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[casi] FW: Labour Party - UK Counter - Dossier Released




Labour Party Counter-Dossier released

September 21, 2002

The Labour Party members who oppose Tony Blair on the
war have released their "counter-dossier," written by
Alan Simpson, MP, Chair of Labour Against War and Dr.
Glen Rangwala, lecturer in politics at Cambridge
University.  We received a pre-release copy, which was
changed to address the It was released this week and we
have posted it at our website
http://www.traprockpeace.org. Please copy and
distribute widely.

The counter-dossier is a definitive statement against
going to war with Iraq.  It was written as a formal
statement of the Labour Party "rebels" to rebut Tony
Blair's arguments for joining the US in this war.  Tony
Blair is going to release his dossier in support of
going to war against Iraq at 8 am (London time) on Sept
24th.  He is giving MPs precious little time to
consider it as debate starts that very day.  The
counter-dossier provides the foundation for those in
the Labour Party who oppose the war.

This is a great document of historical significance.
It contains bold truth that has not been widely
reported in the US media, such as the fact that

the US and UK blocked condemnation of Iraq's known
chemical weapons attacks at the UN Security Council. No
resolution was passed during the war that specifically
criticised Iraq's use of chemical weapons, despite the
wishes of the majority to condemn this use.

This authoritative document needs to be widely
distributed to members of Congress and to the US media.

Sunny Miller, Executive Director
Charlie Jenks, President of the Core Group
Traprock Peace Center
103A Keets Road
Deerfield, MA 01342
413 773-7427
http://www.traprockpeace.org

=======

by Alan Simpson, MP - Chair of Labour Against the War
and Dr Glen Rangwala - Lecturer in politics at
Cambridge University, UK.

There is no case for a war on Iraq. It has not
threatened to attack the US or Europe. It is not
connected to al-Qa'ida. There is no evidence that it
has new weapons of mass destruction, or that it
possesses the means of delivering them.

This pamphlet separates the evidence for what we know
about Iraq from the wild suppositions used as the
pretext for a war.

1. THREAT

For there to be a threat to the wider world from Iraq's
weapons of mass destruction, there need to be two
distinct components: the capability (the presence of
weapons of mass destruction or their precursor
elements, together with a delivery system) and the
intention to use weapons of mass destruction.

Most of the discussion on Iraq's weapons of mass
destruction from British and American governmental
sources has focused on Iraq's capabilities. However, a
more fundamental question is why the Iraqi regime would
ever use weapons of mass destruction. There are three
aspects to this:

a.       External military use.

The US administration has repeatedly stated that Iraq
is a "clear and present danger" to the safety and
security of ordinary Americans. Yet the Iraqi
leadership have never used weapons of mass destruction
against the US or Europe, nor threatened to. Plans or
proposals for the use of weapons of mass destruction by
Iraq against these countries have never been
discovered, and in their absence can only be presumed
to be non-existent.

Iraq would face with massive reprisals if its
leadership ever ordered the use of weapons of mass
destruction on the US or Europe. It is difficult to
imagine circumstances in which the Iraqi regime would
use these weapons directly against any western country.
The only conceivable exception would be if the Iraqi
leaders felt they had nothing left to lose: that is, if
they were convinced of their own imminent demise as a
result of an invasion. Weapons of mass destruction were
not used by Iraq in the 1991 Gulf War, despite having
both a much more developed capacity than it holds at
present (see below) and the routing of its army. The
best way to avoid prompting Iraqi leaders to use any
non-conventional capacity would be to refrain from
invading Iraq or attempting to assassinate or depose
its rulers.

The only occasion on which the Iraqi government used
weapons of mass destruction against another country was
against Iran from 1981/82 to 1988. The use of mustard
agents had a devastating impact on Iranian troops in
the first years of the war, and the civilian death toll
from the use of sarin and tabun numbers in the
thousands. However, it should be noted that the use of
chemical weapons was undertaken with the compliance of
the rest of the world. The US Secretary of State
acknowledged that he was aware of reports of Iraqi use
of chemical weapons from 1983, and a United Nations
team confirmed Iraqi use in a report of 16 March 1984.
Nevertheless, the US administration provided
"crop-spraying" helicopters to Iraq (subsequently used
in chemical attacks on the Kurds in 1988), gave Iraq
access to intelligence information that allowed Iraq to
"calibrate" its mustard attacks on Iranian troops
(1984), seconded its air force officers to work with
their Iraqi counterparts (from 1986), approved
technological exports to Iraq's missile procurement
agency to extend the missiles' range (1988), and
blocked bills condemning Iraq in the House of
Representatives (1985) and Senate (1988).

Most crucially, the US and UK blocked condemnation of
Iraq's known chemical weapons attacks at the UN
Security Council. No resolution was passed during the
war that specifically criticised Iraq's use of chemical
weapons, despite the wishes of the majority to condemn
this use. The only criticism of Iraq from the Security
Council came in the form of non-binding Presidential
statements (over which no country has a veto). The 21
March 1986 statement recognised that "chemical weapons
on many occasions have been used by Iraqi forces
against Iranian forces"; this statement was opposed by
the United States, the sole country to vote against it
in the Security Council (the UK abstained).

In summary, Iraq has never used chemical weapons
against an external enemy without the acquiescence of
the most powerful states. It has done so only in the
knowledge that it would be protected from condemnation
and countermeasures by a superpower. There is no reason
to suspect that the Iraqi leadership now places any
military gains it might achieve through the use of
chemical weapons above its desire to form international
alliances with major powers.

Further reading: "U.S. Diplomatic and Commercial
Relationships with Iraq, 1980 - 2 August 1990",
www.casi.org.uk/info/usdocs/usiraq80s90s.html

(b) Arming terrorists

One prospect raised by President Bush in his State of
the Union address of 29 January was that hostile
countries such as Iraq could supply non-state
organisations with weapons of mass destruction, to use
against the US:

"By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes
pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide
these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to
match their hatred. They could attack our allies or
attempt to blackmail the United States."

The State Department's annual report on terrorism,
released on 30 April 2001, stated that the Iraqi regime
"has not attempted an anti-Western terrorist attack"
since 1993. The small paramilitary groups that Iraq
supports, such as the Arab Liberation Front (in
Palestine) and the Mujahidin e-Khalq (for Iran), have
no access to Iraq's more advanced weaponry, let along
weapons of mass destruction. Furthermore, these groups
have never carried out attacks on the US or Europe, and
have little if any supporting infrastructure in those
countries. The Iraqi regime has no credible links to
al-Qa'ida, either in the perpetration of the 11
September attack, or in the presence in eastern Iraqi
Kurdistan (controlled by the US-backed Patriotic Union
of Kurdistan, not the Iraqi government, since 1991) of
Ansar al-Islam. This group is an off-shoot of the
US-backed Islamic Movement of Iraqi Kurdistan which has
taken funds and arms from Iran and (reportedly) from
al-Qa'ida.

The Iraqi regime has not been shown to have any
intention of attacking the Western world, and it knows
that it would be subject to massive reprisals if it did
so. In summary, Iraq has shown no indication that it
would be willing to use terrorists to threaten the
outside world with weapons of mass destruction.

Further reading: "Did Mohamed Atta Meet an Iraqi Spy in
Prague?", at slate.msn.com/?id=2070410

(c) Internal repression by the Iraqi military

As part of the Anfal campaign against the Kurds
(February to September 1988), the Iraqi regime used
chemical weapons extensively against its own civilian
population. Between 50,000 and 186,000 Kurds were
killed in these attacks, over 1,200 Kurdish villages
were destroyed, and 300,000 Kurds were displaced. The
most infamous chemical assault was on the town of
Halabja in March 1988, which killed 5,000 people. Human
Rights Watch regards the Anfal campaign as an act of
genocide.

The Anfal campaign was carried out with the
acquiescence of the West.

Rather than condemn the massacres of Kurds, the US
escalated its support for Iraq. It joined in Iraq's
attacks on Iranian facilities, blowing up two Iranian
oil rigs and destroying an Iranian frigate a month
after the Halabja attack. Within two months, senior US
officials were encouraging corporate coordination
through an Iraqi state-sponsored forum. The US
administration opposed, and eventually blocked, a US
Senate bill that cut off loans to Iraq. The US approved
exports to Iraq of items with dual civilian and
military use at double the rate in the aftermath of
Halabja as it did before 1988. Iraqi written guarantees
about civilian use were accepted by the US commerce
department, which did not request licenses and reviews
(as it did for many other countries). The Bush
Administration approved $695,000 worth of advanced data
transmission devices the day before Iraq invaded
Kuwait.

As for the UK, ten days after the Foreign Office
verbally condemned the Halabja massacre, the Secretary
of State for Trade and Industry rewarded Iraq by
extending 400 million worth of credits to trade with
Iraq.

The Iraqi regime has never used chemical weapons in the
face of formal international opposition. The most
effective way of preventing any future use against
Iraqi civilians is to put this at the top of the human
rights agenda between Iraq and the UN. The Iraqi
regime's intentions to use chemical weapons against the
Kurds will not be terminated by provoking a further
conflict between the Iraqi state and its Kurdish
population in which the Kurds are recruited as proxy
forces. The original repression of the Kurds escalated
into genocide in response to Iran's procurement of the
support of the two main Kurdish parties for its
military efforts from 1986. This is essentially the
same role that the US sees for the Kurds in its current
war preparations.

Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction are a false
focus if the concern is with regional security.
Chemical weapons were not used for Iraq?s invasion of
Kuwait. A peaceful Gulf region can be achieved only
through building political links between Iraq and its
neighbours. This is why the Arab states of the Middle
East have started to reintegrate Iraq into regional
networks and purposeful dialogue. Their interests are
ill-served by attempts to turn the countries of the
Gulf against each other once again.

Further reading: Dilip Hiro, "When US turned a blind
eye to poison gas", at:
www.observer.co.uk/focus/story/0,6903,784125,00.html

2. NUCLEAR

In 1998, when the US ordered UN weapons inspectors to
leave Iraq, it was widely accepted the Iraq's nuclear
capacity had been wholly dismantled. The International
Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), charged with monitoring
Iraq's nuclear facilities after the Gulf War, reported
to the Security Council from 8 October 1997 that Iraq
had compiled a "full, final and complete" account of
its previous nuclear projects, and there was no
indication of any prohibited activity. The IAEA's fact
sheet from 25 April 2002, entitled "Iraq's Nuclear
Weapons Programme", recorded that "There were no
indications that there remains in Iraq any physical
capability for the production of amounts of
weapons-usable nuclear material of any practical
significance."

In recent months, however, the UK government has put
primary emphasis on Iraq's alleged nuclear programme.
UK ministers have made three major claims:

a.       That Iraq was within three years of developing
a nuclear bomb in 1991.

This could be true. Uranium was imported from Portugal,
France, Italy and other countries; uranium enrichment
facilities operated at Tuwaitha, Tarmiya, and
Rashidiya, and centrifuge enrichment facilities were
being built at al-Furat, largely with German
assistance. Theoretical studies were underway into the
design of reactors to produce plutonium, and laboratory
trials were carried out at Tuwaitha. The main centre
for the development of nuclear weapons was al-Atheer,
where experiments with high explosives were carried
out. However, IAEA experts maintain that Iraq has never
had the capacity to enrich uranium sufficiently for a
bomb and was extremely dependent on imports to create
centrifuge facilities (report of the Center for
Strategic and International Studies, 28 June 2002). If
this is so, Iraq may have only been close to developing
a bomb if US and European assistance had continued to
the same extent as before.

In the Gulf War, all Iraq's facilities capable of
producing material for a nuclear programme and for
enriching uranium were destroyed. The IAEA inspected
and completed the destruction of these facilities, with
the compliance of the Iraqi government. From 1991, the
IAEA removed all known weapon usable materials from
Iraq, including 22.4kg of highly enriched uranium. The
IAEA left 1.8 tonnes of low-grade uranium in
heavyweight sealed barrels at the Tuwaitha facilities.
This uranium has remained untouched by the Iraqis, and
is inspected annually by experts from the IAEA, who
have confirmed that the seals had never been tampered
with. The remaining facilities at Tuwaitha and
buildings at al-Atheer were destroyed by the IAEA by
1992.

b.      That Iraq could make a nuclear device "within
three years" without foreign assistance.

This claim, repeated by a UK Foreign Office minister,
derives from a statement from the head of Germany's
Federal Intelligence Service (BND) in February 2001
that Iraq could enrich its own uranium and construct
its own nuclear device in three to six years. This
claim was backed up by a statement from the Wisconsin
Project on Nuclear Arms Control that Iraq's only
uranium extraction facility at al-Qaim has been rebuilt
(it had been destroyed in 1991). If Iraq was again
extracting uranium, then it could reasonably be
presumed that it was intending to enrich and weaponise
it. The allegation about Iraq's extraction of uranium,
however, seems to be wrong.

Since the emergence of these claims, a number of
journalists have visited al-Qaim and have found it in a
state of disrepair. Paul McGeough, the much-respected
Middle East correspondent of the Sydney Morning Herald,
wrote on 4 September 2002 that the site appeared to be
a "near-vacant lot ... as the result of a clean-up
supervised by the [IAEA]". Reuters reporters have
confirmed the same impression. If Iraq was hiding its
nuclear extraction facilities every time a journalist
visits, this would beg the question of when any
extraction could actually take place.

If Iraq has no operating facilities to extract uranium,
and if it continues to refrain from accessing the
low-grade uranium sealed at Tuwaitha, then there is no
way it could produce a nuclear device without foreign
assistance.

Furthermore, enriching uranium requires substantial
infrastructure and a power supply that could be easily
spotted by US satellites. No such information has been
provided. Over the past year, US and UK sources have
made much of the fact that Iraq has attempted to import
specialized steel and aluminium tubes that could be
used in gas centrifuges that enrich uranium. According
to the Washington Post (10 September 2002), such tubes
are also used in making conventional artillery rockets,
which Iraq is not prohibited from developing or
possessing under UN resolutions. As David Albright,
former IAEA inspector in Iraq and director of the
Institute for Science and International Security, told
the Washington Post, "This is actually a weak indicator
for suggesting centrifuges -- it just doesn't build a
case. I don't yet see evidence that says Iraq is
close."

c.       That Iraq could have a nuclear bomb "within
months" if fissile material is acquired from abroad.
Even the US Department of Defense recognises that
claims about Iraq's imminent production of a nuclear
bomb are not credible: "Iraq would need five or more
years and key foreign assistance to rebuild the
infrastructure to enrich enough material for a nuclear
weapon" (January 2001 intelligence estimate). However,
the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS)
managed to hit the headlines in September 2002 by
claiming that Iraq "could assemble nuclear weapons
within months if fissile material from foreign sources
were obtained." This claim is no more than a tautology.

If Iraq could import the core material for a bomb, then
it would have a bomb. Obtaining the fissile material is
the most difficult part of constructing any nuclear
device, and there are no signs that Iraq has attempted
to obtain any such material from abroad. According to
the Nuclear Control Institute (nci.org/heu.htm), "With
bomb-grade, high-enriched uranium (HEU), a student
could make a bomb powerful enough to destroy a city".
Unless we are to stop any students of physics from
entering Iraq, the best control on the circulation of
fissile material would be to invest resources into
safeguarding Russia's nuclear material. We would then
need to complete a fissile-material cut-off treaty as
agreed by the UN General Assembly in 1993.

On 7 September 2002, Tony Blair and George Bush
proclaimed that commercial satellite photographs
showing new buildings near a facility that had been
part of Iraq's nuclear programme before 1991 were
"proof" of Iraqi intentions. By contrast, a
spokesperson from the IAEA - which had provided the
pictures months earlier - said: "We have no idea
whether it means anything. Construction of a building
is one thing. Restarting a nuclear program is another."

Further reading:

IAEA's fact sheet from 25 April 2002, entitled "Iraq's
Nuclear Weapons Programme"
www.iaea.org/worldatom/Programmes/ActionTeam/nwp2.html

Garry Dillon (IAEA Action Team in Iraq: Director of
Operations from January 1994, head from June 1997),
"The IAEA Iraq Action Team Record: Activities and
Findings ", in Iraq: A New Approach (Carnegie Endowment
for International Peace, August 2002), at
www.ceip.org/files/pdf/Iraq.Report.pdf

3. CHEMICAL and BIOLOGICAL

Allegations about Iraq's chemical and biological
weapons fall into three categories:

*       that Iraq has retained weapons that were
produced before 1991. *       that Iraq has kept or
rebuilt facilities since 1998, which are allegedly
producing or able to produce new chemical or biological
agents that can subsequently be weaponised; and *
that Iraq could threaten other countries by delivering
these agents, by missile or through other means.


(a) Retained stocks? Up to 1998, a substantial part of
the work of the weapons inspectors in Iraq was to track
down chemical and biological agents that Iraq produced
before their entry in 1991, and to check the
documentation that showed how much of each agent Iraq
had manufactured. However, the amount Iraq is thought
to have produced in the 1980s was found to be greater
than the quantity that Iraq or the inspectors verified
as having destroyed. The discrepancy between the two
levels is the amount that remains - in the inspectors'
language - "unaccounted for".

The levels of agents that are unaccounted for in this
way is large: 600 metric tonnes of chemical agents,
such as mustard gas, VX and sarin; and extensive
amounts of biological agents, including thousands of
litres of anthrax as well as quantities of botulinum
toxin, aflatoxin, and gas gangrene, all of which had
been weaponised before 1991. But the fact that these
quantities are unaccounted for does not mean that they
still exist. Iraq has never provided a full declaration
of its use of chemical and biological weapons against
Iran in the 1980-88 war, and destroyed large quantities
of its own stocks of these weapons in 1991 without
keeping sufficient proof of its actions.

In some cases, it is quite clear that the stocks no
longer exist in usable form. Most chemical and
biological agents are subject to processes of
deterioration. A working paper by the United Nations
Special Commission on Iraq (Unscom) from January 1998
noted that: "Taking into consideration the conditions
and the quality of CW-agents and munitions produced by
Iraq at that time, there is no possibility of weapons
remaining from the mid-1980's" (quoted in Ritter, Arms
Control Today, June 2000). Many other chemical or
biological warfare agents have a shorter shelf life.
The sarin produced by Iraq in the 1980s was found to
have up to 40% impurities, entailing that it would
deteriorate within two years. With regard to biological
weapons, the assessment by Professor Anthony H.
Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International
Studies should be taken seriously: "The shelf-life and
lethality of Iraq's weapons is unknown, but it seems
likely that the shelf-life was limited. In balance, it
seems probable that any agents Iraq retained after the
Gulf War now have very limited lethality, if any"
(Iraq's Past and Future Biological Weapons
Capabilities, 1998, p.13).

There are two potential exceptions for materials that
would not be expected to have deteriorated if produced
before 1991. Mustard gas has been found to persist over
time, as shown when Unscom discovered four intact
mustard-filled artillery shells that would still have
constituted a viable weapon. Unscom oversaw the
destruction of 12,747 of Iraq's 13,500 mustard shells.
The Iraqi regime claimed that the remaining shells had
been destroyed by US/UK bombardment. This claim has not
been verified or disproved. However, as former UN
weapons inspector Scott Ritter notes, "A few hundred
155 mm mustard shells have little military value on the
modern battlefield. A meaningful CW attack using
artillery requires thousands of rounds. Retention of
such a limited number of shells makes no sense and
cannot be viewed as a serious threat."

The other potential exception is VX nerve agent. It
became clear to Unscom during the 1990s that Iraq had
succeeded before 1991 in producing stabilised VX in its
laboratories - that is, VX agents that would not
deteriorate over time. However, to produce significant
stocks of VX requires advanced technology that Iraq did
not have. Iraq did have some elements of the production
equipment for developing VX on a large scale. Unscom
tested this equipment before destroying it in 1996, and
found that it had never been used. This would indicate
that Iraq, despite its attempts before 1991, had never
succeeded in producing VX on a significant scale.

(b) Re-built facilities? If the stocks that Iraq had
produced before 1991 are no longer a credible threat,
then what of the facilities that Iraq may still have to
produce more weapons of mass destruction? The major
facilities that Iraq had prior to 1991 have all been
destroyed. The Muthanna State Establishment, Iraq's
main plant for the production of chemical warfare
agents, was destroyed partially through aerial
bombardment and partly under Unscom supervision.
Al-Hakam, Iraq?s main biological weapons facility that
was designed to make up to 50,000 litres of anthrax,
botulinum toxin and other agents a year, was destroyed
in May-June 1996.

However, US and UK officials have claimed that new
plants have been built since 1998. Among the
allegations are that two chemical plants that were used
to produce weapons before 1991 have been rebuilt at
Fallujah; further chemical and biological weapons sites
have been partially constructed at Daura and Taji; and
that "mobile biological production laboratories" have
been deployed that would be able to circumvent any
inspectors who are re-admitted into Iraq. It has also
been claimed that other existing civilian facilities
have been partially converted so as to be able to
produce agents for weapons of mass destruction.

These allegations are difficult to assess. Even the
IISS study of September 2002 - edited by Gary Samore
who had been a senior member of President Clinton's
staff and thus involved two years before in the making
of the allegations - concluded that the claims about
mobile laboratories were "hard to confirm". Much of the
information comes from individuals who claim to have
been scientists employed by the Iraqi government but
who have now "defected" to Europe or the US. The US has
offered financial rewards to scientists who defect, as
well as guarantees of asylum. As a result, many of the
claims may be exaggerated, highly speculative or simply
concocted. US State Department officials have often
mentioned that they do not take verbal information
obtained from defectors seriously; it may be more
plausible to assume that their information is
publicised more as part of attempts to win support for
a war than to make a realistic assessment of Iraqi
weapons development.

The Iraqi government has invited journalists to visit
some of the sites that the UK and US have mentioned.
For example, journalists who visited the Taji warehouse
in mid-August - which the US claimed days before was a
major biological weapons facility - found only "boxes
of powdered milk from Yemen, Vietnam, Tunisia and
Indonesia and sacks of sugar imported from Egypt and
India", according to the Reuters correspondent. The
visiting journalists are not weapons inspectors, and do
not have the resources to monitor facilities for
chemical agents or radiation; but they are able to
ascertain if major new production facilities have been
constructed. Now that the Iraqi Foreign Minister has
made an unconditional offer to the UN to readmit
weapons inspectors (on 16 September), allegations about
the production of new facilities can be checked.
However, the British Foreign Secretary and the White
House have both disparaged the Iraqi offer, even though
it could lead to the verified disarmament of Iraq's
weapons of mass destruction.

(c) Delivering an attack? Possession of chemical or
biological agents is not enough to threaten another
country, even if the Iraqi regime desired to. British
and American claims about possession have therefore
been linked to allegations that Iraq could fire these
agents on missiles, which could even reach Europe.

The first problem with this claim is the very low
number of longer range missiles that Iraq might have.
According to Unscom, by 1997, 817 out of Iraq's known
819 ballistic missiles had been certifiably destroyed.
On the worst-case assumption that Iraq has salvaged
some of the parts for these missiles and has
reconstructed them since 1998, even Charles Duelfer -
former US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, deputy
head of Unscom and strong proponent of an invasion of
Iraq - has provided an estimate of only 12 to 14
missiles held by Iraq. Even under this scenario, it is
difficult to see Iraq posing a threat to the rest of
the world through its missiles. Furthermore, biological
weapons cannot be effectively disbursed through
ballistic missiles. According to the IISS, much of the
biological agent would be destroyed on impact and the
area of dispersal would be small. For example, if
anthrax is filled into missile warheads, up to 95% of
the content is not dispersed (according to the Director
of Intelligence of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff:
www.bt.usf.edu/reports/Anthraxthreat.pdf).

British ministers have made much of the claim that Iraq
has experimented with using small Czech-built L-29
training jets as remote-controlled drones, which could
deliver chemical and biological weapons. Such drones
were apparently spotted at Iraq's Talil airbase in
1998. A British defence official invoked the
possibility that if these drones were flown at low
altitudes under the right conditions, a single drone
could unleash a toxic cloud engulfing several city
blocks. He labelled them "drones of death". The
hyperbole is misleading: even if Iraq has designed such
planes, they would not serve their purpose, as drones
are easy to shoot down. A simple air defence system
would be enough to prevent the drones from causing
damage to neighbouring countries. The L-29 has a total
range of less than 400 miles: it would be all but
impossible to use it in an attack on Israel. The only
possibility for their use against western targets would
be their potential deployment against invading troops.

Further reading: Scott Ritter (former head of Unscom's
Concealment Unit), " The Case for Iraq's Qualitative
Disarmament", from Arms Control Today (June 2000), at
www.armscontrol.org/act/2000_06/iraqjun.asp

5. CONCLUSION

Many of the assessments of Iraq's development of
biological, chemical and nuclear weapons are based
largely on a hypothetical analysis of what could be
done by the Iraqi regime if it was determined to
produce these weapons. Using worst-case scenarios, they
present Iraq's potential activities - such as importing
fissile material or producing anthrax spores - as an
immediate threat. Whilst such assessments may be
valuable in order to understand the range of
possibilities, they do not provide any evidence of
Iraq's weapons of mass destruction or the Iraqi
regime's intention to use them. As Hans Blix, executive
chairman of Unmovic - the new UN weapons inspection
body - said on 10 September, there is much that is
unknown about Iraq's programmes, "but this is not the
same as saying there are weapons of mass destruction.
If I had solid evidence that Iraq retained weapons of
mass destruction or were constructing such weapons I
would take it to the Security Council."

You cannot launch a war on the basis of unconfirmed
suspicions of both weapons and intentions. It would be
better to take up Iraq's unconditional offer of 16
September to allow inspectors to return, and to reject
the plans for an invasion to achieve "regime change".

The US and UK policy has been to provide disincentives
to Iraqi compliance rather than incentives. The UK has
refused to rule out its support for "regime change"
even if a full weapons inspections system is in place:
Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has only said that the
possibility of an invasion "recedes" in such
circumstances. Senior members of the present US
administration have been more forthright:
Vice-President Cheney labelled the return of weapons
inspectors to Iraq as counterproductive in his
Nashville speech of 26 August. Inspections would be
counterproductive to US war plans, but would also serve
to discover - and if necessary, constrain - Iraq's
weapons programmes.

If the Iraqi regime is led to believe that the US has
made an invasion inevitable, it will have no reason to
cooperate with weapons inspectors. As Hans Blix said on
18 August, "If the Iraqis conclude that an invasion by
someone is inevitable then they might conclude that
it's not very meaningful to have inspections."

The Iraqi regime also has a clear disincentive if it
believes that the weapons inspectors will - like their
predecessors in Unscom - collect information that the
US government would use to plot its overthrow. That
Unscom was engaged in such actions is now beyond doubt.
Its executive director from 1991 to 1997, Rolf Ekus,
said on 28 July that the US tried to gather information
about Iraq's security services, its conventional
military capacity and even the location of Saddam
Hussein through the supposedly impartial weapons
inspections programme. It is not hard to guess why the
US wanted such information.

Iraq has repeatedly asked for a clear timetable for the
lifting of economic sanctions to be coupled with the
weapons inspections system. This is not an unreasonable
demand: in fact, it was the agreement made in the
ceasefire that ended the Gulf War, and which the US in
particular has done so much since 1991 to obscure. The
ceasefire agreement - Security Council Resolution 687 -
lays out the elements of a political solution: an
independent weapons inspectorate, an end to the threat
of war, a clear timetable to lifting economic
sanctions, and the creation of a weapons of mass
destruction free zone in the Middle East (entailing the
need for the end of Israel's nuclear arsenal).

On each of these four points, the US in particular
stands in clear violation of the terms of the
agreement.

The consequences of that violation have been apparent
in the deterioration of the weapons inspections system.
Garry B. Dillon, the Director of Operations of the IAEA
Action Team in Iraq from January 1994, and its head
from June 1997, characterised Iraq's compliance with
the nuclear inspectorate from late 1991 to mid-1998 as
"essentially adequate" (in the paper cited above).
Dillon concludes that "Iraq?s motivation to cooperate
was shattered by the statement [by the then-US
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright] that, regardless
of Iraq?s compliance, the embargo and the sanctions
would not be lifted as long as President Saddam Hussein
remained in power". Backing a "carrot and stick"
approach to Iraq, Dillon argues that "the carrot should
represent a tangible benefit, not merely the
withholding of the stick. Indeed, during 1998, Iraq
repeatedly claimed that 'the light at the end of the
tunnel had gone out.'"

If the US and UK re-engage with the political process
that was laid out in the ceasefire resolution, Iraq
will once again be provided with reasons to cooperate
with the weapons inspectorate. That possibility, which
will remove the need for instigating a humanitarian
crisis inside Iraq and instability in the region,
should not be dismissed lightly.

Important Link: Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq - a
must see website that has lead the campaign against
sanctions in the UK. CASI aims to raise awareness of
the effects of sanctions on Iraq, and campaigns on
humanitarian grounds for the lifting of non-military
sanctions. The site includes an excellent lising of
links to campaign groups.

(413) 773-7427; fax - (413) 773-7507;
traprock@crocker.com
[Together We Explore Nonviolence, Foster Community, Work to end war,
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