Global Policy Forum

Security Council Outlines New Strategy on Iraq Arms


By Barbara Crossette

New York Times
October 30, 1998

The Security Council outlined todav how it might proceed with a comprehensive review of Iraq's relations with the United Nations, if and when the Government of President Saddam Hussein allows arms inspections to resume.The Iraqis have been silent on the question of when or how they will resume cooperation with arms inspectors, and have been attempting to link compliance with a review that Baghdad appears to believe could be manipulated to lead automatically to the lifting of the eight-year embargo.

The issue of Iraq's ban on spot inspections, imposed on Aug. 5, and the prospects for a review, are likely to be discussed next week by the Security Council, with the United States representative, Peter Burleigh, in the president's chair for November.Iraq appears to some diplomats and to the arms inspection commission - to be risking more problems by seeking another review.

Smaller-scale reviews of Iraqi compliance this year have produced a number of embarrassments for Iraq, including confirmation of the discovery of components of VX nerve gas on missile warheads by international experts last week. Iraq is again demanding outside experts for the new comprehensive review, although scientists from Russia, China and France - iraq's friends on the council - have been no less rigorous in finding fault with Iraq than American or British experts.

Nearly two weeks ago, Iraq presented the Secretary General with a list of nine "clarifications" amounting to demands on how the review should be conducted. The Iraqis also anticipated in their summary that the Council may conclude on the basis of the comprehensive review that Baghdad was in the clear on major arms questions.

After the Iraqi list was passed on to the Council, the British and American delegations took the lead in trying to stop the Iraqi bid for a prearranged review that put the burden of proof on the inspectors of the United Nations Special Commission and the Security Council to show that Iraq still had prohibited weapons, and to share the evidence with Baghdad.

In a letter today to Secretary General Kofi Annan that was in part intended to demonstrate that the Council would remain in charge of the process despite Iraqi efforts to deal only with Mr. Annan, the Council members said unanimously that they "could not prejudge the outcome" until they had collected evidence.

The Council did agree to divide the review into two phases, something friends of Iraq had sought. The first would focus strictly on Iraqi compliance with disarmament requirements and future monitoring. The second part would deal with other obligations unmet by Iraq since its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. The United States has, insisted that Iraq must account for missing Kuwaiti prisoners and property, among other demands.

Iraq is invited in the letter to "contribute its own accounts of its compliance with its obligations, in the form of written reports and oral presentations, with a clear explanation of its reasoning."

According to the letter, Iraq could also expect a time frame for stops on the way to meeting Council demands and the eventual lifting or easing of sanctions, "assuming full Iraqi cooperation."

Iraq is thought to be close to meeting requirements on nuclear weapons, although questions remain about its capacity to rebuild its program.

More Information on Sanctions Against Iraq

More Information on the Iraq Crisis


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