I salute the Arms Control Association … for its keen vision of the goals ahead and for its many efforts to identify and to promote practical measures that are so vitally needed to achieve them. -

– Amb. Nobuyasu Abe
Former UN Undersecretary General for Disarmament Affairs
January 28, 2004
WMD Terrorism

U.S. Issued Warning on Threat of Possible Iraqi WMD Use

Wade Boese

One of the unknowns leading up to and during the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was the U.S. response if Iraqi forces used chemical or biological weapons against U.S. troops or allies. Fortunately, Iraq did not carry out such an attack, sparing an answer.

Nevertheless, the question lingers and remains relevant because other countries hostile to the United States are known or thought to possess chemical and biological weapons.

At various times in the past, U.S. officials have said that the United States might respond to a chemical or biological weapons attack with nuclear weapons. The United States has pledged, however, not to use nuclear weapons against countries not possessing them that are party to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty unless such a country joined a nuclear-armed country in attacking the United States, its forces, or allies. Proliferation experts have also debated whether a nuclear response would be proportionate to chemical or biological weapons use.

As the likelihood of war grew and then became reality, Bush administration officials narrowed their public comments about how the United States would respond to a chemical or biological attack. It is not known if any private threats were communicated to Iraqi leaders.

Over the first months of this year, U.S. officials would not forswear, although they did downplay, the possibility of retaliating with nuclear weapons if Iraq used chemical or biological arms, arguing that no option would be ruled out. Both in the days prior to the outbreak of the war and during the fighting, top officials did not threaten to retaliate with or even allude to possible U.S. nuclear use. Instead, they directed their public statements to Iraqi military commanders and soldiers, telling them that they would be punished as war criminals if they used chemical or biological weapons.

When President George W. Bush issued an ultimatum March 17 that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and his sons had 48 hours to leave Iraq or face military action, he warned Iraq’s military not to obey any order to use weapons of mass destruction, a term referring to chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. If Iraq employed these types of weapons, Bush indicated that the act would constitute a war crime and stated that those responsible would be prosecuted as war criminals. He warned, “And it will be no defense to say, ‘I was just following orders.’”

Bush did not say that the United States would reserve the right to respond any way it wanted—warnings that other senior officials previously voiced—but neither did he refute the earlier statements.

Appearing on NBC’s Meet the Press January 26, White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card suggested that the United States might retaliate with nuclear weapons to a chemical or biological attack. Hussein “should anticipate that the United States will use whatever means necessary to protect us and the world from a holocaust,” Card said. When asked if that included nuclear weapons, Card responded, “I’m not going to put anything on the table or off the table.”

Secretary of State Colin Powell and White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer also declined in January and February to explicitly renounce nuclear weapons as an option in a possible conflict with Iraq, saying U.S. policy was not to rule anything out. Powell, however, noted February 9, “It does not mean we are going to use nuclear weapons.”

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld took a similar line in a February 13 Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, contending past U.S. policy dictated that the United States “not foreclose the possible use of nuclear weapons if attacked.” He added, however, that the United States could accomplish what it needed to with conventional capabilities and described the implication of one news article that nuclear weapons might be used in Iraq as “unfortunate.”

A day after the U.S.-led invasion began March 19, Rumsfeld repeated Bush’s warning that the use of weapons of mass destruction would be a war crime and the perpetrators would be found and punished. Rumsfeld repeated this message over the next several days.

Bush also reiterated his earlier statement when questioned March 27 whether the United States would use nuclear weapons in response to an Iraqi chemical or biological attack. At first, the president answered vaguely, replying, “We will deal with it.” But in response to a follow-up question, he stated, “Well, they’ve been sent a message…if you launch a weapon of mass destruction, you’ll be tried as a war criminal. And I urge those Iraqi generals who have any doubt of our word to be careful, because we’ll keep our word.”

The U.S. military sought to deter or prevent Iraqi use of chemical or biological weapons through a variety of methods. In addition to seizing territory from which the weapons could be launched and striking potential delivery systems and possible storage sites, leaflets were dropped from planes to dissuade Iraqi soldiers from using such weapons. One leaflet read, “No one benefits from the use of weapons of mass destruction.”

U.S. warnings were targeted at Iraqi decision-makers and those with their “fingers on the trigger,” in the words of General Tommy Franks, who commanded the U.S.-led attack. Franks added March 24, “We have very carefully said, ‘Don’t do it.’” Brigadier General Vincent Brooks claimed April 7 that chemical weapons had not been used, in part, due to “influence against decision-makers.”

Another explanation could be that Iraq did not have or possessed limited quantities of such weapons. No chemical or biological weapons have been unearthed since the war started.

In December 2002, the Bush administration released a document, titled “National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction,” asserting that the United States would reserve the right to respond to any weapon of mass destruction attack with “overwhelming force—including through resort to all of our options.” Reportedly, the Bush administration adopted as U.S. policy a more explicit formulation in September 2002. That classified document, known as National Security Presidential Directive 17, is said to authorize the use of nuclear weapons as an option in retaliation for a chemical or biological weapons attack. (See ACT, January/February 2003.)

U.S. Issued Warning on Threat of Possible Iraqi WMD Use

Conference Pledges to Curb Dirty Bomb Danger

Christine Kucia

International leaders, meeting in Vienna March 10-13, called for “cradle-to-grave control” for materials that could be used to create a radioactive dispersal device, otherwise known as a “dirty bomb.” In particular, the conference urged stepped-up measures to protect the potentially lethal materials, particularly “orphan” sources that remain unprotected in countries without the means to monitor or secure the material.

The conference, co-sponsored by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Russia, and the United States, drew more than 700 people from more than 120 countries to tackle the issues surrounding the possession, monitoring, and transport of high-risk radiological material. U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham called for the meeting in November 2002, stressing a need to “develop the international framework for dealing with the specific threat posed by dirty bombs.”

After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, governments have become increasingly concerned that terrorists might construct a dirty bomb, which incorporates radioactive material in a conventional explosive bomb. Security for the material “has taken on a new urgency,” IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei said March 11.

On March 11, Abraham announced a $3 million U.S. contribution to the IAEA’s new Radiological Security Partnership, a program that will help developing countries secure their abandoned radiological materials. This project will provide U.S. financial and technological support to the IAEA, similar to an IAEA-Russian-U.S. initiative agreed in June 2002 to secure radiological sources in the former Soviet Union. (See ACT, July/August 2002.) According to Abraham, “It is my hope that this model, which is working so well in the former Soviet Union, will become global in scale.”

Priorities for the partnership will include assisting member states with developing national programs to monitor and secure high-risk materials, locate and dispose of orphan radiological sources, and prevent illicit trafficking of the material by targeting key shipping hubs for monitoring and control efforts. An IAEA official, however, said he was unclear on the details of the program, and the Energy Department did not return calls asking for explanation.

The IAEA has long pushed for increased funding for measures to prevent theft or acquisition of nuclear materials for terrorist acts. In November 2001, ElBaradei outlined a plan to increase its annual nuclear security spending by $30-50 million, which the Board of Governors approved in June 2002. ElBaradei said that the IAEA would need another $20 million per year—on top of the current $12 million budget—for its Nuclear Security Fund in order to respond to crises involving radioactive materials.

International leaders, meeting in Vienna March 10-13, called for “cradle-to-grave control” for materials that could be used to create a radioactive dispersal device, otherwise known as a “dirty bomb.”

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

John Steinbruner

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

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

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

The Vital Importance of Legitimacy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Practical Judgments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


Inspectors Try to Fill Gaps in Iraqi Declaration

Paul Kerr

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Into the Breach

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inspections and Controversy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next Steps

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UN Security Council Resolution 1441

The United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1441 by a vote of 15-0 on November 8, requiring Iraq to admit inspectors from the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Baghdad accepted the new resolution November 13, and it must submit a declaration of its prohibited weapons programs by December 8, 2002. Inspections are scheduled to begin November 27, and the inspectors are required to update the Security Council on their progress 60 days later.

Resolution 1441 gives inspectors a stronger mandate than they had under previous Security Council resolutions. UN inspectors now have the authority to prohibit the movement of vehicles and aircraft around sites they wish to inspect in order to prevent Iraq from moving weapons materials. Inspectors have the right to interview anyone they choose, without Iraqi officials present, in any location they wish, including outside Iraq.

The resolution also encourages governments to share intelligence data with inspectors. Additionally, it mandates access to “presidential sites,” superceding a 1998 memorandum of understanding between Baghdad and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan that had placed special conditions on inspections of those sites.

The product of weeks of bargaining among Security Council members, the new resolution is a compromise. (See ACT, November 2002.) France and Russia had been concerned that language originally proposed by the United States and the United Kingdom set an unacceptably low threshold for initiating military action against Iraq to enforce the resolution and minimized the role of the Security Council. The new resolution states that this is Iraq’s “final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations” and requires that reports from inspectors and member states about Iraqi noncompliance that could constitute “material breach” of the resolution be referred to the Security Council.

The Security Council members continue to have different interpretations of exactly what Iraqi violations might justify military action against the country.

Weapons inspectors have not been able to work in Iraq since 1998, when Iraq stopped complying with monitoring activities and halted cooperation with weapons inspectors, then comprised of personnel from the IAEA and the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM). The IAEA and UNSCOM withdrew their personnel in December 1998, just before the United States and the United Kingdom initiated three days of air strikes over Iraq. UNMOVIC was created in December 1999 by Security Council Resolution 1284 to replace UNSCOM.

Following is the text of the resolution:

Resolution 1441 (2002)
Adopted by the Security Council at its 4644th meeting, on 8 November 2002

The Security Council,

Recalling all its previous relevant resolutions, in particular its resolutions 661 (1990) of 6 August 1990, 678 (1990) of 29 November 1990, 686 (1991) of 2 March 1991, 687 (1991) of 3 April 1991, 688 (1991) of 5 April 1991, 707 (1991) of 15 August 1991, 715 (1991) of 11 October 1991, 986 (1995) of 14 April 1995, and 1284 (1999) of 17 December 1999, and all the relevant statements of its President,

Recalling also its resolution 1382 (2001) of 29 November 2001 and its intention to implement it fully,

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

Recalling that its resolution 678 (1990) authorized Member States to use all necessary means to uphold and implement its resolution 660 (1990) of 2 August 1990 and all relevant resolutions subsequent to Resolution 660 (1990) and to restore international peace and security in the area,

Further recalling that its resolution 687 (1991) imposed obligations on Iraq as a necessary step for achievement of its stated objective of restoring international peace and security in the area,

Deploring the fact that Iraq has not provided an accurate, full, final, and complete disclosure, as required by resolution 687 (1991), of all aspects of its programmes to develop weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles with a range greater than one hundred and fifty kilometres, and of all holdings of such weapons, their components and production facilities and locations, as well as all other nuclear programmes, including any which it claims are for purposes not related to nuclear-weapons-usable material,

Deploring further that Iraq repeatedly obstructed immediate, unconditional, and unrestricted access to sites designated by the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), failed to cooperate fully and unconditionally with UNSCOM and IAEA weapons inspectors, as required by resolution 687 (1991), and ultimately ceased all cooperation with UNSCOM and the IAEA in 1998,

Deploring the absence, since December 1998, in Iraq of international monitoring, inspection, and verification, as required by relevant resolutions, of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles, in spite of the Council’s repeated demands that Iraq provide immediate, unconditional, and unrestricted access to the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), established in resolution 1284 (1999) as the successor organization to UNSCOM, and the IAEA, and regretting the consequent prolonging of the crisis in the region and the suffering of the Iraqi people,

Deploring also that the Government of Iraq has failed to comply with its commitments pursuant to resolution 687 (1991) with regard to terrorism, pursuant to resolution 688 (1991) to end repression of its civilian population and to provide access by international humanitarian organizations to all those in need of assistance in Iraq, and pursuant to resolutions 686 (1991), 687 (1991), and 1284 (1999) to return or cooperate in accounting for Kuwaiti and third country nationals wrongfully detained by Iraq, or to return Kuwaiti property wrongfully seized by Iraq,

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

Determined to ensure full and immediate compliance by Iraq without conditions or restrictions with its obligations under resolution 687 (1991) and other relevant resolutions and recalling that the resolutions of the Council constitute the governing standard of Iraqi compliance,

Recalling that the effective operation of UNMOVIC, as the successor organization to the Special Commission, and the IAEA is essential for the implementation of resolution 687 (1991) and other relevant resolutions,

Noting the letter dated 16 September 2002 from the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iraq addressed to the Secretary General is a necessary first step toward rectifying Iraq’s continued failure to comply with relevant Council resolutions,

Noting further the letter dated 8 October 2002 from the Executive Chairman of UNMOVIC and the Director General of the IAEA to General Al-Saadi of the Government of Iraq laying out the practical arrangements, as a follow-up to their meeting in Vienna, that are prerequisites for the resumption of inspections in Iraq by UNMOVIC and the IAEA, and expressing the gravest concern at the continued failure by the Government of Iraq to provide confirmation of the arrangements as laid out in that letter,

Reaffirming the commitment of all Member States to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq, Kuwait, and the neighbouring States,

Commending the Secretary General and members of the League of Arab States and its Secretary General for their efforts in this regard,

Determined to secure full compliance with its decisions,

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

1. Decides that Iraq has been and remains in material breach of its obligations under relevant resolutions, including resolution 687 (1991), in particular through Iraq’s failure to cooperate with United Nations inspectors and the IAEA, and to complete the actions required under paragraphs 8 to 13 of resolution 687 (1991);

2. Decides, while acknowledging paragraph 1 above, to afford Iraq, by this resolution, a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations under relevant resolutions of the Council; and accordingly decides to set up an enhanced inspection regime with the aim of bringing to full and verified completion the disarmament process established by resolution 687 (1991) and subsequent resolutions of the Council;

3. Decides that, in order to begin to comply with its disarmament obligations, in addition to submitting the required biannual declarations, the Government of Iraq shall provide to UNMOVIC, the IAEA, and the Council, not later than 30 days from the date of this resolution, a currently accurate, full, and complete declaration of all aspects of its programmes to develop chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, and other delivery systems such as unmanned aerial vehicles and dispersal systems designed for use on aircraft, including any holdings and precise locations of such weapons, components, sub-components, stocks of agents, and related material and equipment, the locations and work of its research, development and production facilities, as well as all other chemical, biological, and nuclear programmes, including any which it claims are for purposes not related to weapon production or material;

4. Decides that false statements or omissions in the declarations submitted by Iraq pursuant to this resolution and failure by Iraq at any time to comply with, and cooperate fully in the implementation of, this resolution shall constitute a further material breach of Iraq’s obligations and will be reported to the Council for assessment in accordance with paragraphs 11 and 12 below;

5. Decides that Iraq shall provide UNMOVIC and the IAEA immediate, unimpeded, unconditional, and unrestricted access to any and all, including underground, areas, facilities, buildings, equipment, records, and means of transport which they wish to inspect, as well as immediate, unimpeded, unrestricted, and private access to all officials and other persons whom UNMOVIC or the IAEA wish to interview in the mode or location of UNMOVIC’s or the IAEA’s choice pursuant to any aspect of their mandates; further decides that UNMOVIC and the IAEA may at their discretion conduct interviews inside or outside of Iraq, may facilitate the travel of those interviewed and family members outside of Iraq, and that, at the sole discretion of UNMOVIC and the IAEA, such interviews may occur without the presence of observers from the Iraqi government; and instructs UNMOVIC and requests the IAEA to resume inspections no later than 45 days following adoption of this resolution and to update the Council 60 days thereafter;

6. Endorses the 8 October 2002 letter from the Executive Chairman of UNMOVIC and the Director-General of the IAEA to General Al-Saadi of the Government of Iraq, which is annexed hereto, and decides that the contents of the letter shall be binding upon Iraq;

7. Decides further that, in view of the prolonged interruption by Iraq of the presence of UNMOVIC and the IAEA and in order for them to accomplish the tasks set forth in this resolution and all previous relevant resolutions and notwithstanding prior understandings, the Council hereby establishes the following revised or additional authorities, which shall be binding upon Iraq, to facilitate their work in Iraq:

–UNMOVIC and the IAEA shall determine the composition of their inspection teams and ensure that these teams are composed of the most qualified and experienced experts available;

–All UNMOVIC and IAEA personnel shall enjoy the privileges and immunities, corresponding to those of experts on mission, provided in the Convention on Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations and the Agreement on the Privileges and Immunities of the IAEA;

–UNMOVIC and the IAEA shall have unrestricted rights of entry into and out of Iraq, the right to free, unrestricted, and immediate movement to and from inspection sites, and the right to inspect any sites and buildings, including immediate, unimpeded, unconditional, and unrestricted access to Presidential Sites equal to that at other sites, notwithstanding the provisions of resolution 1154 (1998) of 2 March 1998;

–UNMOVIC and the IAEA shall have the right to be provided by Iraq the names of all personnel currently and formerly associated with Iraq’s chemical, biological, nuclear, and ballistic missile programmes and the associated research, development, and production facilities;

–Security of UNMOVIC and IAEA facilities shall be ensured by sufficient UN security guards;

–UNMOVIC and the IAEA shall have the right to declare, for the purposes of freezing a site to be inspected, exclusion zones, including surrounding areas and transit corridors, in which Iraq will suspend ground and aerial movement so that nothing is changed in or taken out of a site being inspected;

–UNMOVIC and the IAEA shall have the free and unrestricted use and landing of fixed- and rotary-winged aircraft, including manned and unmanned reconnaissance vehicles;

–UNMOVIC and the IAEA shall have the right at their sole discretion verifiably to remove, destroy, or render harmless all prohibited weapons, subsystems, components, records, materials, and other related items, and the right to impound or close any facilities or equipment for the production thereof; and

–UNMOVIC and the IAEA shall have the right to free import and use of equipment or materials for inspections and to seize and export any equipment, materials, or documents taken during inspections, without search of UNMOVIC or IAEA personnel or official or personal baggage;

8. Decides further that Iraq shall not take or threaten hostile acts directed against any representative or personnel of the United Nations or the IAEA or of any Member State taking action to uphold any Council resolution;

9. Requests the Secretary General immediately to notify Iraq of this resolution, which is binding on Iraq; demands that Iraq confirm within seven days of that notification its intention to comply fully with this resolution; and demands further that Iraq cooperate immediately, unconditionally, and actively with UNMOVIC and the IAEA;

10. Requests all Member States to give full support to UNMOVIC and the IAEA in the discharge of their mandates, including by providing any information related to prohibited programmes or other aspects of their mandates, including on Iraqi attempts since 1998 to acquire prohibited items, and by recommending sites to be inspected, persons to be interviewed, conditions of such interviews, and data to be collected, the results of which shall be reported to the Council by UNMOVIC and the IAEA;

11. Directs the Executive Chairman of UNMOVIC and the Director General of the IAEA to report immediately to the Council any interference by Iraq with inspection activities, as well as any failure by Iraq to comply with its disarmament obligations, including its obligations regarding inspections under this resolution;

12. Decides to convene immediately upon receipt of a report in accordance with paragraphs 4 or 11 above, in order to consider the situation and the need for full compliance with all of the relevant Council resolutions in order to secure international peace and security;

13. Recalls, in that context, that the Council has repeatedly warned Iraq that it will face serious consequences as a result of its continued violations of its obligations;

14. Decides to remain seized of the matter.


Text Of Blix/El-Baradei Letter

United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, The Executive Chairman

International Atomic Energy Agency, The Director General

8 October 2002

Dear General Al-Saadi,

During our recent meeting in Vienna, we discussed practical arrangements that are prerequisites for the resumption of inspections in Iraq by UNMOVIC and the IAEA. As you recall, at the end of our meeting in Vienna we agreed on a statement which listed some of the principal results achieved, particularly Iraq’s acceptance of all the rights of inspection provided for in all of the relevant Security Council resolutions. This acceptance was stated to be without any conditions attached.
During our 3 October 2002 briefing to the Security Council, members of the Council suggested that we prepare a written document on all of the conclusions we reached in Vienna. This letter lists those conclusions and seeks your confirmation thereof. We shall report accordingly to the Security Council.
In the statement at the end of the meeting, it was clarified that UNMOVIC and the IAEA will be granted immediate, unconditional and unrestricted access to sites, including what was termed “sensitive sites” in the past. As we noted, however, eight presidential sites have been the subject of special procedures under a Memorandum of Understanding of 1998. Should these sites be subject, as all other sites, to immediate, unconditional and unrestricted access, UNMOVIC and the IAEA would conduct inspections there with the same professionalism.

H.E. General Amir H. Al-Saadi,
Presidential Office

We confirm our understanding that UNMOVIC and the IAEA have the right to determine the number of inspectors required for access to any particular site. This determination will be made on the basis of the size and complexity of the site being inspected. We also confirm that Iraq will be informed of the designation of additional sites, i.e. sites not declared by Iraq or previously inspected by either UNSCOM or the IAEA, through a Notification of Inspection (NIS) provided upon arrival of the inspectors at such sites.

Iraq will ensure that no proscribed material, equipment, records or other relevant items will be destroyed except in the presence of UNMOVIC and/or IAEA inspectors, as appropriate, and at their request.

UNMOVIC and the IAEA may conduct interviews with any person in Iraq whom they believe may have information relevant to their mandate. Iraq will facilitate such interviews. It is for UNMOVIC and the IAEA to choose the mode and location for interviews.

The National Monitoring Directorate (NMD) will, as in the past, serve as the Iraqi counterpart for the inspectors. The Baghdad Ongoing Monitoring and Verification Centre (BOMVIC) will be maintained on the same premises and under the same conditions as was the former Baghdad Monitoring and Verification Centre. The NMD will make available services as before, cost free, for the refurbishment of the premises.

The NMD will provide free of cost: (a) escorts to facilitate access to sites to be inspected and communication with personnel to be interviewed; (b) a hotline for BOMVIC which will be staffed by an English speaking person on a 24 hour a day/seven days a week basis; (c) support in terms of personnel and ground transportation within the country, as requested; and (d) assistance in the movement of materials and equipment at inspectors’ request (construction, excavation equipment, etc.). NMD will also ensure that escorts are available in the event of inspections outside normal working hours, including at night and on holidays.

Regional UNMOVIC/IAEA offices may be established, for example, in Basra and Mosul, for the use of their inspectors. For this purpose, Iraq will provide, without cost, adequate office buildings, staff accommodation, and appropriate escort personnel.

UNMOVIC and the IAEA may use any type of voice or data transmission, including satellite and/or inland networks, with or without encryption capability. UNMOVIC and the IAEA may also install equipment in the field with the capability for transmission of data directly to the BOMVIC, New York and Vienna (e.g. sensors, surveillance cameras). This will be facilitated by Iraq and there will be no interference by Iraq with UNMOVIC or IAEA communications.

Iraq will provide, without cost, physical protection of all surveillance equipment, and construct antennae for remote transmission of data, at the request of UNMOVIC and the IAEA. Upon request by UNMOVIC through the NMD, Iraq will allocate frequencies for communications equipment.

Iraq will provide security for all UNMOVIC and IAEA personnel. Secure and suitable accommodations will be designated at normal rates by Iraq for these personnel. For their part, UNMOVIC and the IAEA will require that their staff not stay at any accommodation other than those identified in consultation with Iraq.

On the use of fixed-wing aircraft for transport of personnel and equipment and for inspection purposes, it was clarified that aircraft used by UNMOVIC and IAEA staff arriving in Baghdad may land at Saddam International Airport. The points of departure of incoming aircraft will be decided by UNMOVIC. The Rasheed airbase will continue to be used for UNMOVIC and IAEA helicopter operations. UNMOVIC and Iraq will establish air liaison offices at the airbase. At both Saddam International Airport and Rasheed airbase, Iraq will provide the necessary support premises and facilities. Aircraft fuel will be provided by Iraq, as before, free of charge.

On the wider issue of air operations in Iraq, both fixed-wing and rotary, Iraq will guarantee the safety of air operations in its air space outside the no-fly zones. With regard to air operations in the no-fly zones, Iraq will take all steps within its control to ensure the safety of such operations.

Helicopter flights may be used, as needed, during inspections and for technical activities, such as gamma detection, without limitation in all parts of Iraq and without any area excluded. Helicopters may also be used for medical evacuation.

On the question of aerial imagery, UNMOVIC may wish to resume the use of U-2 or Mirage overflights. The relevant practical arrangements would be similar to those implemented in the past.

As before, visas for all arriving staff will be issued at the point of entry on the basis of the UN Laissez-Passer or UN Certificate; no other entry or exit formalities will be required. The aircraft passenger manifest will be provided one hour in advance of the arrival of the aircraft in Baghdad. There will be no searching of UNMOVIC or IAEA personnel or of official or personal baggage. UNMOVIC and the IAEA will ensure that their personnel respect the laws of Iraq restricting the export of certain items, for example, those related to Iraq’s national cultural heritage. UNMOVIC and the IAEA may bring into, and remove from, Iraq all of the items and materials they require, including satellite phones and other equipment. With respect to samples, UNMOVIC and IAEA will, where feasible, split samples so that Iraq may receive a portion while another portion is kept for reference purposes. Where appropriate, the organizations will send the samples to more than one laboratory for analysis.

We would appreciate your confirmation of the above as a correct reflection of our talks in Vienna.

Naturally, we may need other practical arrangements when proceeding with inspections. We would expect in such matters, as with the above, Iraq’s co-operation in all respect.

Yours sincerely,

Hans Blix,
Executive Chairman
United Nations Monitoring,
Verification and Inspection Commission

Mohamed ElBaradei,
Director General,
International Atomic Energy Agency


U.S., Security Council Debate

November 2002

By Paul Kerr

As weapons inspectors waited to enter Iraq, the United States submitted a resolution to the UN Security Council on October 25 that firmly calls for Iraq to dismantle its weapons of mass destruction but does not directly threaten the use of force if Baghdad fails to comply. Supporting a tough stance against Iraq, Congress passed a joint resolution, which President George W. Bush signed October 16, authorizing the use of force to compel compliance with UN resolutions.

The new resolution, submitted with the United Kingdom, declares Iraq to be in “material breach” of its obligations under “relevant” Security Council resolutions, particularly Resolution 687, which mandated in 1991 that Iraq give up its nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons programs and most missiles. It calls for Iraq to submit “a currently accurate, full and complete declaration of all aspects of its [prohibited weapons] programs.”

The inspection teams would have a strong mandate under the resolution, which specifies that Iraq is to allow “immediate, unimpeded, unconditional and unrestricted access” to “facilities, buildings, equipment, records, and means of transport which they wish to inspect.” To prevent Iraq from moving materials, the resolution grants UN inspectors the authority to prohibit the movement of vehicles and aircraft around sites to be inspected. Inspectors would also have the right to interview anyone they choose, without Iraqi officials present, in any location they wish.

The resolution also mandates access to “presidential sites,” superceding a 1998 memorandum of understanding between Baghdad and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan that had placed special conditions on inspectors to such sites. Although the memorandum, which was endorsed by a Security Council resolution, did not give Iraq the right to impede inspections, some former UN inspectors have argued that these conditions could enable Iraq to conceal prohibited weapons activities.

Significantly, the new resolution gives the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) the right to access “any information that any member state is willing to provide,” an apparent reference to sharing of national intelligence data.

UNMOVIC Executive Chairman Hans Blix said during an October 28 briefing to the Security Council that access to intelligence about Iraqi weapons activities would be an important tool for UNMOVIC to perform effectively, but he emphasized that UNMOVIC would not give intelligence data to national governments. Allegations that UN weapons inspectors had been gathering intelligence in Iraq for their governments led to a controversy in 1999 that damaged UNSCOM, the previous inspection organization.

The resolution demands that Iraq “state its acceptance” of the resolution within seven days and submit declarations of its weapons programs within 30 days. UNMOVIC is to resume inspections no later than 45 days after the resolution is adopted and to update the council 60 days later.

Move Toward Compromise

The resolution differs in several respects from an earlier draft resolution that the United States circulated to permanent members of the Security Council in September, particularly in its provision for the use of force. The previous draft stated that failure “by Iraq at any time to comply and cooperate fully in accordance with” the resolution’s demands would “constitute a further material breach of Iraq’s obligations” and authorize “all member states to use all necessary means to restore international peace and security in the area.”

The current resolution also says that Iraq’s failure to comply would be a “material breach,” but instead of directly threatening force, it merely “recalls” previous Security Council warnings that Iraq will face “serious consequences as a result of …continued violations of its obligations.” In the event that weapons inspectors report Iraqi noncompliance with the resolution, the new resolution requires the Security Council to meet “in order to consider the situation and the need for full compliance with all of the relevant Security Council resolutions in order to restore international peace and security.” The previous draft did not include such a requirement.

The U.S.-British draft is an attempt at a compromise with other council members, particularly Russia and France, but neither country appears satisfied with the U.S. text. Both Moscow and Paris have composed their own draft resolutions but have not yet decided to submit them formally, according to an October 28 interview with a UN official. Both proposals omit the phrase “material breach,” believing that it sets the stage for the use of military force, according to U.S. sources. The Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, the U.S. law establishing the overthrow of the Iraqi government as U.S. policy, contains the same phrase.

The same sources also indicated that the Russian and French resolutions include somewhat less stringent standards for inspections, as well as assurances that Security Council members would discuss possible responses to Iraqi noncompliance before using force. These changes are consistent with previous Russian and French statements. For example, Russian Ambassador Sergey Lavrov criticized the U.S. proposal’s “automaticity of the use of force” in an October 23 press conference following a Security Council meeting.

France had previously supported a two-resolution process, where one resolution would demand the return of weapons inspectors and the second would authorize necessary action. (See ACT, October 2002.) Russia had previously opposed a new resolution.

Inspections Without New Resolution

Whether weapons inspections would begin without a new resolution has been open to question. After Baghdad announced in September that it would accept weapons inspections “without conditions,” Iraqi representatives met with Blix and IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei in Vienna from September 30 to October 1 to finalize necessary logistical arrangements.

The meeting resolved many key areas of potential disagreement, according to an October 8 letter from Blix and ElBaradei to an Iraqi official, but several issues are outstanding. In an October 15 briefing to the Security Council, Blix said that uncertainty remains regarding UNMOVIC’s use of helicopters, the presence of Iraqi officials during interviews of Iraqi citizens, inspectors’ right to supervise the destruction of weapons materials or documentation, and the use of aerial imagery.

Blix also indicated that UNMOVIC had been prepared to resume inspections on October 19 but had decided to wait for the Security Council to adopt a new resolution.

It is uncertain if Iraq will abide by the provisions of a new resolution. An October 24 letter from Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri condemned the decision to wait for a new resolution and blamed the United States for blocking inspectors’ return. Iraq had stated in September that it would allow the inspectors access to any sites they wished to inspect, and Iraq agreed during the Vienna meeting to allow UNMOVIC access to previously restricted “sensitive sites.” Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz stated in an interview aired October 12 on Beirut television that inspectors would be allowed into presidential sites but that the inspectors should not be allowed repeat visits to them.

U.S. Response

Frustrated by delays in the process, the Bush administration has indicated that it may abandon the UN process if the Security Council does not vote for its resolution. On October 26, during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum meeting in Mexico, Bush stated that the United States would “lead a coalition to disarm” Iraq if its resolution failed to pass. A date for the vote has not yet been set, but White House spokesman Ari Fleischer told reporters October 29 that “time is running out.”

After several weeks of debate about how much freedom to give the president, the House of Representatives passed a resolution October 8 providing Bush with the authority to use military force against Iraq. The Senate followed suit October 11, and Bush signed the resolution October 16.

The resolution expresses support for Bush’s efforts to work through the Security Council and authorizes the president to use force to “defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq” and “enforce all relevant” Security Council resolutions. It also requires the president to notify Congress 48 hours after initiating the use of force, explaining his determination that a peaceful solution will not “adequately protect the national security of the United States” or enforce Security Council resolutions.

The Bush administration has been unclear about the conditions under which it would use military force against Iraq. Bush said in an October 7 speech that, in addition to dismantling its prohibited weapons programs, Iraq must end its support for terrorism, account for military personnel missing from the Persian Gulf War, and end human rights abuses. “Only by taking these steps [can] the Iraqi regime…avoid conflict,” he said.

Secretary of State Colin Powell contradicted Bush in an October 20 interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” While pointing out that UN resolutions cover some of the issues Bush raised, he said “all we are interested in is getting rid of those weapons of mass destruction…there are many other resolutions that [Saddam Hussein] has violated…. All of those...have to be dealt with in due course, but the major issue before us is disarmament.”

It is also uncertain whether U.S. military action would attempt to overthrow Iraq’s government. Recent Bush administration statements suggest that a disarmed Iraq would be sufficient to satisfy Washington’s requirement for “regime change,” which the administration previously defined as a change in government.

The text of the 1998 legislation reads, “[I]t should be the policy of the United States to seek to remove the Saddam Hussein regime from power in Iraq and to replace it with a democratic government.” In his October 7 speech, however, Bush said that Iraq’s compliance with his demands would “change the nature of the regime.”

U.S., Security Council Debate

Disarming Iraq: How Weapons Inspections Can Work

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

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

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

Daryl G. Kimball

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

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

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

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

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

Robert Gallucci

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jonathan B. Tucker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jessica T. Mathews

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Questions and Answers:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Relevant UN Security Council Resolutions

Relevant UN Security Council Resolutions

An ACT Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

707: Condemning Iraqi Noncompliance (August 15, 1991)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1284: Creation of UNMOVIC (December 17, 1999)

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

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

1409: Smart Sanctions (May 14, 2002)

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

Counterproliferation at Core of New Security Strategy

October 2002

By Christine Kucia

A new Bush administration report released September 20 placed counterproliferation and pre-emptive action at the heart of U.S. foreign policy, drawing criticism from some members of Congress and allies.

Reflecting the strong influence of the September 11 attacks on Bush administration policy, The National Security Strategy of the United States of America (NSS)—a congressionally mandated report that examines a wide variety of political, economic, and military issues—calls for integrating counterproliferation into military doctrine so the United States and its allies can defeat enemies that could be armed with biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons. “We must deter and defend against the threat before it is unleashed,” the report states.

The policy assumes that states and possibly substate actors hostile to the United States have already obtained weapons of mass destruction with intent to use them, therefore creating an “imminent threat.” Noting that “traditional concepts of deterrence will not work against a terrorist enemy whose avowed tactics are wanton destruction and targeting of innocents,” the document declares that “we must adapt the concept of imminent threat” in judging adversaries and deciding on action.

The January 2002 U.S. nuclear posture review, portions of which leaked to the press in March, mentioned potential counterproliferation measures, including a robust missile defense system, new nuclear weapons to defeat hardened and deeply buried targets, and new, lower-yield nuclear warheads to “deter enemy use of WMD [weapons of mass destruction] or limit collateral damage.” The review, however, did not explicitly mention pre-emptive action.

The NSS cites the option of using unilateral, pre-emptive strikes as a key tool in the fight against imminent threats. “We will not hesitate to act alone, if necessary, to exercise our right of self-defense by acting pre-emptively,” the Bush document declares. The United States “will maintain the capability to defeat any attempt by an enemy—whether a state or non-state actor—to impose its will on the United States, our allies, or our friends.”

The administration’s focus on counter-proliferation and pre-emption have raised concern among Congress and allies. According to a September 26 Roll Call article, Senator John Kerry (D-MA) noted that although the United States “always has the right to defend itself in the face of imminent threat,” asserting that right could spill over into other conflicts because, “if it applies for us, it applies for other nations too.”

Yet according to a senior administration official briefing reporters September 20, “pre-emption is not a new concept. Anticipatory self-defense is not a new concept.” When asked whether the NSS section on using pre-emptive force would apply to the situation in Iraq, the official replied, “[The president] has made clear that he will not stand by and let that danger gather if we can’t get action in the UN.”

In addition, the official refuted allegations of U.S. unilateralism at the briefing, noting, “This is not a statement that the United States wants to alone be militarily superior to everyone…. The concerns about unilateralism I just think are unwarranted.” The official also stressed that the NSS does not propose new policies but instead assembles “common themes from what [the president] has been doing over the last 18 months together in one coherent document.”

The document significantly downplays traditional nonproliferation measures in favor of counterproliferation. Whereas the 1999 National Security Strategy issued by President Bill Clinton detailed action on initiatives such as the Biological Weapons Convention, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and the START agreements, the Bush document outlined nonproliferation activities in one paragraph that only mentioned a recent Group of Eight agreement to assist with weapons disposal in Russia. (See ACT, July/August 2002.)

In contrast, the document stressed greater cooperative action with NATO to help guarantee U.S. security in the coming years. The NSS calls for the alliance to “build a capability to field, at short notice, highly mobile, specially trained forces whenever they are needed to respond to a threat against any member of the alliance.” Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld elaborated on this concept at the September 24-25 defense ministers informal meeting in Brussels, floating the idea of a NATO strike force. “The response to our proposal with respect to a NATO response force has been broadly positive,” Rumsfeld said in a September 25 briefing.

According to a senior Defense Department official speaking to Armed Forces Press Service on September 24, one option under consideration is “a NATO rapid reaction force that could be deployed outside of the alliance’s traditional European area of operations.” The force would consist of up to 21,000 troops that are able to deploy in days instead of months.

NATO allies, however, have expressed concern regarding the NSS proposal for NATO forces. “For the first time we have Bush saying NATO should operate anytime and anywhere ‘outside area,’” broadening the alliance’s current mandate, one diplomat said, according to a September 21 Financial Times report. Another ambassador told The Financial Times that if the pre-emptive strike policy is subsumed into NATO policy, it would put an end to the alliance’s collective defense doctrine, adding that the debate “would destroy us because it would divide us beyond repair.”

The NSS also drew greater attention to India’s role in regional and global security. Noting that past concerns focused on India’s missile and nuclear development, the document emphasized that a “transformation” in its relationship with India is at hand. “While in the past these concerns may have dominated our thinking about India, today we start with a view of India as a growing world power with which we have common strategic interests,” the report says. India is named along with Russia and China as “potential great powers.” Notably absent in the reference to a new relationship with India is any mention of its longtime rival, Pakistan.

Counterproliferation at Core of New Security Strategy

CNN Tapes Generate Questions on al Qaeda

After obtaining several dozen videotapes from one of its correspondents in Afghanistan, CNN aired footage August 18 that appears to show al Qaeda members administering poison gas to dogs, but analysts disagreed on whether the video demonstrated that the terrorist group has a chemical weapons capability.

In one videotaped scene, men are seen leaving a small room with a dog inside. Shortly after their departure, gas seeps into the room. Over several minutes, the dog exhibits symptoms of chemical poisoning, including increased salivation, muscle weakness, difficulty breathing, and loss of consciousness.

Experts invited by CNN August 19 to evaluate the videotapes offered conflicting judgments about the nature of the gas. David Kay, a former United Nations weapons inspector who participated in searches in Iraq, told CNN that he was confident “above a reasonable doubt” that al Qaeda had released a nerve agent that killed the animal. However, Frederick R. Sidell, a chemical weapons specialist who worked at the Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense, voiced doubt on whether it was a nerve agent, saying it was unclear that the dog had even died.

Although the experts consulted by CNN characterized the videos as highly significant, U.S. officials downplayed their importance. Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Dave Lapan told the Arms Control Association, “[The tapes] don’t come as a surprise to us.” Since last fall, U.S. forces overtaking the group’s Afghan hideouts discovered notebooks containing chemical formulas that indicated research into poison and bomb development. “Visits to more than 60 different sites turned up evidence of intent to develop those weapons, but no evidence that they succeeded,” according to Lapan.


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