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Iraq timeline

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Denis Halliday's comments:

Institute for Public Accuracy
915 National Press Building, Washington, D.C. 20045
(202) 347-0020 * *

November 13, 1998


Myth: The Sanctions Will be Lifted When Iraq Complies with the U.N. Inspections

August 6, 1990: United Nations Security Council passes Resolution 661,
placing sanctions on Iraq to "restore the authority of the legitimate
government of Kuwait." (For U.N. resolutions, see:

April 3, 1991: U.N. Security Council passes Resolution 687 which states that
upon "the completion by Iraq of all actions contemplated in" specific
paragraphs of the resolution, "the prohibitions against financial
transactions ... shall have no further force or effect." The paragraphs
cited have to do with weapons inspections. Other paragraphs in the
resolution have to do with "return of all Kuwaiti property seized by Iraq"
and Iraqi liability for losses and damage resulting from Iraq's occupation
of Kuwait.

April 5, 1991: U.N. Security Council passes Resolution 688 that "demands
that Iraq" end its repression "of all Iraqi citizens." 
May 20, 1991: President George Bush: "At this juncture, my view is we don't
want to lift these sanctions as long as Saddam Hussein is in power." James
Baker, Secretary of State: "We are not interested in seeing a relaxation of
sanctions as long as Saddam Hussein is in power."
March 6, 1992: The Washington Post reports that the U.S. Census Bureau
demographer assigned to estimate the number of Iraqis killed during the Gulf
War will be fired. Beth Osborne Daponte estimates that 86,000 men, 40,000
women and 32,000 children died at the hands of American-led coalition
forces, during the domestic rebellions that followed and from postwar
deprivation. After various protests, the Bureau rescinds the firing but
rewrites the report, lowering the death toll and removing the data on women
and children. The following month, the Pentagon published its three-volume
official history of the war, but a draft chapter on casualties is deleted
and there is no mention of Iraqi deaths. (The London Independent, April 23,

September 24, 1992: The New England Journal of Medicine publishes the
findings of Harvard researchers that 46,700 Iraqi children under five have
died from the combined effects of war and trade sanctions in the first seven
months of 1991. 

January 13, 1993: As Bill Clinton is about to take office, he states: "I am
a Baptist. I believe in death-bed conversions. If he [Hussein] wants a
different relationship with the United States and the United Nations, all he
has to do is change his behavior." (The New York Times, January 14, 1993)

January 14, 1993: In the face of criticism, particularly from The New York
Times, that he might lift sanctions and even normalize relations with Iraq,
Clinton backtracks: "There is no difference between my policy and the policy
of the present Administration.... I have no intention of normalizing
relations with him." (See The New York Times and Boston Globe, January 15,
1993) Incoming Secretary of State Warren Christopher: "I find it hard to
share the Baptist belief in redemption.... I see no substantial change in
the position and continuing total support for what the [Bush] administration
has done."

January 12, 1995: While inspections are taking place, though not complete,
Ambassador Madeleine Albright says the U.S. is "determined to oppose any
modification of the sanctions regime until Iraq has moved to comply with all
its outstanding obligations." She specifically cites the return of Kuwaiti
weaponry and non-military equipment. (Reuters, January 12, 1995)
May 12, 1996: On "60 Minutes," Lesley Stahl asks Albright: "We have heard
that a half a million children have died. I mean, that's more children than
died in Hiroshima. Is the price worth it?" Albright responds: "I think this
is a very hard choice, but the price -- we think the price is worth it."

Late 1996: The United Nations begins "oil-for-food" program.

March 26, 1997: Albright, in her first major foreign policy address as
Secretary of State: "We do not agree with the nations who argue that if Iraq
complies with its obligations concerning weapons of mass destruction,
sanctions should be lifted. Our view, which is unshakable, is that Iraq must
prove its peaceful intentions. It can only do that by complying with all of
the Security Council resolutions to which it is subjected. Is it possible to
conceive of such a government under Saddam Hussein? When I was a professor,
I taught that you have to consider all possibilities. As Secretary of State,
I have to deal in the realm of reality and probability.  And the evidence is
overwhelming that Saddam Hussein's intentions will never be peaceful."

October 4, 1996: United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) releases report on
Iraq. "Around 4,500 children under the age of five are dying here every
month from hunger and disease," said Philippe Heffinck, UNICEF's
representative for Iraq. gopher://

October  3, 1997: A joint study by the United Nations' Food & Agriculture
Organization and World Food Program, found the sanctions "significantly
constrained Iraq's ability to earn foreign currency needed to import
sufficient quantities of food to meet needs. As a consequence, food
shortages and malnutrition became progressively severe and chronic in the

November 7, 1997: Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz: "The American
government says openly, clearly, that it's not going to endorse lifting the
sanctions on Iraq unless the leadership of Iraq is changed."

November 14, 1997: President Clinton. [During a standoff on weapons
inspectors] "What he [Hussein] says his objective is, is to relieve the
people of Iraq, and presumably the government, of the burden of the
sanctions. What he has just done is to ensure that the sanctions will be
there until the end of time or as long as he lasts. So I think that if his
objective is to try to get back into the business of manufacturing vast
stores of weapons of mass destruction and then try to either use them or
sell them, then at some point the United States, and more than the United
States, would be more than happy to try to stop that."

November 14, 1997: In response to the question "Is it his [Clinton's]
opinion that the sanction will not be lifted ever as long as Saddam is in
power, whatever he does?" National Security Adviser Sandy Berger states:
"No. Let Saddam Hussein -- let Saddam Hussein come into compliance, and then
we can discuss whether there are any circumstances... It has been our
position consistently that Saddam Hussein has to comply with all the
relative Security Council resolutions from this action.... I don't think,
under these circumstances, when he has [sic] blatantly out of compliance, it
is the right time for us to talk about how we lift the sanctions.... It's
been the U.S. position since the Bush administration that Saddam Hussein
comply -- has to comply with all of the relevant Security Council
resolutions." In response to the question "but what the president said --
what he has just done is to ensure that the sanctions will be there until
the end of time or as long as he lasts." Berger responds: "Well, that's
right, and that's not inconsistent with what I've said. In other words,
there's no way -- if he is -- if he's got to be in compliance, he can't be
in compliance if he's thrown the UNSCOM people out. So it's a necessary
condition. It may not be a sufficient condition." 

November 18, 1997: The Guardian reports: "The prospects for a diplomatic
solution to the confrontation between Iraq and the United States
strengthened significantly yesterday with the U.S. and Britain offering a
relaxation of economic sanctions against Baghdad as international moves to
resolve the dispute over United Nations weapons inspectors continued." 

November 20, 1997: [A stand-off is defused] A Russian-Iraqi communique is
released pledging that Moscow will "energetically promote the speedy lifting
of sanctions against Iraq on the basis of its compliance with the
corresponding U.N. resolutions." Albright states that the lifting of the
sanctions "will probably be discussed at some time, but the United States
has not agreed to anything."

November 26, 1997: UNICEF reports that "The most alarming results are those
on malnutrition, with 32 per cent of children under the age of five, some
960,000 children, chronically malnourished -- a rise of 72 per cent since
1991. Almost one quarter (around 23 per cent) are underweight -- twice as
high as the levels found in neighbouring Jordan or Turkey." Philippe
Heffinck, UNICEF Representative in Baghdad: "And what concerns us now is
that there is no sign of any improvement since Security Council Resolution
986/1111 [oil-for-food] came into force."

November 30, 1997: Ambassador Bill Richardson in the Washington Post: "To
the extent Saddam used the inspectors' two-week absence to hide weapons, he
has only delayed for Iraq the time it will take the UNSCOM team to ensure
compliance, therefore further delaying any possibility of lifting sanctions."

December 9, 1997: In response to the question: "The United States has given
apparently contradictory criteria for when it will lift the sanctions. It
says it will do it when UNSCOM is allowed into Iraq, when UNSCOM can get
into the 'palaces,' when Iraq abides by all U.N. resolutions, including
paying a few hundred billion in reparations, when Saddam Hussein is
overthrown, or never. The question: When is it?" Richardson: "Our policy is
clear. We believe that Saddam Hussein should comply with all the Security
Council resolutions, and that includes 1137, those that deal with the UNSCOM
inspectors, those that deal with human rights issues, those that deal with
prisoners of war with Kuwait, those that deal with the treatment of his own
people. We think that there are standards of international behavior."

December 16, 1997: President Clinton: "I am willing to maintain the
sanctions as long as he does not comply with the resolutions.... There are
those that would like to lift the sanctions. I am not among them. I am not
in favor of lifting the sanctions until he complies.... But keep in mind, he
has not come out, as some people have suggested, ahead on this last
confrontation. Because now the world community is much less likely to vote
to lift any sanctions on him..." In response to the question "How do you
assess Saddam Hussein?" Clinton makes several points and then says:
"Finally, I think that he felt probably that the United States would never
vote to lift the sanctions on him no matter what he did. There are some
people who believe that. Now I think he was dead wrong on virtually every
January 10, 1998: The Pope: "I insist on repeating clearly to all, once
again, that no one may kill in God's name," recalling "our brothers and
sisters in Iraq, living under a pitiless embargo... The weak and the
innocent cannot pay for mistakes for which they are not responsible," the
Pope said of the U.N. sanctions.

February 23, 1998: Standoff defused by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan's
trip to Baghdad. 

April 30, 1998: UNICIF reports: "The increase in mortality reported in
public hospitals for children under five years of age (an excess of some
40,000 deaths yearly compared with 1989) is mainly due to diarrhea,
pneumonia and malnutrition. In those over five years of age, the increase
(an excess of some 50,000 deaths yearly compared with 1989) is associated
with heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, cancer, liver or kidney diseases." 
Also, see

July 30, 1998: The New York Times reports: "Russia tried and failed to get
Security Council action today on a resolution declaring that Iraq had
complied with demands to destroy its nuclear weapons program and was ready
to move away from intrusive inspections to long-term monitoring... Russia
has been arguing that those files can be 'closed' one at a time, to give
Iraq some motivation for further cooperation. The United States has held
that all requirements must be met before sanctions can be altered."

August 3, 1998, (Monday): Reuters reports: "The chief United Nations arms
inspector, Richard Butler, arrived here today for talks that Baghdad says
have to hasten an end to international sanctions. Mr. Butler, who arrived to
scathing criticism from Iraqi newspapers, said he wanted to end his work of
disarmament in Iraq as soon as possible to enable the Security Council to
lift its eight-year-old sanctions.  Iraq said on Thursday that it would take
unspecified action, based on the outcome of Mr. Butler's visit, if the
sanctions were not removed as soon as possible."

August 5, 1998: Iraq says it will suspend cooperation with inspectors and
turns them away.

August 14, 1998: The Washington Post front page: "U.S. Sought To Prevent
Iraqi Arms Inspections; Surprise Visits Canceled After Albright Argued That
Timing Was Wrong," regarding Scott Ritter.

August 17, 1998: Richardson: "Sanctions are going to stay forever, or until
it complies fully." (The New York Times, August 18, 1998) 

August 20, 1997: Richardson: "Sanctions may stay on in perpetuity." (The New
York Times, August 21, 1998)

October 5, 1998: House passes bill 360-38 to direct the Pentagon to channel
up to $ 97 million in overt military aid to Iraqi rebel groups that seek to
bring down the government of Saddam Hussein. 

October 6, 1998: Denis Halliday, who had just resigned as the head of the
"oil-for-food" program for Iraq, Assistant Secretary General of the UN,
gives a speech on Capitol Hill, citing a "conservative estimate" of "child
mortality for children under five years of age is from five to six thousand
per month." Halliday states: "There are many reasons for these tragic and
unnecessary deaths, including the poor health of mothers, the breakdown of
health services, the poor nutritional intake of both adults and young
children and the high incidence of water-born diseases as a result of the
collapse of Iraq's water and sanitation system--and, of course, the lack of
electric power to drive that system, both crippled by war damage following
the 1991 Gulf War." 
(See remarks, 

October 20, 1998: Washington Post front page: "Congress Stokes Visions Of
War to Oust Saddam; White House Fears Fiasco."

October 31, 1998: Iraq announces it will cease cooperation with inspectors. 

November 5, 1998: Scott Ritter claims on Nightline: "He holds the key to
getting sanctions lifted. All Saddam Hussein has to do is provide what he
was obligated to provide 15 days after the passing of the initial resolution
in April, 1991, a full, final and complete declaration of the totality of
his holdings."

September 15, 1998: Martin Indyk, Assistant Secretary of State: "First of
all, there is one serious consequence that has already occurred; that is,
the Security Council has voted unanimously to suspend indefinitely sanctions
reviews. That means there will be no sanctions reviews and sanctions will
not be lifted." Indyk then claimed: "the Security Council resolutions
provide in very specific terms for the lifting of sanctions when Iraq has
fully complied with all the Security Council resolutions. And that is the
crux of the matter; it's not a question that they'll never be lifted, but
the conditions on which they'll be lifted will never appear to be fulfilled."

November 10, 1998: State Department spokesperson James Rubin: "We've stated
very clearly that it is up to Saddam Hussein to comply with the resolutions
of the Security Council that lay out the needs and requirements, including
on weapons of mass destruction, coming back into compliance with those
resolutions, including on Kuwaiti prisoners, Kuwaiti equipment, and, in
short, demonstrating his peaceful intentions, in which case we are prepared
to see an adjustment in the sanctions regime." A few moments later, Rubin
states: "The Security Council has set out a very simple path to resolve this
situation. And all it requires is him doing what he agreed to do,
cooperating with UNSCOM -- not refusing cooperation with UNSCOM -- but
providing them the information they need."

November 12, 1998: Albright on the PBS NewsHour: "This has been one of the
clearest sanctions regimes with the clearest roadmaps that have ever existed
in terms of how to get from point A to point B."

Sam Husseini                  
Institute for Public Accuracy           Tel: 202-347-0020 
915 National Press Building             Fax: 202-347-0290
Washington, DC 20045          
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