IRAQ THE DOSSIER: PART 2 History of UN Weapons Inspections

Article excerpt

1. DURING THE 1990s, beginning in April 1991 immediately after the end of the Gulf War, the UN Security Council passed a series of resolutions establishing the authority of Unscom and the IAEA to carry out the work of dismantling Iraq's arsenal of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programmes and long-range ballistic missiles. These reso- lutions were passed under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which is the instrument that allows the UN Security Council to authorise the use of military force to enforce its resolutions.

2. As outlined in UNSCR 687, Iraq's chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programmes were also a breach of Iraq's commitments under:

w The 1925 Geneva Protocol, which bans the use of chemical and biological weapons;

w The Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, which bans the development, production, stockpiling, acquisition or retention of biological weapons;

w The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which prohibits Iraq from manufacturing or otherwise acquiring nuclear weapons.

3. UNSCR 687 obliged Iraq to provide declarations on all aspects of its weapons of mass destruction programmes within 15 days and accept the destruction, removal or rendering harmless under international supervision of its chemical, biological and nuclear programmes, and all ballistic missiles with a range beyond 150km. Iraq did not make a satisfactory declaration within the specified timeframe. Iraq accepted the UNSCRs and agreed to co-operate with Unscom. The history of the UN weapons inspections was characterised by persistent Iraqi obstruction. Unscom and the IAEA were given the remit to designate any locations for inspection at any time, review any document and interview any scientist, technician or other individual and seize any prohibited items for destruction.

Iraqi non-co-operation with the Inspectors

4. The former chairman of Un-scom, Richard Butler, reported to the UN Security Council in January 1999 that in 1991 a decision was taken by a high-level Iraqi government committee to provide inspectors with only a portion of its proscribed weapons, components, production capabilities and stocks. Unscom concluded that Iraqi policy was based on the following actions:

w To provide only a portion of extant weapons stocks, releasing for destruction only those that were least modern;

w To retain the production capability and documentation necessary to revive programmes when possible;

w To conceal the full extent of its chemical weapons programme, including the VX nerve agent project; to conceal the number and type of chemical and biological warheads for proscribed long-range missiles;

w And to conceal the existence of its biological weapons programme.

5. In December 1997 Richard Butler reported to the UN Security Council that Iraq had created a new category of sites, "Presidential" and "sovereign", from which it claimed that Unscom inspectors would henceforth be barred. The terms of the ceasefire in 1991 foresaw no such limitation. However, Iraq consistently refused to allow inspectors access to these eight Presidential sites. Many of these so-called "palaces" are in fact large compounds that are an integral part of Iraqi counter-measures designed to hide the weapons material.

Iraq's policy of deception

Iraq has admitted to Unscom to having a large, effective, system for hiding proscribed material including documentation, components, production equipment and possibly biological and chemical agents and weapons from the UN. Shortly after the adoption of UNSCR 687 in April 1991, an Administrative Security Committee was formed with responsibility for advising Saddam on the information that could be released to Unscom and the IAEA. The committee consisted of senior Military Industrial Commission scientists from all of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programmes. …