Academic journal article Journal of International Affairs

The U.N. and Arms Control in Iraq: A New Role?

Academic journal article Journal of International Affairs

The U.N. and Arms Control in Iraq: A New Role?

Article excerpt

Journal: What are the principal responsibilities of the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM), and what technical assets are at its disposal?

Ekeus: The principal responsibility of UNSCOM is to implement the weapons sections of Security Council Resolution 687 (1991) - the cease-fire resolution of the Persian Gulf War - which are contained in paragraphs 8 to 13. There are two fundamental tasks. One is the identification and elimination of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles (in this case, defined as having a range of over 150 kilometers), along with its production equipment and support systems for these capabilities. The other is the installation of an international monitoring system to verify Iraq's compliance with its obligation not to acquire these things again. In other words, we identify these assets, take them out and eliminate them, but we also have to ensure that Iraq is not reacquiring them.

The primary assets we utilize in achieving these two tasks are international specialists and aerial surveillance - both high-altitude surveillance (using U-2 platforms) and immediate, shorter-range overhead surveillance (using helicopter platforms). Inside Iraq, we identify all of the major production facilities in the engineering and electronics industries, as well as in heavy-metals production. We use monitoring cameras, which continuously send their imagery from the production plants directly to a monitoring center we have built in Baghdad. The cameras are also installed around chemical, biological and, of course, (theoretically) nuclear-capable facilities. All of these involve "dual-purpose" activities - activities with the potential for both military and civilian use. We tag, through a tamper-proof system, all machines and production equipment of any significance:

all high-precision instruments, all high-tech machines and all high-precision machine tools that could be used to advance Iraq's prohibited weapons programs. In the missile area, Iraq is permitted to produce shorter-range missiles. Therefore, UNSCOM must also identify all larger short-range missiles. They are tagged and monitored regularly through continuous inspection and camera supervision. Data on the tagged equipment, imagery from aerial surveillance and inspection reports are put into a sophisticated database. UNSCOM has specialized international inspection teams in all the weapons areas stationed in Baghdad, utilizing the assets of imagery, camera input and their own high mobility (with the help of helicopters and ground vehicles) to cover the daily work and the daily life of facilities and personnel perceived as "dual-capable." All of these efforts together should be effective.

Furthermore, UNSCOM is putting in place an export-import control mechanism. We expect to have the Security Council's acceptance of the mechanism shortly. This plan, which has already been approved in principle by the member states, presupposes a new resolution under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter which will make it obligatory for all states trading with Iraq to notify the Special Commission and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) regarding specific items sold and exported to Iraq. This is not licensing, it is notification - an important distinction. We are not prohibiting Iraq from buying anything (of course, they are currently prohibited from buying weapons), but we are being informed whenever Iraq is importing a dual-purpose item. The data on imports is very useful, especially as UNSCOM can link the important data to other available information. Thus it will be possible to detect any effort by Iraq to re-establish any of the prohibited weapons programs. When the import data are linked with the monitoring system already in place, we will have a seamless and watertight control system.

Journal: Could you discuss the current state of Iraq's capacity to produce biological weapons, as this seems to be a current area of focus? …

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