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"[Arms Control Today] has become indispensable! I think it is the combination of the critical period we are in and the quality of the product. I found myself reading the May issue from cover to cover."

– Frank von Hippel
Co-Director of Program on Science and Global Security, Princeton University
June 1, 2018
Iraq

U.K., 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.

UN Security Council Not Likely To Agree on Iraqi Sanctions

Alex Wagner

As a July 3 deadline approaches, Russian opposition appears likely to prevent the United Nations Security Council from passing a U.S.-endorsed, British draft resolution to revamp the 11-year-old sanctions regime against Iraq.

Since June 20, Security Council technical experts have been discussing a slightly revised version of a British draft resolution initially submitted in May, which would, among other things, allow most commercial transactions with Iraq to proceed and bring all illegal oil-export relationships under UN control.

Over the June 23 weekend, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov sent a letter to Secretary of State Colin Powell, informing him that Russia “cannot allow” passage of the British approach to reshaping the current sanctions regime, which was imposed on Iraq after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. During a Security Council meeting June 26, Moscow’s ambassador to the UN, Sergey Lavrov, criticized the British draft for burying hopes for ongoing arms monitoring and for damaging the legitimate economic interests of many countries, including Russia.

In response to the British proposal, Lavrov announced submission of a new Russian draft resolution, which purported to present a “comprehensive approach” to resolving the humanitarian crisis in Iraq. Lavrov said that the Russian draft contained “clear criteria for suspending and then lifting sanctions, tied with the deployment” of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), which was created by Security Council Resolution 1284 in December 1999.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher responded harshly to Russia’s criticisms of the British draft and questioned the motives of “other members of the Security Council, including some with extensive commercial relationships with Iraq.” Boucher called it “ironic that now that the United States has proposed a radical shift in how we deal with Iraq.…some on the Security Council oppose this change despite the fact that they had long advocated it.” Addressing Russia’s rejection of the revised British draft, Boucher shot back, “Our goal is not to allow Iraq what it wants. We have seen where that leads.”

Outside the Security Council on June 26, James Cunningham, acting U.S. representative to the UN, dismissed the Russian draft resolution as having “very little substance” and said that it would “not be a useful basis for discussion.”

Among the other permanent members of the Security Council, the primary point of contention had been the contents of a comprehensive “goods review list,” a catalog of weapons-related and “dual-use” items that would require UN authorization before being imported by Iraq. The list would be composed of three elements: proscribed items identified by UNMOVIC and the International Atomic Energy Agency as related to weapons of mass destruction and their delivery vehicles; conventional and dual-use technology items governed by the Wassenaar Arrangement, a multilateral export control regime; and items detailed in a document proposed by the United States.

However, on June 29, Cunningham announced that Britain, China, France, and the United States had come to an agreement on what items would be included on the goods review list.

Discussions have intensified in the last month, as a general consensus emerged among council members that the current sanctions regime needs to be refocused. The United States had hoped to obtain agreement on altering the sanctions regime by the beginning of June, when the latest six-month phase of the oil-for-food program expired. (See ACT, June 2001.) Unable to come to a decision, the Security Council unanimously approved a resolution June 1 that extended the oil-for-food program for one month in order to provide members more time to consider the available proposals. The resolution declared the council’s desire to work on proposals that would re-energize the sanctions regime and to “consider new arrangements” that would improve both the flow of civilian goods to Iraq and controls on prohibited items.

In response to the short-term rollover of the oil-for-food program, Iraq stopped all of its UN-authorized oil exports, though it continued to export oil to neighboring states illicitly. Unsurprisingly, as the council’s experts met throughout June, Iraq remained highly critical of any approach to alter the existing regime.

France submitted a draft proposal of its own to the Security Council on June 19. Operating from the same basic principles as the British draft, the French resolution differs most notably in that it would allow Jordan and Iraq to maintain an oil-export relationship whose revenues would not be controlled by the UN, permit foreign investment in upgrading Iraq’s oil industry, and allow inspection of cargo flights within Iraq’s borders by UN personnel.

The British draft consents to foreign investment in civilian sectors but not in the oil industry. According to a UN official, France is not likely to oppose adoption of the British draft resolution if the United States and the United Kingdom accept some of the modifications outlined in the French proposal.

China has also expressed concerns regarding Washington’s and London’s attempt to reach a quick decision on such a complex issue, and at the June 26 Security Council session it supported elements of the French draft resolution that allow investment in the Iraqi oil industry and limit interference in oil relationships with Iraq’s neighbors.

A UN official indicated that Beijing has taken a much more constructive approach to the British draft than the Russians, tabling amendments and participating actively in technical experts meetings. It is believed that China does not oppose a resolution to overhaul the regime in principle, and Beijing has yet to indicate that it would veto the British draft should it be brought to a vote.

Were the United States and the United Kingdom able to secure French and Chinese support for the British draft, a UN official suggested it is possible they might push for a vote in order to challenge Russia’s willingness to veto the resolution. No Security Council resolution on the Iraqi situation has been vetoed by a permanent Security Council member. However, abstention by China, France, and Russia on Resolution 1284 has been cited as one of the reasons why Iraq has felt little pressure to comply with its terms.

Cunningham said June 29 that, facing a stalemate, the council will pass another temporary extension of the oil-for-food program, giving the diplomats additional time to work out the details of a comprehensive new arrangement. When asked June 25 about the prospects of another short-term extension, Powell expressed his desire to instead “see a new resolution” and hear what others have to say about the revised British draft before “prejudging what the council might do.”

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."

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