Interviewee:           Scott Ritter, former Chief Weapons Inspector, Concealment Unit, United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM), 1991-1998

Interviewer:           Nathaniel Hurd, The Boston Research Group.

Date: 27 April 2000

BRG: When commenting about Iraq, speakers and writers often state that “Saddam is a threat to his neighbors” and then erect images of Iraq launching chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons and conventional ballistic missiles in rapid-fire succession across its borders.  But these same speakers and writers do not seem disposed to further elaborate on and answer certain questions.  For example, which neighbors will Iraq use these weapons on?  During the Iran-Iraq war Iraq repeatedly used on Iranian troops one chemical weapon [CW] after another [1] without focused condemnation from the United Nations General Assembly [2] or Security Council. [3] Moreover, no State government, including the United States, strongly condemned with action Iraq’s CW use. [4]   The weapons of mass destruction [5] programs themselves were propelled by parts, components, technological know-how, etc. from West Germany, the United States, Great Britain, France, and many other States. [6]   So Iraq faced a lack of Western condemnation for its CW use on one hand and Western support for its non-conventional programs on the other. [7]   However, during the Gulf War non-conventional weapons were not used. [8]   Iraqi officials later testified to UNSCOM officials that they had prepared missiles capped with weaponized biological warheads but did not use them because then-Secretary of State James Baker warned Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz in a 9 January 1991 meeting that if Iraq used chemical or biological weapons the United States would retaliate with nuclear weapons. [9]   This seems to suggest that as far as Iraq is concerned; military deterrence is possible; that the military decision-makers are not deranged; and that there are certain pre-conditions for use and certain pre-conditions for non-use.  If you look regionally at who Iraq can potentially use non-conventional weapons against, you can start with Iran.  However, Iran is an unlikely candidate because it has its own fully-fledged CW program as well as a large conventional force. [10]   Obviously Iraq is probably not going to use non-conventional weapons against Saudi Arabia or Kuwait because the United States, as demonstrated by its Gulf War mobilization, will probably responsd to such a threat to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait for they are, in the eyes of United States foreign policy-makers, vital regional petroleum producers.  Non-conventional weapons probably won’t be employed against Israel because Israel has its own nuclear, [11] chemical, [12] biological [13] and ballistic missile [14] capabilities and the capacity and willingness to non-conventionally respond to Iraqi non-conventional attacks. [15]   So the question is, as far as the neighbors are concerned, who will these weapons be used against?  Internal use ought to be the primary concern but potential internal use doesn’t get talked about as much as potential external use. [16]

Ritter:  That’s a complex question.  You have to answer it on a number of levels.  One, when you talk about weapons of mass destruction, the UN defines that in four categories that are applicable to Iraq: long-range ballistic missiles, that is missiles with a range greater than 150 kilometers; chemical weapons; biological weapons; and nuclear weapons.  If you look at how Iraq developed its weapons of mass destruction program originally in the 1970s, the Ba’athist regime of Saddam Hussein, before its invasion of Iran, was looking at weapons of mass destruction as publicly visible deterrents to Israeli weapons of mass destruction. [17]   It has always been modern Iraq’s, Ba’athist Iraq’s, dream to be the Arab leader, the leader of the Arab world.  In order to be the leader of the Arab world you need to be willing to stand up, in the eyes of the Arab people, to the Zionist entity.  That means that you need to have a credible counterpart to Israel’s weapons of mass destruction. [18] But you don’t just snap your fingers and make weapons of mass destruction.  They’re horribly complicated things.  They require tremendous amounts of expenditure, technological know-how, and industrial capacity, all of which Iraq lacked in the 1970s.  Saddam embarked in the ‘70s and early ‘80s on a mission to acquire technology and know-how so that Iraq could start developing the broad spectrum of weapons of mass destruction.  Primarily Iraq looked at chemical weapons and nuclear weapons. [19]  

In 1980 Iraq went to war with Iran and that war continued on for eight years.  That led to a new imperative.  The war that Iraq fought with Iran was supposed to be a quick war, a war where Iraq took over Khuzistan and the southern, Arab parts of Iran. [20]   The causes of the war were complex.  They date back to Iran pushing its weight around in the ‘60s and ‘70s in terms of defining control over the Shatt al-Arab waterway.  This has important implications in terms of Iraq being able to have free access to the Persian Gulf. [21]   After the Iranian revolution of 1979, the Iraqi government felt that Iran was weak and that it was time to take advantage of Iraqi strength.  I’m not defending what they did, but that’s why they did it.  They didn’t succeed the way they wanted to and they got bogged down in a very costly war. 

Saddam Hussein is a brutal dictator, but people tend to believe that he has always had an absolute hold on power.  His hold on power, especially in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, was actually fairly tenuous.  Iraq has a history of military coups.  He had to worry about the army and now he has the army bogged down in a war where they are getting badly beaten by the Iranians with no foreseeable end.  He has to worry about the Iraqi people.  He’s promised them prosperity and now billions of dollars are being diverted into this war.  He has to worry about body-bags.  How many Iraqi boys are going to be allowed to come home dead before he loses the support of the population? 

He turned the war into a crusade.  He tried to get Arab support to fund it, support it politically, and turn it into a crusade...

BRG: Which he did very successfully.

Ritter:  Very successfully. [22]   And because of Iran’s unpopular position vis-à-vis the West, he was able to get sympathetic hearings in the United States and Europe.  No one wanted this fundamentalist regime in Tehran to spread its evil web across the Middle East.

At first, support was primarily conventional in nature.  For example, the United States provided intelligence information [23] and the United States and Western Europe made sure that Iraq had enough artillery shells to fight a war. [24]   But the Iranians showed a disregard for the casualty aspect.  They were willing to come at Iraqi front-line positions using human wave assaults with 12-13 year-old kids.  Iraqi machine gun barrels would overheat and run out of ammunition before the Iranians ran out of kids, positions would be overrun, and thousands of Iraqis would be taken prisoner and killed.  Body-bags were coming home. 

The Iraqis needed a solution, and the solution was seen in the form of chemical weapons.  Chemical weapons do two things: One, they allow to you to effectively break up an attack before it closes on your position.  Two, it’s a terror weapon.  These were untrained Iranian troops.  When you have a chemical agent a well-disciplined fighting force will merely put on its protective gear.  Chemical agents are not very effective weapons.  If you look at Iranian casualties incurred because of chemical weapons, you’ll find that the numbers are in the few thousands.

BRG: Chemical weapons were primarily a psychological tool.

Ritter:  That’s right.  More Iranians died from land mines, machine gun fire, and artillery shells, many more, hundreds of thousands more, than died from chemical weapons. [25]   But it’s a terror tool.  It strikes fear in the hearts of untrained soldiers. [26]   And it achieved what it was meant to achieve.  The Iranians did not close around Iraqi positions.  The Iranians would retreat in disorder and it gave the Iraqis the tactical advantage on the battlefield.  So the great expansion of Iraq’s chemical weapons program came as a result of the Iran-Iraq war and Iraq achieving the tactical advantage on the battlefield.

The war between Iran and Iraq was a very complicated affair.  Up in the North it was fought via the Kurdish population.  The Iraqis had Kurdish surrogates operating in Iran to take on the Iranian government.  The Iranian government had Iraqi Kurdish surrogates operating in Iraq to take on the Iraqi government. [27]   So the Kurdish population became an extension of the battlefield. Again, I’m not justifying what eventually happened.  I don’t condone the use of chemical weapons.  But in 1988, when the Iranians made a thrust through the mountains of Iraq and took the town of Halabja, throwing out Iraqi ground forces and threatening the Darbandikhan Dam and the strategic water supply for the city of Baghdad and central Iraq, [28] the decision was taken to fight the battle on two fronts.   One, send the special Republican Guard north to engage the Iranians and the Kurds.  This is the elite force of Saddam Hussein, totally dedicated and loyal to him.  And he committed them, his last reserves.  That shows you the seriousness of the situation.  Two, break the Kurdish population’s will to support the Iranians.  How do you do that?  Terrorize them.  How do you terrorize them?  Use chemical weapons.  And they used them against Halabja and a couple of other villages, and yes, five, six, seven thousand people died a horrible death.  I’m not condoning it, I’m condemning it.  But I’m also trying to put it in perspective.  It wasn’t a knee jerk-reaction.  Saddam Hussein does not use chemical weapons against his population as a matter of course.  Chemical weapons were used by the Iraqi regime at times of great desperation by the Iraqi regime and to survive in a battlefield environment.

One of the things that they learned during their offenses of ’87 and ’88 was that by integrating chemical weapons into the way that they fought the battle they could significantly reduce their casualties.  The Iraqis fired a conventional smoke and chemical rounds’ mixture into the rear area of the Iranian forces and then followed up with more smoke.  The Iranians yelled “It’s [chemical] smoke,” the Iraqis fired in a few more chemical rounds and people started choking.  Suddenly, 300,000 Iranians were running, and the Iraqis followed up with their ground forces. [29]   It’s a very efficient way of fighting as far as the Iraqis are concerned.  So they fully integrated chemical weapons into their doctrine.  Not unlike what the United States did in Europe in the 1970s.  The United States was concerned about the Russian threat moving in.  The United States integrated chemical weapons into our arsenal.  The United States would have used chemical weapons to stop a Soviet thrust into Europe and into NATO.  And the United States would have ultimately have used nuclear weapons.  But that’s neither here nor there.  My point is that it is not uncommon for a nation to incorporate chemical weapons into its doctrine.  On a tactical level, that’s what the Iraqis did. 

The war with Iran ended victoriously and not only because of what happened on the ground.  The Iraqis were able to lengthen the Scud missiles and convert them from 300 kilometer range battle support artillery rockets to 600 kilometer strategic weapons that could strike in the heart of Iran, into Tehran, into Qom, into other strategic cities, terrorizing the population. [30]   It wasn’t just the conventional 150 kilogram payload that terrorized people.  There was also the fear that Iraq might put chemical warheads on them.  The people were scared to death of chemically weaponized missiles, [31] when in fact the biggest risk was to have a missile land on top of someone.  The technical reality of an Iraqi warhead was such that if it had a chemical warhead it would have plummeted to earth at a very high rate of speed — it had a very small chemical agent and very primitive burster — and by the time it impacted the ground and dug a hole six meters into the ground and burst, the chemical agent would be totally contained in that area.

BRG: They were also using very crude binary munitions.

Ritter:  They called them “binary,” but what that meant was that they had a warhead full of isopropyl alcohol and at the last second they mixed in the difluor. [32]

BRG: “Mix-in-flight.”

Ritter:  It’s not even “mix-in-flight.”  They mix it before they launch. [33]   At the Muthana State Establishment, which was responsible for developing Iraq’s chemical weapons, whenever they would mix these things Iraqi workers would get up there and then pour the agent in and stir the Sarin by hand in the warhead.  Invariably there’s an accident and you’ve got guys writhing,  convulsing and dying because of the nerve agent.  The Iraqis killed more of their own people loading the chemical agent into the warhead than they did with the warheads themselves.

BRG: It seems as though one of the points that you’re making is that at the height of its chemical weapons program, the actual chemical weapons that Iraq was able to produce were crude, not tremendously lethal, and very likely to fail....

Ritter:  Ballistic missiles...

BRG: Yes, I’m referring to ballistic missiles, not aerially dropped chemical bombs or on-the-ground chemical shells. 

 Ritter:  They did have chemical weapons in aerial bombs, artillery shells, rocket shells, 122 millimeter rocket shells, and mortars.  But this is all battlefield stuff. 

BRG: And if Iraq was to use chemical weapons against “its neighbors” it would not  employ short-range munitions.  If Iraq started out with a long-range offensive...for example, if Iraq were to chemically target Saudi Arabia, Iraq would presumably use ballistic missiles with chemical warheads.

Ritter:  Yes, ballistic missiles.  But we need to back up a step.  That was the Iranian fear.  But the Iraqis did not have a chemical warhead for their missiles during the Iran-Iraq war. [34]   It was fear based upon a zero threat.  After the Iran-Iraq war, the Iraqi Government was faced with a number of problems: It had this huge army that sucked up a lot of money and no war to fight.  During the Iran-Iraq war, in order to keep the economy stable, the government of Iraq brought in a large number of guest workers, namely Palestinian and  Egyptian workers.  They were in there working.  This was good for Egypt because a lot of that money was heading back home to help the Egyptian economy. [35]   Now you have these soldiers and you want to de-mobilize them?  Into what?  There are no jobs for them.  If you kick out the Egyptians you create discord between Iraq and Egypt who were in the process of negotiating Egypt’s re-entry into the Arab League. [36]

Saddam was in between a rock and a hard place.  What does he do?  Keep the army up.  How does he keep the army up?  He had to create the perception of a threat.  If he didn’t have Iran, what’s his threat?  Israel.  This gives Iraq voice.  It can say “We are the Arab superpower.  We saved the Arab world from the Shia threat, the Persian threat, and now we’re going to save the Arab world from the Israeli threat.”  That’s fine and dandy.  A lot of rhetoric.  But then Iraq develops weapons.  Iraq’s big concern was being seen as countering Israeli nuclear capability.  Israel had Jericho missiles that could strike Baghdad or any Arab country with a 20 kiloton nuclear warhead. [37]   Iraq already had a huge nuclear effort underway but it was years away from accomplishing anything viable.  And the Iraqis knew that.  They needed an immediate counterpoint.  It came in the form of biological and chemical warheads.  In 1988 the Iraqis published papers which directed the Military Industrial Commission [MIC] to weaponize biological and chemical agents, air-delivered munitions, and long-range ballistic missiles so that they could be oriented toward Israel. 

What was clear in all of the language was that these were weapons of deterrence.  The Iraqis had no “first-strike” plans.  They did talk about something called “Thunderstrike.”  Thunderstrike would be a massive launch to knock out Israel’s strategic capability.  But Thunderstrike would be retaliatory.  If the Israelis used weapons of mass destruction against Iraq, or if Israel targeted the Iraqi leadership — this is an important point, for we’re talking about the survival not only of Iraq but of Saddam Hussein —  and it got to the point where Israel launched an attack against Baghdad and command and control was lost from Saddam Hussein and his strategic forces, Iraq would automatically launch a chemical and biological attack against Israel using aircraft and long-range ballistic missiles.  This was the Iraqi strategy.  I’m not defending it, I’m not justifying it, I’m condemning it.  But what I’m saying is that that is not a first-strike capability.  That is not Iraq seeking to wipe Israel off the face of the earth.  Quite the contrary.  It’s Iraq saying, “Israel has the capability to wipe us off the face of the earth, and therefore to be the regional superpower that we want to be we need a counterpart.” [38]    

BRG: And of course it’s worth pointing out that during the Gulf War, when Iraq launched its Scud campaign against several sections of Israel, Iraq didn’t use chemical warheads.

Ritter:  What’s more important to talk about is that in August of 1990, when Iraq invaded Kuwait, the Iraqis deployed to western Iraq seven missiles tipped with chemical agent.  These missiles were under the special control of the President of Iraq and their purpose was to be a retaliatory force.  There was a lot of concern that Israel would launch a pre-emptive strike against Iraq’s nuclear reactors and so the Iraqi leadership deployed these missiles.  These missiles were in place throughout the entire period.  Throughout the entire war — the buildup to the war and the war itself — Iraq had seven al-Hussein long-range ballistic missiles tipped with chemical weapons in western Iraq ready to fire against Israel.  And Iraq didn’t.  There are any number of reasons why it didn’t.  One, Iraqi decision-makers knew firing these weapons would amount to committing suicide.  You hit Israel with a chemical weapon and they will nuke you.  The point was also made by James Baker that if you use those weapons against Americans then you will pay a price heavier than you are willing to pay.

BRG: He was very explicit about that.

Ritter:  Very explicit.  But again, Iraq did not have a first-use chemical weapons policy.  There was never a risk of Iraq firing off chemical agent.  They did deploy chemical munitions into Southern Iraq and Kuwait after their invasion.  But the reason for that was primarily because they had so thoroughly integrated chemical weapons into their doctrine that when they deployed into Kuwait, and pushed the Republican Guard down there, chemical weapons just automatically followed them down.  But the chemical weapons were always kept in rear area depots and were never forward deployed to the troops.  Never.  The only things that were forward-deployed to the troops were conventional artillery munitions.  The Iraqis would not have released that chemical agent unless Iraq was attacked with weapons of mass destruction or the leader was eliminated.  In that case all bets are off.  Iraq goes out in a Massada complex.  “We’re just going to kill everybody and we’re going to die and it’s going to be a big blaze of glory.”  That’s Iraq’s deterrence.  Here are the weapons of mass destruction.  Take out our leadership and we’ll take everybody out with us.  Or we’ll try to. 

Everybody talks about Iraq’s biological agent, but the reality of Iraq’s biological weapons — and the Iraqis knew this — is that their biological agent’s quality is horrible.  To be honest, it’s questionable as to whether it would kill anybody.  The botulinum toxin was of a quality — in terms of percentage of lethal dose — that was fairly low by Western standards and from a quality control perspective.  If they used a burst or two to burst the biological agent were they going to kill the agent with all the heat generated from the burst or two?  If the agent comes in on a bomb and the bomb hits, is the bomb designed to actually employ biological weapons?  In fact, the bombs were not designed to employ biological weapons.  They were modified to take them, but what would happen?  These weapons were never fully tested.

BRG: The delivery system was there but the dispersal mechanism was ineffective. [39]

Ritter:  If the Iraqis employed biological agent with missiles, the biological agent would have contaminated a few dozen square feet of earth. [40]   That’s it.  So to talk about tipping missiles with biological agent and wiping out the population of Israel is wrong.  Iraq did not have that capability.  But Iraq could terrorize people with the thought that Iraq could do it.  This is really what Iraq wanted to achieve in that case.

BRG: When reading the UNSCOM documents that detail the total tonnage of different types of chemicals and biological agents, you say that as a reader one shouldn’t be overly impressed or frightened by those tonnage statistics.  That is, Iraq may have had large quantities of certain biological and chemical agents but because of these agents’ low quality and the inability to either deliver them or disperse them upon delivery, perhaps the often mentioned chemical and biological weapons threat, in terms of lethality, was very much exaggerated and still is exaggerated. 

Ritter:  There’s no doubt that the threat has been exaggerated.  But I don’t want to minimize the threat.  The fact is that Iraq had biological weapons and they are a concern and have been identified as a concern.  But can Iraq wipe out the earth?  No.  That’s never going to happen. 

Read Ken Alibek’s book Biohazard. [41]   Ken Alibeck is the former head of the Soviet Union’s biological warfare program and he wrote this fascinating account of how the Soviets built their bio-weapons.  What comes across is that building biological weapons is horribly difficult.  One of the things that people keep talking about is that you can build them in your basement.  I hate [former UNSCOM Executive Chairman (1997-1999)] Richard Butler when he says this, when he talks about the “basement bomb.”  He is so far off.  If biological weapons could be built that easily everybody would have one.  The point is that they are some of the most difficult weapons to produce and weaponize.  There’s a big world of difference between making anthrax in a vial and putting that same anthrax in concentrated form in a munition.  And then you have to be able to store that munition, employ that munition, and have that stuff still be deadly and viable once the munition is used.  Alibeck talks about producing thousands of tons of agent every year and then every year again producing the same amount of agent.  Why?  Because the agent they produced last year is no longer viable.  They have to replace it.

BRG: It doesn’t have a very long shelf-life.

Ritter:  No.  It doesn’t.  And this is the Soviet Union, the world’s most advanced biological weapons manufacturer.  Of the nations that moved into bio-weapons, Iraq is one of the world’s least advanced.  Iraq actually had a very primitive program.  Not impressive at all.  They had the potential to produce vast amounts of botulinum toxin and anthrax, but the stuff was of questionable viability and even then weaponizing it was another issue.  Once they weaponized it would it survive?  Would it be sustainable?  And when they employed it would it be viable on the ground?  All major questions.  My key point is that we stopped the biological weapons program in its tracks in 1991.  Stopped it cold.  It’s now 2000.  Iraq has not built biological weapons since then.  I’m not saying that they haven’t experimented with agent in a laboratory environment.  I’m not saying that they haven’t held on to a couple of bombs with botulinum toxin that they somehow think will be viable.  I’m saying that Iraq hasn’t produced another batch of bio-weapons since 1991.  And the stuff that they have today is useless in any meaningful category or way of judging it.  For Iraq to hold on to five 200 kilogram bombs full of bio-agent is ludicrous.  Why would they do that?  Those weapons are not viable in any sense of the word.  For them to hold on to warheads filled with biological agent makes no sense whatsoever.

BRG: What would it take for Iraq to re-assemble its biological weapons program?

Ritter:  There are two questions: What would it take for Iraq to be able to produce biological agent?  Not very much.  They have the know-how.  They’ve solved the technical problems.  They know what to do.  They can assemble within Iraq the technology to produce biological agent on a laboratory scale.  Any modern nation can.  You can make botulinum toxin.  Botulism is a disease.  You can make it in the United States.  Anthrax is found in the ground.  You isolate the strain and grow it.  The question is then can you weaponize it?  Can you make it into a biological weapon?  For that you need a massive industrial infrastructure.  Al-Hakam factory, which was destroyed by the United Nations [42] — destroyed, it doesn’t exist anymore — was a massive biological factory disguised as a single-cell protein plant.  But everyone who looked at it knew what it was.  It was readily identifiable from the air, we knew what it was, we identified it, and we got rid of it.  There is no al-Hakam in Iraq today. And all of the single-cell protein manufacturing plants were under monitoring by the Special Commission [UNSCOM] before the United States had the inspectors removed prior to the start of Operation Desert Fox. 

The inspectors weren’t kicked out by Iraq. [43]   They were asked to leave by the United States so they wouldn’t be taken hostage when the United States and United Kingdom carried out its bombing campaign.  The Iraqis were enraged by the fact that this inspection system had been manipulated and essentially said “You’re not coming back.  You’re not weapons inspectors.  You’re a tool of the United States.  You’re here to justify bombing and the continuation of sanctions.  You’re not solving the problem.”  I don’t necessarily totally agree with the Iraqi position.  I think that it’s self-defeating.  But they had a point.  The other point that people don’t understand is that UNSCOM was monitoring Iraq in 1998. [44]   There’s a big difference between the inspections that I was trying to carry out — which were hunting down these last vestiges of Iraq’s weapons program — and monitoring the infrastructure to prevent the reconstitution of weapons capacity.  Iraq could not reconstitute its weapons capability because we were monitoring its infrastructure.  Had we disarmed Iraq?  No.  Not from a quantitative standpoint. [45]   I was still looking for ballistic guidance and control components.  I was still looking for the components of disassembled missiles.  Notice what I’m saying.  Components.  Disassembled.  I’m not talking about a missile.  I’m not talking about something that can be fired.  I’m talking about the parts.  We were still looking for blueprints, documents, cook-books on how to make chemical and biological weapons.  The Iraqis still had these cook-books.  Under the law [UN Security Council Resolution 687] they had to give it back.  As long as they were holding onto it many people could say, “If they are going through this much effort to hold onto it, this obviously means that they want to re-constitute.”  I think that that’s reading a lot into it.  I think that you have to understand the difficult political position that Saddam Hussein is in.  Saddam can’t just do everything that the world tells him to do because he will lose face at home and abroad.  Saddam has to be seen as being someone who can stand up. He’s done that. He’s held on. Within the inner-circle he can say “we never surrendered.”  But the point is that this isn’t about Saddam.  The issue is not Saddam.  The issue is Iraq’s disarmament obligation.  Unfortunately, the issue hasn’t been pursued in accordance with the mandate originally set forth by the Security Council in terms of the intent — let’s remember that the intent wasn’t to disarm Saddam so that he fell out of power — to eliminate Iraq as a weapons of mass destruction-based threat to its neighbors.  The fact is that we have done that.  Today, Iraq is not capable of using weapons of mass destruction in any meaningful manner against any of its neighbors.  They can’t launch long-range ballistic missiles. [46]   Even if they could, they don’t have the chemical agent or biological agent to put on it.  And anything that they might have held onto, a couple of 100-155 millimeter artillery shells, five or six 200 kilogram bombs with botulinum toxin, is not militarily viable.  I bet that if they dropped the botulinum toxin bombs on any city they would kill nobody.  Unless the bomb directly hit somebody.  Otherwise the bomb would hit, the agent would disperse, some people would get inoculated and that would be the end of it. But they don’t have them anymore.  They’re not going to use them.  It’s a false argument. 

BRG: Suppose that there is an effective regime of military sanctions, particularly supplier-side. Suppose that the United States, Great Britain, and all of the countries that actively contributed to Iraq’s non-conventional programs 1980s imposed supplier-side controls, self-imposed or in the form of a much stronger regime.  Suppose they made it very clear that if, for example, Great Britain, exported certain chemical components to Iraq, there would be some sort of punitive response to that from the States that actually abide by this regime.  Suppose there is a very strict supplier-side monitoring regime in place that makes sure that, for example, U.S. corporations and government agencies [47] can’t export to Iraq all of the things that they exported in the 1980s.  And suppose you lift economic sanctions.  What chance is there that Iraq will, how easy would it be for Iraq to, and to what extent can it, divert and use certain types of dual-use technology to not only re-assemble its various weapons programs to their peak capacity as they were before UNSCOM disassembled them, but to also take them to the next level and to make them more sophisticated and lethal? [48]                                      

Ritter:  What people have to understand is that the Security Council actually passed three resolutions that Iraq ended up accepting: Resolution 687 [49] calling for the prohibition of weapons of mass destruction and disarmament; Resolution 715 [50] calling for long-term monitoring of Iraq’s compliance with its disarmament obligations; and Resolution 1051 [51] which was the export/import control regime.  The export/import regime does exactly what you say.  Iraq has to declare everything that it’s going to import.  There’s a whole list of declarable items.  Anything that Iraq imports that is not declared and we find is subject to destruction.  It's a dead item.  We find it, we say “where is the paperwork,” and if the paperwork is not there we blow it up.  We have proven that point several times to the Iraqis by destroying items that were brought in and that were illegal.  There is also a requirement for nations to declare to the United Nations that they are selling something to Iraq that’s on that list.  If they don’t, punitive damages can be imposed, similar to the kind of punitive damages that are imposed on oil companies that are today bringing out Iraqi oil.  A recent example is the $2 million fine levied by the Security Council against Dutch Shell. [52]   The system isn’t perfect.   No system ever is perfect.  But, if we monitor Iraq’s industrial capacity with the kind of monitoring regime that we had in place in December of 1998 before Desert Fox, and if we use the export/import control mechanism as designed, Iraq will have an extremely difficult time defeating that.  Can they defeat it?  Yes.  Of course they can.  But the odds of us detecting them are very great. 

Iraq is allowed to and should have dual-use technology.  It’s not and shouldn’t be prohibited.  All the Security Council does is make Iraq declare it so that weapons inspectors can monitor it to make sure that it’s not being used for the wrong purposes. [53]   I guess that the story has not yet come out.  Iraq tried repeatedly to cheat.  In 1995 they tried to bring in guidance and control components from Russia. Based upon intelligence tip-offs we were able to intercept it in Jordan before it came in. [54]

BRG: Guidance and control components for ballistic missiles?

Ritter:  Correct.  In 1997-1998 we intervened in the Ukraine to stop Russian and Ukrainian middle-men from shipping dual-use components to Iraq.  In 1998 we did the same in Romania to stop Iraq from acquiring dual-use components and had I not resigned we would have the same thing in the Far East and Middle East where dual-use components were being procured.  We received intelligence tip-offs and we were able to intervene to stop it. [55]  

BRG: But some of these Middle-Eastern States are perceived by the United States and much of Western Europe as so-called “rogue states.”  Consider that most of the components, technological know-how, and everything else that went into Iraq’s non-conventional programs came from the United States and western Europe, do you think that it’s imperative that the Wassenaar Arrangement [56] and Australia Group [57] be bumped up from the levels of informal agreements and arrangements to formal regimes?  Do you think that binding codification is a critical aspect of military sanctions?   

Ritter:  If you take at look at Resolution 1051, the Australia Group list [58] is expanded.  We expanded the Australia Group list into a formal agreement, [59] a law vis-à-vis Iraq.  The point is that it will work.  It won’t work perfectly.  Nothing ever does.  But it will work.  Iraq would not be able to re-constitute in any meaningful fashion its weapons of mass destruction capability.  Would they be able to have basement activity?  Yes.  Now another question is whether the weapons inspectors will carry out hunts for this basement capability.  I think that we’ve proven that the world has no stomach for long-term confrontation of that nature.  It’s very nebulous and it’s very difficult to quantify.  But if the UN focused on the big picture, monitoring Iraq to prevent it from becoming what it was in the late 1980s, there will be every opportunity to succeed.  And Iraq will play the game if the Security Council carries out two promises that it made: One, that if Iraq complies the Security Council will lift economic sanctions.  Two, that that means they will still play the game of inspections, monitoring, and export/import control.  But we must keep the promise of paragraph 14 of Security Council Resolution 687 [60] : That we use Iraq’s disarmament as a vehicle, as a stepping stone, for regional disarmament.  Iraq does not want to be gutted. 

BRG: It’s a tough neighborhood.

Ritter:  That’s right.  Frankly speaking, we should have learned our lesson from the Treaty of Versailles.  You can’t gut a regional superpower or regional power and then expect it just to stay there gutted.  If we disarm Iraq, reach this agreement, re-quantify their disarmament, lift sanctions, put in monitoring, etc., and we do nothing to address regional disarmament, Iraq will re-arm.  It will kick out the inspectors after a number of years and re-arm.

BRG: Iraq was to a certain extent a regional superpower, but bear in mind that even when Iraq was near its on-paper conventional peak it was only able to turn the tide in the Iran-Iraq War as a result of chemical weapons and United States satellite intelligence. [61]   Although many United States military and political analysts concluded that Iraq was a tremendous military power, and Iran underwent a revolution and completely purged its military leadership, Iran was still beating Iraq on the battlefield.  And Iraq’s army now is nowhere near the size or efficiency that it was during the Iran-Iraq War’s mid to later stages.

Ritter:  Their army has been totally gutted.  The Republican Guard, on the evening of the invasion of Kuwait, was at its peak in terms of manpower, training, etc.  And yet, when it moved into Kuwait it almost defeated itself.  There were logistics’ foul-ups while moving troops forward as well as command and control break-downs.  If there was any concerted defense on the part of the Kuwaitis, it’s questionable as to whether or not the Republican guard would have succeeded. 

BRG: And Kuwait is not much of a military power.

Ritter:  No.  Kuwait just folded.  The Kuwaiti Army was a lot like the Saudi National Guard.  They bought a lot of fancy weapons, but never properly maintained them.

BRG: In some instances they didn’t have adequate training to operate those weapons.

Ritter:  That’s right, they didn’t have the training to do it.  But the Iraqi Army sort-of limped to the Saudi-Kuwaiti border.  They were in no position to project power.  And yet, when we started to plan our troop movements, we were drawing these bold arrows.  The Iraqi thrust down the coast to the oilfields.  The flanking move on Riyadh.  We were giving them this tremendous capability.  And yet they had never fought a war with that kind of depth before. 

BRG: They have not proven themselves to be an effective fighting force.

Ritter:  That’s right.  There’s no doubt that Iraqi soldiers would fight and die bravely on the battlefield.  But that doesn’t mean that they were an effective fighting force.  Near their height, in 1988, they were just your basic — they were doing things in 1988 that the world called “combined arms,” things that you would expect from troops just out of basic training.  But when you talk about the United States and the Marine Corps...when I was at Twenty Nine Palms doing combined arms training, the things that we did were so much more complicated.  We did real combined arms.  We did “deep battle.”  We did “live battle.”  We fought on all spectrums.  The Iraqis can’t operate that way.  You click off their command and control and they disintegrate.  They don’t have the requisite training.  Combined arms implies the ability to fight independent actions.  They cannot fight independent actions.  They are not a modern military.  They had good equipment.  They don’t have good training.  And they may have good leadership in terms of brave leadership, but their leadership is not good at coordinating battles. [62]   Iraq’s military at its peak was poor.  Today it’s totally gutted.  It is a threat to no one.  Zero.

BRG: Let’s go back to the issue of dual-use technology.  Recently, the UN Security Council’s Resolution 1284 ordered a “green-list” of humanitarian items [63] that in in future would be imported into Iraq through a notification-only procedure.  Do you think that it’s realistic and feasible to draw up a similar “red-list” for dual-use technology items?  As of the present, because of Resolution 1051, these items are not banned from going into Iraq.  Rather, there is a joint monitoring mechanism that was then jointly operated by UNSCOM and IAEA and is now employed by UNMOVIC and IAEA. [64]   They will notify the Sanctions Committee that a supplier is trying to export to Iraq an item that is on the list.  The decision is then made as to whether or not to let it in.  Do you think that it would be easier and possible to have a list of items that would just be out from the beginning?  It would be made very clear to Iraq that it can’t import these items and it would be made equally clear to exporters that they can’t export to Iraq such items. 

Let me follow that up with a note from the historical record.  During the 1980s, when United States companies wished to export dual-use technology to Iraq, applications were supposed to go through a review committee on which sat the Department of Defense, various intelligence agencies, the Energy Department, and so forth. [65]   According to Congressional hearings, Stephen Bryen, then-Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Trade Security Policy, the Defense Department objected to 40 percent of applications for Iraq-destined items that came to it for review. [66]   It’s interesting to compare that with the Defense Department’s application objection rate for Soviet-bound items: Only five percent. [67]   The point is that the Defense Department knew what the end-use facilities were doing.  Intelligence sources had made it clear that in specifically identified facilities Iraq was developing ballistic missiles and chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. [68]   So there were certain items that raised red flags to people in the defense and intelligence communities.  On the other hand, the Defense Department did not object to a full 60% of applications that it actually reviewed.  Now the Defense Department didn’t have the actual control to block or allow export.  The Commerce Department had that power and often ignored the Defense Department’s review conclusions by approving items that the Defense Department objected to. [69]   The point is that there are certain dual-use technology items that raise red flags, that perhaps should be put on a red-list of items that ought not to go into Iraq.  But that still leaves a bevy of items that can be used for the telecommunications industry, the power sector, water and sanitation, etc.

Ritter:  But why are we doing that?  Why are we putting the red-list in place?

BRG: It has been repeatedly stated by representatives at the Security Council and State level, particularly in the United States and Great Britain, that “Iraq is a threat.”  Now whether or not that’s being said for political purposes is another matter.  That’s the rhetoric.

Ritter:  Would that threat be solved if we had monitoring in place?

BRG: Perhaps the optimal solution is a two-pronged approach: Firstly, supplier-side export controls that make it very clear from the outset what suppliers can and cannot export to Iraq.  This removes the approval decision-making from the highly politicized Sanctions Committee.

Ritter:  That’s already been put into place with 1051.  The bottom line is this: How can you deny from Iraq or from any nation access to four-axis, high-precision machine tools that we use in our automobile factories?  How can we deny that to Iraq?  Are you telling Iraq that they are forever condemned to Third-World status? 

BRG: Which is where, I suppose, your suggestion of monitoring...

Ritter:  It’s not my suggestion.  It’s the law.  The law as qualified by the Security Council is that Iraq undergo ongoing monitoring.  My point is that as a sovereign State, Iraq must be allowed to have access to the same industrial and construction structures as its neighbors.  But we need to monitor Iraq.  We need to have in place an export control regime that prevents certain single-use material from going into Iraq, material that can only be used for weapons of mass destruction.  And we need to monitor dual-use technology.  You cannot forever keep Iraq imprisoned by reducing the level of technology. 

BRG: I should have qualified my comments. 

Ritter:  But a lot of people think along that line.  That somehow it’s okay for the world to tell a sovereign State...what are we going to say?  That’s it okay for Japanese kids to play with Sony Playstation IIs but Iraqi kids can’t have them? 

BRG: Some of the greatest problems that have occurred over the past 10 years, for those interested in or concerned with economic sanctions, are the political games that get played in the Security Council.  The United States has often been publicly indirectly, and privately directly, criticized by the Secretary-General and by Benon Sevan, the head of the Office of the Iraq Program, for repeatedly putting on hold in the Sanctions Committee items that Kofi Annan and Benon Sevan unequivocally state are critical to fixing Iraq’s oil infrastructure and other infrastructural sectors as well. [70]   So for those on the Security Council who are keen to lift economic sanctions or in  general to change policy, [71] could a red-list be a temporary measure, a stepping stone?

Ritter:  That doesn’t solve the political problems.  In fact it exacerbates them.

BRG: Can you elaborate on that?

Ritter:  What you’re doing now is playing Iraq’s game.  I’m totally against economic  sanctions as a tool.  They don’t work at all.  We should never have imposed them.  But we did impose them on Iraq.  And we linked them with disarmament.  And we quantified that in international law, a Chapter Seven resolution. [72]   Anything that deviates from that is an aberration.  I think that it’s safe to say that today, 10 years after sanctions were imposed, they don’t work.  They don’t work at all.  They aren’t achieving the objective that they were meant to achieve.  Now, we’ve also talked about disarmament, the trigger for the lifting of economic sanctions.  And I think that we are in a position where we can re-quantify Iraq’s disarmament obligations to the point where we can lift economic sanctions, given an effective and viable monitoring regime.  One of the reasons that I resigned is that the actions of the United States in manipulating the inspection process was making a mockery of the Security Council and the inspection process. [73]   And I said that if they continue to manipulate in this fashion, using the weapons inspectors for achieving their own purposes, all that’s going to happen is that they are going to destroy the inspection process and Iraq will win, because without a safety net Iraq is a threat.  I told you now that they don’t pose an immediate threat to anybody.  You lift economic sanctions, and you don’t have an inspection regime in place, Iraq will be a threat.  Why?  Because it’s in a tough neighborhood and it is surrounded by military threats.  Iraq will re-arm and equip for the same reasons that it armed and equipped to begin with, because it’s in a tough neighborhood and it has to have these weapons to survive, at least in the political mind of Saddam Hussein.  Anytime you de-link sanctions from Iraq’s disarmament obligations you make a mockery of international law, you denigrate the ability of the Security Council to viably implement its will, you will further entrench the United States as an imperialist power because you’ll allow the United States to dictate its will in total disregard for the Security Council process, and you’re not solving the key issue which is Iraq’s disarmament.  If you do what you propose with sanctions, all you’re doing is saying “sanctions don’t work.”  These are salami tactics.  All you’re doing is slicing down the issue of sanctions without addressing the issue of disarmament.  We should say that sanctions are not effective.  What we need to do is get monitoring in place.  I’m telling you right now that Iraq will accept monitoring.  They did accept monitoring.  Iraq will accept 1051.  They did accept 1051.  Why are we playing this game?  Get the inspectors back in and lift economic sanctions and what you will have is a working model of what I think we want to achieve in the long-run, which is an international consensus on the control of dual-use technology for weapons of mass destruction.  That will be in place in Iraq, and as long as the Security Council follows through on its promise to regionally pursue paragraph 14 I think that prospects for long-term success are good.  But to separate the two and to try and come up with a sanctions solution in a vacuum will lead to long-term failure because a sanctions solution in a vacuum isn’t a solution at all.  It has to be tied in with this disarmament issue.  You can’t de-link the two.

BRG: In a worst case scenario this proposal is put forward, the Security Council fundamentally re-defines Iraq’s disarmament obligations, offers to exchange monitoring for sanctions, and Iraq says “no.”  While you suggest that there are many indications that Iraq will accept such a proposal, what if Iraq says “no”?  What do you think the next step should be?  In this scenario Iraq states that “everything that we’ve said in the past about ongoing monitoring and verification is off.  No inspections, no inspectors.  You can do whatever you want as far as supply-side export regimes go but there will be no inspections in Iraq.”

Ritter:  Then it’s up to the Security Council to determine what it is and is not willing to do.  I don’t think that continuing a long-term policy of containment and isolation is going to succeed.  The Iraqi Government has the wherewithal to outlast us all.  It outlasted Bush, it will outlast Clinton, and I guarantee that if we continue this policy it will outlast the next president.  I think that a categorical “no” from Iraq would galvanize the Security Council to undertake some decisive steps.  But understand that Russia, France, and China Iraq’s major supporters on the Security Council want sanctions to be lifted.  None of them have said that the weapons inspections process should stop.  They’ve all said that “there will be a weapons inspection process.” [74]   But that has not been defined very well.  One of the main problems is that from the very beginning the United States has used the weapons inspection process for objectives which are not mandated by the Security Council [75] , and there is a lot of fear on the part of Russia, France, China, and Iraq that, as currently constituted, the weapons inspection process will just continue that United States control.

I don’t think that the Iraqis will say “no.”  They’ve already said “yes.”  I think that Iraq is rejecting the current set-up.  That’s okay.  You can solve that problem.  I think that when we talk about an Iraq solution we need a solution that is not only going to solve the Iraq problem but that is also a useful model for global disarmament and global arms control agreements.  And in that case it can’t be a radical solution.  It has to be a common sense solution.  It has to be a solution that doesn’t condemn Third-World nations to permanent Third-World status by denying them access to technology.

BRG: You mentioned the term “de-linking,” that is separating military issues from economic issues and dealing with military issues in the absence of economic sanctions, acknowledging that economic sanctions are ineffective, and acknowledging that economic sanctions in and of themselves can be used as leverage but that they cannot effectively accomplish disarmament tasks.  I think that that is what de-linking has come to mean.  Furthermore, I think that there has been such a push for de-linking because there are policy-makers, and now I’m specifically talking about United States policy-makers, who have taken a very hard-line stance on this particular issue and don’t seem willing to listen to arguments like yours.  If one’s primary goal is disarmament on one hand, and on the other hand to stop what continues to be, despite post-Resolution 986 improvements, a grave and unacceptable humanitarian situation in Iraq, is proposing something like a red-list, as a temporary stop-gap measure, to people who have already indicated very strongly that they are hard-liners on this issues, a possibility?

Ritter: Without a viable monitoring regime in place in Iraq a red-list is meaningless.  Because a red-list implies that you are going to return control over the Iraqi economy to the Iraqi Government.  The issue of sanctions isn’t just the fact that not enough food and medicine is going in.  Its the fact that Iraq’s money is going into an escrow account and Iraq isn’t in control of it’s economy.  So when you de-link the sanctions, are you returning control  to the Iraqi Government or is the escrow account still in place?

BRG: Let’s analyze different scenarios.  The UN eliminates the escrow account, no longer has control over Iraq’s money, and returns complete control over Iraq’s oil revenues to the government of Iraq.  There are then two possibilities:  One is a ports-of-entry solution.  There are ports-of-entry inspectors now.  They can stay in place and have a computerized red list and cross-check whatever is on the computerized red-list with items going in.

Ritter:  What I’m saying is that without a complete monitoring system that would be defeated.  I know how the Iraqis operate.  They’ll use cutout, after cutout, after cutout.  Japan will think that it’s sending Sony Playstation IIs to Korea but they will end up in Thailand or Malaysia. And then they will go into Jordan and then into Iraq.  I use the Playstation II as an example because that seems to be the big thing right now with its 128 bit chip.  But my point is that that is irresponsible because it only guarantees that there will be a crisis with Iraq in the future.  It only guarantees long-term instability in the region.  It doesn’t solve the problems.

BRG: The problem is that one must address not only Security Council politics but also many Washington policy-makers that seem closed to a policy change.

Ritter:  They are completely stubborn because they are not confronted on the issue.  If you try to de-link you will be politically defeated by the hard-liner who is going to say that “Saddam will re-arm and we can’t allow this.  Your proposed de-linking guarantees that Saddam will re-arm and now we don’t have any mechanism in place to stop him from re-arming.  This is unacceptable.  Sanctions, containment, etc..”  The only way to effectively end sanctions is to go through the due process of international law which has already  linked the lifting of sanctions with Iraq’s acceptance of being disarmed.  It is the simplest and quickest way.  Go in and find an acceptable solution in terms of quantifying Iraq’s disarmament obligations.  Get Iraq to accept and get the Security Council to agree that if Iraq accepts sanctions will be lifted.

BRG: Do you think that as a result of Resolution 1284 the bar has actually been raised?

Ritter:  Oh yes.  Resolution 1284 is an American resolution.  The Americans were losing the political war on sanctions.  America basically ripped up international law during Operation Desert Fox and was being called to account.  Resolution 687 was no longer viable.  America needed a new resolution and it got it.  The United States sold out the arms control aspect of 687 for the economic sanctions control.  Resolution 1284 no longer lifts sanctions.  It suspends sanctions [76] and it guarantees UN control over Iraq’s economy forever.  This is unacceptable.  The Iraqis will not go for it.  It’s a non-starter.  But that’s what the United States wants.  The Iraqis won’t go for it.  Therefore it allows the United States to continue containment through economic sanctions by saying that “Iraq’s not complying and therefore sanctions are still on.”  What the United States doesn’t understand is why Russia, China, and France did not veto this.  The United States walked into a trap.  The United States is going to lose the sanctions battle if it continues.  Eventually the world is going to disregard sanctions.  The United States will be totally isolated on this issue.

BRG: In many ways the United States is isolated on this issue now.

Ritter:  What will happen is that States will say to the United States “we will ignore you, buy Iraqi oil, and deal directly with the Iraqi Government.  As the United States you are making up international law as you go along and we’re not going along with your policy.”  That’s the most dangerous thing because now the United States has lost its moral authority to speak on the issue.  Iraq will continue to simultaneously feel regionally threatened and emboldened by standing up to the United States.  They will re-arm and there will be crisis.  There will be conflict.  It will be horrible.  That’s the worst thing in the world that can happen.  American policy-makers ought to put on their thinking caps and take an opportunity to solve this problem now and move toward larger issues of regional peace and security, disarmament policy, etc. 

BRG: It seems as though 1284, because of the way that it is laid out and the language that it uses, says that “if you behave we’ll suspend sanctions for a period of time, but if we think that you’re misbehaving then sanctions will go back into place.”  Among other things, this scares off investors.

Ritter:  And how do you define “misbehaving”?  It’s not quantified.  Frankly speaking, after watching the United States take political control of the inspection process over seven years, you can’t trust the United States anymore and you can’t trust the inspectors anymore because they are politically controlled by Washington.

BRG: What is the primary difference between UNSCOM and UNMOVIC?  Is there a difference other than the acronym? 

Ritter:  The primary difference is that UNSCOM was in Iraq working.  UNMOVIC will never go to Iraq.  UNMOVIC is just a wolf in ram’s clothing.  It’s UNSCOM but they haven’t changed any of the problems that UNSCOM was facing.  They’re still talking about Presidential site inspections.  They’re still talking about “no-notice” inspections.  They’re still talking about total access.  And they’re not talking about bringing this thing to an end. 

BRG: I had some conversations with someone at the UN who used to be with UNSCOM and he said that from a technical perspective the reason that some people at UNSCOM were and are resistant to establishing for Iraq and my discussions with IAEA officials confirm the IAEA’s agreement on this point specific disarmament tasks is that if you establish specific tasks, and as you’re going along you find something that leads you in a different direction, you can’t go in that direction.

Ritter:  I’m not talking about specific tasks.  I’m talking about defining what Iraq’s disarmament obligation is.  Are we trying to hunt down every nut, bolt and screw?  Or, are we asking whether or not Iraq has a long-range ballistic missile capability today?  If the answer is every nut, bolt, and screw, we’ll never have an end to this because you can’t prove a negative.  Iraq says “we don’t have any,” we say “we can’t prove that.”  How do you prove it?  It’s a “forever game.”  But we can say “they don’t have any long-range ballistic missiles.”  We can say that “they don’t have a chemical weapons factory in Iraq.”  We can say that “they don’t have a biological weapons factory.”  We can say “they don’t have a nuclear weapons factory.”  That’s disarmed.  In any meaningful sense of the word, that is disarmed.

BRG: The 1999 Disarmament Panel report said keep in mind that for the report the Panel interviewed people from UNSCOM and the IAEA [77] that “some uncertainty is inevitable in any country-wide technical verification process which aims to prove the absence of readily concealable objects or activities.”  The report went on to say that  UNSCOM and IAEA’s approach “assumes that 100% of verification may be an unattainable goal.”  That is, verification in terms of quantitative disarmament, not in terms of monitoring, may be “an unattainable goal.” [78]

One thing that came across during my conversations with people from UNSCOM and the IAEA is that and I think that this is something that people on both sides of the economic sanctions issue don’t often know it is not the mandate of UNSCOM (now UNMOVIC) or the IAEA to “give Iraq a clean bill of health.”  They are technical bodies.  They are there to provide information and to say “here’s what we know, here’s what we don’t know, and here’s perhaps what we’d like to know.”  And then it is the responsibility of the Security Council to do with that information what it desires. [79] One UNSCOM staffer said that there was a lot of pressure put on UNSCOM from both sides of the issue to say either ‘yes’ Iraq has been disarmed or ‘no’ Iraq hasn’t been disarmed.  Do you think that mandate of UNMOVIC and the IAEA should be changed to give them license to, in their expert, professional opinion, tell the Security Council whether or not they think that Iraq has been sufficiently disarmed?

Ritter:  If you take a look at the technical requirements of disarmament as set forth by Security Council Resolution 687, it’s very extensive.  That’s what has to be changed.  The Security Council is a political body.  They’re the ones that have to make a political decision.  But what UNSCOM can do is come in and say “we’ve fulfilled all the tasks that you’ve given us.  This is our final report, etc..”  If its full of holes it will be shot down.  Right now the door is wide open for the United States to say “well, we don’t know about 200 tons of growth media.  How can you say that Iraq is disarmed?  They’re not disarmed.  They have 200 tons of growth media.  And they keep throwing these things out there.”  But if you said “does Iraq have a biological weapons factory”? the answer is “no.”  Redefine Iraq’s disarmament obligation.

BRG: And you can never have 100% disarmament.  That’s the key. 

Ritter:  No you can’t.  But weapons of mass destruction are not part of a 100% game.  You can stop a viable ballistic missile program by controlling 80% of Iraq’s production.  Iraq will have to create the other 20% in a manner which is easily detectable.  We would be able to detect cheating.  I guarantee it.  With a monitoring system in place we will detect cheating.  Not all cheating, but we will detect cheating. 

Let’s deal with the facts.  The facts are that Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction capabilities have been, by and large, eliminated. [80]   If we continue to judge Iraq with the yardstick that exists today it will never be found in compliance.  And as long as economic sanctions are linked to Iraq’s disarmament compliance, sanctions will never be lifted.  Plain and simple.  So you have to focus on the issue of disarmament and the key is re-defining Iraq’s disarmament obligation.  If you do that, you can get viable monitoring in place that takes care of all export/import concerns and get economic sanctions lifted.  That’s a huge step forward from where we are today.

BRG: In your 1998 Congressional testimony [81] and 21 December 1998 New Republic article [82] you seemed to argue that Iraq, in terms of its nuclear, chemical, biological, and ballistic missile programs, was a threat.  A reader can examine your testimony and New Republic article and conclude that then you maintained that Iraq is a threat and that now you contend that Iraq is not a threat.  To assess Iraq as a non-conventional threat, what has changed for you since late 1998?

Ritter:  What has changed is the law.  I spoke from August 1998, the time of my resignation, to December 1998 as a weapons inspector.  I didn’t write Security Council Resolution 687.  The Security Council did.  And in writing it they said, in effect, that “as long as Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction, as quantified by the resolution, it represents a clear and present risk to international peace and security.  So as long as Iraq is not in compliance, it is a threat.”  That was the law.  All I was doing as a weapons inspector was saying “you created us, you told us to do a job, we’re trying to do it, and you’re not letting us do it.  And according to your own words, if we can’t do it there’s this great threat out there.  Now it’s up to you, Security Council, to sit back and say: ‘A) Do we let Ritter and company continue to move; or B) do we re-define the law?’  You can’t pass a law and not implement it.  That’s a joke.”  After December 1998, read everything that I’ve written since then, starting with my book and every op-ed page.  I’ve said, plainly and simply, the United States ripped up the law.  The law is no longer valid and we have to come up with a way forward, a new approach.  Now that that law is out of the way let’s re-evaluate Iraq’s weapons.  We’re not hampered by this lead weight around our necks.  As a weapons inspector one cannot re-define the law.  One cannot.  That is not a weapons inspector’s job.  One can’t be a weapons inspector and re-define the law.

BRG: They are technicians.

Ritter:  They are people who go forward and do what the Security Council mandates.  There is no interpretation.  That’s why my position, pre-Desert Fox, was painted in one direction. 

BRG: Therefore what you were saying is that “within the framework, within the context, of the UN Security Council resolutions, if you are asking me ‘whether or not Iraq is a threat’ and your definition of threat is the existence of any non-conventional weapons, components, materials, blueprints, etc., then I have to say ‘yes’.  But if you take it out of that context”....

Ritter:  I wasn’t that clever.  What I was trying to do was save UNSCOM.  I saw that because of the United States’ manipulation of the inspection process UNSCOM was dying.  Quickly dying.  If UNSCOM died disarmament was gone and everything that we had fought for was out the window.  There would be no block on Iraq and because of the situations that we’ve talked about, the fact that Iraq has been demonized and isolated and there are existing threats to Iraqi security, they would re-arm.  And that would be the end.  We would have lost everything that we’d fought for.  I was struggling for the existence of UNSCOM.  And the only way that UNSCOM can exist, and the only way that weapons inspections can exist, is to be pure and technical, not political.  So take the political aspect out of it.  We’ve been given a job.  Now it’s up to the Security Council to decide whether or not UNSCOM’s technical task is politically feasible.  And if it’s not then they must re-define it.  That means that UNSCOM won’t be killed like it was in December 1998.  Rather, UNSCOM will be re-directed.  The inspector and inspection process will then still be pure and going forward. 

One of the problems that UNMOVIC has is that it is basically grown from the ashes of a discredited program.  I was trying to prevent the program from being discredited.  I testified to that extent.  I was trying to get the United States and Security Council to wake up to the fact that the way they were going was killing UNSCOM.  If I had known that Desert Fox would come around, that I wouldn’t succeed, I might have toned down what I said.  But I was taking a very extreme position on defining the Iraqi threat because that’s all the law allowed me to define at UNSCOM.  I wasn’t allowed to define it any other way.  I was basically confronting them.  I told that that “I’m holding a mirror up to you.  Look in the mirror.  You created this.  What are you doing to do about it”?  I said that to everybody.  “You made this problem.  What are you going to do about it?  Don’t ask me for a solution.  I am an inspector.  And the law says that we do this.  Now you are going to screw around with the law?  Because if you do you are going to screw up the whole process and you will have this threat.  So what are you going to do.  Here is the law.  Enforce it or change it.” 

BRG: And now you are suggesting that they change it.

Ritter:  It  has been destroyed.  The law is not there.  I’m no longer saying “this is the law.”  I’m saying “where is the law”?  Resolution 1284 is not a law.  It’s an aberration.  Let’s make a law.  Let’s make a law that is enforceable.  Let’s make a law that’s viable.  And then let’s get out and implement and end this game.  That’s my position.

BRG: And do not draw a line in the sand as this current Administration has done by refusing to diplomatically engage Iraq.  Perhaps you have some insight on this.  Throughout the Cold War, during which time the Soviet Union had thousands of nuclear warheads pointed at the United States, we diplomatically engaged the USSR.  We also exported to the Soviet Union millions of tons of wheat and many technological components.

Ritter:  That’s because they were a threat and therefore we had to engage with them.  Iraq is a threat to no one.  We’re the bully superpower.  I think that one of the worst mistakes we made was to give Iraq a voice in this problem.  Early on we always kept Iraq pushed away.  But what happened with the Clinton Administration is that because of its failed policies it gave Iraq a voice.  The Clinton Administration allowed the Secretary-General to engage with the Iraqis.  It allowed the Iraqis to lobby their cause to the Security Council.  And Iraq suddenly had a voice.  It could still be dealt with because it was an illegitimate voice.  But when the United States undertook Desert Fox it not only gave the Iraqis more of a voice, it legitimized Iraq’s voice.  We cannot escape that reality.  Iraq is now an issue that we have to deal with head on.  This means diplomatic engagement.  If you read my book you see that I talk about how we have to engage Iraq.  Containment has not worked.  We need to engage.  Are we going to engage militarily?  There is no consensus for that.  The only other alternative is engagement through diplomatic means.  We are going to have to diplomatically engage whether or not we like it.  Diplomacy will solve this problem.  I guarantee it.  I put my entire reputation on the line.  If we had honest diplomatic engagement with Iraq this thing would be over and done with in a matter of weeks. 

BRG: The person that I spoke to at UNSCOM said that UNSCOM mostly frequently documented Iraq hiding components, agents, etc., all in the area of disarmament.  Whereas when it came to ongoing monitoring and verification Iraq was far more cooperative and compliant...

Ritter: Iraq cooperated fully.

BRG: Which bodes well for future ongoing monitoring and verification.

Ritter:  If Iraq’s excuse is a concern then evaluate the excuse more fully but at least give it a hearing.  Remember, the United States has a policy of never lifting sanctions till Saddam Hussein is gone. [83]   So the United States is looking for any excuse for the continuation of economic sanctions.  Every time Iraq admits something, instead of being rewarded for it, it gets hammered for it.  What are we chasing after right now?  In the VX program our best evidence that Iraq lied about VX nerve gas is destroyed warheads.  Destroyed warheads. 

BRG: UNSCOM made that very clear in its documentation.

Ritter:  Destroyed.  We are not looking for active weapons anymore.  We were looking for a concealment process or something worth being concealed.  It could be possible and knowing how the United States has manipulated the system I give this high probability that the Iraqis have said “we can’t tell the truth.  Because if we tell the truth we’ll be condemned.  So what we’ll do is hide the truth.  We have no weapons, but we can’t tell the truth because it will be used against us.  It will forever feed this mythology of the omnipresent Iraqi threat to external parties.”  UNSCOM will then be put in the more difficult position of having to prove the negative.  It will ultimately come down to “he said, she said.”  And UNSCOM will be called on to make a judgement and they can’t prove a negative.  And the United States will always opt not to believe Iraq.

BRG:  There is another significant problem.  First individuals express their external threat perception and then make the statement that “Saddam Hussein did it in the past and therefore he will inevitably do it again.  He was a threat then and so he’ll be a threat now.” [84] How does you address this argument?

Ritter:  That’s one of the most ludicrous things.  There are three periods that people talk about: Today, 1990 when he invaded Kuwait, and 1980 when he invaded Iran.  You have to examine the factors that led to Saddam’s invasion of Iran and what the Iraqi situation was.  Remember, when Iraq invaded Iran, Iraq had a small army.  Two hundred and fifty thousand people [85] and no chemical weapons.  In 1990 when Iraq invaded Kuwait it had an army of 1.2 million [86] people and lots of chemical weapons.  A totally different thing.  In 1980 when Iraq invaded Iran, Iraq was a regional economic superpower. [87]   In 1990 when Iraq invaded Kuwait, Iraq was economically devastated. [88]   In 2000 they have no military capability [89] and they have no economy.  You cannot say that “the Iraq that invaded Iran had many similarities to the Iraq that invaded Kuwait.”

BRG: Moreover, in 1980 Iraq had the support of both the Gulf States and as well as members of the “international community” opposed to the 1979-on Iranian government.  Iraq did not have that support in 1990 and it does not have it now.

Ritter:  My point is that those are three isolated time periods and you cannot draw a continuum between them.  You can’t.  You can’t say that “1980 is 1990 is 2000.”  1980 was 1980.  1990 was 1990.  2000 is 2000.  Evaluate 2000 based upon the facts that exist today.  What I can tell you is that history does repeat itself.  And if we don’t do anything to change the course that Iraq is headed in, there will be a 2010.

[1] Europe-based doctors examined Iranian troops in March 1984 and confirmed exposure to mustard gas. (Middle East Staff, “Evidence Mounts of Chemical Weapons Use by Iraqis, The Financial Times, 13 March 1984)   The UN sent an expert missions to the Iranian battle region in March 1984.  This mission found evidence of chemical weapons use but did blame a single party. (O.C. Doellling, “U.N. Team Finds Evidence of Chemical Weapons in Iranian War Zone, The Associated Press, 26 March 1984)  Two years later the UN sent another expert mission to the Iranian battle zone and the experts’ report concluded that Iraqi forces used chemical weapons against Iranian troops (Nick Ludington, “U.N. Says Iraq Used Poison Gas in War Against Iran,” The Associated Press, 14 March 1986).  In April and May of 1987, another UN expert team investigated chemical weapons use and traveled  to both Iranian and Iraqi battlefields to do so.  The experts concluded that Iraqi troops repeatedly used chemical agents on Iranian soldiers and that Iranian civilians were affected. (Ivan Zverina, “U.N. Team Accuses Iraq of Using Poison Gas,” The Associated Press, 13 May 1987).  A late March-early April 1988 UN expert mission dispatched to Iran and Iraq found chemical weapons use in both countries but did not label either Iran or Iraq as a primary chemical weapons deployer. (Candice Hughes, “U.N. Says Chemical Warfare Increasing in Iran-Iraq Conflict,” The Associated Press, 26 April 1988 and United Press International, “U.N. Says Chemical Weapons Used in Iran, Iraq,” 26 April 1988).   In early July 1988 another UN expert mission investigated sites in Iran and Iraq and in its report stated that “chemical weapons continue to be used on an intensive scale against Iranian forces.” (The Associated Press, “Excerpts of U.N. Report on Chemical Weapons,” 1 August 1988.  See also The Associated Press, “U.N. Team Reports Iraq Using Mustard And Nerve Gas,” 1 August 1988)  And between 12-14 August a final UN expert mission went to the Iranian city of Oshnaviyah to assess reports that Iraq attacked Oshnaviyah with chemical weapons.  The experts determined that on 2 August Iraq struck Oshnaviyah with mustard gas. (Peter James Spielmann, “U.N. Experts Find Iraq Used Mustard Gas Against Iranian Civilians,” The Associated Press, 23 August 1988)

[2] From 1984-1988, the UN General Assembly did not pass a resolution condemning Iraq’s chemical weapons use against either the Iranians or Kurds.  It was not until 17 December 1991, after the end of the Gulf War, that General Assembly addressed Iraqi chemical weapons use.  General Assembly Resolution 46/134,  on the “Situation of Human Rights in Iraq”, stated the following: “The General Assembly… Deeply concerned by the fact that chemical weapons have been used on the Kurdish civilian population…” (A/Res/46/134, 17 December 1991, preambulary para. 9,

[3]   When analyzing UN Security Council responses to chemical weapons use during the Iran-Iraq War, it is important to remember that: A) Iraq may have begaun to use “lethal” chemical weapons in July of 1983 (Anthony H. Cordesman and Abraham R. Wagner, The Lessons of Modern Warfare (Vol II): The Iran-Iraq War, Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1990, pg. 514); B) Iran may have “made limited use of chemical mortar and artillery rounds” in early 1984 or 1985, but these rounds “were almost certainly captured from Iraq.”  Iran could not produce “enough lethal agents to load its own weapons” until 1986-1987 and did not deploy its indigenously produced chemical bombs and artillery shells until 1987. (Anthony H. Cordesman and Abraham R. Wagner, The Lessons of Modern Warfare (Vol II): The Iran-Iraq War, Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1990, pg. 513) 

Between 1984-1988 the UN Security Council passed six resolutions directly or indirectly related to the “situation between Iran and Iraq.”  In 1984 the Security Council “condemn[ed] [Iran’s] recent attack on commercial ships en route to and from ports of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia” (S/Res/552, 1 June 1984, paragraph 4) but did not pass a resolution on the Iran-Iraq War generally or the UN expert mission’s chemical weapons’ March findings specifically.  During all of 1985 the Security Council did not pass a resolution on the “situation between Iran and Iraq” or Iraq’s chemical weapons use therein.  Although the UN’s expert mission concluded in March 1986 that Iraq used chemical weapons on Iranian troops (see n1)  Security Council Resolution 582 (1986) symmetrically noted “that both the Islamic Republic of Iran and Iraq are parties to the Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous and Other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare signed at Geneva on 7 June 1925” (S/Res/582, 24 February 1986,  prefatory remarks) and “deplore[d] particular the use of chemical weapons contrary to obligations under the 1925 Protocol (S/Res/582, 24 February 1986, para. 2).  Resolution 588 (1986) did not mention chemical weapons (S/Res/588, 8 October 1986).  In July 1987 the Security Council again deplored “in particular the use chemical weapons contrary to obligations of the 1925 Protocol” (S/Res/598, 20 July 1987, prefatory remarks) but did not elaborate.   After considering the expert mission’s 25 April 1988 report, the Security Council was “dismayed” by chemical weapons’ continued use and “more intensive scale.” (S/Res/612, 9 May 1988, prefatory remarks).  Furthermore, the Council “affirm[ed] the neccessity that” both parties observe the 1925 Geneva Protocol, “codemn[ed] vigorously the continued use of chemical weapons” and “expect[ed] both sides to refrain from the future use of chemical weapons.”  (S/Res/612, 9 May 1988, para. 1-3).  Resolution 619 (S/Res/619, 9 August 1988) focused on implementing the United Nations Iran-Iraq Military Observer Group and does not mention chemical weapons.  The Security Council consided the expert missions’ 20 and 25 July and 2 and 19 August 1988 reports and was “deeply dismayed” by the “continued use of chemical weapons” and that “such use against Iranians [had become] more intense and frequent.” (S/Res/620, 26 August 1988, prefatory remarks).  Despite identifying Iranians as more frequent chemical weapons targets, the Security Council did not condemn Iraq.  Rather, the Security Council “condemn[ed] resolutely the use of chemical weapons in the conflict between the Islamic Republic of Iran and Iraq.” (S/Res/620, 26 August 1988, para. 1).  All of the subseqent four resolutions, passed between 1989-1990 and relevant to “the situation between Iran and Iraq,” pertain to the United Nations Iran-Iraq Military Observer Group and as such omit any reference to chemical weapons use. (S/Res/631, 8 February 1989; S/Res/242, 29 September 1989; S/Res/251, 29 March 1990; S/Res/671, 27 September 1990; and S/Res/676, 28 November 1990)

Once the Security Council strongly condemned Iraq’s chemical weapons use and Iraq by name: Speaking on 21 March 1986, the Security Council President, making a “declaration” and “speaking on behalf of the Security Council,” stated that the Council members were “profoundly concerned by the unanimous conslustion of the specialists that chemical weapons on many occaisions [were] used by Iraqi forces against Iranian troops...[and] the members of the Council strongly condemn[ed] this continued use of chemical weapons in clear violation of the Geneva Protocol of 1925 which prohibits the use in war of chemical weapons.” (S/17911 and Add. 1, 21 March 1986).  Note that this was a “decision” and not a resolution.               

[4] According to Peter W. Galbraith and Christopher van Hollen, Jr., “Chemical Weapons Use in Kurdistan: Iraq’s Final Offensive,” A Staff Report to the Committee on Foreign Relation, United States Senate, October 1988, “since the United States first comment on Iraqi chemical weapons use in March 1984, the administration [was] unwilling to take any concrete, punitive action against Iraq.” (pg. 38)

[6] Kenneth R. Timmerman, The Poison Gas Connection, (Los Angeles: Simon Wiesenthal Center, 1990) pg. 46, lists 207 firms from 21 countries that contributed to Iraq’s non-conventional weapons program during and after the Iran-Iraq war. E.g., West German (86); British (18); Austrian (17); French (16); Italian (12); Swiss (11); and American (18)

[7] For further information on the connection between United States policy and Iraq’s non-conventional and conventional weapons programs and acquisitions, see:


Leonard  A. Cole, The Eleventh Plague: The Politics of  Biological and Chemical Warfare, (New York:  W.H. Freeman, 1997)

Alan Friedman, Spider’s Web: Bush, Saddam, Thatcher and  the Decade of Deceit, (London: Faber, 1993)

Bruce W. Jentleson, With Friends Like These: Reagan, Bush, and Saddam, 1982-1990,  (New York: W.W. Norton, 1994)

Herbert Krosney, Deadly Business: Legal Deals and Outlaw Weapons--The Arming of Iran and Iraq, from 1975 to the Present, (New York: Four Walls Eight Windows, 1993

Mark Phythian,  Arming Iraq: How the U.S. and Britain Secretly Built Saddam’s War Machine, (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1997)


Associated Press, “Lawmakers Criticize Iraq's Removal From Terrorist List,” 26 February 1982

Stuart Auerbach, “$1.5 Billion in U.S. Sales to Iraq,” The Washington Post, 11 March 1991

Douglas Frantz, “Untangling  the Threats of Iraq’s Arms Network,” The Los Angeles Times, 22 November 1992

Douglas Frantz and Murray Waas, “Bush Secret Effort Helped Iraq Build It’s War Machine,” The Los Angeles Times, 23 February 1992

Alan Friedman, "CIA knew of BNL loans to Iraq, says ex-banker, The Financial Times, 10 November 1993

Alan Friedman, "U.S. Officials Ignored Objections To Dual-Use Exports to Iraq," The Financial Times, 16 September 16 1990

Stephen J. Hedges and Brian Duffy, “How the Bush Administration Helped Saddam Hussein Buy His Weapons of War and Why American Taxpayers Got Stuck with the Bill,” U.S. News & World Report, 18 May 1992

Kevin Merida and John Mintz, “Rockville Firm Shipped Germ Agents to Iraq, Riegle Says,” The Washington Post, 10 February 1994

David B. Ottaway, “U.S. Gave Iraq Bacteria,” The Washington Post, 26 January 1989

Murray Waas and Craig Unger, “In the Loop: Bush’s Secret Mission,” The New Yorker, 2 November 1992

Congressional /United  States Government Documents:

Letter from Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Michael Armacost to Acting National Security Advisor Alton Keel, 12 December 1986

Committee on Banking, Finance, and Urban Affairs, United States House of Representatives, "Banca Nazionale del Lavoro (BNL)," Hearing, 9 April 1991

Committee on Foreign Affairs, Hearing before the International Economic Policy Subcommittee, United States House of Representatives, "U.S. Exports of Sensitive Technology to Iraq,” 8 April and  22 May 1991

Statement of Representative Henry B. Gonzalez, Chair, Committee on Banking, Finance, and Urban Affairs, "The Banca Nazionale del Lavoro Scandal: High Level Politics Try to Hide the Evidence," 14 September 1992

Floor Statement of Representative Henry B Gonzalez , "Bush Administration Had Acute Knowledge of Iraq's Military Industrialization Plans,” 27 July 1992

Statement by Representative Henry Gonzalez , "Details on Iraq's Procurement Network," 10 August 1992

Statement of Representaive Henry B. Gonzalez, Chair, Committee on Banking, Finance, and Urban Affairs, before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, "U.S. Export Licensing Process Used to Enhance Iraq's Military Capability," 27 October 1992

Statement by Representative Henry Gonzalez, "United States Policy to Arm Iraq," 21 July 1992

Committee on Government Operations, United States House of Representatives, "Strengthening the Export Licensing System,” 2 July 1991

Gary Milhollin, Director of the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, Testimony, Hearing,  Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, U.S. Senate, "United States Export Policy toward Iraq Prior to Iraq's Invasion of Kuwait," 27 October 1992

Gary Milhollin, Director, Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, Prepared Statement, Subcommittee on Technology and National Security of the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress, 23 April 1991

U.S. Department of Commerce, "Approved Licenses to Iraq, 1985-1990”

U.S. Department of Commerce, Memorandum, "The NSC and Iraq," 27 May 1991

U.S. Department of State, Memorandum, "Meeting with Iraqi Under Secretary Hamdoon,"  24 March 1989

U.S. Department of State, Memorandum for Mr. Donald P. Gregg, "The Vice President's March 2 Meeting with Iraqi Ambassador Nizar Hamdoon," 26 February 1987

Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, Senate, Donald W. Riegle, Jr., and Alfonse M. D’Amato, U.S. Senate, Report, U.S. Chemical and Biological Warfare-Related Dual Use Exports to Iraq and Their Possible Impact on the Health Consequences of the Persian Gulf War, 25 May 1994

[8] See Leonard  A. Cole, The Eleventh Plague: The Politics of  Biological and Chemical Warfare, (New York:  W.H. Freeman, 1997), pg. 124-139

[9] See James A. Baker III, The Politics of Diplomacy: Revolution, War, and Peace, 1989-1992, (New York: Putnam, 1995), pg. 359 and R. Jeffrey Smith, “U.N. Says Iraqis Prepared Germ Weapons in Gulf War,” The Washington Post, 26 August 1995 (cited in Leonard A. Cole, The Eleventh Plague: The Politics of  Biological and Chemical Warfare, (New York:  W.H. Freeman, 1997, pg. 126-127)

[10] Selected Regional Conventional Military Force Total, as at 1 August 1999 (Source: The International Institute for Strategic Studies, The Military Balance, 1999-2000, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999)) and, where relevant,  non-conventional weapons capabilities.

Egypt (pg. 130-131)

Army: 320,000

Air Defense Command: 80,000

Air Force: 30,000

Navy: 20,000 (estimated)

Ballistic Missiles:

Biological Weapons: See Federation of American Scientists, Egypt Biological Weapons Program

Chemical Weapons: See Federation of American Scientists, Egypt Chemical Weapons Program and E.J. Hogendoorn, “A Chemical Weapons Atlas,” The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Vol. 53, No. 5 (September/October 1997)  Note that according to the Federation of American Scientists, “Egypt was the first country in the Middle East to obtain chemical weapons training, indoctrination, and matériel... During the Yemen War of 1963 through 1967, Egypt evidently used mustard bombs in support of South Yemen against royalist troops in North Yemen... use of chemical weapons against the Yemeni tribesmen was the first use of chemical weapons in the Middle East. During the Yemeni civil war phosgene and mustard aerial bombs killed at least 1,400 people.”

Nuclear Weapons: See Federation of American Scientists, Egypt Nuclear Weapons Program


Iran (pg. 132-133)

Army: 350,000 (estimtated)

Air Force: 50,000 (estimated)

Navy: 20,600

Revolutionary Guard Corps: 125,000

Ballistic Missiles: See Federation of American Scientists, Iran Missiles

Biological Weapons: See Federation of American Scientists, Iran Biological Weapons

Chemical Weapons: See Federation of American Scientists, Iran Chemical Weapons and E.J. Hogendoorn, “A Chemical Weapons Atlas,” The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Vol. 53, No. 5 (September/October 1997)

Nuclear Weapons: See Federation of American Scientists, Iran Nuclear Weapons

Iraq (pg. 133-134)

Army: 375,000 (estimated)

Air Defense Command: 17,000 (estimated)

Air Force: 35,000 (estimated)

Navy: 2,000 (estimated)

Paramilitary: 45,000-50,000

Non-conventional weapons:

UNSCOM Documents

UN Security Council Panel on Disarmament and Current and Future Ongoing Monitoring and Verification Issues, Report, S/1999/356, 30 March 1999

Federation of American Scientists, Iraq Special Weapons Guide

Scott Ritter, “The Case for Iraq’s Qualitative Disarmament,” Arms Control Today, Vol. 30, No. 5 (June 2000)

Israel (pg. 135-136)

Army: 130,000

Air Force: 37,000

Navy: 6,500 (estimated)

Paramilitary: 6,050 (estimated)

Ballistic Missiles: See Federation of American Scientists, Israel Missiles

Biological Weapons: See n13

Chemical Weapons: See n­12

Nuclear Weapons: See Federation of American Scientists, Israel Nuclear Weapons  See also n11

Syria (pg. 147-148)

Army: 215,000 (estimated)

Air Defense Command: 55,000 (estimated)

Air Force: 40,000

Navy: 6,000 (estimated)

Paramilitary: 108,000 (estimtated)

Ballistic Missiles: See Federation of American Scientists, Syria Special Weapons

Biological Weapons: See Federation of American Scientists, Syria Special Weapons

Chemical Weapons: See Federation of American Scientists, Syria Special Weapons

Nuclear Weapons: See Federation of American Scientists, Syria Special Weapons

Turkey (pg. 73-74)

Army: 525,000 (estimated)

Air Force: 63,000

Navy: 51,000

Paramilitary: 202,000

[11] “Israel is believed to possess the largest and most sophisticated arsenal outside of the five declared nuclear powers. Israel has never admitted possessing nuclear weapons, but abundant information is available showing that the capability exists.”  Israel can deploy its nuclear weapons with its airforce and stations 500 and 1500 km range ballistic missiles (the “Jericho I” and “Jericho II”) 23 km east of Jerusalem.  “These missiles were almost certainly developed specifically as nuclear delivery systems.”   (The Federation of American Scientists, “Israel’s Nuclear Weapons Program”


[12]   According to a 1990 U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) report, “Offensive Chemical Warfare Programs in the Middle East,” Israel developed an offensive chemical weapons program.  “In 1974, Lt. Gen. E. H. Almquist told a Senate Armed Forces Committee that the Israeli program was operational. The 1990 dia study reports that Israel maintains a chemical warfare testing facility.” (E.J. Hogendoorn, “A Chemical Weapons Atlas,” The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Vol. 53, No. 5 (September/October 1997)

[13] See Leonard Cole, “The Spector of Biological Weapons,” Scientific American, Vo. 275, No. 6 (December 1996) and Office Technology Assessment, “Risks Sources on Tables Listing Countries of Chemical and Biological Weapon Concern,” in Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction: Assessing the Risks, pg. 82

[14] Israel has ballistic missiles, the “Popeye Turbo,” “Jericho I” and “Jericho II,” with respective ranges of 200, 500 and 1000-1500 km  (The Federation of American Scientists, Israel Special Weapons Guide  See also Steve Fetter, "Israeli Ballistic Missile Capabilities," Physics and Society, Vol. 19, No. 3, July 90, pg. 3-4

[15] “When Iraq was firing scuds into Israel, [then] U.S. Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney warned that if the Israelis were attacked with chemical weapons, they might retaliate with weapons of mass destruction.” (Leonard A. Cole, The Eleventh Plague: The Politics of  Biological and Chemical Warfare, New York:  W.H. Freeman, 1997, pg. 128.  Cole cites Lawrence Freedman and Efraim Karsh, The Gulf Crisis, 1990-1991, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993, pg. 257.  Prior to the Gulf War’s beginning, Israeli Prime Minister statement that “Iraq would pay ‘a terrible and horible price’ [was] unanimously interpreted in the Israeli print media as [an] open Israeli nuclear threat.” (Avigdor Haselkorn, The Continuing Storm: Iraq, Poisonous Weapons, and Deterrence, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1999, pg. 79)

[16] The Iraqi Government’s pre-Gulf War internal killing, imprisonment, village razing and torture continued after the Gulf War through to the present day.  This consistency seems to demonstrate both the Government’s willingness to use often deadly violence against Iraqi civilians and the “international community’s” inability or unwillingness to effectively act.  The violence and lack of international response can lead to one possible conclusion: The Iraqi Government used non-conventional and conventional weapons in 1988 and now uses conventional weapons against the civilian population.  Neither individual States nor the United Nations responded (see n1,3,4) or respond with effective action and the Iraqi Government continues to act with impunity.  Therefore, there is not much evidence that the idle “international community” is concerned enough about the civilian population to actually respond to future Iraqi Government internal human rights violations, conventional or non-conventional.  Knowing that it has acted and can act unchecked, if it again uses non-conventional weapons, the Iraqi Government will probably do so against Iraq’s civilian population rather than an external party.  Externally there have been are many indicators that individual States or the UN will respond if Iraq uses non-conventional weapons against States.

For reports on Iraq’s internal human rights violations, 1991-2000 (and selectively  pre-1991) see:

Amnesty International

“Iraq: Victims of Systematic Repression,” 14 October 1999\IRAQ

Annual Reports

2000 Entry

1999 Entry

1998 Entry

Human Rights Watch

World Reports (1991-2000)

2000 Entry:

1999 Entry:

1998 Entry:

The United Nations High Commission for Human Rights

Selected Iraq Documents, 1991-2000

[17]   “It is not possible to precisely date when Iraq acquired chemical weapons, but it have decided to create its own production facilities following the October War in 1973” and reports that Egyptian and Israeli forces possessed chemical weapons during the 1973 October War. (Anthony H. Cordesman and Abraham R. Wagner, The Lessons of Modern Warfare (Vol II): The Iran-Iraq War, Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1990, pg. 506-507)

[18] Khidir Hamza, Iraq’s former director of nuclear weaponization: “The Iraqi a lot like India and Pakistan's programs. It's meant to put Iraq on a parity with Israel. It's meant to give Iraq immunity from attacks. And to elevate Saddam as a hero of the Arab world. Saddam will gain all the perks of being a nuclear power by simply exploding one bomb as a test in the desert. Noone except the US has actually dropped a nuke on anybody. But look at the prestige and careful handling that, say, North Korea has gained from its nuclear program. That's what Saddam really wants -- to be dealt with with respect.” (The Washington Post, Live Online, “Taking a Look at Iraq with Khidir Hamza,” 14 November 2000, 1 p.m. EST

[19] Iraq began to explore nuclear weapons development “no later than the early 1970s” and purchased the Osirak reactor from France in 1976.  Between 1980 and 1981 (before Israel bombed the Osirak reactor) Iraq purchased natural uranium from Brazil, Portugal, Niger and Italy.  A West German company also accepted in 1980 an order for depleted uranium.  (Anthony H. Cordesman and Abraham R. Wagner, The Lessons of Modern Warfare (Vol II): The Iran-Iraq War, Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1990, pg. 518)      

[20] See Anthony H. Cordesman and Abraham R. Wagner, The Lessons of Modern Warfare (Vol II): The Iran-Iraq War, Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1990, pg. 13-14, and Dilip Hiro, The Longest War: The Iran-Iraq Military Conflict, New York: Routledge, 1991, pg. 38)

[21] See Anthony H. Cordesman and Abraham R. Wagner, The Lessons of Modern Warfare (Vol II): The Iran-Iraq War, Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1990, pg. 17-21

[22] See  Dilip Hiro, The Longest War: The Iran-Iraq Military Conflict, (New York: Routledge, 1991), pg. 75-81

[23] “One source with firsthand knowledge said the Iraqis receive[d] the information from satellite photos "several hours" after a bombing raid in order to assess damage and plan the next attack. This source said the intelligence information  is [was] ‘vital’ to Iraq's conduct of the war.”  Bob Woodward, “CIA Aiding Iraq in Gulf War; Target Data From U.S. Satellites Supplied for Nearly 2 Years,” The Washington Post, 15 December 1986

[24] Additionally, in 1983 the Reagan Administration secretly began to encourage Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Egypt to transfer to Iraq U.S. howitzers, helicopters, bombs and other weapons. (Mark Phythian, Arming Iraq: How the U.S. and Britain Secretly Built Saddam’s War Machine, Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1997, pg.  35  Phythian cites Murray Waas and Craig Unger, “In the Loop: Bush’s Secret Mission,” The New Yorker, 2 November 1992, pg. 70)   President  Reagan also reportedly personally asked Italy’s Prime Minister Guilio Andreotti to channel arms to Iraq. (Mark Phythian, Arming Iraq: How the U.S. and Britain Secretly Built Saddam’s War Machine, Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1997, pg. 36.  Phythian cites Alan Friedman, Spider's Web: Bush, Saddam, Thatcher and the Decade of Deceit, London: Faber, 1993, pg. 81-84)

[25] Anthony Cordesman (Chair and Senior Fellow, Strategic Assessment, Center for Strategic and International Studies) and Abraham R. Wagner (independent defense consultant) estimate that Iraqi CW use caused 45,000 Iranian casualties (note that Cordesman and Wagner do not estimate and distinguish between deaths and injuries). (Anthony H. Cordesman and Abraham R. Wagner, The Lessons of Modern Warfare (Vol II): The Iran-Iraq War, Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1990, pg. 516-517)  Compare the 45,000 CW casualty figure with Cordesman and Wagner’s range, based on a 15 April 1988 “unclassified CIA working estimate,” of 1,050,000-1,930,000 Iranian casualties, 1980-1988, with 450,000-730,000 killed. (Anthony H. Cordesman and Abraham R. Wagner, The Lessons of Modern Warfare (Vol II): The Iran-Iraq War, Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1990, pg. 3)          

[26] See John Bulloch and Barvey Morris, The Gulf War: Its Origins, Hisotry and Consequences, (London, Methuen, 1989), pg. 244 (quoted in Leonard A. Cole, The Eleventh Plague: The Politics of  Biological and Chemical Warfare, New York:  W.H. Freeman, 1997,  pg. 89) ;  Dilip Hiro, The Longest War: The Iran-Iraq Military Conflict, (New York: Routledge, 1991), pg. 205 (cited in in Leonard  A. Cole, The Eleventh Plague: The Politics of  Biological and Chemical Warfare, New York:  W.H. Freeman, 1997,  pg. 89); and  Anthony H. Cordesman and Abraham R. Wagner, The Lessons of Modern Warfare (Vol II): The Iran-Iraq War, (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1990), pg. 518

[27] Dilip Hiro, The Longest War: The Iran-Iraq Military Conflict, (New York: Routledge, 1991), pg. 191

[28] See and  Anthony H. Cordesman and Abraham R. Wagner, The Lessons of Modern Warfare (Vol II): The Iran-Iraq War, (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1990), pg. 369

[29] Los Angeles Times international affairs writer Robin Wright reported on one occaision when Iraq supposedly just used smoke bombs and “the psychological impact of chemical weapons was such that the Iranians had fled at the mere sight of the clouds.” (Robin Wright, In the Name of God: The Khomeini Decade,” New York:: Simon and Shuster, 1989, pg. 184.  Quoted in in Leonard A. Cole, The Eleventh Plague: The Politics of  Biological and Chemical Warfare, New York:  W.H. Freeman, 1997,  pg. 89) 

[30] For an explaination of how Iraq lengthened its Scud missile range to 600 kilometers and used those Scuds on Qom and Tehran, see Anthony H. Cordesman and Abraham R. Wagner, The Lessons of Modern Warfare (Vol II): The Iran-Iraq War, (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1990), pg. 364

[31] See Anthony H. Cordesman and Abraham R. Wagner, The Lessons of Modern Warfare (Vol II): The Iran-Iraq War, (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1990), pg. 364-368

[32] Difluor mixed with isopropyl alcohol produces sarin (Editor’s conversation with Matthew S. Meselson, Thomas Dudley Cabot Professor of the Natural Sciences, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Harvard University, 2 August 2000)

[33] See Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Factsheet, “Iraq: The UNSCOM Experience,” October 1998, pg. 3

[34] From 1980-1988, Iraq did not effectively “deliver gas and chemical weapons by missile.” (Anthony H. Cordesman and Abraham R. Wagner, The Lessons of Modern Warfare (Vol II): The Iran-Iraq War, Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1990, pg. 518)

[35] As of 1982, 1.5 million Egyptians lived in Iraq and were two-thirds of Iraq’s agriculture and construction workforce. ( Dilip Hiro, The Longest War: The Iran-Iraq Military Conflict, (New York: Routledge, 1991), pg. 110)

[36] After Egypt signed in 1979 a unilateral peace treaty with Israel, the Arab League, led by Iraq, suspended Egypt.  In late 1982, Iraq pushed for Egypt’s re-instatement. (Dilip Hiro, The Longest War: The Iran-Iraq Military Conflict, (New York: Routledge, 1991), pg. 79 and 116)     

[37] For information on Israel’s Jericho I ballistic missile, range 500 km, see Federation of American Scientists, Jericho I and Federation of American Scientists, “Israel’s Nuclear Weapons Program”

.  For information on Israel’s Jericho II ballistic missile, range 1500 km, see Federation of American Scientists, Jericho II and Federation of American Scientists, “Israel’s Nuclear Weapons Program”

[38] During  post-interview correspondence with BRG, Scott Ritter stated that “Thunderstrike” was an Iraqi policy from 1988-1991

[39] A militarized biological weapon “is a system composed of four major components — payload (the biolological agent), munition (a container that keeps the payload intact and virulent during delivery), delivery system (missile, artillery shell, aircraft, etc.), and disperal mechanism (an explosive force or spray device to dispense the agent to the target population.” (Raymond Zalinskas, “Iraq’s Biological Warfare Program: The Past as Future?,” in Joshua Lederberg (ed.), Biological Weapons: Limiting the Threat, (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999), pg. 138)

[40] Former UNSCOM inspector Raymond Zalinskas states that, for reasons linked to the effect of impact detonation on agent dispersal, “had Iraq's biological warfare munitions actually been used against coalition forces, their effect would have been limited to contaminating a relatively small area of ground surrounding the point of impact and exposing only nearby individuals to aerosolized pathogens and toxins.” [Furthermore, because of flight instability and missing inertial guidance systems,] “had Iraq launched biological-weapons-laden Al Husseins...the missiles probably would either have disintegrated in flight or missed the target.” (Raymond Zalinkas, “Iraq’s Biological Warfare Program: The Past as Future?,” in Joshua Lederberg (ed.), Biological Weapons: Limiting the Threat, (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999), pg. 146)

[41] Ken Alibek, Biohazard, 1st edition, (New York: Random House, 1999)

[42] See UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) report on the status of monitoring and disarmament, Appendix III, “Status of Verification of Iraq’s Biological Warfare Programme,” “Executive Summary,” S/1999/94, 29 January 1999

[43] See CNN, "U.N. Asks Why its Weapons Inspectors Abandoned Iraq,"

[44] Ambassador Rolf Ekeus, former UNSCOM Executive Chairman (1991-1997):

UNSCOM’s monitoring operations, which were extensive, formed a highly effective system and did not really lead to any confrontations with Iraq. Monitoring had a routine character. You went to a facility you had been to many, many times before. The facility was known in detail. The production records were available, the inspectors had a detailed list of machines and machine tools, they knew the personnel, and they came and checked off that everything was normal. They looked upon the input and the output, they looked at the raw materials brought in as to how they had been disposed, and if they saw some new engineers or some engineers missing, for instance, they would inquire.” (Arms Control Today, “Shifting Priorities: UNMOVIC and the Future of Inspections in Iraq,” Shifting Priorities: UNMOVIC and the Future of Inspections in Iraq, interview with Ambassador Rolf Ekeus, Vol. 30, No. 2 (March 2000)

[45] For Ritter’s distinction between “qantitative” and “qualitative disarmament,” as well as his documentary sector-by-sector (CWs, BWs, ballistic missiles, nuclear weapons) description and analysis of what he identifies as Iraq’s qualitative disarmament, see Scott Ritter, “The Case for Iraq's Qualitative Disarmament,” Arms Control Today, Volume 30, Number 5 (June 2000)

[46] Raghida Dergham, Al-Hayat: “Ambassador, given what Iraq has of its capability right now, what’s left, does it constitute a major threat to the region, to the countries in the region?  Does it have the capability right now whereas it would lead you to say, yes, they have weapons that constitute a major threat to the region?”

Rolf Ekeus, former UNSCOM Executive Chairman (1991-1997): “No, I think we can say that we don’t believe they are capable to be a threat to the region.  And the reason is they don’t have enough missiles.  As I indicated, there may be some stocks of chemical warfare agents and biological warfare agents.  But there is a definite bottleneck for delivery of these systems.  Also they have bombs, of course, empty munitions, which can be filled with agents, theoretically.  But even that, I think there are such shortcomings with regard to air force, and so on.” (World Chronicle, interview with Rolf Ekeus, Media Division, UN Department of Public Information, No. 599 (21 September 1995))

[47]   For Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, Donald W. Riegle, Jr., and Alfonse M. D’Amato, U.S. Senate, Report, “U.S. Chemical and Biological Warfare-Related Dual Use Exports to Iraq and Their Possible Impact on the Health Consequences of the Persian Gulf War,” 25 May 1994, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s  (CDC) Director submitted to Senator Riegle a list of bacterial agents that the CDC sent to Iraq between 1984-1989.  Agents included West Nile Fever virus. (Leonard A. Cole, The Eleventh Plague: The Politics of  Biological and Chemical Warfare, New York:  W.H. Freeman, 1997,  pg.  85.   Cole cites Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, Donald W. Riegle, Jr., and Alfonse M. D’Amato, U.S. Senate, Report, “U.S. Chemical and Biological Warfare-Related Dual Use Exports to Iraq and Their Possible Impact on the Health Consequences of the Persian Gulf War,” 25 May 1994, pg. 45-47)  Senator Riegle:  “I think the U.S. Government approving exports of these materials to a government like that and to someone like Saddam Hussein violates every standard of logic and common sense... We know we sent the stuff. We know our own Government approved it. Why, I will never know-to send it on over to Saddam Hussein. Maybe because at the time the policymakers in the administration thought he would use these weapons on the Iranians.”  (Congressional Record,  Senate, “Arming Iraq: The Export of Biological Materials and the Health of Our Gulf War Veterans,” 103rd Congress, 2nd Session, 140 Cong Rec S 1196, Vol. 140, No. 12, 9 February 1994  

[48] “During their investigations, the IAEA and UNSCOM...evidently added to the list of suppliers of components, precursors and technical expertise revealed by the Scott Report in the UK, congressional inquiries in the US and more limited investigations in other European countries. Letters of credit found in the Central Bank of Iraq further identified companies which had been selling military equipment to Iraq.  All this information has been kept confidential.

The former Chairman of UNSCOM, Rolf Ekeus, explained that this decision was not the result of any ‘deal’ with Iraq.

‘It was to do with the major governments which were the supplier countries...If we had told about...[a] major company in country X, in western Europe, I can assure you that government would never forgive us. Because what would happen was the name would be published, legislation would be taken [sic], one-sided sanctions against that company, that would hurt national economic interest and they would cut us off from information .’” (Sarah Graham-Brown, Sanctioning Saddam: The Politics of Intervention in Iraq, (London: I.B. Tauris, 1999, pg. 88.  Graham-Brown quotes from Channel 4 Television (London), "Dispatches Special: Saddam's Secret Timebomb," Roberts and Wykeham Films, 23 February 1998)

[49] S/Res/687, 3 April 1991

[50] S/Res/715, 11 October 1991

[51] S/Res/1051, 27 March 1996

[52] E.g., see Agence France Presse, “Shell Fined Two Million Dollars for Iraqi Oil Seized on Russian Tanker: Pentagon,” 25 April 2000

[53] Rolf Ekeus, former UNSCOM Executive Chairman (1991-1997: “Iraq should be allowed to keep a good industrial capability. What we take away are machines which have the sole purpose of producing weapons. But all dual capabilities they will be allowed to keep, and we will monitor them.” (Jane’s Defence Weekly, interview with Rolf Ekeus, “Jane’s Defence Weekly Interview,” Vol. 27, No. 19 (14 May 1997)  Note Thalif Deen did not interview Ekeus.

[54] E.g., see Agence France Presse, “Russian Markings Found on Iraqi-bound Military Equipment – Report,” 15 December 1995

[55] See David Hoffman, “Missile Parts Sent To Iraq Detailed,” Washington Post, 11 April 1998

[56] “The Participating States of the Wassenaar Arrangement are:  Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom and United States.

The Wassenaar Arrangement has been established in order to contribute to regional and international security and stability, by promoting transparency and greater responsibility in transfers of conventional arms and dual-use goods and technologies, thus preventing destabilising accumulations. Participating States will seek, through their national policies, to ensure that transfers of these items do not contribute to the development or enhancement of military capabilities which undermine these goals, and are not diverted to support such capabilities.

The decision to transfer or deny transfer of any item will be the sole responsibility of each Participating State. All measures undertaken with respect to the arrangement will be in accordance with national legislation and policies and will be implemented on the basis of national discretion. Therefore for specifics on Export Controls in Participating States, contact the National Authorities in that country.”

[57] “Chaired by Australia, the "Australia Group" is an informal forum of states whose goal is to discourage and impede chemical weapons (CW) proliferation by harmonizing national export controls on CW precursor chemicals, sharing information on proliferation programs, and seeking other ways to curb the use of CW.

The Group was formed in 1984 as a result of CW use in the Iran-Iraq War. Members meet annually in Paris, where the 1925 Geneva Protocol is deposited. The Group's actions are viewed as complementary measures in support of the 1925 Geneva Protocol, the 1972 Biological and Toxins Weapons Convention and the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention.

There are presently 30 members of the Group, including: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovak Republic, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States, and the European Community Commission (Observer). Requests by other states to join the Group are considered on a case-by-case basis.

The Group has no charter or constitution. It operates by consensus. On Dec. 10, 1992, the AG issued its first joint background paper on the Group's activities.

The Group has established common export controls for chemical and biological weapons nonproliferation purposes. For CW, members of the AG control a list of 54 chemical precursors and a list of CW-related production equipment as well. For BW, members have established export controls on certain microorganisms, toxins and equipment that could be used in a BW program.

In tandem with export controls, the AG has periodically used warning mechanisms to sensitize its public to CBW proliferation. The Group has issued an informal "warning list" of dual-use CW precursors and bulk chemicals, and on CW-related equipment. Members develop and share the warning lists with their chemical industries and ask industry to report on any suspicious transactions. The AG has also used an approach to warn industry, the scientific community, and other relevant groups of the risk of inadvertently aiding BW proliferation.

The Group's meetings focus on sharing information about national export controls, considering proposals for "harmonization" -- the adoption of common controls by all members on chemical precursors, equipment, biological weapons related materials and considering other measures to address CBW proliferation and use.


The following 30 countries are currently members of the "Australia Group" which attempts to discourage and impede CW and BW proliferation by harmonizing export controls on CW precursors, BW pathogens and CBW dual-use production equipment, sharing information, and seeking other ways to curb the use of CW:

Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France,

Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand,

Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovak Republic, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland,

United Kingdom, United States, European Community Commission (Observer)”

[58] Australia Group Export Controls on Materials Used in the Manufacture of Chemical and Biological Weapons, Control List of Dual-Use Chemicals: Commercial and Military Application


[59] For import/export mechanism requested by UN Security Council Resolution 715 (S/Res/715, 11 October 1991) and not approved until five years later in UN Security Council Resolution 1051, see “Provisions for the Mechanism for Export/Import Monitoring under Paragraph 7 of Security Council Resolution 715 (1991) of 11 October 1991, Report Prepared by the Committee Established by Security Council Resolution 661 (1990), the Special Commission and the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, S/Res/1017, 7 December 1995 <>   

For lists of the biological, chemical and missile items that exporters and the Government of Iraq are mandated to report to the joint UNSCOM/IAEA (now UNMOVIC/IAEA) import/export monitoring mechanism,  See “Iraq’s Compliance with Relevant Parts of Section C of  Security Council Resolution 687 (1991), Report of the Secretary-General (S/22871/Rev.1), Revised Annexes II, III, IV, S/1995/208, 17 March 1995 and “Plan for Future Ongoing Monitoring and Verification of Iraq’s Compliance with Relevant Parts of Section C of Security Council Resolution 687 (1991), Report of the Secretary-General (S/22871/Rev.1), Revised Annexes II, III and IV, S/1995/208/Corr.1, 15 April 1995

For the list of nuclear-relevant items that exporters and the Government of Iraq are mandated to report to the IAEA, see S/1995/215, Annex III, 23 March 1995; S/1995/215/Corr.1, 7 April 1995, S/1995/215/Corr.2, 2 August 1995

[60] Notes that the actions to be taken by Iraq in paragraphs 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13 of the present resolution represent steps towards the goal of establishing in the Middle East a zone free from weapons of mass destruction and all missiles for their delivery and the objective of a global ban on chemical weapons” (S/Res/687, 3 April 1991, para. 14)

[61] See n23

[62] For elaboration on Iraq’s ineffectual Iran-Iraq War  “combined arms” efforts, namely due to a “lack of organization and training for modern war,” see Anthony H. Cordesman and Abraham R. Wagner, The Lessons of Modern Warfare (Vol. II): The Iran-Iraq War, Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1990, pg. 423-425) 

[63] S/Res/1284, 17 December 1999, para. 17

[64] S/Res/1051, 27 March 1996, para. 5-8

[65] Kenneth R. Timmerman, The Death Lobby: How the West Armed Iraq, (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1991), pg. 202 and 410 n5

[66] Committee on Banking, Finance, and Urban Affairs, U.S. House of Representatives, Hearing, "Banca Nazionale del Lavoro (BNL)," 9 April 1991, pg. 79.  Cited in Bruce W. Jentleson, With Friends Like These: Reagan, Bush, and Saddam, 1982-1990,  (New York: W.W. Norton, 1994), pg. 62

[67] Committee on Banking, Finance, and Urban Affairs, U.S. House of Representatives, Hearing, "Banca Nazionale del Lavoro (BNL)," 9 April 1991, pg. 79.  Cited in Bruce W. Jentleson, With Friends Like These: Reagan, Bush, and Saddam, 1982-1990,  (New York: W.W. Norton, 1994), pg. 62

[68] E.g., “In November 1986, [The Department of] Defense’s Under Secretary for Trade Security Policy wrote [the Department of] Commerce’s Assistant Secretary for Trade Administration informing him that intelligence information existed which linked the Saad 16 research center with ballistic missile development.” (Committee on Government Operations, U.S. House of Representatives, "Strengthening the Export Licensing System,” 2 July 1991), section entitled “National Security vs. Export Promotion: Sales to Iraq”  

[69] E.g., Committee on Government Operations, House of Representatives, “Strengthening the Export Licensing System,” 2 July 1991, section "National Security vs. Export Promotion: Sales to Iraq"

[70] Reuters reported on 11 February 2000 that during the lifespan of the “humanitarian program” the United States put 1,000 contracts on hold.  The UK came in second with 120 held contracts. (Reuters, “UN Official in Iraq Expected to Leave Job in April, 11 February 2000).  For UN Secretary General Kofi Annan criticizing U.S. contracts blocks within the Sanctions Committee, see: Colum Lynch “Annan Confronts U.S. on Iraq,” Washington Post, 25 October 1999. 

To read Annan’s 3 October 2000 letter to the Security Council President see S/2000/950, “letter dated 3 October 2000 to from the Secretary-General addressed to the President of the Security Council,”  3 October 2000 <>.  In his 3 October letter, Annan expresses his “very serious concern that, despite the commendable efforts that have been made since May 2000, the total value of holds placed on applications for contracts submitted under the humanitarian programme pursuant to Security Council resolution 986 (1995) of 14 April 1995 exceeded $2 billion ($2.022 billion) as at 27 September 2000, involving a total of 1,204 applications.” (second para.) 

Additionally, the Secretary-General  stated in his 3 October 2000 letter to the Security Council President that “The value of holds represents 13.5 per cent of the total value of applications circulated to the Security Council Committee established by resolution 661 (1990). The relative value of holds are highest in the sectors of transport and telecommunication (45 per cent) and electricity (35.6 per cent), while in the food handling, education, water and sanitation, and oil sectors, the relative values of holds all stand at approximately 20 per cent. As stated in my recent report to the Security Council (S/2000/857), this situation renders the distribution of humanitarian aid and the amelioration of the overall situation more difficult and places an additional strain on the already heavily burdened population by delaying the arrival and use of many key supplies and equipment essential to all sectors.”

(S/2000/950, “letter dated 3 October 2000 to from the Secretary-General addressed to the President of the Security Council,” 3 October 2000, second para. <>)

A few examples of the impact that holds have on the sectors upon which Iraq’s entire civilian infrastructure depends:

On 17 November 1999 Benon Sevan, Executive Director of the Iraq Program, estimated that if the Sanctions Committee release all electrical sector holds (at that time 51 per cent of the Phase IV-VI total submissions) then Iraq could potentially increase its electricity supply by 50 per cent (Introductory statement [to Report of the Secretary-General Pursuant to Paragraph 6 of Resolution 1242,  S/1999/1162] by Benon V. Sevan, Executive Director of the Iraq Programme, Informal Consultations of the Security Council, 17 November 1999


Petroleum experts, mandated by the Security Council Resolution 1284 (para. 30) to survey Iraq’ oil industry, review and list additional oil spare parts, recommend ways to increase revenue and assess the impact of holds on the oil industry and oil production (Report of the Group of United Nations Experts Established Pursuant to Paragraph 30 of the Security Council Resolution 1284, pg. 9-10

<>), reported on 20 March 2000 that:

* “The lamentable state of the Iraqi Oil Industry has not improved

* The level of oil exports during phase 7 will decline from the level of 2.2 million barrels per day achieved in phase 6, to a level of between 1.8 to 1.9 million barrels per day

* A further production decline of between 5% to 15% per annum is forecast unless the delivery of spare parts and equipment is immediately accelerated

* The oil transportation infra-structure has not been improved during the last two years

* Insufficient spare parts and equipment have arrived in time to sustain production

* The issues of pollution and safety have not been addressed.” (. (Report of the Group of United Nations Experts Established Pursuant to Paragraph 30 of the Security Council Resolution 1284, pg. 9   <>)

The experts linked many of these problems with oil sector holds. (Report of the Group of United Nations Experts Established Pursuant to Paragraph 30 of the Security Council Resolution 1284, pg. 93-127) <>)     

To see Kofi Annan’s reports on holds and their detrimental impact on the water, sanitation, electricity, health, food, education and telecommunication sectors, go to the Secretary-General’s Reports <>.  For the Secretary-General’s and Program Executive Director’s comments and notes on holds and their impact on the aforementioned sectors, go to <> and <>. 

[71] E.g.:


Ambassador Yves Doutriaux, Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, statement to the Security Council on “The Situation between Iraq and Kuwait,” 21 May 1999 <>

Ambassador S.E. Jean-David Levitte, Permanent Representative to the UN, statement to the Security Council on “The Situation between Iraq and Kuwait,” 24 March 2000 <>

China: According to the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ summary of Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister’s 6-11 January 2000 visit to China: “Iraq should cooperate with the United Nations on the implementation of the relevant resolutions of the Security Council, on the other hand the Security Council should give a just and objective assessment of Iraq's implementation of the Security Council Resolutions...China was deeply sympathetic to the enormous amount of human suffering that the Iraqi people had to endure due to sanctions over the years, and hoped that sanctions would be lifted at an early date. China was of the view that, by adopting Resolution 1284, some humanitarian concerns had been addressed and a new arms inspection organ was to be set up to replace UNSCOM, however there were no explicit provisions in the Resolution about such questions as how to halt the sanctions on Iraq. Therefore China was unsatisfied.”


[72] For the UN Charter’s Chapter 7,  see

[73] E.g., see Bruce B. Auster, “Inspecting the Inspectors,” U.S. News & World Report, 18 January 1999; Seymour M. Hersh, "Saddam's Best Friend," The New Yorker, 5 April 1999; Colum Lynch, “US Used UN to Spy on Iraq, Aides say,” The Boston Globe, 6 January 1999; David Malone, “Goodbye UNSCOM: A Sorry Tale in US-UN Relations,” Security Dialogue, Volume 30, Number 4, December 1999

Hans Blix, UNMOVIC Chairman: “...we are not in the intelligence-trading business. We are not an intelligence organization. We are not giving anything to suppliers in return. We are not an espionage organization, whatever Iraq has said. Now, it is conceivable, of course, that some UNSCOM staff were in double emploi, that they had two positions. That is unacceptable. All I can say is that if I find individuals working for other agencies, I will throw them out, and I think they will understand why.” (Arms Control Today, “Anticipating Inspections: UNMOVIC Readies Itself for Iraq,” interview with Hans Blix, UNMOVIC Executive Chairman, Vol. 30, No. 6 (July-August 2000)

[74] Ambassador Rolf Ekeus, former UNSCOM Executive Chairman (1991-1997) and current Swedish Ambassador to the United States:

“My conviction is that these three major abstaining states all have serious concerns about Iraq’s weapons. The Russian military is concerned—there is no Russian wish to have an Iraq with nuclear weapons. The French are concerned about weapons of mass destruction capabilities in Iraq. And the Chinese, too. The three of them all have a concern with Iraq’s weapons. However, they also have a wish to get the sanctions lifted.” (Arms Control Today, “Shifting Priorities: UNMOVIC and the Future of Inspections in Iraq,” Shifting Priorities: UNMOVIC and the Future of Inspections in Iraq, interview with Ambassador Rolf Ekeus, Vol. 30, No. 2 (March 2000) (<>)

Hans Blix, UNMOVIC Executive Chairman, “I have no doubt that on two principal points they [the Chinese, French and Russians] are united and there is no dissent in the Security Council. One is the wish that Iraq retain no weapons of mass destruction and that it not revive any WMD programs. The other is a view that UNMOVIC shall have all of the rights of inspection that the prior organizations had—that is, immediate, unrestricted, and unconditional access. I don’t think they waver on that.” (Arms Control Today, “Anticipating Inspections: UNMOVIC Readies Itself for Iraq,” interview with Hans Blix, UNMOVIC Executive Chairman, Vol. 30, No. 6 (July-August 2000) <>)

[75] See n74

[76]   Sanctions’ removal (UN Security Council Resolution 687) vs. Sanctions suspension (UN Security Council Resolution 1284)

UN Security Council Resolution 687 (S/Res/687, 8 April 1991), paragraph 22: “Decides that upon the approval by the Security Council of the programme called for in paragraph 19 above and upon Council agreement that Iraq has completed all actions contemplated in paragraphs 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13 above, the prohibitions against the import of commodities and products originating in Iraq and the prohibitions against financial transactions related thereto contained in resolution 661 (1990) shall have no further force or effect”

UN Security Resolution 1284 (S/Res/1284, 17 December 1999), paragraph 33: Expresses its intention, upon receipt of reports from the Executive Chairman of UNMOVIC and from the Director General of the IAEA that Iraq has cooperated in all respects with UNMOVIC and the IAEA in particular in fulfilling the work programmes in all the aspects referred to in paragraph 7 above, for a period of 120 days after the date on which the Council is in receipt of reports from both UNMOVIC and the IAEA that the reinforced system of ongoing monitoring and verification is fully operational, to suspend with the fundamental objective of improving the humanitarian situation in Iraq and securing the implementation of the Council's resolutions, for a period of 120 days renewable by the Council, and subject to the elaboration of effective financial and other operational measures to ensure that Iraq does not acquire prohibited items, prohibitions against the import of commodities and products originating in Iraq, and prohibitions against the sale, supply and delivery to Iraq of civilian commodities and products other than those referred to in paragraph 24 of resolution 687 (1991) or those to which the mechanism established by resolution 1051 (1996) applies”


Ambassador Rolf Ekeus, former UNSCOM Executive Chairman (1991-1997) and current Swedish Ambassador to the United States:

“The language of suspension injects an element of instability and insecurity. That is probably the major reason why Iraq has been withholding its approval of the resolution. In that respect, 1284 is not better than 687. From an Iraqi perspective, that part of the resolution is more negative than 687, which talked about lifting the sanctions. Now it discusses only suspension.” (Arms Control Today, “Shifting Priorities: UNMOVIC and the Future of Inspections in Iraq,” Shifting Priorities: UNMOVIC and the Future of Inspections in Iraq, interview with Ambassador Rolf Ekeus, Vol. 30, No. 2 (March 2000)

[77] The panel heard briefings by experts from the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) and the IAEA on the current status of disarmament/ongoing monitoring and verification in the four proscribed weapons areas (nuclear, missiles, chemical, biological)” (Report of the Panels Established Pursuant to the Note by the President of the Security Council of  30 January 1999 (S/1999/100) Addressed to the President of the Security Council, S/1999/356, 30 March 1999, paragraph 13)

[78] “Report of the Panels Established Pursuant to the Note by the President of the Security Council of  30 January 1999 (S/1999/100) Addressed to the President of the Security Council, S/1999/356, 30 March 1999, paragraph 27

Hans Blix, UNMOVIC Executive Chairman: “I still maintain that we will never come to the last nut and bolt.” (Arms Control Today, “Anticipating Inspections: UNMOVIC Readies Itself for Iraq,” interview with Hans Blix, UNMOVIC Executive Chairman, Vol. 30, No. 6 (July-August 2000)

[79] “ many missing nuts and bolts are acceptable will be determined by the Security Council. We will describe in as accurate terms as we can what we have done, where we are, and then leave final judgment to the council.” (Arms Control Today, “Anticipating Inspections: UNMOVIC Readies Itself for Iraq,” interview with Hans Blix, UNMOVIC Executive Chairman, Vol. 30, No. 6 (July-August 2000)

[80] Rolf Ekeus, former UNSCOM Executive Chairman (1991-1997): “I would say that we felt that in all areas we have eliminated Iraq’s capabilities fundamentally.  There are still some question marks left.” (Rolf Ekeus, presentation (“Sanctions in Iraq: Is the Policy Defensible?”) question and answer period, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, 23 May 2000)

[81] Joint Hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, “U.S. Policy on U.N. Iinpections of Iraqi Weapons Sites,” 3 September 1998

[82] Scott Ritter, “Why We're Doing Exactly What he Wants: Saddam's Trap,” The New Republic, Vol. 223, No. 18 (21 December 1998)

[83] E.g., “What he [Saddam Hussein] has just done is to ensure that the sanctions will be there until the end of time or as long as he lasts” (U.S. President Bill Clinton, remarks by the President in bilateral meeting with President Zedillo of Mexico, The White House Oval Office, Office of the Press Secretary, 14 November 1997, 10:20 am )

“...We do not agree with the nations who argue that if Iraq complies with its obligations concerning weapons of mass destruction, sanctions should be lifted. Our view, which is unshakable, is that Iraq must prove its peaceful intentions. It can only do that by complying with all of the Security Council Resolutions to which it is subject.

Is it possible to conceive of such a government under Saddam Hussein? When I was a professor, I taught that you have to consider all possibilities. As Secretary of State, I have to deal in the realm of reality and probability. And the evidence is overwhelming that Saddam Hussein's intentions will never be peaceful.

The United States looks forward, nevertheless, to the day when Iraq rejoins the family of nations as a responsible and law abiding member. This is in our interests and in the interests of our allies and partners within the region.

Clearly, a change in Iraq's government could lead to a change in U.S. policy. Should that occur, we would stand ready, in coordination with our allies and friends, to enter rapidly into a dialogue with the successor regime.” (U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright, remarks, “Preserving Principle and Safeguarding Stability: United States Policy Toward Iraq,” Georgetown University, 26 March 1999 )

[84] According to Stephen M. Walt, the Evron and Jeane Kirkpatrick Professor of International Affairs at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, there are four primary factors that “will affect the level of threat that states may pose” (Stephen M. Walt, The Origins of Alliances, (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1987), pg. 22): “Aggregate Power”-“E.g., populations, industrial and military capability, and technological prowess.” (Walt, pg. 22)  “Geographic Proximity.” (Walt, pg. 23)  “Offensive Power”-“The ability to threaten the sovereignity or territoritorial integrity of another state at an acceptable cost.  The ease with which aggregate power can be converted into offensive power (i.e., by amassing large mobile military capabilities) is affected by the various factors that determine the relative advantage of the offense or defense at any particular period.” (Walt, pg. 24)  “Agressive Intentions”-“Intention, not power, is crucial...the more aggressive or expansionist a state appears to be, the more likely it is to trigger an opposing coalition.” (Walt, pg. 25-26) 

From 1980-1988 Iraq’s non-conventional weapons programs and conventional arm supplies and tacts benefitted from an informal Western and regional anti-Iranian coalition.  And the Iraqi government concluded that the military, diplomatic and political gains outweighed the human and economic costs.  Internationally there did not seem to be any costs for invading Iran and using chemical weapons on Iranian troops and the Kurds.  Walt might argue that the anti-Iranian coalition did not perceive Iraq’s invasion of Iran as expansionist and surmised that it was done on behalf of a wider community.  However, when Iraq invaded Kuwait and was poised to take over Kuwaiti oil production facilities and threaten Saudi ones, another coalition formed (through a variety of means, some coercive, others not) to militarily oppose Iraq’s invasion.  This coalition seemed to fear Iraqi expansion into other oil producing countries and included  Egypt, Iran, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates, all countries in closely geographically proximate to Iraq. 

Now a growing informal State coalition seems to oppose non-military sanctions on Iraq:

China (The Associated Press, "China calls for early lifting of UN sanctions on Iraq," 26 December 2000)

Egypt (The Associated Press, "Egypt and Morocco call for lifting U.N. sanctions imposed on Iraq," 24 May 2000.  See also Press release, Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, "Continued Sanctions on Iraq, Unacceptable, Void of Logic for Arabs, Minister of Foreign Affairs Amre Moussa Reiterated," 28 July 2000

France (Interview with Hubert Védrine, French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Al Hayat, 1 August 2000

Malaysia  (Malaysian Ministy of Foreign Affairs, press release, 23 March 2000

Morocco (The Associated Press, "Egypt and Morocco call for lifting U.N. sanctions imposed on Iraq," 24 May 2000)

Oman (Yousef Bin Alawi Bin Abdullah, Omani Minister of Foreign Affairs, Satement of The Sultanate of Oman, 55th Session of the UN General Assembly, 16 September 2000

[85] Iraq’s Conventional Military Forces, as at July 1980 (The International Institute for Strategic Studies, The Military Balance, 1980-1981, (London: The International Institute for Strategic Studies, 1980), pg. 42-43)

Army: 200,000

Air Force: 38,000

Navy: 4,250

[86] Iraq’s Conventional Military Forces, as at 1 June 1990 (Source: The International Institute for Strategic Studies, The Military Balance, 1990-1991, (London: Brassey’s, 1990), pg. 105-106):

Army: 955,000

Air Force: 40,000

Navy: 5,000

[87] Abbas Alnasrawi, The Economy of Iraq: Oil, Wars, Destruction of Development and Prospects, 1950-2010, (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1994)

[88] Abbas Alnasrawi, The Economy of Iraq: Oil, Wars, Destruction of Development and Prospects, 1950-2010, (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1994)

[89] As of the Autumn of 1995, Iraq’s estimated 1990 3.7-5.6 thousand artillery pieces were reduced to 1.8-2 thousand while the estimated 1990 513-770 combat aricraft were between 350-375.  Anthony H. Cordesman and Ahmed S. Hashim, Iraq: Sanctions and Beyond, (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1997), table four, pg. 219-220.