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Re: Iraq poses no threat?



> In the John Pilger documentary, I remember someone saying that he believed
> that Iraq is no longer a threat and does not have weapons of mass
> destruction.
> Does anyone know how likely this is to be true.  This guy was definitely an
> anti-sanctions person and it was certainly in the interest of his argument
> to make such a claim.  I do not know what evidence he had to back up this
> statement.  I have certainly heard people from the other camp claim the
> opposite, as well they might be expected to, so I don't really know what to
> believe.  Can anyone clarify this one?

Hi Hugh,

That was Scott Ritter, the former Unscom chief weapons inspector (not
executive chairman).  He was part of the original inspection team put
together by Rolf Ekus in 1991.  Prior to this he'd been with the US
Marines during the Gulf War working on intelligence.  During that time, he
had managed to earn Schwarzkopf's disapproval by attempting to verify the
number of Scud launchers announced each day as destroyed (Schwarzkopf is
quoted as saying that he didn't want Ritter spreading "bad ju-ju" with his
questions).

Ritter became famous for his "gung-ho" style.  In a lengthy article in the
New Yorker magazine ("Scott Ritter's private war", November 1998) his
pioneering of "challenge inspections" (inspections without warning) was
described. He was also famously quoted as telling his inspection teams
that: 

        You work for me, so every one of you are alpha dogs. When we go
        to the site, they're gonna know we are there, we're gonna raise
        our tails and we're gonna spray urine all over their walls...when
        we leave a site they will know they've been inspected.

Ritter resigned in part because two challenge inspections that he had been
working on for some time were cancelled, in part due to pressure from
Madeleine Albright (according to The Washington Post, "U.S. Fought
Surprise Inspections", Barton Gellman, 14 August 1998; see
http://www.ex-parrot.com/casi/discuss/1998/235.html).  On resigning he
charged the Security Council with interest in the illusion of arms control
(The Washington Post, "Inspector quits U.N. team, says council bowing to
defiant Iraq", Barton Gellman, 27 August 1998). 

Later he also made statements of support for Denis Halliday's own
resignation and anti-sanctions stance.  He believed that Halliday was in a
very difficult position, being told to run a UN humanitarian programme in
a country that the UN was oppressing.

More recently, including on the Pilger documentary, he has distinguished
between "quantitative" and "qualitative" disarmament.  The former involves
accounting for every last nut, bolt or document and, in his view, is
impossible.  The latter involves "effective" disarmament: does Iraq have
any weapons facilities involved in proscribed weapons?  Ritter doesn't
think so.

Regarding claims from "the other camp" about Iraq's weapons, my reading of
most of those documents is that they're conjectural: because we do not
know where ..., it is possible that...  

While this is not a subject on which I am an expert, I believe that Ritter
also believes these reports to be conjectural.  I think that he also
believes that the risks grow while weapons inspectors stay out of Iraq and
that the US should offer a trade: sanctions lifted for inspectors' return.

I hope that this helps somewhat.

Colin Rowat

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