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Andrei Makavchik, (c)
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Andrei Makavchik, Counselor, International Security and Arms Control Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus. In June - December, 1998, Chief Inspector, UNSCOM Import/Export Monitoring Group in Iraq.
The history of the complex relationship between Iraq and United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) counts for 8 years. Established soon after the Gulf War as a subsidiary organ of Security Council the Commission was granted from the latter a mandate to carry on an unprecedented operation - to disarm an individual country of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and missile means of their delivery. The WMD ambitions of Iraq's leader Saddam Hussein had become public before the Gulf War. The international community had broadly reacted on the chemical warfare undertaken by Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war. However, only the Iraq's aggression against Kuwait and the follow-on punishment in a kind of the US-led multinational military operation Desert Storm opened for the international community the door to the Iraq's WMD programs and sites.
In accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 687 adopted in April 1991 the task number one for the Special Commission was to disarm Iraq. The cornerstone for the UNSCOM's work was the resolution demand that Iraq shall agree to the "destruction, removal, or rendering harmless, under international supervision" of all WMD and all ballistic missiles with a range greater than 150 km, as well as their components, R&D and production facilities. From the very beginning the nuclear disarmament was the task of the IAEA as a specialised international organisation established in accordance with the global Non- Proliferation Treaty, while the Special Commission became in charge of all other disarmament areas.
The Commission's work has taken the forms of analysing Iraqi declarations, inspecting sites, interviewing site personnel and other persons connected to WMD programs, seeking documentation and other evidence, cooperating with some countries to receive available information on Iraqi programs.
The UNSCOM's activity in Iraq was two-folded - the disarmament proper, and the ongoing monitoring and verification (OMV) of sites directly or potentially connected to WMD. The disarmament tasks were carried out under the Resolution 687. In addition to it, in August 1991, the Security Council adopted Resolution 707 demanding that Iraq shall provide "full, final and complete disclosure" of all WMD programs, and grant to UN inspectors the free access to all relevant sites. The OMV regime had been approved by Security Council Resolution 715, which Iraq officially acknowledged after two years of refusal. Later, in 1996, OMV was completed with the export/import monitoring mechanism with respect to dual-use goods (Resolution 1051).
Before 1994, inspections were carried on by international visiting teams, which were coming to Iraq for 1-2 weeks to check certain sites and WMD destruction and negotiate with the Iraqi counterparts. This is still a normal method of work for inspections tasked with disarmament. Besides this, since 1994, after Iraq had acknowledged Resolution 715 and establishment of the Baghdad Monitoring and Verification Center (BMVC), the inspection job has been done by the resident inspectors from discipline teams - nuclear, chemical, biological and missiles groups - who permanently resided in Iraq. They do with OMV inspections, including, since 1996, the inspections under the export/import monitoring mechanism.
The disarmament history of Iraq may be divided into two periods, separated by the events of August 1995, when numerous crates of documents on Iraq's proscribed programs, particularly, on a chemical one, were found in a chicken farm premises. Official Baghdad, who, in fact, arranged for the handing over of documentation, attributed its concealment to General Hussein Kamal who fled abroad earlier that month. After that Iraq stated that it had nothing more, thus, the revealed documents should be considered as the "full, final and complete disclosure" of Iraq's WMD programs. The UNSCOM team was literally shocked by the quantity and quality of the found papers. The Commission realised that during the first four years it had been very substantially misled both in terms of the programs scale and the continuation of prohibited activities, even under the Commission's monitoring. Positive conclusions reported to the Security Council previously were revised and the disarmament campaign got a new impetus.
In June 1997 Ambassador Richard Butler of Australia replaced Rolf Ekeus of Sweden as a new Executive Chairman of the Special Commission. According to some evidence an executive change was caused by the hard-liners' victory within UNSCOM.
The UNSCOM history is also a history of periodic crises in the Iraq-UN relations, separated by the periods of routine frictions and even promising cooperation. Those "ups" and "downs" finally led to the most critical and still unsettled conflict marked with the strongest air strikes and the UNSCOM's "exodus" from Iraq. The chronology of crises and the time-table of the last one are listed below.
September. Iraqi authorities hold the international nuclear mission for four days and seize documents on the nuclear program that the experts had taken.
July. Baghdad prohibits access by the UNSCOM inspectors to the Ministry of Agriculture for 21 days. The conflict escalates in a physical attack against UNSCOM inspectors guarding the building round-the-clock. The Security Council threatens a military action.
June-July. Iraq refuses to permit the permanent installation of cameras on suspected missiles sites.
March. Baghdad impedes inspections of sites related to concealment activities.
June. Debates on issues of access to the Special Security Organisation and Special Republican Guard facilities suspected in concealment.
October. The Security Council adopts Resolution threatening new economic sanctions if Iraq does not cooperate. In response the Iraqi government accuses Americans working for UNSCOM of spying and demands their repatriation. R. Butler orders all UNSCOM staff to leave Iraq.
November. UNSCOM inspectors return to Iraq after an agreement brokered by Russia. Baghdad refuses entry to presidential sites to UNSCOM.
January. Iraq prohibits all inspections led by former US Marine Scott Ritter, chief of UNSCOM capable sites unit, saying he is a spy.
February. The United States announces it will reinforce its military presence in the Gulf. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan heads for Baghdad and signs with Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz an agreement which opens the doors of eight presidential sites to UN inspectors but calls for diplomats to accompany them. This accord also increases humanitarian imports to Iraq. The United States reserves the unilateral right to strike militarily if Iraq does not live up to its commitments.
March-April. UN arms inspectors accompanied by diplomats inspect presidential sites.
June. R. Butler visits Baghdad and reaches an agreement on outstanding disarmament issues. R. Butler positively evaluates the Iraqi cooperation and hints at lifting sanctions during the fall of 1998. In accordance with the Butler-Aziz agreement a large-scale disarmament inspection campaign begins. The Security Council maintains sanctions against Iraq and announces that they cannot be lifted until UNSCOM formally certifies the elimination of all WMD.
July. In the course of the inspection of Iraqi Air Force Headquarters inspectors locate a document detailing the use of "special munitions" during the Iran-Iraq war. Immediately after its discovery the document is seized from the chief inspector. Iraq does not respond to the demand expressed by the Security Council to return the document.
August. During his visit to Iraq R. Butler hands over to Iraqis the list of priority disarmament issues. T. Aziz refuses to negotiate on the list and demands to immediately announce that Iraq had met its commitments under the Security Council resolutions. The talks collapsed in rancor and R. Butler abruptly leaves Baghdad ahead of schedule. In his interviews R. Butler repeats that he "does not have a magic wand" and he cannot do disarmament by declaration. On 5 August Baghdad refuses to cooperate on disarmament and limits Commission's activity to OMV inspections. The Security Council adopts Resolution condemning Baghdad's decision and demanding to resume full cooperation. S. Ritter, one of the UNSCOM senior officials, scandalously resigns in protest against the UNSCOM and US administration "soft" policy towards Baghdad. His allegations about his cooperation with Israel and other intelligence and CIA's involvement in UNSCOM's work receive broad media coverage.
September. K. Annan puts forward a concept of the comprehensive review of both sanctions and disarmament. At UN Headquarters in New York T. Aziz carries on a series of negotiations with Mr. Annan and permanent members of the Security Council, and says about the possibility to bring the crisis over UN inspections to end. The VX nerve agent tests scandal runs high as the American laboratory finds VX traces on some remnants of aerial bombs unilaterally destroyed by Iraq, while the latter claims it never weaponized VX. However, this result can not be proved by the tests in Swiss and French labs. France only announces that certain fragments are in question but it may be traces of other chemical.
October. The Security Council discusses the "comprehensive review". On 31 October the Revolutionary Command Council headed by Saddam Hussein unexpectedly decides to halt any cooperation with UNSCOM, including OMV inspections.
November. In response to the Iraqi leadership's decision of 31 October the Security Council in an unanimously adopted resolution seriously condemns Baghdad's moves. Meanwhile, IAEA inspectors whose chief executive publicly admitted the fact of Iraq's nuclear disarmament, continue to work. After ten days from the beginning of the crisis all UNSCOM employees evacuate from Baghdad; UN humanitarian missions leave Iraq too. The United States reinforces its military presence in the Gulf. Through the Russian active mediator's efforts UN and Iraq come to an agreement on resuming full cooperation, including disarmament and OMV. The United States again reserves the right to strike if Iraq does not cooperate as promised. On 17 November UNSCOM and IAEA personnel return to Baghdad and resume their work. Iraq refuses to provide the previously sought documents requested by the UNSCOM chief.
December. The discussion on the "comprehensive review" goes on. Iraq insists on the concrete timing when the economic sanctions could be lifted. The Special Commission carries on a number of "intrusive" inspections to try the Iraq's cooperation. One such inspection provokes the denial of access to the headquarters of the ruling Ba'ath Party (The Party of Arab Socialist Unity). Four days before the beginning of the Muslim holy month Ramadan R. Butler reports before the Security Council. He concludes that Iraq does not provide fully cooperation and that the Commission is not able to carry out its primary disarmament tasks. On the following day UNSCOM and humanitarian workers leave Baghdad in emergency. In the evening the United States and the United Kingdom start air strikes on Iraq. The number of Tomahawks launched during three days of bombardment much exceeds that of the Gulf war. French intelligence reports claim that the military actions had done more damage than originally thought. Russia and China denounce the air strikes and fiercely criticise R. Butler. Baghdad says it will never let the Butler's Commission back to Iraq.
January. Baghdad says it no longer acknowledges the no-fly zones of northern and southern Iraq. American and British aircraft continue aerial attacks, mostly, on Iraq's air defence facilities. US officials contend that the United States had not only shared with UNSCOM intelligence information and provided it with technical means, but it had in fact used UNSCOM facilities and personnel to carry on an electronic eavesdropping of the top Iraqi officials; the UNSCOM chief is mentioned as having given "blessing". They are also quoted as acknowledging that US intelligence personnel working undercover with UNSCOM inspection teams had participated in intelligence-gathering in Iraq. This is followed by the indirect R. Butler's confirmation that some UNSCOM inspectors had been in the intelligence business during their mission in Iraq. UNSCOM presents to the Security Council a 200-page report listing significant uncertainties in the disposition of Iraq's programs and outlining a new long-term OMV system, which will require twice the funds and greater access to sites within Iraq. At last, the Security Council sets up three panels under the chairmanship of Ambassador Celso Amorim of Brazil to evaluate the situation with respect to Iraq on disarmament and OMV, on humanitarian situation, and on prisoners-of-war and Kuwait's property.
February-March. Three panels of international experts meet in New York to prepare reports. IAEA in its report says that it had found no indication that Iraq had retained nuclear material or equipment. R. Butler in an interview says that when his current contract with UNSCOM expires, in June, he will not seek an extension.
April. Ambassador Amorim presents report of the panels to the Security Council. The disarmament and OMV panel recommends to establish the enhanced OMV system in the framework of existing resolutions and to reorganize UNSCOM in terms of functions, personnel, procedures, etc. Recommendations imply the realistic approach which could have allowed, technically and politically, to get the Iraq's consent for resuming OMV. Basing on the panel's recommendations, Russia, supported by China and France, introduces the draft resolution, which suggests a new international ve-rification system to prevent the reconstitution of Iraq's WMD be established instead of R. Butler's Commission and the economic sanctions be lifted simultaneously, yet gradually. The United Kingdom and the Netherlands draft an alternative resolution outlining some changes to the Commission's name and structure but advocating the sanctions. Russia says that the British-Dutch draft does not account for the real situation and the progress achieved so far in complying with the Security Council resolutions.
Now, the Iraq's situation remains deadlocked. After years the developments look like a vicious circle. But before making any conclusion let us review the disarmament and verification results achieved by UNSCOM so far.
Indeed, Iraq had carried out extensive programs of the research, development and production of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction, and tried to develop its own ballistic systems using the outdated Soviet-made air defense missiles. Over eight years of the Commission's work in Iraq, there have been destroyed all known and found WMD stockpiles, their components, and some R&D and production facilities. A huge amount of the relevant documentation has crossed UN inspectors' hands. After Iraqis had voluntarily provided the "chicken farm" papers, over the last three year the Special Commission failed to make comparable or any significant disclosure of WMD programs or to catch Iraqis red-handed in this matter. All WMD sites as well as many military and civilian facilities, which may be potentially used for proscribed activity, have been under strict UNSCOM surveillance for four years. For more than two year the Commission have monitored all dual-use deliveries to Iraq. The flows of humanitarian goods under the "Oil for Food" program are also verified by the UN and the authorised Lloyds company.
The well-known goal of the aerial campaign as declared by the US administration was "to degrade the Iraq's capabilities to produce weapons of mass destruction". Now, the question remains open: What capabilities does Iraq still have?
IAEA hinted at the no-existence of nuclear capabilities in Iraq and that the OMV activity is enough to prevent the reconstitution of the nuclear potential.
As for the missile program, Iraq does try to manufacture certain type of rockets of the legitimate range, but their field tests normally fail at ground-zero point. Regardless of some missile production lines that Iraq has, the overall technology is extremely poor. And in the present economic sanctions environment Iraq is not able to receive necessary materials or advanced technologies, and to retrain personnel.
Still remain some issues on chemical and biological programs related to the shortage of material and documentary evidence provided by Iraq regarding its declarations on quantity and contents of unilaterally destroyed munitions and substances. However, everybody knows that the chemical weapons is "a nuclear bomb of the poor", the cheapest and less technologically sophisticated type of WMD, and that, practically, any chemical production facility can be converted to manufacture some simple chemical warfare agent. But given the rusty degradation of the Iraq's industry and technology, as well as sanctions and international mo- nitoring over shipments of strategic goods, the Iraq's capabilities in the chemical and biological areas do not look threatening.
What Iraq still has - this is people, the specialists working for WMD programs. And the long-term monitoring and verification program is exactly what the international community needs to keep this potential unused and to make it impossible for Saddam Hussein to ever think of WMD again. The Iraqi government was quoted ready to accept it on the condition of the lifting of sanctions. Unfortunately, after the American- British military action it has become a big problem.
Today Iraq does not constitute a serious threat in terms of the regional WMD proliferation. The ongoing crisis demonstrates that air strikes did not resolve the WMD problem in Iraq, moreover, they made it worse, because along with industrial facilities they have ruined the unique system of international monitoring and verification. The United States has damaged not only Iraq but also the Commission, its image and capabilities. At the same time, the Saddam Hussein's regime feels no pain and enjoys even more public support.
Baghdad does not seem crestfallen because it has nothing to loose. As such, its stance on UNSCOM's issue will remain unchanged. This could be explained by both foreign factors and domestic situation. From the external perspective, Baghdad is that stubborn because of its key geopolitical position, more than difficult relationship with Iran and Israel, a split in the Arab world on the Iraq's issue, and Kuwait problem. At home, the issue of North Iraq or Kurdistan which is politically separated from the central government and divided between the three clashing Kurdish parties. There is also a high instability in the South with overwhelming Shiite majority, which is traditionally opposite to Sunni Baghdad and religiously and politically attracted by Iran. Besides, in the crisis conditions the humanitarian situation is going from bad to worse. One should not forget the most important chapter in the Iraqi saga - enormous oil reserves, the problem of control over which goes beyond the national borders. Given all this, there is no ground to hope that the change of the regime in Iraq could be painless and democratic. To some extent, thanks to dictatorship Iraq does not change its borders despite of its religious and ethnic diversity. Struggle for power can lead to an armed stand-off within the country and its disintegration. Shakes inside Iraq will send shivers around the region and the world. It appears to be well understood even by the US administration who is eager to overthrow another dictator.
In this situation the long-term UN presence in Iraq and control over its military capabilities is the most important chance for stability and the possibility of the step-by-step political evolution of the country and its economic revival. It is hoped, that after the end of the NATO military campaign against Yugoslavia the Security Council will be able to concentrate on the issue of Iraq and pass, eventually, a resolution, which needs to have been adopted yesterday. One should not too much rely on the technical certification by the Commission ,which has already become a classic-type bureaucratic organisation and which is absolutely in no hurry to complete the mission because its bills are mostly paid by Iraq from the oil funds raised by UN. After eight years of sanctions and hundreds of inspections the Iraq's disarmament is no longer a technical but purely political puzzle.
It is clear for all that UN inspectors must return to Iraq as soon as possible. It is also clear that Baghdad is no longer scared with the new economic sanctions. And, of course, the permanent members of the Security Council sympathetic to Iraq will never bless them. Owing to financial and political reasons the United States, after the war in Yugoslavia, is not able to carry on another large-scale and cruel military action to make Baghdad agree. Hence, the only scenario is lessening or lifting sanctions. The deep freeze of the status quo is in nobody's interests and dangerous. Now the ball is on the UN field and the possible resolution of the Iraqi impasse is fully up to the Security Council and the political will of its members.
Опубликовано 09 июня 2016 года
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