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Ritter's Response to NYT Article (3 July 00)

Date: Mon, 3 Jul 2000 23:57:45 EDT
Subject: Correction and Comments Concerning Barbara Crossette's Article of 3 July
To the Editor,

In her article of 3 July ("U.S. Monitor Now Argues Iraqis Have Little to Conceal"), Barbara 
Crossette incorrectly quotes from my article in the June issue of Arms Control Today. She writes, 
"it was possible as early as 1997 to determine that, from a quantitative standpoint, Iraq had been 
This in fact should read "from a qualitative standpoint", a major difference.

As a point of clarification, the "indisputable proof" that Ms. Crossette refers to regarding the 
existence of Iraq's concealment of proscribed material in no way contradicts my main thesis 
regarding the status of Iraq' disarmament. This "proof" was in the form of communications 
intercepts undertaken by my team which highlighted the involvement of senior Iraqi officials in 
seeking to conceal documents and activities of an  indeterminable nature from UNSCOM inspectors. 
Under Security Council resolutions, concealment activities are in themselves a prohibited activity, 
making the March 1998 findings quite relevant and of concern. However, by and of itself such 
concealment does not automatically provide for a finding of retained weaponry.

I have never backed away from my claims that Iraq had not lived up to its obligations as spelled 
out by Security Council resolution 687. It was this fact that led to my recommending to Richard 
Butler in August 1997 that UNSCOM form a Special Investigations Unit for the purpose of pursuing 
Iraqi concealment activity. During Mr. Butler's tenure, I carried out five inspections for this 
purpose, serving as Chief Inspector. Other inspectors under my control conducted long-term 
monitoring related to uncovering Iraqi concealment activities. 

Never once in any of my reports to Richard Butler did I, or anyone on my team, ever state as fact 
the existence of proscribed
weapons in Iraq. All of my inspections during the time of Mr. Butler were designed to uncover 
aspects of Iraqi concealment, and in doing so we investigated information relating to the 
possibility of retained proscribed material in Iraq, as well as the existence of a mechanism of 
concealment. While we found evidence of the latter, my inspectors never uncovered proof of
the former. 

As the leader of UNSCOM's efforts to uncover Iraqi concealment efforts, I aggressively pushed for 
the conduct of these inspections on the premise that only by exposing the scope and intent of 
Iraq's concealment activities could UNSCOM ever position itself to verify in an absolute manner 
disarmament. However, I was pushing an agenda designed to achieve the 100% level of certainty 
called for by the Security Council. Such actions in no way take away from my stated position that 
by 1997 Iraq had been qualitatively disarmed. In the end, I defer to the comments made by my former 
boss (and Mr. Butler's predecessor), Rolf Ekus, during a presentation at Harvard University's 
Belfer Center on 23 May, 2000: "I would say that we felt that in all areas we have eliminated 
Iraq's capabilities fundamentally. There are some question marks left."


Scott Ritter
former UNSCOM weapons inspector
45 Dover Drive, Delmar, NY 12054 (518) 475-1177
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