By David Albright and Corey Hinderstein
October 3, 2002
The draft Security Council resolution written by the United States and Britain is a long overdue effort to strengthen inspections of Iraq and strictly define Iraqi noncompliance and its consequences. The draft resolution would strengthen inspections to the level intended by the original 1991 Security Council resolutions and apply lessons learned during the 1990s.
Strengthening inspections and defining noncompliance are critical to the success of any resumed inspection effort in Iraq and the prevention of a war aimed at enforcing Security Council resolutions. For technical and political reasons, however, the Security Council would be prudent to separate any authorization for military action into a different resolution. In reviewing the draft language, some of the strengthening measures may not be necessary. Also, the definition of noncompliance may be too strict and could undermine support for the entire resolution.
The media, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Associated Press, have published excerpts from this resolution. According to a knowledgeable diplomat at the Security Council interviewed on October 2, the draft resolution language represents ideas and concepts rather than final language that could be agreed by the five permanent members of the Security Council. As a result, many changes are expected. Nonetheless, draft language reported by the media represents the key elements supported or under consideration by Britain and the United States.
According to this text, key strengthening measures in the draft include:
The draft language would recapture the aggressive, creative spirit of the inspection process as it was carried out in the early 1990s, continue the inspection methods that worked well in the 1990s, and incorporate important lessons learned during the inspection process. Even a subset of the strengthening measures listed in the resolution can achieve the important goal of promptly detecting, or in the longer term deterring, any Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs, particularly its nuclear weapons programs.
The most far-reaching, and potentially most effective, new proposal in the resolution is to take Iraqis with their families outside Iraq for interviewing without the presence of Iraqi security minders. The language says that UNMOVIC or the Action Team would facilitate the travel of these Iraqis. This task is better done by permanent members of the Security Council, although inspectors would conduct the interviews. In most cases, the Iraqis would not want to return to Iraq and thus will need asylum. Only states can grant asylum and provide sufficient protection against reprisal. For more on this idea, see this article.
The measures in the resolution aimed at strengthening inspections reflect a need to learn from the experience gained in the 1990s and fix weaknesses in the inspection regime as it existed in 1999. Several weaknesses were created after a series of confrontations with Iraq in 1998 and 1999 that undermined international support for robust inspections of the type mandated and defined by the 1991 Security Council resolutions 687, 707, and 715. Several of these weaknesses were codified in Security Council resolution 1284. Examples of mistakes include restrictions on information sharing between member states and UNMOVIC or possibly the IAEA Action Team, requiring inspectors to be considered international civil servants, rather than employees of their home institutions while participating in inspection tasks, and accepting limits on inspectors' rights at sensitive sites and presidential palaces.
For example, in the 1990s, the Action Team would send key governments copies of the revised Iraqi full, final, and complete declarations (FFCDs) for review and comments or suggestions for any follow up action deemed appropriate. In these highly technical documents, Iraq described its nuclear weapons efforts prior to the Gulf War as required by Security Council resolutions. The process of inspection rested fundamentally on these declarations. Input from member states, including comments, information, personnel and resources, was necessary to thoroughly review the FFCDs and plot an inspection strategy. In addition, this process was strengthened by the give and take between the Action Team staff and a wide range of specialists from member states. Under the procedures developed pursuant to the 1999 Security Council resolution 1284, UNMOVIC does not appear to be under any obligation to share declarations or other information with key member states.
Senior UNMOVIC officials have stated that they welcome information from member states, but they say that information sharing will not be a "two-way street." A policy of not sharing information will undermine the effectiveness of the inspection regime and likely lead member states not to provide valuable intelligence information to UNMOVIC.
This policy also apparently motivated the language in the draft resolution that asserts the right of permanent members of the Security Council to "request to be represented on any inspection team with the same rights and privileges" as the inspectors. Such an approach could be damaging, however, if the inspectors and member state representatives have conflicting agendas. A better approach is for UNMOVIC and the Action Team to develop procedures similar to those in the 1990s to have unfettered, confidential sharing of documents, information, and findings with key member states.
In addition, many of the regulations and procedures of the inspection regime were created in an ad hoc manner during the 1990s. The inspection regime accomplished much, destroying vastly more weapons of mass destruction and the means to make them than any military campaign against Iraq. However, in some cases procedures developed that reduced the effectiveness of the inspection process. Examples include:
Any inspection system in Iraq must have a clear definition of when Iraq is not complying with its obligations under U.N. Security Council resolutions banning Iraqi WMD and the means to deliver them. During the last 11 years, Iraq has often violated its commitments under these resolutions. Too often Iraqi non-compliance was tolerated, or Iraq was given repeated opportunities to comply. A future inspection system must include a set of "red-lines" that demonstrate non-compliance and, if crossed, are sufficient justification for actions by members of the Security Council. The most important red-lines are adequate cooperation and transparency.
In the 1990s, the international community came to view the Iraqi inspection process as a "cat-and-mouse game" in which inspectors were expected to demonstrate that Iraq was hiding banned activities or otherwise not in compliance with its obligations. Through dramatic unannounced inspections, the use of information from intelligence agencies or defectors, or old-fashioned detective work, inspectors often did uncover a prodigious amount of secret Iraqi WMD activities. But such an approach was not sustainable and cannot be a basis for a new inspection process. The international community, and in particular the Security Council, must understand that the burden of proof is on Iraq to demonstrate compliance.
The draft resolution addresses noncompliance with the following:
"Decides that false statements or omissions in the declaration submitted by Iraq to the Council and failure by Iraq at any time to comply and cooperate fully in accordance with the provisions laid out in this resolution, shall constitute a further material breach of Iraq's obligations, and that such breach authorizes member states to use all necessary means to restore international peace and security in the area."
The best judge of whether Iraq is complying with its obligations remains the IAEA Action Team or UNMOVIC. Each group should retain the authority to determine non-compliance in its respective area of responsibility. Although the Security Council is responsible to decide on a course of action in the event of non-compliance, the inspectors should make the fundamental decision about Iraqi compliance based on a set of technical verification measures and standards.
The first and foremost measure of compliance is Iraqi cooperation. Although Iraq can legitimately resist certain requests by inspectors, the inspection authorities have extensive experience in judging whether Iraq is cooperating with core requirements. A lack of cooperation, as judged by either inspection agency, should be sufficient by itself to find that Iraq is in non-compliance with its obligations.
Efforts by Iraq to impose unilaterally limitations on the inspectors should be viewed as non-compliance. The inspection agencies and the Security Council must maintain their right to determine the rules and obligations of the verification process.
Another equally important indicator of compliance is transparency. Inspectors should be able to verify Iraqi compliance with minimal effort. To that end, Iraq should take steps to make its industrial activities, its decision-making processes, its facilities, and its imports transparent to the inspectors. The inspection agencies should not have to create elaborate ruses to obtain information from Iraq, as was too often the route forced on UNSCOM. In addition, the inspectors should not have to find a "smoking gun" to prove non-compliance. If inspectors detect a pattern of evasion or camouflaging activities, and receive no satisfactory explanation of such behavior, they should conclude that Iraq is in non-compliance with its obligations.
Iraq can never be expected to provide one hundred percent compliance with all its obligations. A local authority may temporarily deny access to a site, despite the wishes of the central Iraqi government. Iraq may slight a declaration. It may over-look questions, view them as too difficult to answer, or be just lazy. However, a pattern of not fulfilling these requirements is sufficient to conclude that Iraq has not complied with its obligations.