'Good Overall Picture' Provided of Military Weapons Capabilities

UN Chronicle, September 1995 | Go to article overview

'Good Overall Picture' Provided of Military Weapons Capabilities


The Special Commission on Iraqi disarmament, set up under Security Council resolution 687 (1991), has reported that, while Iraq had not yet given a credible accounting of its military biological activities, it had a good overall picture of the extent of Iraq's past programmes in the ballistic missile and chemical weapon areas, and that the essential elements of its proscribed capabilities had been disposed of.

In a 20 June report (S/1995/494), the Special Commission stated that although some issues had still to be resolved in those areas, the uncertainties arising from them did not present a pattern consistent with efforts to conceal a programme to retain proscribed weapons. It was also confident that through its ongoing monitoring and verification system, it could detect any attempt to reconstitute a proscribed capability in those areas.

To ensure the comprehensiveness of the system, Iraq had to respond satisfactorily to the Commission's concerns regarding its past biological weapons programme, the report stated. Until then, the Commission could not report to the Council that Iraq had met the terms laid down in paragraph 22 of resolution 687 (1991). Iraq had said that for it to see value in cooperating with the Special Commission and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it needed to be convinced that there was a prospect for such implementation.

Evidence available to the Commission had established that iraq had obtained or sought to obtain all the materials tequired to produce biological warfare agents, the report stated. With Iraq's failure to account for all those items, the only conclusion that could be drawn was that it had purchased and used them at least in part for proscribed purposes. The Commission had received documentary evidence from other Governments in support of that conclusion.

While all the elements of a system for biological monitoring were in place and monitoring was proceeding, the Commission could not be sure that it was comprehensive, because it had been unable to obtain a credible account of Iraq's past military biological activities. Since April 1995, iraq had told the Commission that it would be prepared to address the matter in late June 1995.

Indeed, on 1 July, during high-level talks between the Commission and Iraq in Baghdad, Iraq admitted that it had had an offensive biological warfare programme and had produced and stored large quantities of the warfare agents botulinum toxin and anthrax. Iraq promised to provide to the Commission a "full, final and complete disclosure of all aspects" of the programme by the end of July.

Other weapons

The Commission stated that it had essentially completed the accounting of iraq's proscribed ballistic missile capabilities and their repair and production facilities. Missile monitoring was now operational. Investigations would continue until the Commission was satisfied that it had obtained as detailed a picture as possible of all aspects of Iraq s past programmes and current capabilities.

The Commission also reported completion of the destruction of Iraq's identified chemical weapon facilities, stockpiles and production equipment, and that its chemical monitoring system was already operational.

Over a period of two years, 480,000 litres of chemical warfare agents, 28,000 chemical munitions and 648 barrels of some 45 different precursor chemicals had been destroyed. An effective export/import monitoring mechanism had been designed to prevent the resumption of Iraq's prohibited chemical activities.

Rolf Ekeus, Executive Chairman of the Special Commission, told reporters that the Commission's 10 April report (S/1995/284) had highlighted the discovery that Iraq, just before the Persian Gulf war, had systematically acquired components for the production of a new type of chemical agent-VX-a warfare agent that was ten times as potent as Sarin.

Iraq, he said, had initially disclosed that it was doing research work on the agent in small quantities, but had admitted later that it had produced 260 kilograms of VX. …

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'Good Overall Picture' Provided of Military Weapons Capabilities
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