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[casi] US Undermines UN Weapons Inspectors

Torpedoing the Inspectors
The US Undermines The UN Weapons Inspectors
ARROW Anti-War Briefing 19 (10 July 2002)

On 11 March 2002, President Bush signalled his determination to
attack Iraq: 'Men with no respect for life must never be allowed to
control the ultimate instruments of death.' (Times, 12 March 2002, p.
23.) 'Mr Blair was more hawkish than Mr Bush, declaring emphatically
that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction: "There is a threat from
Saddam and the weapons of mass destruction he has acquired. It is
not in doubt."' (Guardian, 12 March 2002, p. 1)
The Prime Minister has failed to provide any evidence to support this
assertion. Downing Street briefed the press that a damning new
dossier on Iraq's weapons would be released in early April. 'Blair has
encouraged expectations among MPs and cabinet colleagues that [this]
intelligence dossier would provide fresh support for action to
overthrow the Iraqi dictator. But there is little new information
worth sharing or publishing, according to insiders.' (Sunday Times, 10
March 2002, p. 2) 'Mr Blair has deferred publication of a dossier of
evidence against Mr Saddam, fearing that it would inflame matters
while not presenting a convincing case.' (Financial Times, 8 April 2002,
p. 24) The dossier remains unpublished.
Hans Blix, head of UNMOVIC, the new UN weapons inspection
agency which has replaced UNSCOM, has said he 'does not accept as
fact the US and UK's repeated assertions that Baghdad has used the
time to rebuild its weapons of mass destruction.' (Financial Times, 7
March 2002, p. 20)

David Albright, former UN weapons inspector, remarks, 'The
evidence produced so far is worrying. It is an argument for getting the
inspectors back in as fast as possible, but not for going to war.'
(Observer, 17 March 2002, p. 15) But the US seems to have little
interest in 'getting the inspectors back in as fast as possible.'

It's not just the US: Britain has also shown a lack of interest in
inspections. In March, Baghdad invited Britain to send weapons
inspectors. 'Iraq is ready to receive right now any British team sent by
Blair and accompanied by the British media to show the world where
and how is Iraq developing such weapons,' said an unidentified Iraqi
spokesperson in the official al-Thawra newspaper. (Associated Press
report, 1 March 2002) This news wire report was ignored by the
Government, and by the media, apart from a buried note and a one-
line reference in an editorial. (Independent, 4 March 2002, p. 2;
Times, 8 March 2002, p. 23) Such offers should be explored, not

'Senior German and French politicians argue that negotiations and a
resumption of United Nations arms inspections are the way forward -
a view that provokes exasperation in Washington.' (Telegraph, 17
June 2002, p. 1) 'Key figures in the White House believe that
demands on Saddam to re-admit United Nations weapons inspectors
should be set so high that he would fail to meet them unless he
provided officials with total freedom.' (Times, 16 February 2002, p.
19) A US intelligence official has said the White House 'will not take
yes for an answer'. (Guardian, 14 February 2002, p. 1)
        Seymour Hersh, the noted US investigative reporter wrote in
December 2001: 'Inside the Administration, there is general
consensus on one issue, officials told me: there will be no further
effort to revive the UN inspection regime withdrawn in late 1998'.
(New Yorker, 24 December 2001, p. 63)

According to one former US official, 'The hawks' nightmare is that
inspectors will be admitted, will not be terribly vigorous and not find
anything. Economic sanctions would be eased, and the U.S. will be
unable to act... and the closer it comes to the 2004 elections the more
difficult it will be to take the military route.' (Washington Post, 15
April 2002, p. A01) 'The more hawkish members of the US defence
department are said to favour direct military action on Iraq, which
would be more difficult if weapons inspectors were on the ground.'
(FT, 5 March 2002, p. 10)
        It's not just the hawks. US Secretary of State Colin Powell has
made it clear that the US is intent on war, whatever happens with the
inspectors: 'US policy is that, regardless of what the inspectors do, the
people of Iraq and the people of the region would be better off with a
different regime in Baghdad. The United States reserves its option to
do whatever it believes might be appropriate to see if there can be a
regime change.' The issue of the inspectors is a 'separate and distinct
and different' matter from the US position on Saddam Hussein's
leadership, said Powell. (Guardian, 6 May 2002)
        US National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice 'dodged a
question on whether the inspections issue provides justification for
US military action against Iraq'. She said that Saddam Hussein 'is not
likely to ever convince the world, in a reliable way, that he is going to
live at peace with his neighbours, that he will not seek weapons of
mass destruction, and that he will not repress his own people.'
(Guardian, 6 May 2002)
        The 'principals' in the Bush Administration 'fear that Saddam is
working his own UN angle for the return of weapons inspectors to
Iraq, whose presence could make the US look like a bully if it invades.'
'"The White House's biggest fear is that UN weapons inspectors will
be allowed to go in," says a top Senate foreign policy aide.' (Time
magazine, 13 May 2002, p. 38)
        Inspectors are not part of the solution, they are part of the
problem, as far as the Bush Administration is concerned. Without
inspectors, Iraq cannot be verifiably disarmed - the 1991 Gulf War
proved that - but, for the US, preventing the development of weapons
of mass destruction is secondary to overthrowing Saddam Hussein.
Inspectors hinder the war effort, and they must be undermined.

Former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter recalls that when he was
UNSCOM's chief inspector, there were dozens of men from US
Special Forces, or from CIA paramilitary teams, under his command.
When it was leaked in June 2002 that the CIA had been directed to
capture or kill Saddam Hussein, Ritter remarked, 'Now that Bush has
specifically authorized American covert-operations forces to remove
Hussein, however, the Iraqis will never trust an inspection regime that
has already shown itself susceptible to infiltration and manipulation by
intelligence services hostile to Iraq, regardless of any assurances the
U.N. secretary-general might give.' (Los Angeles Times, 19 June, 2002)
        For Ritter, 'The leaked CIA covert operations plan effectively
kills any chance of inspectors returning to Iraq'. It closes 'the last
opportunity for shedding light on the true state of affairs regarding
any threat in the form of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.' (Los
Angeles Times, 19 June, 2002)

The UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has been attempting to
negotiate the return of weapons inspectors to Iraq. During his third
round of negotiations with Iraqi diplomats, the US leaked a detailed
Pentagon war planning document to the press, spelling out some of
the military options under consideration. 'The leak to the New York
Times - this sort of document never surfaces by accident - seems to
be a clear attempt to raise the stakes after a new round of talks in
[Vienna] between Iraq and the United Nations failed to produce
agreement on the return of UN weapons inspectors'. (Independent
on Sunday, 7 July 2002, p. 14)
        True, the leak was no accident, but it did not come after the
talks failed, it came in the middle of the talks, published on the
morning of the second day of negotiations. A participant in the UN-
Iraq talks, no doubt a UN official, said the leaked document 'did not
help', as negotiations floundered. (Financial Times, 6 July 2002, p. 1)
'The UN's failure will come as a relief to many in the Pentagon, where
senior officials fear  that  inspections  might  be  granted some form of
access, then give Saddam a clean bill of health he did not deserve.'
(Telegraph, 6 July 2002, p. 16) How can Pentagon officials know that
Iraq does not deserve a clean bill of health? They have made no moves
to publish evidence to the contrary.

One of the problems bedevilling the UN-Iraq negotiations is a list of
nineteen questions that Baghdad submitted to Kofi Annan earlier in
the year. 'The questions range from technical to political, including
queries about what type of weapons [the] inspectors would be
looking to find in Iraq, concerns over the UK and US air patrols of
northern Iraq, and questions about the creation of a "weapons free
zone" in the Middle East.' (FT, 5 July 2002, p. 10)
        'Not in a position to answer the questions, Mr Annan
forwarded them to the Security Council.' 'Mr Annan never received
any response to the questions from the Security Council.' (FT, 5 July
2002, p. 10) The central question: 'Iraqi officials have sought
assurances that the US would call off its planned military campaign if
Baghdad co-operated on weapons inspectors.' (FT, 6 July 2002, p. 1)
The US refused to respond, undermining the inspection effort.
        The US/UK position is that, 'Attempting to answer [the 19
questions] would have played into Iraq's hands, weakening Mr
Annan's ability to persuade Baghdad to allow the inspectors back into
the country, diplomats said' at the UN. (FT, 5 July 2002, p. 10) The
very reverse of the truth. The only way to persuade Iraq to accept a
resumption of inspections is to be absolutely clear about the nature of
the package, and to offer security from invasion while inspections

Baghdad has sometimes said new inspections will never be permitted
or only after sanctions are lifted; then at other times states that the
new inspection body will be admitted, if 'the locations to be searched
are identified and a timetable is set up and respected.' (FT, 19 March
2002, p. 11) 'Analysts said Iraq would try to drag out the diplomatic
process and would be likely to agree to allow inspectors back only
when it felt a US military attack was imminent.' (FT, 6 July 2002, p. 1)
Washington is not helping. The US is attempting to torpedo fragile
UN-led efforts to return weapons inspectors to Iraq - with leaked
threats, and by refusing to answer reasonable questions about its

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