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Ekeus: "in all areas we have eliminated Iraq's capabilities"

Below is a transcript for several Q & A responses given by Rolf Ekeus, former UNSCOM Executive Director, 1991-1997, during his 23 May 2000 presentation at Harvard University.  Most notably, Ekeus states that "I would say that we felt that in all areas we have eliminated Iraq's capabilities fundamentally."  Ekeus also seems to support re-defining Iraq's disarmament obligations from "100% quantitative" to "qualitative."  To read an excellent elaboration on how Iraq has been qualitatively disarmed as well as a argument for re-defining Iraq's disarmament obligations (vis-a-vis the Security Council) see Scott Ritter, "The Case for Iraq's Qualitative Disarmament," Arms Control Today, June 2000 <>.
Nathaniel Hurd
Research Analyst, Boston Research Group
Title:  "Sanctions in Iraq: Is the Policy Defensible?"
Speaker:  Rolf Ekeus, former UNSCOM Executive Chairman, 1991-1997; Current Swedish Ambassador to the United States
Venue:  Starr Auditorium, John F. Kennedy School of Government <>, Harvard University
Date:  23 May 2000
Presenter/Moderator:  Graham Allison, Douglas Dillon Professor of Government, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
Co-Sponsors: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs; Managing the Atom Project; Institute of Politics Student Advisory Committee.  All co-sponsors are attached to the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
Questioner Transcribed Below ("Q"):  Nathaniel Hurd, Research Analyst, Boston Research Group
Audio Recording:  Audio and Video Services, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
Boston Research Group
2161 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA  02140
Tel.: 617-492-4570
Q:  While I would love to have a conversation about the historical record regarding the exemption of food and medicine and the effectiveness of the "oil-for-food" program, your field of expertise is disarmament and so I will confine my questions to that. 
In the 30 March 1999 report put out by the specially commissioned Disarmament Panel, the Panel concluded in paragraph 27 that "both UNSCOM and IAEA have...been adopting a pragmatic approach which assumes that 100% of verification may be an unattainable goal." [S/1999/356, 30 March 1999, para. 27]
As of right now, Iraq is held to a standard of 100% quantitative disarmament.  Quantitative, not qualitative.  That means that a lot of these very well publicized incidents of UNSCOM inspectors banging on doors asking to be let in...they were not actually looking for fully assembled weapons.  They were looking for nuts, they were looking for bolts, the equivalent thereof, blueprints, etc., etc..  Given that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction infrastructure was largely destroyed by, or its destruction was verified by, UNSCOM; Given that UNSCOM had a very rigorous monitoring program in place that Iraq was actually being relatively compliant with; Do you not think that the time has come to change the criterion so that Iraq is now held up to a criterion of qualitative disarmament as opposed to quantitative disarmament?  And if I can add an amendment to that, do you think that changing the criterion will make it far more likely that Iraq would accept future monitoring?  They accepted it before.  They accepted the resolutions that laid out monitoring.  They accepted resolution 1051 which laid out the import/export regime.  If that change takes place, will we see, in your estimation, a break in the impasse that we currently see because, again, Iraq is held up to that standard of 100% quantitative disarmament.
Ekeus:  I like that question.  I agree practically with everything that you say.  Maybe on the philosophical issue of 100%...if you say "not 100%" what do you mean?  You open up...but it's only a little philosophical quarrel.  It is not a substantive quarrel.  It opens up for 0.  So the question is simply: How should one be reasonable? And I think that you are right, one should be reasonable here.  And I think that one cannot absolutely guarantee total...and one shouldn't if one put into place what you refer to: The import/export mechanism which will control things.  But the good news in that sense is that the new resolution, 1284, which started with...if you know the other resolutions.....
Q:  I know them well.
Ekeus:  Is not really taking this 100% issue as 687 talked about all their capabilities.  It is not for an individual to say "it should not be all, it should be almost all."  It has to do with political sense.  And I agree with you.  I think that one cannot demand full...but I wouldn't like to say 100 per...I don't want to use the word, philosophically.  But 1284 now says, indicates, it doesn't speak about remnants at all.  The resolution just refers to the old 687 and indirectly you can say that it refers to...1284 talks about what you indicated: Monitoring of Iraq's capabilities.  That they don't activate.  That there is no import which is used for prohibited items.  So I am on the same track as you.  I think that it is a reasonable approach and I think that one shouldn't go too far.  One must have a sense of what is possible and reasonable.
Q:  Could I follow-up please?  Very briefly.  Thank you.  Then do you think that, as far as breaking the impasse is concerned and re-inserting monitors into Iraq, the important thing to do is to on one hand explain very clearly and carefully that Iraq has been qualitatively disarmed, that the means of mass producing weapons of mass destruction with any sort of quality have already been taken care of by the UNSCOM inspectors and that therefore the next step is to there re-implement on-going monitoring and verification.  But it's very important to lay out how Iraq has been qualitatively disarmed and then supplement that by changing the criterion for disarmament.  That was the heart of my question.
Ekeus:  I think that it is a very wise approach and I hope that it was something that I outlined in the end of my presentation, stating that the deal that I talked about was precisely that.  That one should establish a control system which guarantees that the export/import regime - I didn't mention that but you were good enough to mention that - specifically is the key element in that and Iraq indeed went along with that.  I negotiated every aspect myself with Iraq and there was full agreement between our two sides.  Even if some members of the Council were suspicious, it entered into force.
Q:  Do you think that Iraq has been qualitatively disarmed?  Qualitatively, not quantitatively. 
Ekeus:  I don't want to....
Q:  As you are no longer a weapons inspector...
Moderator:  Only three questions per customer.
Ekeus:  Well I don't want to answer the pointed question as such.  I would say that we felt that in all areas we have eliminated Iraq's capabilities fundamentally.  There are some question marks left.  That's why I think that we should take a new track like the one that I proposed: Which is to establish a short controlling regime which prevents the build-up of new weapons.  I think that it is according to the line that you were speaking of.  So I think that we were in agreement.

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