Iraq and the War of Sanctions: Conventional Threats and Weapons of Mass Destruction

By Anthony H. Cordesman | Go to book overview

Preface

The military analysis in this book describes three main themes: Iraq’s efforts to rebuild its conventional forces following the Gulf War, the history of its efforts to proliferate, and its long struggle to block UN efforts to deprive it of weapons of mass destruction. It is the history and character of each of these efforts which this book calls the ‘‘war of sanctions.’’ The description of Iraq’s conventional forces and efforts to proliferate was updated in January, 1999, shortly after Operation Desert Fox. It reflects a remarkable degree of continuity over a nearly ten-year-long period, and suggests that most elements of Iraq’s force structure are unlikely to change until there is another major war or Saddam Hussein loses power.

Just as this book was completed, however, the war of sanctions took on a different character. Beginning in July, 1997, Iraq intensified its struggle to end UN sanctions and to block the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections that sought to halt its efforts to proliferate. As this book describes in detail, these Iraqui actions brought the United States and Britain to the edge of military action in late 1997, in February, 1998, and in the fall of 1998. Nevertheless, in early November, 1998, it still seemed that UNSCOM and the IAEA might be able to continue their operations in Iraq, maintaining many of the elements of an effective inspection and monitoring regime.

As late as November 14, 1998, Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister, Tariq Aziz, sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan stating that the Iraqi leadership had ‘‘decided to resume working with the Special Commission and the IAEA and to allow them to perform their normal duties...not out of fear of the aggressive American campaign and the threat to commit a new aggression against Iraq, but as an expression of our feeling of responsibility and in response

-xiii-

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