Nuclear Nonproliferation Needs Teeth; U.N. Inspections of Iraq Would Secure Win-Win scenario.(OPED)

Article excerpt


President Bush has demanded that the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) authorize the forcible removable of Saddam Hussein if the United States cannot be assured, by a date certain, that Iraq is in complete compliance with various Gulf War-related UNSC resolutions.

The UNSC refused similar demands by President Clinton back in 1998. Are they any more likely to do it now? Well, that depends upon what the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Action Team finds when it re-enters Iraq next month.

Following the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq in 1990, the UNSC did invoke Chapter VII, Article 42 of the U.N. Charter, authorizing the "coalition of states cooperating with Kuwait" to forcibly eject the Iraqi aggressors. That accomplished, a Kuwaiti-Iraqi cease-fire was obtained, wherein Iraq - the aggressor nation - agreed to abide by various UNSC resolutions.

Before the Gulf War, it was known that Iraq was in violation of U.N. chemical and biological weapons conventions. But the discovery of Iraq's massive violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was sobering, to put it mildly.

The UNSC can impose sanctions for violations of U.N. conventions, such as the NPT, and may - if it can be shown that the violations result in immediate danger to other nations - authorize the use of force to remove the danger.

The UNSC did impose economic sanctions on Iraq and directed the IAEA - which is responsible for verifying NPT compliance - to oversee the destruction of Iraq's clandestine nuclear program.

Here are excerpts from the IAEA Action Team assessment of the Iraqi nuclear weapons program, as of December 1998:

* There were no indications to suggest that Iraq was successful in its attempt to produce nuclear weapons.

* There were no indications to suggest that Iraq had produced more than a few grams of weapons-grade nuclear material through its indigenous processes.

*There were no indications that Iraq otherwise clandestinely acquired weapons-usable material.

* All the "safeguarded" research reactor fuel was verified and fully accounted for by the IAEA and removed from Iraq.

* There were no indications that there remains in Iraq any physical capability for the production of amounts of weapons-usable nuclear material of any practical significance.

Hence, by the end of 1998, Iraq's nuclear infrastructure had been completely destroyed, and continuous real-time monitoring systems were being installed at all NPT-relevant sites in Iraq. …