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Dear all, Rolf Ekéus, Executive Chairman of UNSCOM 1991-1997, gave an interview in Swedish radio this morning. I believe this contains information that has not appeared in the English-speaking press, and have therefore transcribed and translated the interview below. The most important points are: - The US and other members of the Security Council routinely attempted to influence UNSCOM, and succeeded in using it as a tool for their own political interests. This was particularly the case some years into the inspections regime, when initial 'genuine' concern about weapons of mass destruction had abated. - The US used 'controversial' UNSCOM inspections as a means to engineer crises in relations with Iraq, with the aim of legitimising other, non-UN aspects of its Iraq policy. - UNSCOM was pressurised into gathering information about other aspects of Iraq than weapons of mass destruction; including what must be branded regular espionage. - There are plans in the US for a new inspections regime with 'military backing', although Ekéus is reticent about what this may mean. - A new Yale University study about the inspections is about to be published. Does anyone have information about this? - Ekéus implicitly points a finger at Richard Butler, by saying that these tendencies became much worse after he stepped down in 1997. The message is clear: it adds to the charge that the US did not give UNSCOM a chance to settling the conflict over weapons of mass destruction. This does not exonerate the Iraqi government from the charge that it obstructed inspections and failed to cooperate, but it does counter much of the argument that inspections cannot disarm Iraq. That we cannot know until a genuine effort to do so is made. Rolf Ekéus was Chairman of UNSCOM from 1991 to 1997, when he stepped down to become Sweden's ambassador to the USA, a post he still holds. He is also, inter alia, Chairman of the Governing Board of the Stockholm Peace Research Institute and OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities. For Swedish speakers, the original interview can be found on: http://www.sr.se/p1/godmorgonvarlden/sounds/Godmorgonvarlden2.ram --------------------------------------------------------------------------- TRANSCRIPT: RE: There is no doubt that the Americans wanted to influence the inspections to further certain fundamental US interests. I don't think this was the case during the first few years, as there was, at that time, a genuine concern about the weapons of mass destructions that Iraq could have. There were some, especially the US, who were interested in get hold of [information about] other forms of capacity [than WMD]. For example: how was Iraq's security services organised; what was the conventional military capacity; etc. I was head [of UNSCOM] until 1997, from 1991 to 1997, and I was conscious of this ambition to gather information that did not have anything directly to do with proscribed weapons. For me, the task was to have such discipline and a structure in the organisation [UNSCOM] that there would be no attempts to exploit the system of inspections as a cover for other activities. I: What kind of activities? RE: To attempt to gather information about other aspects [of Iraq], for example about the location of president Saddam Hussein, which could be of interest if one were to target him personally, etc., i.e. about areas that were not within the UN mandate. It is entirely wrong for the UN to be a cover for such... for that type of activities. I: Is it the case that the UN did become a cover at times? RE: Yes, there were attempts. I think it succeeded. During my time [as head of inspections] I don't think there were any such activities, but the pressure did increase with time. Another aspect of this was the attempts to create crises in relations with Iraq, which to some extent were linked to the overall political situation, internationally, but also nationally. This put pressure on the inspectors. I think that we managed to ward off such attempts until 1997. But there were always different interests from all powers, from USA, but also from the Russians, with Russia taking action. I: What do you mean by 'creating crises'? RE: That the inspectors and the directorate of the inspections was pressurised to undertake controversial inspections - at least inspections that the Iraqis thought were controversial - and thereby cause a stalemate which could form the basis for direct military action. I: Creating a crisis -- isn't hat a provocation? RE: There was an ambition to cause a crisis through pressure for, shall we say, blunt provocation, for example by inspection of the Department of Defence, the Ministry of Defence in Baghdad, which at least from an Iraqi point of view much have been very provocative. It is possible that the inspectors - this was after my time - believed that there was something of interest in those buildings. I did not believe this, as I was entirely convinced that there was no [WMD] material in that type of buildings. But there could be situations where we prepared for such a hard and tough round of inspections, and then were put under pressure from the US to halt them, as, all of sudden, a confrontation was no longer wanted, owing to wider political interests. It could have something to do with the wider situation in the Middle East, with US-Russian relations; something to do with other priorities which for the moment were more important. I: If I understand you correctly, it could be the case that one week there was an interest in creating a conflict with Iraq, and the next week the American president was going to Moscow, and then you were supposed to take it easy? RE: Well, that is an abstract example, but there developed hard pressure from primarily the US, but also from other members of the Security Council, that the inspectors should take into account not only the work to find and destroy proscribed materials and equipment, but also strategic and tactical considerations, which corresponded to the interests of individual members of the Security Council. This was a dangerous development for the UN, as it ran the risk of overstepping its mandate. I: And this also gave Iraq a reason to question the whole systems of inspections? RE: Well, they did question it all along anyway, but it is true that it lent more credibility to their accusations and complaints, and that other informed observers thought that there was some substance to their claims, viz. that the inspections were adapted to suit the interests of great powers. I: But if this really happened as you say, that one or a few countries in the Security Council - the US and Russia, as you have said, and maybe also others - from time to time wanted to turn the inspections into a political instrument, then surely Iraq was justified in its criticism? RE: Yes, there is no doubt that from the very start... I experienced such pressure all the time, directed towards the [UNSCOM] directorate. The problem was for the UNSCOM directorate not to take any notice, and [make sure] that the UN kept to the rules of the game, so that no individual member of the [Security] Council manipulated decisions or influenced the activities [of the inspectors]. I: But what you're saying is that members of the Security Council really did this, and managed to do so? RE: Yes, I guess you could say so. There are several studies about to be published, including one by Yale University, which investigate this further, and these will show very clearly that there were attempts by governments to exercise their influence: stopping some kinds of inspections, while encouraging other types. I: But you're at the same time giving us examples of government succeeding in doing so? RE: Yes, with time such hard pressure developed. This happened after my period [as Director of UNSCOM], and it seems that pressure escalated so that there was a degree of adaptation [of inspections]. I: What does this mean for the new inspections organisation [UNMOVIC] under the leadership of Hans Blix, which is prepared, but which has not yet managed to leave the headquarters in New York? RE: It is almost entirely up to the US, whether they are prepared to give inspections a chance. I: But is there anything indicating that the US would not be interested in invading Iraq, and deposing president Saddam Hussein? RE: Well, what we try, quite a few of us, is to convince the US that it is possible to carry out successful inspections, in the way we did before. It is a question of sticking to the rules of the game. I: But my question was whether you see any signs that this will happen? RE: Yes, I see that the US, in the internal decision-making process about which I have information, does consider and analyse the system of inspections, to start the inspections again. But it could also be that there will be a mix of some sort. I: What would that look like? RE: There is a thought to link inspections very closely to heavy military backing, without an outright war. This is the sort of thing that are being pondered. I: An armed inspectorate? RE: Some sort of backing, that's right. I: Could you make explain that further? RE: No, I don't want to do that, as this is so topical. There is a number of people involved in this, thinking about this. I: Are you involved? RE: I have not comments about that. I stay informed about what happens. _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk