The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[casi] ARROW bfg 31 Key Disarmament Tasks

The Vulnerability At The Heart of The New
ARROW Anti-War Briefing 31 (23 February 2003)
WAR PLAN IRAQ Update Number 10

UN weapons inspectors should be setting out clearly
defined and precise tasks for Iraq to carry out to
verify that its weapons of mass destruction capability is
disarmed. The US is blocking this process, and trying
to get a ‘war resolution’ instead of a ‘disarmament

The UN weapons inspection process broke down in
Dec. 1998 after the US asked inspectors to withdraw
from Iraq to create the right political climate for a
four-day US/UK bombing raid (see War Plan Iraq,
Chapter IV, for details).
        After a year, in Resolution 1284, passed in Dec.
1999, the Security Council created a new inspectorate
UNMOVIC (UN Monitoring, Verification and
Inspection Commission), and a new timetable for
inspections by UNMOVIC and the International
Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Para. 7 of Resolution 1284: the Security Council
‘Decides that UNMOVIC and the IAEA, not later than
60 days after they have both started work in Iraq, will
each draw up, for approval by the Council, a work
programme for the discharge of their mandates,
which will include... the key remaining disarmament
tasks to be completed by Iraq... and further decides
that what is required of Iraq for the implementation
of each task shall be clearly defined and precise’.
<> After four months of
co-operation, economic sanctions could be suspended
(Para. 33).

The point of the ‘key disarmament tasks’ is that the
Security Council is supposed to set out in black and
white exactly what Iraq has to do in order to get
economic sanctions first suspended, and then
eventually lifted. The tasks must be ‘clearly defined and
precise’ in order to stop the US and UK from being
able to ‘move the goalposts’. This is precisely what has
been happening since Iraq invited the inspectors back
in on 16 Sept. 2002. First the key area was said to be
‘access’, particularly to the ‘Presidential palaces’. When
these were inspected without problems, new issues
were raised, including flights by US U-2 spy planes and
interviews with weapons scientists. As each problem is
resolved, the US and UK jump to another issue. The
Guardian comments, ‘the US and Britain are not just
moving the goalposts. They are widening the
goalmouth and doubling the size of the penalty area.’
(Guardian, 27 Jan., p. 19)
        The White House spokesperson dismisses all
forms of co-operation:    ‘It would not surprise the US
if Saddam Hussein pretends all of a suddden to have
change of heart and allow the U2 to fly or to show up
with some of the weapons he promised he never had.
But it wouldn’t change the fact that Saddam Hussein is
not co-operating.’ (Times, 7 Feb., p. 1) However much
co-operation there is in reality, according to US
propaganda Iraq is ‘not co-operating’. This is because
the US is determined on war. Inspections are an
unwanted obstacle to war. Co-operation is an
unwanted obstacle to war.

Hence the importance of implementing 1284 and
drawing up clear, precise and unmoveable ‘key
disarmament tasks’. On 24/25 Feb., Hans Blix is
presenting to the UNMOVIC College of
Commissioners, an advisory group of experts, ‘a list of
more than 35 outstanding issues surrounding Iraq's
disarmament’. (Guardian, 22 Feb., p. 4) ‘His questions
are inspired largely by resolution 1284’. (Telegraph,
22 Feb., p. 14) Critically, ‘some countries would like to
turn the Blix list into an ultimatum to Iraq’.
(Independent, 22 Feb., p. 4) ‘Seeking a way through,
some countries have pushed for clear benchmarks on
co-operation by which Iraq can be measured. But US
officials say even those could be manipulated. There
are serious doubts whether an ostensibly technical
solution can bridge a fundamentally political question.’
(FT, 21 Feb., p. 5)
        The US and UK are desperate to prevent the
key disarmament tasks being formulated and
presented to the Security Council. ‘In private, British
officials fear that Mr Blix’s “benchmarks” for Iraqi
compliance may make their uphill struggle to win the
resolution even more difficult. Mr Blix’s questions
could be seized upon by opponents of war—France,
Germany, Russia, China and Syria—to string out the
UN process on grounds that the UN must be given
time to provide clear answers. Diplomats said America
and Britain will resist any attempt to insert the
benchmarks into the resolution as part of a formal
ultimatum to Iraq. They are worried that this would
invite another interminable series of discussions over
whether Iraq has disarmed and whether inspectors
should be given more time, and may invite a third
resolution.’ (Telegraph, 22 Feb., p. 14)
        ‘Some countries have suggested that those
questions could be used to formulate specific tasks
ahead of the end of March, possibly with a deadline,
which could clarify matters for the Security Council's
middle ground as it approaches decision time. But the
US argues that resolution 1441 is all the benchmark it
needs, amid fears that a list of tasks could be used to
string out the process. Colin Powell, secretary of state,
has said he does not expect the resolution itself to set
a “timeline”. “The chances of it being put forward by
the US or the UK is close to nil,” said one Council
official. But “around the debate there will be a lot of
trying to find measures by which to judge Iraq”.’ (FT,
22 Feb., p. 6) In other words, there will be some
members of the Security Council trying to implement
Resolution 1284, despite US/UKobstructionism.
        At the time of writing, it is possible that Paris
will make a serious effort in this direction: ‘The French
memorandum—expected to be tabled “in the next
few days”, according to a senior official—will continue
to stress the disarmament of Iraq through peaceful
means, but propose strict deadlines for the
dismemberment of Iraq's alleged illicit arms
programme. The US has so far resisted setting
benchmarks, amid fears they could sow further
ambiguity and string out discussions.’ (FT, 24 Feb., p.
        The real danger to the US is quite the opposite:
unambiguous ‘benchmarks’ could help Iraq prove its
co-operation and its disarmament are full and
complete, thus denying the US the war it craves. For
example, ‘France now wants a precise deadline for
inspectors to interview the 83 experts who Baghdad
claims destroyed its chemical weapons stockpiles.’ (FT,
24 Feb., p. 1)

The British broadsheets say that the ‘key disarmament
tasks’ required by Resolution 1284 must be drawn up
by 27 Mar., after 120 days of resumed work, rather
than the 60 days specified in 1284. (Telegraph, 22
Feb., p. 14; and 24 Feb., p. 14), (FT, 22 Feb., p. 6),
(Times, 21 Feb., p. 17) This is because UNMOVIC has
decided that the first two months were not really
‘work’, and that the 60 days started on 27 Jan. (Phone
conversation, Ewen Buchanan of UNMOVIC, 24 Feb.)
It is difficult to believe this was a purely internal
UNMOVIC decision, and that the US had nothing to
do with it.
        Resolution 1284 says that 120 days after an
‘Ongoing Monitoring and Verification’ (OMV)
programme becomes fully operational, economic
sanctions can be suspended. But the OMV plan has
not yet been approved.

Peter Hain, then a Foreign Office minister, wrote in
the Independent on 7 Aug. 2000, ‘The Security
Council Resolution for which Britain worked so hard
last year offers Iraq a path towards the suspension of
sanctions, but Saddam refuses to take that path. If
Saddam Hussein were to allow a new disarmament
body into Iraq, he could quickly move towards
suspension if he cooperated with the weapons
        Hain said on 11 Sept. 2000, ‘1284 is the way
forward and essentially what it allows for is sanctions
to be suspended in return for a new arms inspection
team under Dr Hans Blix to go into Iraq and begin
inspections... There is a very clear policy and it is a
win-win for everybody. UN inspectors could return,
Iraqi people get relief, Iraq's neighbours feel safer with
Saddam Hussein’s weapons under some measure of
control.’ (Hain defended sanctions on 24 Mar. 2000
saying, ‘One of the arguments that the critics of
sanctions have to face is that although sanctions have
had many consequences, one of them has been the
containment of Saddam Hussein’s war machine.’)
        British Ambassador to the UN, Sir Jeremy
Greenstock, spoke to the Security Council on behalf
of the Blair Government on 17 Dec. 1999, praising
the new resolution: ‘The Council now has the policy
which it needs; and this resolution is now the law of
the globe... The Security Council needs, and the UN
system as a whole needs, the weight of the full Council
and the full membership in implementing this
mandatory resolution... If we succeed in that, it will be
to the advantage of the people of Iraq and of the
region, in the interests of the future authority of the
United Nations, and to the great credit of this
Council.’ (Hain and Greenstock quotes are from the
Foreign Office website: <>)
        Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said on 21 Feb.: ‘It
is for [Saddam Hussein] to prove that he has, once
and for all, given up what we know he has.’
(Telegraph, 22 Feb., p. 14) This can only be done
properly and in accordance with international law and
UN Resolutions if clear and precise ‘key disarmament
tasks’ are spelt out. It is for Jack Straw and the British
and US Governments to follow ‘the law of the globe’,
to make Iraq’s neighbours ‘feel safer’, to create ‘relief’
for the Iraqi people, and to defend ‘the future
authority of the UN’, by allowing the weapons
inspectors to implement ‘mandatory resolution’ 1284,
and define Iraq’s remaining key disarmament tasks.
        On 25 Feb. Tony Blair is due to say in the
House of Commons, ‘He knows, and the world
knows, what he has to do.’ (Sunday Times, 23 Feb.
2003, p. 2) This isn’t true. It is up to the anti-war
movement to make it true, to allow the inspectors to
disarm Iraq: a real ‘win-win’ situation for everybody.

ARROW BOOK War Plan Iraq: Ten Reasons Against
War On Iraq by Milan Rai (Verso, 2002)
‘Readable and well-sourced’ The Times ‘Excellent’
Tariq Ali ‘Required reading’ Professor Paul Rogers
More ARROW Anti-War Briefings available <j-n-> or from 0845 458 2564
PLEASE SUPPORT ARROW (Active Resistance to the
Roots of War)
We are making as many briefings as we can. Please
help with printing/distribution by sending cheques to
‘ARROW’ (marked ‘briefings’), c/o NVRN, 162
Holloway Rd, London N7 8DQ.
PLEDGE OF RESISTANCE Sign online at the

Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
To unsubscribe, visit
To contact the list manager, email
All postings are archived on CASI's website:

[Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]