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[casi] Hans von Sponeck in Brussels 25/9/2002 (bis)

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Hello all,
I've noticed several errors in Mr von Sponeck's paper. This is entirely my fault. So I'll send the 
text again, without errors. Sorry.
Dirk Adriaensens.
IRAQ - Four Questions, Four Answers by Hans C. von Sponeck UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq 
(1998-2000) at the European Colloquium Brussels, 25 September 2002

Question No.1: Is there an Imminence of Threat posed by Iraq?

The United States maintains that Iraq poses a threat to its security. This threat, it is argued, is 
so serious that a pre-emptive military strike is required to protect the US and the wider global 
community. The UK shares this perception.

The rest of the world, particularly Iraq's neighbours, do not agree with this assessment. In any 
case articles 39, 42 and 51 of the UN Charter are not applicable. None of the 'evidence' the US and 
the UK have produced is accepted by the international community as hard core and unquestionable 
evidence that Iraq is in possession of or trying to produce ABC weapons materials.

Attempts to link acts of terrorism involving the 1993 and 2001 WTC, the US Embassies in Nairobi and 
Dar-Es-salaam, the USS Cole in Aden, the Anthrax cases in the US and collaboration with Al Qaeda to 
the Government of Iraq have failed.

A study by the UK International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), published on 9 September 
2002 constitutes a good compendium of speculation concluding (see p.74) that Iraq "could probably 
assemble nuclear weapons", "probably resumed biological growth media", "probably retained chemical 
agent such as mustard gas and precursors", "probably retained a small force of ballistic missiles 
with ranges up to 650 km, such as the al Hussein missiles."

In its introduction the IISS study re-assures that its purpose is to describe these (WMD) issues 
"accurately and fairly". Its conclusions (see p.73) unfortunately constitute a political statement 
which amounts to war-mongering. The document states inter alia: "A war, if it installs a new 
government in Baghdad willing to comply with Iraq's international commitments, would eliminate 
Iraq's WMD threat, but at the risk of limited CBW use (and civilian casualties) during the conflict 
of overthrow the present regime."

During a July 2002 visit to Iraq, the Government of Iraq gave me the permission to visit two sites 
of my choice, Al Dora at the outskirts of Baghdad and Al Fallujah III, which western intelligence 
agencies and main stream US and UK media had identified as sites for which evidence existed that 
they had been producing biological agents since the departure of UN arms inspectors in December 

The IISS report points out that at Al Dora "work appears to have started. The facility has about 
25% of its capacity" (see p.30). For Al Fallujah III it points out that the "plant for processing 
castor beans has been destroyed. Its current status is unknown" (see p.30).

In a document entitled "A decade of Deception and Defiance" handed out by the US Government on 12 
September at the time when US President Bush was delivering his speech at the UN/GA, it is pointed 
out that Al Dora "has an extensive air handling and filtering system" (see p.8) and for Al Fallujah 
it states (see p.9) that "(the Government of Iraq) is making an effort to hide activities at (the) 
Fallujah plant."

The British Government released its long announced 'dossier' on 24 September 2002. More a review of 
past WMD programmes than an empirical analysis of the current situation in Iraq, the dossier is a 
document of allegations not of evidence of the seriousness of the current WMD reality in Iraq. For 
Al Fallujah, the dossier maintains that "the castor oil production facility has been rebuild." Al 
Dora is cited as a "facility of concern."

My visit to these two sites (accompanied by the ARD German TV) showed conclusively that Al Dora and 
Al Fallujah III facilities had been destroyed (it should be noted that the IISS report acknowledges 
this for Al Fallujah III). What is destroyed can not be a threat.

Conclusions: The evidence offered by the US and UK administration as well as the IISS assessment of 
Iraq's WMD status does not support in any way the contention that an imminent threat emanates from 
Iraq justifying a military offensive. The US government promoted mass hysteria and the psycho war 
are internationally unacceptable. In the interest of preventing such a war, the Iraqi Foreign 
Minister's statement to the UN/GA that the country is free of WMD and the agreement by the Iraqi 
authorities to re-admit unconditionally UN arms inspectors at this stage should be taken at face 
value and UNMOVIC's installation in Baghdad be pursued without delay.

Question No.2: What explains the present US Government Iraq policy?

There is no simple explanation. The importance of Iraq's sources of energy, the composition of the 
Bush II administration and changes in the political landscape of the Middle East, however, are 
three major factors which are part of such an explanation:

  a.. Iraq's sources of energy:
During the 31 july/1 august hearings on Iraq in the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the 
ranking representative of the Republican Party, Senator Richard Lugar (R-In) stated: " ...we are 
going to run the oil business. We are going to run it well, we are going to make money; and it's 
going to help pay for the rehabilitation of Iraq because there is money there!"

  a.. The Bush II administration:
Key policy makers in the administration of the present US Government had been involved in the Bush 
I 1991 Gulf War. This may explain why the US Government is taking the Iraq Liberation Act of the US 
Congress of October 1998 much more literal than the Clinton administration did. The Act calls for 
'regime change' in Iraq. The policy of 'containment within' under President Clinton has become a 
policy of 'occupation from outside' under President Bush.

This policy change combined with a missionary fanaticism to spread their version of 'democracy' and 
a fatal mix-up of the justified fight against terrorism and a regime change strategy for 
governments considered as too aggressively anti-American are the main ingredients of the US 
administration's approach on Iraq.

  a.. The political landscape in the Middle East:
The severe deterioration of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in the course of the past twelve 
months has intensified the cohesion among Arab governments. Testimony of significant policy changes 
within the Arab League became apparent in the final communiqué of the March 2002 Beirut Summit. It 
concluded with a rejection of a war against the 'brotherly country Iraq'. Since then all Arab 
governments including Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have repeated their opposition to a military 
confrontation with Iraq. There is strong public resentment, particularly in Saudi Arabia, to what 
is perceived as double standards in dealing with the two major conflicts in the Middle East, the 
Palestinian issue and Iraq. It can also no longer be hidden that the US is on notice that 
agreements to their military presence in the Middle East are no longer to be taken for granted. 
This in turn has added an element of extreme urgency in introducing changes in the US Iraq policy.

Conclusions: The Iraq policy of the US administration has little to do with the return of UN arms 
inspectors or with a concern for the suffering of the Iraqi people. It has all to do with a 
determination to introduce a regime change in Baghdad. With this objective, the US enjoys no 
international support. President Chirac confirmed this when he stated publicly: "It is not a 
question of Bush/Blair on one side and Chirac/Schroeder on the other side, it is Bush/Blair on one 
side and all the others on the other side."

Question No.3: What are the implications for the Iraqi population?

First of all it must be pointed out that the suffering and the trauma resulting from the 
intensified confrontation between Iraq and the US/UK and the prospects of war have been sidelined 
by politicians and the media in Europe. The massive evidence of the toll these developments and 
twelve years of economic sanctions have taken among the Iraqi population is well documented by 
reputable IGOs and INGOs. The impact of this reality will be felt long after economic sanctions 
have been lifted and the Iraq conflict has ended.

The humanitarian exemption, the oil for food programme has at all times been underfunded, 
particularly, in the initial three phases when the UN/SC had been decided that the oil for export 
revenue could not exceed $2.6 billion per phase. Despite this small amount, the UN/SC insisted that 
the UNCC had to receive 30% of the oil revenue, funding which was desperately needed by an 
undernourished population deprived from even basic medicines to protect their health.

The total value of what has been received in Iraq between 16 December 1996, the beginning of the 
oil for food programme and 10 may 2002 amounts to $172 per person/year. One indicator of the state 
of impoverishment of the Iraqi population is that 55% of the population lives below the poverty 
line. Were the monthly food basket valued at $25 not given to the population free of charge under 
the oil for food programme, some 90% of the population would be forced to live under the poverty 

Another dramatic indicator of the ill being of the population relates to child mortality. UNICEF in 
its annual State of the Children's report identified Iraq as the country which showed an increase 
of 160% in the mortality rate of children under five for the period 1990 to 1999. This constitutes 
the highest recorded increase of all the 188 countries surveyed. According to the same 
organisation, female literacy has slipped to 45% in 1995 while in 1987 Iraq had received from 
UNESCO international recognition that it had achieved a literacy level of 80%. There are other 
alarming figures published by WHO showing that the number of youth with mental disorders has more 
than doubled between 1990 and 1998.

While the US Government accuses Iraq of having violated 16 UN resolutions, no mention is made that 
the main responsibility for the violation of just about all international treaties and conventions 
from the UN Charter to the International Covenant of economic, social and cultural rights, the 
Geneva and Hague Conventions and the genocide convention points to the US and British governments 
(see in this connection a document of UN/ECOSOC dated 21 June 2000 (GE.00-14092) in which Prof. 
Marc Bossuyt, presently judge in the Belgian Supreme Court and formerly chairman of the UN Human 
Rights Commission gives evidence to this effect; see also selected papers on "The Impact on 
International Law of a Decade of Measures Against Iraq" published by Oxford University Press in 
February 2002).

It must also be stated that the establishment of the two no-fly-zones is based on no UN mandate and 
constitutes a serious breach of international law and UN resolutions which make specific mention of 
Iraq's territorial integrity and sovereignty. As the UN designated Official for Security of UN 
staff in Iraq, I introduced air strike reports which reflected collected and verified information 
on damage to life and property of civilians as a result of US/UK air incursions and attacks in 
Iraq. In 1999 my office in Baghdad recorded 132 air strikes with 144 civilian death and over 300 
wounded and civilian property destroyed. These air strike reports were, when possible, handed to US 
and UK officials in New York during various briefing visits. I was told by representatives of those 
two governments that I was violating my mandate in producing such documents and that in any case 
all I was doing was to put a UN stamp on Iraqi propaganda. It is a serious matter that the UN 
Security Council having a mandated oversight responsibility has not been able to stop this serious 
violation, particularly since US and UK pilots have operated in Iraqi airspace after Operation 
Desert Fox in December 1998 under 'enlarged rules of engagement'. These allow them to use their 
firing power with fewer restrictions and consequently with more damage to civilian life and 

Should a US war against Iraq take place, particularly the high-tech war currently contemplated in 
Washington, there would be significant civilian casualties and destruction. To prevent this must be 
a major challenge for European democracies.

Conclusions: The political battle continues to be played on the backs of the Iraqi people. 
Objectionable treatment of people within Iraq can not provide the justification for a crippling 
punishment extended by the UN Security Council to the Iraqi people in the form of economic 
sanctions, blocking of humanitarian supplies, regular air attacks and, possibly military 
confrontation. Governments who are in possession of the many accounts from reputable international 
organisations on the state of human condition can no longer remain silent regarding the fact that 
today the main perpetrators responsible for the suffering of the Iraqi people are the governments 
of the US and the UK. This does not mean that one should negate the concern over the internal human 
rights situation. The UN Human Rights Rapporteur must be allowed to continue his dialogue with the 
Iraqi authorities in this respect.

Question No.4: What could be the demands of the international public conscience against a war on 
Iraq and for the lifting of economic sanctions?

·         The European Colloquium (EC) should convey to the European Parliament (EP) that the 
February 2001 hearings on Iraq have failed to contribute to a credible EU Iraq policy. In the 
absence of an objective position on Iraq, The EU had been largely excluded as a contributor to the 
international Iraq debate. The EC should point out that this could be redressed.

·         Neither the report of the UK International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) dated 9 
September 2002 nor the document handed out by the US Government dated 12 September provides any 
evidence whatsoever of the imminence of an international threat posed by the Iraqi Government that 
would justify evoking articles 39, 42 or 51 of the UN Charter. A unilateral military strike by the 
US against Iraq would in any case be a grave violation of international law. The EP should be 
reminded of this serious fact.

  a.. The EC should advise the EP that in case of such a unilateral attack on Iraq by the US, 
permission by EU member countries for US forces to use airfields, harbours and other facilities 
might be consistent with NATO statutes but would constitute a breach of international law. The EP 
should be requested to convey this to member governments.

  a.. The Brussels meeting of the EC should be concluded by expressing full support for the 
UN/Security Council-led arms inspection process. The EC should emphasize in this context that the 
Iraq Government should not be hindered in any way to demonstrate its preparedness to 
unconditionally cooperate with UNMOVIC. The EC should furthermore convey to the UN Secretary 
General that it considers the protection of the integrity of the team of UN inspectors as a 
paramount responsibility of the chairman of UNMOVIC. Misuse of UNMOVIC for intelligence operations, 
as had been the case with UNSCOM, harbours the grave danger of a confrontation between Iraq and the 
US. It would undoubtedly be used by US authorities as an immediate pretext to respond with a 
military attack. The EC should convey to the EP that it has a profound responsibility to pass these 
concerns to member governments and to the UN.

  a.. Comprehensive economic sanctions against the people of Iraq are entering their 13th year. The 
human condition identified already in 1991 after the Gulf War as 'apocalyptic' have significantly 
worsened since then in both mental and physical terms. The amount of evidence collected by 
reputable international organisations about child mortality, malnutrition, re-emerging diseases, 
impoverishment, educational neglect and psychological disorders continues to accumulate (please see 
in particular recent reports by UNICEF, CARITAS, Save The Children/UK).
  What the international community has seen since May 2002 when UN/SC resolution 1409 introduced 
so-called 'smart sanctions' represents, as predicted by individual members of the current UN 
Security Council, anything but an improvement. In addition, over $5 billion worth of humanitarian 
supplies remain on hold-blocked by US/UK authorities. The oil pricing confrontation created by the 
US/UK governments to end the 'illegal' surcharge issue has resulted in a major shortfall of funding 
for the present phase XII of the oil for food programme and seriously endangers the already fragile 
humanitarian exemption programme.

The EC should make a strong case in its Brussels' communiqué for the lifting of economic sanctions 
once the UN arms inspectors programme is underway with the full cooperation of the Government of 
Iraq. The EC should request the EP to strongly support such an approach in the interest of ending 
the suffering of a people who have done nothing wrong.

  a.. National anti-sanction groups in Europe and elsewhere are unrelenting in their efforts to 
bring about justice and conditions of human dignity for the Iraqi people. The public conscience is 
alert and at national levels has helped in shaping political decision making. In these critical 
days of international relations, efforts to make it possible that at times national initiatives can 
function in an integrated manner would seem of importance. The ideal would be to create a European 
response mechanism that can be used to periodically react to morally, ethically and legally 
unacceptable policies and positions on Iraq maintained by individual members of the United Nations. 
Such a mechanism would be particularly significant at this moment to protest against economic 
sanctions and to solicit support against a military attack on Iraq. Protesting would create 
awareness that such an attack would lead to another human catastrophe and endanger the 
international solidarity in the fight against terrorism. It would be of immense value in this 
respect if the EC could agree on an 'action alert focal point'. Such a focal point would function 
as a basis for the strategic issuance of joint statements and the preparation of integrated actions 
and lobby work.
  a.. As a step in this direction, national associations, whether represented at the Brussels' 
meeting or not should be encouraged to forward the final communiqué and a copy of the open letter 
to the EP to all the representative foreign media and other influential bodies on the ground. The 
EC should forward these two documents to the President of the UN Security Council, the UN Secretary 
General, the Secretary General of the Arab League, the Holy Sea and the International Court of 
  a.. An important first step towards improved cooperation among different national groups working 
towards the lifting of economic sanctions and averting an unjustified war against Iraq would be the 
preparation of a master-list of cooperating entities and their coordinates.

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