood that Iraq maintains any significant stockpile of VX weapons.

The other issue is the mustard-filled artillery shells. Iraq declared to UNSCOM that it had a stockpile of 13,500 such shells on the eve of the Persian Gulf War. UNSCOM supervised the destruction of 12,747 of these shells, and Iraq declared that the remaining shells had been destroyed by aerial bombardment of two storage sites during Desert Storm. UNSCOM could find no evidence of any destroyed 155 mm shells at the main storage area, but it did discover four intact artillery shells lying on the ground in one of the storage sites. The mustard was tested and found to be 94-97 percent pure—a viable weapon. Given the purity of the mustard, UNSCOM made finding the remaining shells a priority.

Iraq denies having retained these shells; but regardless, a few hundred 155 mm mustard shells have little military value on the modern battlefield. A meaningful CW attack using artillery requires thousands of rounds. Retention of such a limited number of shells makes no sense and cannot be viewed as a serious threat.

Far more important to assuring Iraq's qualitative disarmament is disabling its production capability—a task that at first glance seems almost impossible. A 1998 UNSCOM document laid out all the possible ways Iraq could conceal a CW production capability.7 The document noted that Iraq could either bury precursor chemicals or distribute them throughout its commercial chemical industry to disguise their true use. Likewise, it could distribute empty dual-use munitions to depots under the cover of legitimate use, bury them, or continuously move them around in trucks. The documents required to resume CW activity could, if microfilmed, be stored in a single briefcase.

Even more disturbing, the 1998 UNSCOM document noted that Iraq could readily distribute the main pieces of equipment needed for CW production throughout its commercial facilities, meaning that equipment that had a legitimate use in commercial chemical-related activity could also be used for CW manufacture. As long as this equipment was maintained at legitimate facilities, any hidden intent by Iraq to use it for illicit purposes would go undetected. "There is no single-use CW equipment, all pieces are dual use and could be justified at different locations," the document noted.

There was absolutely no evidence that Iraq was trying to hide CW production equipment. In its monitoring capacity, UNSCOM carried out extensive inspections of all of Iraq's civilian chemical manufacturing infrastructure and found no evidence of illicit stores of CW precursor chemicals. Precursor chemicals are difficult to hide from inspectors because the minimum amount required for any viable CW-agent production run is several hundred tons. Inspections of dozens of Iraqi munitions depots by UNSCOM also failed to turn up any illicit unfilled munitions.

However, the key to the qualitative argument is that individual pieces of CW production equipment are worthless unless they are assembled in a specific configuration, a unique combination that would be readily discernible to weapons inspectors. "Only the proper combination of different pieces of equipment in a particular configuration gives to...these pieces of equipment the status of a CW production facility," the UNSCOM document noted. The point is that all of UNSCOM's speculative fears concerning reconstitution of an Iraqi CW capability can be laid to rest as long as a viable monitoring inspection regime, one that would detect any specialized configuration of dual-use equipment, is in place—the kind of regime that existed prior to the withdrawal of inspectors in December 1998.

Biological Weapons

Perhaps the most misunderstood member of Iraq's WMD family, the biological weapons (BW) program has been described by Richard Butler, UNSCOM's executive chairman from July 1997 to June 1999, as "a black hole."8 One of the principal reasons for such a bleak assessment is the prevailing atmosphere of mistrust that has clouded the issue from the start. Iraq denied having a BW program until June 1995, when UNSCOM confronted Baghdad with evidence of massive procurement of growth media that could not otherwise be explained. Even so, Iraq refused to admit it had an offensive BW program until after the 1995 defection of Hussein Kamal, the son-in-law of Saddam Hussein and former head of Iraq's WMD programs. At that time, Iraq admitted to having weaponized 25 Scud warheads and 157 bombs.

Despite the fact that UNSCOM destroyed the totality of Iraq's declared production facilities, equipment, and raw material associated with BW in 1996, UNSCOM experts, backed up by panels of qualified scientists from around the world, found Iraq's declarations regarding BW to be inadequate "scientifically, technically, militarily, and managerially."9 The primary point of contention was the inability of the experts to verify, based upon the available documentation, most of the declarations made by Iraq concerning both the scope of the Iraqi BW program and what the Iraqis maintained they unilaterally destroyed in 1991. Inspectors could not account for the material balance for supplies, equipment, and material for the BW program, the production of BW agent, and the production of munitions (i.e., the filling of empty munitions with BW agent). The most frustrating aspect of this issue was that unlike the CW inspectors, who had hard facts contradicting the Iraqi position on VX, the BW inspectors had no evidence of Iraqi non-compliance; they simply refused to accept the Iraqi declaration as valid without records, documents, and physical evidence.

Because of this lack of substantive information, the BW inspection group implemented the most intensive of all UNSCOM's monitoring regimes, drawing in dozens of sites ranging from those involved in vaccine and pharmaceutical work to university-level research laboratories to beer-brewing factories and animal-feed production plants (which could conceivably be converted to mass-produce BW agent). Detailed protocols for each site were developed, and teams of highly trained biologists combed these sites repeatedly for any sign of wrongdoing by Iraq. But while UNSCOM and Iraq faced off over the inadequacies of the Iraqi BW declaration, the biologists responsible for monitoring Iraqi compliance found exactly that—compliance. In all of their inspections, the monitors could find no meaningful evidence of Iraqi circumvention of its commitment not to reconstitute its BW program.

Even "spectacular" finds, such as the widely publicized surprise inspection of the National Food and Drug Examination Laboratory in September 1998, which resulted in exposing the existence of "Staff 7" (also known as the Biological Activities Staff) of the Special Security Organization, turned out to be more ordinary than originally thought. "Staff 7" was responsible for testing the food and other material brought in contact with Saddam Hussein and other senior government officials, nothing more.

One of the conclusions drawn from the extensive monitoring of Iraq's biological capabilities carried out by UNSCOM was that the overall level of Iraq's biological capability, in terms of available infrastructure, was very low. Vaccine and pharmaceutical development and manufacture had deteriorated dramatically because of the continued economic sanctions, and without a massive infusion of money and technology, they would continue to do so. The reality of the situation was that, regardless of UNSCOM's ability to verify Iraq's declarations regarding its past BW programs, the major BW production facility at Al Hakum had been destroyed, together with its associated equipment, and extensive monitoring of Iraq's biological infrastructure could find no evidence of continued proscribed activity. If weapons inspectors were once again allowed back into Iraq to resume monitoring along the lines carried out by UNSCOM, there is no reason to doubt that similar findings would be had, with the same level of confidence.

Nuclear Weapons

Under the arrangements set forth in Resolution 687, responsibility for overseeing the disarmament of Iraq's nuclear weapons capability was given to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Often overlooked in the debate about Iraq's nuclear capabilities is just how effective the IAEA was at destroying, dismantling, or rendering harmless Iraq's nuclear weapons capability. Despite every attempt by Iraq to retain some level of nuclear weapons capability, the massive infrastructure Baghdad had assembled by 1991 to produce a nuclear bomb had been eliminated by 1995. Al Atheer, the nuclear weaponization facility, had been destroyed—blown up under IAEA supervision—and all other major facilities related to Iraq's nuclear weapons program had either been dismantled or were subjected to one of the most stringent forms of ongoing monitoring and verification inspections ever implemented under a disarmament accord.

By 1996, the IAEA had established a seamless monitoring-based inspection regime that provided absolute certainty Iraq would not be able to reconstitute its nuclear weapons program short of acquiring a complete nuclear weapon abroad. While black-market transactions relating to the proliferation of nuclear weapons material is a serious issue, it is well beyond the mandate of IAEA inspections inside Iraq. There has been no evidence provided of any attempt by Iraq to acquire a nuclear weapon or major related components since 1991. (Iraq has attempted to acquire some dual-use items, fueling speculation about its intent, but all items were minor and would not have had any meaningful impact on a full-scale nuclear weapons effort.) Furthermore, given the high quality of the IAEA monitoring approach in Iraq, any such items, if not detected outright by IAEA inspectors, would have to be hidden by the Iraqis in a fashion that would preclude their use in any covert rearmament activity because any attempt at rearmament would be discovered by the monitoring inspections.

Despite the effectiveness of the IAEA at eliminating Iraq's nuclear capabilities, rumors of Iraq possessing a nuclear device persist. The main cause of such speculation is information provided by an Iraqi defector from the security services who fled Iraq in 1995 and came to the attention of UNSCOM in early 1997. The defector, to whom UNSCOM gained access through cooperation with supporting governments, possessed information pertaining to the methods and units used by Iraq to conceal its retained proscribed weapons from UNSCOM and the IAEA.

This information, especially as pertaining to the Military Industrial Commission Security Service, proved to be unerringly accurate and established the defector as a valid and potentially valuable source.10 Based upon the defector's proven credibility, when he later provided UNSCOM with secondhand information about Iraq's continued possession of "a 20-kiloton nuclear bomb," UNSCOM had no choice but to take the allegation seriously. According to the defector, Iraqi security forces maintained a fleet of some 150 Mercedes trucks that were dedicated to transporting material associated with the Iraqi nuclear weapons program. These trucks were maintained in at least five depots around the Baghdad area. The defector provided detailed descriptions of the vehicles, including color schemes and license plate numbers, as well as information on convoy movement and the vehicle makeup of convoys associated with the movement of the "bomb."

Rolf Ekeus decided the defector's report should be thoroughly investigated. At the same time, the IAEA was involved in ongoing technical discussions with their Iraqi counterparts about gaps in the information provided by Iraq concerning its nuclear program. It was thought that the defector's report might also help answer some of the IAEA's remaining questions.

Of particular concern was incomplete information on the status of the final Iraqi design for a nuclear bomb and the disposition of design drawings and molds for the manufacture of the high-explosive lenses needed for an implosion device. The IAEA noted that several critical drawings were missing and that there was an inconsistency in the Iraqi story about the lens program. Iraqi authorities at first stated that, because their final nuclear weapon design called for the outer dimensions of the device to be reduced from 120 centimeters to less than 80 centimeters (in order to fit in the warhead of a Scud-type missile), the effort never went beyond the design stage as Iraqi engineers struggled to shrink the weapon. The Iraqis then conceded that they had in fact cast some lenses for testing purposes, and the IAEA and UNSCOM speculated that it was possible Iraq had manufactured three or four sets of high-explosive lenses.

Coordination between UNSCOM and the IAEA on this issue during the summer of 1997 resulted in the dismissal of the basic premise that Iraq had a "20-kiloton nuclear bomb." All evidence, including testimony from Hussein Kamal, clearly established that Iraq had not manufactured a nuclear weapon by the time of the Gulf War. In response to a question from the IAEA as to whether Iraq had tried to produce a bomb and whether such efforts were ongoing, Hussein Kamal replied,

Yes, but not now, before the Gulf War. First they studied 12 ton, then 9 ton and then 5 ton. These are weights of a device which they would make suitable for delivery. These were only studies…. All the time they worked to make it smaller but had never reached a point close to testing.11

Nevertheless, continued inconsistencies in the Iraqi story, combined with the refusal of the Iraqi side to provide the IAEA with an overall design concept of the nuclear device, made it prudent to examine every report that hinted at continued concealment activities on the part of Iraq. However, both UNSCOM and the IAEA were in agreement that for the defector's report to be credible, the material in question could only be components of a 20-kiloton device, not an actual bomb. Since 1998, the IAEA has gained access to additional documentation, in the form of log books pertaining to the production of high-explosive lenses, that further clarifies the issue of high-explosive lens manufacture by Iraq, thus eliminating one of the main concerns fueling ongoing speculation that Iraq continues to possess major nuclear weapon components.12

In conclusion, it is highly unlikely that the defector's claims concerning an Iraqi nuclear bomb are accurate. Unfortunately, speculation that Iraq has retained some nuclear capability simply will not go away. It is conceivable that Iraq could have retained certain components of a nuclear device. However, there is no credible evidence of this, and even if such material were retained, it would be of no use to Iraq, given the extent to which Iraq's nuclear program was dismantled by the IAEA. The best way to ensure that Iraq does not reconstitute its nuclear weapons program is to get IAEA inspectors back into Iraq, where they can resume their task of monitoring Iraqi compliance.


Iraq Today

The absence of weapons inspectors in Iraq since December 1998 has created a vacuum of available data on which to base an assessment of Iraq's current activities. Rushing to fill this void have been a series of speculative reports that have attributed certain capabilities to Iraq that are incompatible with what UNSCOM learned from eight years of experience with Iraq's WMD programs. The truth of the matter is, devoid of weapons inspections, no one knows for sure what has transpired in Iraq since the last inspectors were withdrawn. Conjecture aside, however, there is absolutely no reason to believe that Iraq could have meaningfully reconstituted any element of its WMD capabilities in the past 18 months.

From a WMD perspective, Iraq today is not the Iraq of 1991. What took Iraq decades to build through the expenditure of billions of dollars could not, under any rational analysis, have been reconstituted since December 1998. Iraq's nuclear enrichment infrastructure has been reduced to zero, and Iraq lacks the funding, technology, and time required to reconstitute it. In theory, some practical work could have been carried out in the field of high-explosive lens development, but any serious effort would require the diversion of controlled stocks of specialized explosives that had been used for manufacturing the lenses, something that would be readily discerned once IAEA inspectors return to work.

In addition to the fact that UNSCOM was thoroughly monitoring all activity related to the Al Samoud missile project, the major facilities related to the development efforts of this permitted missile system were bombed and either destroyed or heavily damaged during Operation Desert Fox. When, in the summer of 1999, the CIA detected signs of reconstruction at these facilities, the Clinton administration immediately warned of an imminent threat. However, such assessments were not shared by the scientists and technicians of UNSCOM, who knew Iraq's capabilities better than anyone. One study, prepared in July 1996 by a British missile expert, set the tone for all reports that followed:

Even given a relaxation of the sanctions program, if there are no quantum jumps in the level of technology available to [Iraq], it should be many years before an indigenously designed, 150 kilometer range, Iraqi missile has the integrated range/payload/accuracy to militarily threaten even the immediate region.13

Nothing has transpired since 1996 that could remotely be construed as a "quantum jump" in Iraq's ballistic missiles capabilities.

Some U.S. government officials, media pundits, and former UNSCOM staff (including Rolf Ekeus and Richard Butler) fear that Iraq, if it indeed retained all the material that some in UNSCOM believe possible, could readily reconstitute its chemical- and biological-agent production capabilities. However, manufacturing CW would require assembling production equipment into a single integrated facility, creating an infrastructure readily detectable by the strategic intelligence capabilities of the United States. The CIA has clearly stated on several occasions since the termination of inspections in December 1998 that no such activity has been detected. The Iraqis do have enough equipment to carry out laboratory-scale production of BW agent. However, without an infusion of money and technology, expanding such a capability into a viable weapons program is a virtual impossibility. Contrary to popular belief, BW cannot simply be cooked up in the basement; it requires a large and sophisticated infrastructure, especially if the agent is to be filled into munitions. As with CW, the CIA has not detected any such activity concerning BW since UNSCOM inspectors left Iraq.

CIA assessments alone cannot certify that Iraq has no weapons of mass destruction; national intelligence systems have failed to detect WMD efforts in Iraq in the past. But because of the work carried out by UNSCOM, it can be fairly stated that Iraq was qualitatively disarmed at the time inspectors were withdrawn. While no one can say for certain what has transpired inside Iraq since then, the resumption of monitoring-based inspections would easily determine if Iraq had made any effort to reconstitute its WMD programs.


Moving Forward

Iraq has not fully complied with the provisions of Security Council Resolution 687. On this there is no debate. However, this failure to comply does not automatically translate into a finding that Iraq continues to possess weapons of mass destruction and the means to produce them. Resolution 687 demanded far more than the dismantling of viable weapons and weapons-production capabilities. Most of UNSCOM's findings of Iraqi non-compliance concerned either the inability to verify an Iraqi declaration or peripheral matters, such as components and documentation, which by and of themselves do not constitute a weapon or program. By the end of 1998, Iraq had, in fact, been disarmed to a level unprecedented in modern history, but UNSCOM and the Security Council were unable—and in some instances unwilling—to acknowledge this accomplishment.

Unfortunately, the quantitative standards for Iraqi compliance set forth in Resolution 687 are still in place today in the form of Resolution 1284, which emphasizes verifying material balance over resuming viable monitoring activities. This is a formula for disaster, perpetuating the cycle of conflict with Iraq that led to the discrediting of UNSCOM. UNMOVIC will meet the same fate unless the Security Council takes measures to refocus the inspection regime on disarmament issues related to viable weapons and weapons-production capability, instead of engaging in a never-ending effort to account for every last vestige of Iraq's former WMD programs. UNMOVIC should move rapidly to the more important task of monitoring Iraq to ensure that its dismantled weapons programs are not reconstituted.

In this vein, Hans Blix should target his inspections carefully. Blix has made clear his desire to continue the same inspection tactics employed by UNSCOM, including no-notice inspections and aerial surveillance. While such rights are at the core of any credible on-site inspection regime, UNMOVIC's no-notice inspections should focus on facilities that have a legitimate bearing on WMD research, development, and manufacture. Blix should avoid pressure to continue aggressive inspections aimed at Iraqi presidential and security sites. Such inspections have historically produced little to do with disarmament, and given the misuse of sensitive information gathered by UNSCOM from such sites in the past, they would be viewed with mistrust not only by Iraq, but also by many members of the Security Council.14

One serious obstacle to the reformulation of Iraq's disarmament obligation by the Security Council is the current U.S. policy of removing Saddam Hussein from power, codified in the Iraqi Liberation Act of 1998. That law has so far failed to threaten Saddam Hussein in any meaningful way, but it has succeeded in precluding any significant diplomatic initiative by locking the United States into a unilateral policy that makes cooperation with Iraq impossible. If the United States is serious about disarming Iraq, it should repeal the Iraqi Liberation Act and work within the framework of the Security Council to formulate a policy that results in the rapid reintroduction of meaningful, monitoring-based weapons inspections into Iraq.

That will require the lifting, not simply the suspension, of sanctions. While it is true that the sanctions have retarded Iraq's ability to acquire technology that could aid any WMD reconstitution effort, Resolution 687 stated that a finding of compliance would trigger the lifting of sanctions. Sanctions are thus not an open-ended option. At some point, they will need to be lifted, and if a finding of qualitative disarmament, backed with the implementation of viable monitoring-based inspections, can be achieved, then there is no reason to keep sanctions in place.

The Security Council must also follow through on the promise it made in paragraph 14 of Resolution 687, which speaks of regional disarmament. While monitoring-based inspections in Iraq must be expected to last indefinitely, they cannot be expected to last in a vacuum. Unless arrangements are made to address WMD programs in Iran and Israel, as well as the regional proliferation of advanced conventional weaponry, Iraq will never accept perpetual disarmament.

What is needed is a Security Council resolution that concludes Resolution 687, supersedes Resolution 1284, and redefines the disarmament obligations of Iraq to meet more realistic qualitative benchmarks. In addition to verifying Iraqi compliance with these new benchmarks, the resulting inspectorate, whether a revamped UNMOVIC or a new agency, would be tasked with implementing a monitoring regime similar to the one UNSCOM had in place prior to its withdrawal from Iraq. Once Iraq's disarmament along clearly defined qualitative standards had been verified by weapons inspectors, and after a viable monitoring regime was in place to detect and deter any attempt at reconstituting its WMD programs, the Security Council would lift, not suspend, economic sanctions.

Refocusing inspection goals and objectives would not only capitalize on UNSCOM's many accomplishments in rooting out and disposing of Iraq's prohibited weapons, it would also help the Security Council regain some of its lost credibility and resume its role as a viable overseer of international peace and security. It also meets the original intent of the Security Council to eliminate Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs, not its leadership. Such a policy, built on the precepts of diplomatic engagement, would promote peace and security more than any other alternative policy currently being considered. And that, of course, is what arms control and disarmament are all about.


1. Author conversations with Iraqi government officials in 1999 and 2000.

2. The Ibn Al Haytham Missile Research and Design Center, which took over responsibility for Iraq's permitted ballistic missile programs in the aftermath of the Gulf War.

3. Azad Vekilov, "Ibn Al Haytham Missile Research and Development Center MT-1 (UNSCOM 49) Report on Interim Monitoring," March 22, 1992. UNSCOM document.

4. Resolution 687 permits Iraq to possess ballistic missiles with a range of 150 kilometers or less, as well as the means to produce them.

5. Igor Mitrokhin, "Concealment Aspect—Chemical Weapons," January 20, 1998. UNSCOM document.Igor Mitrokhin, "Concealment Aspect—Chemical Weapons," January 20, 1998. UNSCOM document.

6. Presentation by UNSCOM to the Security Council, June 3, 1998.

7. Mitrokhin, op. cit.Mitrokhin, op. cit.

8. Richard Butler, The Greatest Threat: Iraq, Weapons of Mass Destruction and the Growing Crisis in Global Security, Public Affairs: New York, 2000, p. 81.

9. Richard Spertzel, "Presentation of Biological Weapons Related Issues to the Security Council," June 3, 1998.

10.The Military Industrial Commission Security Service, also known as the Amn al Tasnia, is responsible for military-industrial facility and personnel security.

11."Conversation tete-a-tete with Lieutenant General Hussein Kamal Hassan al-Majid, 22 August 1995, 1:00-3:00 p.m., Amman, Jordan," UNSCOM document.

12.A separate investigation concerning the existence of a hide site near the Iraqi city of Najaf used to store materials relating to Iraq's dismantled centrifuge enrichment program was carried out by the IAEA and UNSCOM using information from the same defector—information that was, if anything, more detailed than that of the truck convoys. This investigation refuted the defector's information, casting a shadow over the viability of his other information.

13. UNSCOM ballistic missile team, "A Note on the Capabilities of Iraqi Machine Tools and Production Processes," July 8, 1996. UNSCOM document.

14. Operation Desert Fox made extensive use of information gleaned from UNSCOM inspections in targeting presidential palaces and security and military facilities throughout Iraq.

Scott Ritter, former weapons inspector and chief of the concealment unit for UNSCOM, is the author of Endgame: Solving the Iraq Problem—Once and for All.

The Case for Iraq's Qualitative Disarmament


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