Case for Iraq's Qualitative Disarmament

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"The Case for Iraq's Qualitative Disarmament" was written by Scott Ritter and published in the June 2000 issue of Arms Control Today, Volume 30, Number 5. The following (web cache) has been described as "the most powerful excerpts" from the full article.

"Given the comprehensive nature of the monitoring regime put in place by UNSCOM, which included a strict export-import control regime, it was possible as early as 1997 to determine that, from a qualitative standpoint, Iraq had been disarmed. Iraq no longer possessed any meaningful quantities of chemical or biological agent, if it possessed any at all, and the industrial means to produce these agents had either been eliminated or were subject to stringent monitoring. The same was true of Iraq's nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities. As long as monitoring inspections remained in place, Iraq presented a WMD-based threat to no one."

"Through its extensive investigations, UNSCOM was able to ensure that the vast majority of Iraq's WMD arsenal, along wth the means to produce such weaponry, was eliminated. Through monitoring, UNSCOM was able to guarantee that Iraq was not reconstituting that capability in any meaningful way."

Ballistic Missiles:

"In his Dec. 1992 report to the SC, then-Executive Chairmain Rolf Ekeus noted, 'All ballistic missiles and items related to their production and development, identified as requiring destruction ... have been destroyed..'"

Chemical Weapons (CW):

"There was absolutely no evidence that Iraq was trying to hide CW production equipment. In its monitoring capacity, UNSCOM carried out extensive inspections of all of Iraq's civilian chemical manufacturing infastructure and found no evidence of illicit stores of CW precursor chemicals. Precursor chemicals are difficult to hide from inspectors because the minimum amount required for any viable CW-agent production run is several hundred tons. Inspections of dozens of Iraq munitions depots by UNSCOM also failed to turn up any illicit unfilled munitions."

"However, the key to the qualitative argument is that individual pieces of CW production equipment are worthless unless they are assembled in a specific configuration, a unique combination that would be readily discernible to weapons inspectors. ... The point is that all of UNSCOM's speculative fears concerning reconstitution of an Iraqi CW capability can be laid to rest as long as viable monitoring regime... is in place -- the kind of regime that existed prior to the withdrawal of inspectors in Dec. 1998."

From article: "{NOTE: Butler removed the inspectors w/o permission from the UNSC.}"

Biological Weapons (BW):

"...The biologists responsible for monitoring Iraqi compliance found exactly that --- compliance. In all their inspections, the monitors could find no meanginful evidence of Iraqi circumvention of its committment not to reconstitute the BW program."

"One of the conclusions drawn from the extensive monitoring of Iraq's biological capbilities carried out by UNSCOM was that the overall level of Iraq's biological capability, in terms of available infrastructure, was very low. ... The reality of the situation was that, regardless of UNSCOM's ability to verify Iraq's declarations regarding its past BW programs, the major BW production facility at AL Hakim had been destroyed, together with its associated equipment, and extensive monitoring of Iraq's biological infrastructure could find no evidence of continued proscribed activity. If weapons inspectors were once again allowed back into Iraq to resume monitoring along the lines carried out by UNSCOM, there is no reason to doubt that similar findings would be had, with the same level of confidence."

Nuclear Weapons

"Often overloked in the debate about Iraq's nuclear capabilities is just how effective the IAEA was at destroying, dismantling, or rendering harmless Iraq's nuclear weapons capability. Despite every attmpt by Iraq to retain some level of nuclear weapons capability, the massive infrastructure Baghdad had assembled by 1991 to produce a nuclear bomb had been eliminated by 1995."

"There has been no evidence provided of any attempt by Iraq to acquire a nuclear weapon or major related components since 1991."


"No one knows for sure what has transpired in Iraq since the last inspectors were withdrawn. Conjecture aside, however, there is absolutely no reason to believe Iraq could have meaningfuly reconstituted any element of its WMD capabilities in the past 18 months."


"By the end of 1998, Iraq had, in fact, been disarmed to a level unprecedented in modern history, but UNSCOM and the Security Council were unable-and in some instances, unwilling-to acknowledge this accomplishment.

"Unfortunately, the quantitative standards for Iraqi compliance set forth in Resolution 687 are still in place today in the form of Resolution 1284, which emphasizes verifying material balance over resuming viable monitoring activities. This is a formula for disaster, perpetuating the cycle of conflict with Iraq that led to the discrediting of UNSCOM in December 1998. UNMOVIC will meet with the same fate unless the Security Council takes measures to refocus the inspection regime on disarmament issues related to viable weapons and weapons production capability, instead of engaging in a never-ending effort to account for every last vestige of Iraq's former WMD programs."


"One serious obstacle to the reformulation of Iraq's disarmament obligation by the Security Council is the current U.S. policy of removing Saddam Hussein from power, codified in the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998. That law has so far failed to threaten Saddam Hussein in any meaningful way, but it has succeeded in precluding any meaningful diplomatic initiative by locking the United States into a unilateral policy that makes cooperation with Iraq impossible. If the United States is serious about disarming Iraq, it should repeal the Iraqi Liberation Act and work within the framework of the Security Council to formulate a policy that results in the rapid reintroduction of meaningful, monitoring-based weapons inspections into Iraq. That will require the lifting, not simply the suspension, of sanctions. While it is true that the sanctions have retarded Iraq's ability to acquire technology that could aid any WMD reconstitution effort, Resolution 687 stated that a finding of compliance would trigger the lifting of sanctions. Sanctions are thus not an open-ended option. At some point, they will need to be lifted, and if a finding of qualitative disarmament backed with the implementation of viable monitoring-based inspections can be had, then there is no reason to keep sanctions in place. The Security Council must also follow through on the promise it made in paragraph 14 of Resolution 687, which speaks of regional disarmament. While monitoring-based inspections in Iraq must be expected to last indefinitely, they cannot be expected to last in a vacuum. Unless arrangements are made to address WMD programs in Iran and Israel, as well as the regional proliferation of advanced conventional weaponry, Iraq will never accept perpetual disarmament. What is needed is a Security Council resolution that concludes Resolution 687, supercedes Resolution 1284, and redefines the disarmament obligations of Iraq to meet more realistic qualitative benchmarks. In addition to verifying Iraqi compliance with these new benchmarks, the resulting inspectorate, whether a revamped UNMOVIC or a new agency, would be tasked with implementing a monitoring regime similar to the one UNSCOM had in place prior to its withdrawal from Iraq. Once Iraq's disarmament along clearly defined qualitative standards had been verified by weapons inspectors, and after a viable monitoring regime was in place to detect and deter any attempt at reconstituting its WMD programs, the Security Council would lift, not suspend, economic sanctions."

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