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Long but interesting interview with Scott Ritter (particularly interesting talk about exit strategies near the end...) from http://www.newsroom.co.nz/stories/HL9811/S00089.htm and http://www.newsroom.co.nz/stories/HL9811/S00090.htm INSIDE UNSCOM: The Scott Ritter Tape Saturday, 14 November 1998, 1:55 am Staff Reporter: Alastair Thompson THE SCOTT RITTER TAPE ***** Highly Recommended Reading. ***** This weekend UNSCOM has taken the Middle East once again to the brink as US forces mass to enforce the weapons inspections agency's right to access to Iraqi military sites. The following interview tells the UNSCOM story from an insider. WARNING: The background to the latest war in Iraq is not what you would expect.... BACKGROUND: Former UNSCOM Iraq arms inspector Scott Ritter spoke to Wellington freelance journalist Jeremy Rose in San Franciso at the State of the World Forum. Rose attended the Forum as part of a team commissioned by Saatchi and Saatchi to provide a webcast (see http://www.worldforum98.org/) from the conference held at the Fairmont Hotel. The team also included NewsRoom political editor Alastair Thompson. This interview is proudly brought to you for the first time by NewsRoom. This interview is copyright to the author, applications for permission to republish in part or wholly should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. The interview was conducted three days before Iraq called for the sacking of UNSCOM executive chairman Richard Butler on October 31. This was the Iraqi move which has since led to the latest Gulf Crisis. Butler, who had been attending the State of the World Forum, was about to receive an award for his work on human rights from the Forum when he was recalled to New York to deal with Iraq's call for his dismissal. In the interview Ritter provides an insight into the operations of UNSCOM, its relationships with the Security Council, the US military and intelligence services and, with revealing detail describes the relationship with Israel and the Israeli intelligence service, the Mossad. Ritter was formerly a senior inspector working for UNSCOM inside Iraq. Something of a media star during his time on the inside of the weapons inspection agency, his revelations, since he resigned, on the nature of UNSCOM's operations have received extensive coverage, particularly in the UK. On the night prior to this interview Ritter fronted up to Butler with his criticisms of UNSCOM in a BBC debate. The contents and implications of this interview are discussed in an earlier NewsRoom editorial.. Empty Clash Threatens Future Of UN - Editorial - http://www.newsroom.co.nz/stories/HL9811/S00074.htm TRANSCRIPT BEGINS Rose: Could you describe your work in Iraq? Ritter: I was brought into the Special Commission for the purpose of creating something called the information assessment unit which is a UN euphemism for intelligence capability. Intelligence from the perspective of receiving information organised and then collated into rudimentary assessment and then using that information to co-ordinate assistance for inspectors as they go around the country. It was a very basic job early on. Iraq was supposed to provide the declaration, and then we were supposed to verify it. But it became obvious early on that Iraq was providing false information and inaccurate declarations. And so more of a burden fell on our shoulders to do more than just verification of Iraq's declarations but to actually do inspections of discovery to try and expose the lies, to expose the hidden information in Iraq. And if Iraq's not providing the information we have to get it from somewhere. So we formed this unit to receive this information from governments. And that was my initial task. After I helped set the unit up then I took over the information/intelligence requirements for ballistic missile programmes. I would receive the information, co-ordinate with governments on ballistic missile programmes then use that information to plan inspections in Iraq. Rose: Did you find ballistic missiles? Ritter: Well what we found was evidence that Iraq was lying about what they told us. You know it's pretty disingenuous of the Iraqis to say UNSCOM has never found anything. I mean, I don't want to sound like Bill Clinton, but let's discuss what the meaning of found is here. Iraq gave us a false declaration about the number of operation launches and operation missiles that it had left after the war. We did not find the hidden launchers the hidden missiles. What we did was expose the Iraqi lies and present them with a fait accompli. You have lied we know you've lied this is the proof. And Iraq went ohh. Rose: Was that satellite proof or something similar? Ritter: I probably shouldn't get into the sources or methods used because once you've exposed that Iraq knows what capabilities there are looking at it. We showed Iraq proof that they were lying. And they went oh we guess we were. Here we will give you the launchers we'll give you the missiles. But they didn't give us the missiles and the launchers. What they did was they said well you know the reason we didn't declare it was that we've destroyed all that stuff. We just didn't tell you about it. We've scattered the pieces all around Iraq and we didn't keep any records of the destruction and we really can't give you the evidence that we destroyed it, you just have to trust us. We've destroyed everything. Well our job is to verify so we'll start working verifying on your statements. And as we progressed down that path. We have now moved away from being a traditional arms control organisation receiving declarations and verifying them we have become sort of a forensic detective agency where we have to into Iraq and carry out after-the-fact investigations. We have to carryout forensic investigations looking for pieces of evidence analysing this evidence and trying to determine what it means. Rose: What's the truth behind the VX find? Ritter: Well the VX is an example of this. From the very beginning we told the Iraqis we had information that they produced VX. They no we didn't. So to give you an example of how special commission exposed the VX story. They had a factory called Methon State Establishment??? which was heavily bombed during the war. The Iraqis sanitised this facility. Sanitised means going in and cleaning up all the papers all the bits and pieces so the commission couldn't find anything when we got there. But there was one bunker, a very heavy concrete bunker, which ceiling had collapsed in. So the Iraqis couldn't' get to what was underneath that. We had a very innovative Dutch inspector called Kace Walterbeck(?) come up with the idea. Why don't I go in there and raise the roof and excavate in there and see what I can find. And he did that. What he found was log books. And the log books clearly showed that Iraq produced VX. We confronted the Iraqis with this evidence and they said "we didn't declare it to you because it was only lab level work. We never produced that much VX. We tried but we failed so we didn't want to complicate the issue and tell you about this. But yes we did. So we said where are the precursors, where are basic chemicals that you used to make VX? How do you account for these. We destroyed them all. Where? In this field. So again Kace Watlerbeck went in and dug up soil samples. And when he analysed the soil samples he found that the Iraqis had lied about the lab efforts that were done. They claimed they had made VX using one approach yet the chemical analysis showed a different approach. The Iraqis were stunned and they said well we did but we didn't succeed. We never stabilised this VX. We produced it but it would degenerate rapidly. But again the inspectors in digging around found a container which the Iraqis had cleaned out. Scrubbed. There was nothing in it. But at the top there was a little purge valve that would be used if you connected a tube and were pumping liquids out. The purge valve had a tiny little catchment, the inspectors went in there ran a swab in there and there was liquid... pure VX. It's stabilised VX. Iraq said they didn't do it. We now have proof they did. So what the hell's going on here now? You lied to us yet again. Then Iraq said we only produced a limited quantity of stabilised VX and we never weaponised it. We never put it in a weapon. Now the commission has extremely sensitive information that says Iraq did indeed weaponise VX. But one of the natures of our work is that given the sensitivities we can't go to the Security Council with this data because the Security Council unfortunately has members who are very sympathetic to Iraq. It would give away these sources and methods that we use. So we still couldn't confront Iraq with the evidence that they did it in warheads. So we worked on exposing the inconsistencies in their story. We had a wonderful inspector Nikita smenovech who earlier this year had a seminar with the Iraqis about warhead accounting and he tied them in knots. The problem with telling a lie is it starts to unravel and when it starts to unravel in unravels in a big way. And Nikita was able to dig into their story and find the frayed edges and start pulling the string and their whole story came apart and the Iraqis were flustered. They were forced to admit that they had additional warheads to what they had declared. Now that you've declared the additional warheads how did you account for them. They said well we destroyed them. We said fine Where. They said well in these other locations that we didn't tell you about. So Nikita sent a team there and excavated it and pulled up pieces. The Iraqis thought that would be it. No he said we going to pull them out and look at them. And the Iraqis were panicked because they knew damn well what we would find if we looked at these pieces. They said you can't do that. They actually intervened with the Secretary General and said you have to stop Richard Butler he's trying to create a confrontation. A crisis. The Secretary General intervened and tried to prevent us pulling these pieces out up but we were insistent. So after a compromise which Richard Butler agreed we would only take 30 days to analysis this material we pulled it out took to a US army lab and found incontrovertible proof that Iraq had filled these weapons with VX. Rose: But tests by other countries didn't verify that did they? Ritter: This one came out in June. And then the Iraqis immediately challenged that. Said well it was done by Americans therefore it can't be good. Now we pulled these samples from a wide field. The American samples came from a specific part of the field. The report is very detailed. I think there were 40 something samples and we found VX degradation products on 17 of them. that's a good quantity. Other samples were pulled from other parts of the field and taken to a warehouse and locked. But we didn't put cameras on them inspectors never went back and checked-up on it Iraq was in total control of that warehouse. Iraq then said you have to have other people besides Americans do these tests. So they said they want French and Swiss and Americans can come back in and pull these other samples out. But they wouldn't let the samples leave. You see the American test was done on actual metal samples. The first time the Americans did the test the took a swab analysed it and they found nothing and only when the special commission pushed them to go into the metal itself did they find the material but on the second round of tests the Iraqis wouldn't allow the metal out. And the French, the Swiss and the Americans had to take just swabs right there in Iraq. Now the swabs went out and got analysed. But the metal fragments that were being looked at there were came from a different part of the field not the same part that the Americans originally took their sample. So it's not the same sampling case. Rose: It obviously been a frustrating time. And it sounds like the Security Council has also been frustrating to you. If you can't report things to them for fear they will share it with Iraq that...? Ritter: Well it's troublesome because we work for the Security Council. And we get our authority off the Security Council resolutions. But the unit that I was responsible for creating and I was involved in for the last seven years the job of uncovering Iraq's weapons became extremely difficult and required the special commission to take extraordinary measures to try and accomplish its mission and these extraordinary measures required us to go to governments and ask for very sensitive support. These governments agreed on the condition that it was bilateral between that government and the special commission. Not with anybody else - to include the Security Council. Rose: Some of those nations that you are referring to have the right of veto, why haven't they just vetoed the continuation of the sanctions [not a possibility, I know]? Ritter: That would be the end of the Security Council. There is no doubt in any body's mind that Iraq is not in compliance. So for Russian, France or China to veto something that they passed to begin with would show that they're not serious at all about the Security Council. They're not serious at all about their responsibilities as a permanent member of the Security Council. They can't veto it, what they can do is work behind the scenes to try and limit the requirement of Iraq for getting rid of these weapons. And that's what taking place today. These countries are pushing what's called a comprehensive review which will reduce to a very small number of issues the outstanding requirements left for Iraq to achieve compliance. Rose: What would that do? Ritter: To give you an example. VX. These tests came back and proved that the American lab results were correct. They can't be challenged. Furthermore they showed that Iraq tried to decontaminate those pieces that were tested the second time around. They used a special decontamination device to hide the evidence. Why is Iraq doing this. What's happening now at the Security Council and at the Secretary general's office is they're saying this is a technical issue between the special commission and Iraq, but we're trying to resolve the situation on a political level. Well that means that know one cares about the technical level anymore. This new comprehensive review will state that instead of saying Iraq produced VX and Iraq must admit it and declare it, it will state that there are some difficulties. There are some technical issues that need to be resolved and they can be resolved through long term monitoring. So they will close the file and Iraq will never be forced to explain its VX. And what's troublesome about that is that there is serious evidence that Iraq retains VX salt which is a compound that can be stored forever. And which can be rapidly turned into a weapon. I thought we were supposed to be getting rid of this stuff in Iraq, I thought Iraq wasn't allowed to have this capability and therefore the special commission needs to account for all of this and ensure Iraq has none of this left. We are now sitting on evidence that proves Iraq has lied about its VX story. That it did stabilise VX and that it has not accounted for hundreds of tonnes of precursors. Something is wrong here. The Security Council is behaving in a manner which obviates this evidence and is allowing Iraq to create a situation together with the Secretary General where Iraq won't be held accountable for this. Iraq will somehow be allowed to push this off to long-term monitoring and that will be long term monitoring on terms dictated by Iraq which means we can't have inspection teams doing no notice inspections to try and find this material. Rose: How do you feel about people like Denis Halliday who resigned at a similar time to you in protest at the sanctions? Ritter: I have nothing but the highest respect for Denis Halliday. And it would surprise a lot of people to find out that I totally agree with Denis Halliday. Sanctions are horrible. The sanctions regime being imposed on Iraq is a huge injustice. Being perpetrated by the United Nations at the behest of the United States. Sanctions were imposed on Iraq to punish Iraq for invading Kuwait. The decision to keep these sanctions were made after the end of the Gulf War when a precondition for conflict termination was imposed saying Iraq must get rid of these weapons of mass destruction. Until they do so sanctions will be left on. But the purpose of sanctions is to create harm in Iraq. To create pain. So that Iraq is compelled to obey the law. Iraq is a brutal dictatorship the pain is being felt by 22 million innocent Iraqi people, not by the leadership, not by Saddam Hussein, not by his cronies. So therefore sanctions are going after the wrong people. The people of Iraq are not the decision makers. Saddam Hussein is more than willing to use them as a pawn to keep himself in power and to further his own personal interests. Now we have a situation where the UN imposes sanctions at yet the same time another part of the UN comes in and says this is a humanitarian disaster, which it is, and we have to alleviate the pain and suffering of the Iraqi people. Which is good, except sanctions were imposed to create pain and suffering so that the Iraqi people would pressure the regime. Now you have Denis Halliday in there doing an extremely frustrating task trying to bring in food and medicine. To the women, the children and the elderly who are suffering. And he's bringing that in to alleviate suffering caused by the United Nations. The UN is at war with itself in Iraq. Rose: So what's the answer? Ritter: The answer is you cannot punish Iraq solely on a sanctions based policy. Sanctions don't work. The Iraqi regime is thriving. They've learned to violate sanctions left and right. Sanctions are unenforceable. The continuation of sanctions only weakens the efforts of countries like the United States to put pressure on Iraq. Because what's happened is Iraq is turning sanctions around and undermining the basis of support that the United States has for its policy. Hardly any country around Iraq right now supports the continuation of sanctions. Rose: How would you put pressure on Iraq without sanctions? Ritter: To me it is just glaringly obvious. What I will say is this. It's not my job to dictate national policy to any country. But I can be diagnostic. What we have in Iraq is a situation that sanctions aren't working, Iraq is getting away literally with murder, they're going to keep these weapons and they're going to get sanctions lifted eventually. Sooner than anybody believes. The Security Council is fractured and there is no unanimity for decisive action against Iraq. The resolution was created under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter. This means that Iraq has foregone aspects of its sovereignty, Iraq presents a clear and present danger to international peace and security. Iraq must disarm in order to stop presenting this capability and if they don't disarm they can be compelled. This means the Security Council has the authorisation to either act as a council and do military action or have a member nation on its own undertake military action. The United States is the country behind all of this. We built the coalition that went to war to liberate Kuwait, we pushed for the creation for this resolution at the end of the war to disarm Iraq and the United States pushed the special commission to carryout these very difficult inspections which resulted in guns being pointed at the heads of inspectors. The US pushed it. We're in this position because the US wanted Iraq disarmed. Iraq is not being disarmed right now. It's up to the United States to compel Iraq. Sanctions aren't working. They're not going to work. There's only one person to blame for all of this and it's Saddam Hussein. He has to be held accountable. I think the answer is quite obvious what has to happen. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure it out. I don't have to say it. Rose: I think you've said that UNSCOM gave film to Israel...? Ritter: We didn't give anything to Israel. Israel is a member of the United Nations. In April of 1991 the Special Commission sent out letters to around 185 nations asking for help. Thirty five responded. One of those nations was Israel. They provided information. Rose: So it's been a one way exchange of information? Ritter: What happens. I've talked about extraordinary situations. The special commission cannot collect information on its own. We have a U2 Aircraft which flies at our request. But the United States flies that aircraft. It takes film. We don't have 15 - 20 photo interpreters who can effectively analyses that film. The US does. So the US will assess this imagery and will feed the results to the special commission. Are we sharing information with the United States. In effect we are, because we've authorised them to take photographs, look at the photographs and give data to us. But that data is also going to the United States. Is that sharing no, that's a special co-operation so that the special commission can the information it needs to carry out inspections. For a number of reasons in 1994 the executive chairman Rolf Aekeus authorised me to go to Israel and undertake a special relationship with the Israelis in which we would get information from the Israeli which would enable us to do our job in Iraq. As I said the Iraqis created a nearly impossible situation for us to work. They head these weapons. Then they built an elaborate mechanism to conceal these weapons. We had to defeat this concealment mechanism and we needed new techniques, new methodologies, new ways of thinking. The Israelis brought that to the table, so we undertook a special relationship with Israel to try and defeat this Iraqi mechanism. It's not sharing. I'm not going to Israel at the behest of the Israeli intelligence service and given them information to serve the interests of Israel. Rose: You're using them as contractors? Ritter: They have their own information. Israel can't operate inside Iraq. Israel can't send teams into Iraq to verify these buildings. UNSCOM can. So Israel would give us information, we would assess and ensure that everything they gave us was in total conformity with our mandate under Security Council resolution. That it dealt with disarmament issues as covered by the Security Council. Then we would take action and do inspection. At the end of the inspection we would gather results and we would take these results to Israeli analysts who would assess it together with us. So that we would have a better picture. That was the arrangement approved by the executive chairman. The concept of me spying on behalf of Israel is a total lie. It is an Iraqi attempt to divert attention from the fact that the reason we had to go to Israel and go to other countries is that they've lied about their weapons, they're holding on to their weapons, they're concealing their weapons. The Special Commission had to take, was forced to take extraordinary measures to respond to that Iraqi action. It's disingenuous for Iraq, the Security Council and the world to somehow point the finger at me and the special commission and say we've behaved improperly. We have not. We've behaved with honour. With due respect for the United Nations Charter and for the Security Council resolutions and the mandate they gave us. It's Iraq that's behaved dishonourably. They're the ones that have to be held accountable. The special commission has only been trying to do a very difficult job that was given to us. Rose: Would you support the lifting of sanctions? Ritter: Iraq is getting itself 5.2 billion worth of oil. It's joke. That's more oil than they've sold at any time before 1990. They can't even pump that much oil out of the ground. What's happening is a charade. It's a joke. The Iraqi people are suffering and Iraq and Saddam Hussein is building international support because of sanctions. In theory the immediate lifting of sanctions would be warranted. One it would rob Saddam Hussein of this political tool he has been wielding very effectively. The problem with lifting sanctions is that we can't. Because we have a law. We have international law that's been imposed and Iraq's been told that in order to change this law. In order to reverse what's been implemented it has to comply. So if we unilaterally lift sanctions we have in effect set a precedent for not holding Iraq accountable. We've boxed ourself into a corner we can't lift sanctions. But we can't allow sanctions to go on. We have to resolve this situation and resolve it now. If that means the United States has to hike up its pants, roll up its sleeves and get in there and start swinging Ð then by God get it done. Because if you don't do it now you are going to have to do it later and the price you pay now is going to pale in comparison with the price you have to pay down the road. Rose: The price to the US or the region? Ritter: American lives, Iraqi lives, disruption of the economy of the entire region. Pain and suffering for millions of people. You can't allow this situation to continue. If the UN wants to have a meaningful role in international peace and security in the future it has to stick to what it started. It started something that was honourable back in 1991. To get rid of these weapons of mass destruction. A lot of countries agreed with it. You have to see that through because if you don't you're sending a signal to the rest of the world that we can just wait the UN out. The UN is not serious about doing this. Rose: How do you feel about criticism from Arab states that Israel has nuclear weapons and yet no pressure is going on them? Ritter: It's a valid point. But you have to look at it in the context of why Israel has nuclear weapons. There's not a single Arab country that had a coalition assembled against it for the purpose of eradicating that nation and its population from the face of the earth. In 1948 Israel was surrounded by a coalition of Arab states whose sole purpose was to drive in and kill every Jew in Israel. To eliminate to eradicate this cancer that had been created by the United Nations. That hasn't changed. Israel has developed an extremely strong sensitivity to its national security. I think they felt because they're so small. And because they don't have the luxury of trading space for time, they don't have a large population, and after the holocaust, the have a tremendous respect for human life, they don't want to trade life for time. They believe that the ultimate way of ensuring their continued existence was to create weapons that would deter Arab states from trying to eradicate Israel. I understand why they created them but its always short-sighted. I think Richard Butler said very effectively, last night, if you have them others will want them, and if you have them some day you may have to use them. And if you use them the result is never going to be what you intended it to be. It will be catastrophically bad for all parties involved. Israel has to get rid of these weapons, there's no doubt about it. But that is not a license for Arab states to behave irresponsibly. I think something has to be done about the Israeli weapons. Hopefully the future will alllow some sort of negotiated resolution to that issue. Rose: You don't think there should have been some sort of linkage? Ritter: No, absolutely not. Iraq deserves no linkage. Iraq is a criminal state. Iraq has broken international law. Israel is not a criminal state. Israel is a democracy. That's one thing people have to understand. It's a thriving democracy. Iraq is a dictatorship a brutal dictatorship. There's no way I would ever support elevating Iraq's concerns to the same level with Israel. Israel is in a league of its own. It is a functioning democracy. It has a true desire for peace and security in the Middle East. It's made mistakes. It's made grievous mistakes. It needs to be held accountable for those errors. It has weapons that it needs to get rid of. There's no doubt about that. It's not a perfect entity. But Iraq in no way compares to Israel. Iraq is a nation that has used chemical weapons against its neighbours, used them against its own population. Invaded for the purpose of absorbing, Israel never wanted to absorb Lebanon into Israel. Iraq invaded Kuwait with the sole purpose of absorbing it. Doing away with Kuiwait. There's no way you can compare Iraq with Israel and link Iraq's concerns with those of Israel. It would be a disservice to everybody. Rose: Yesterday must have been the first time you've seen Richard Butler for awhile? Ritter: It's the first time I've met with Richard Butler since I resigned. Rose: How was that. I understand there were some legal problems? Ritter: There was never any legal problems, people have to understand that I'm an American and I have first amendment rights and I report to a higher authority than the United Nations. Some people might not agree with that. I felt there was a grievous wrong being done, and there still is a grievous wrong being done by my government. By this administration. But the Government has several parts to it, and one of those parts is congress, and I have an obligation to report to congress about what I view to be a threat to the international security interests of the United States. So I report to Congress. Rose: So when you say you're responsible to a higher authority you mean... Ritter: The United States. Look the United Nations is a wonderful organisation and I am glad I had an opportunity to work with them and I would hope in the future I could work with them again. There is no world government. The United Nations is not going to dictate how I live as an American in the United States. I signed a special service agreement with the UN saying would not discuss this information. It's a serious undertaking. But I think a contract is a two way street. In signing this agreement with the UN the UN was also signing an agreement with me that they would behave in a responsible manner. That they would carry out the task that they started. They haven't done that. Therefore I'm not going to be part of a cover-up. The United Nations I feel is in breach of contract. Therefore my contractual obligations to the United Nations are out the window. I have a higher obligation the United States of America to protect US national interest so I reported to Congress. But I've done so in a responsible fashion. I told you today I'm not going to talk about sources and methods of information. I'm only going to talk about policy issues and failures of policy. TRANSCRIPT ENDS © NewsRoom -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To be removed/added, email email@example.com, NOT the whole list. Archived at http://linux.clare.cam.ac.uk/~saw27/casi/discuss.html