Understanding the Lessons of Nuclear Inspections and Monitoring in Iraq: A Ten-Year Review
Sponsored by the Institute for Science and International Security
June 14-15, 2001
Lunchtime address -- Reflections on Establishing and Implementing the Post-Gulf War Inspections of Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction Programs
Robert Gallucci, former Deputy Executive Director of UNSCOM
Transcript date: July 31, 2001
David Albright: If I may have your attention please, I would like to introduce our after-lunch speaker. He is someone that I am sure you all know or are familiar with.
Robert Gallucci, now the Dean of the Edmund Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University has joined us today to share his reflections on the heady days after the Persian Gulf War, when the Security Council adopted resolution 687 that called for the disarmament of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and long-range missile programs. Dean Gallucci played an integral role in setting up the UN inspectorate, UNSCOM, and then served as the Deputy Executive Chairman of that organization. He participated on several of the early inspections of Iraq. We've asked him to go back into his memory banks and talk about his experience at that time, the things that he learned from this experience, and things that may be relevant today.
So, thank you, Bob.
Robert Gallucci: Thank you for that introduction. Standing here before this gathering, I am reminded of something I heard on National Public Radio this morning. There was a conversation with a sports commentator who wrote a book about golf, whose partial title was A Good Walk Spoiled. I hope you had a good lunch, because it is about to be spoiled.
I know I'm supposed to say it's a pleasure to be here, and it really is. Initially, I questioned the idea of my participation in this conference, but when David Albright asked me to speak, I could not say no. So I decided to accept the invitation, based upon who David is, what ISIS is, and because of the work that they do, and do so well.
Before lunch, I was looking at the guest list and I see that so many friends and colleagues are here. I am not only pleased with this, but I'm also a little bit intimidated by it. And there is more than one reason for that--not only because of your awesome expertise, but also because it would have been a lot better for me to talk about the early days of UNSCOM if nobody in the room knew anything about them. I would feel a lot more comfortable.
I'm also not exactly sure about the relevance of what I have to say to the situation now with respect to Iraq. But I am not going to worry about that. In fact, I am not even going to worry about making this a speech. I'm going to tell a little story, and then all of you can tell me how bad my memory is. I'll try to avoid saying, "as I recall," and you just will remember that that is the antecedent phrase.
Where all this begins for me is 1990. That summer I was twisting middle-aged minds at the National War College, having just started my third year on the faculty. You will recall that that is when Iraq invaded Kuwait, and the coalition put together Desert Shield. I got to watch that from the War College--I even got to watch Desert Storm from the War College, which was a really good place to watch it from.
Almost immediately after that very short war ended, the State Department from whence I had come--I was on assignment to the War College from the Politico-Military Bureau at the State Department--told me to come back to work on the drafting of the Security Council resolution, which would essentially be the peace treaty between the coalition forces and Iraq. That, of course, would be resolution 687.
I worked on those paragraphs--by my recollection, 7 to 14, section C related to disarming Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction and missile delivery capabilities. So, along with a whole bunch of other people, I have to take some of the blame for the language that's there. I am referring to the language creating something called the "Special Commission," with the particular charge with respect to chemical weapons, biological weapons and ballistic missiles, and also the language on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and its parallel charge with respect to nuclear weapons. The IAEA was not alone in carrying out this charge--I don't remember the exact phrase, but it was something like "with the assistance and cooperation of the special commission," the Agency was to execute its portion of the mission. This language--this "camel's nose under the tent" that was section C--reflected, in the first instance, disagreement in the U.S. government about what role the IAEA should play. It also represented, as best I could tell--I was in Washington at this time, and had not yet been sent up to New York--disagreement among the members of the Security Council over what this resolution should say.
This is important to what ultimately happens, because I think that, if you were sitting down to draft that resolution today, you would not have created the quite creative tensions that we did with this language. But it was a compromise.
Within the U.S. government--to put it bluntly--there were those who looked at the creation of the Special Commission as a threat to the IAEA. Those of this view had, I would say, a principal objective of preserving the role of the IAEA in the international community. In other words, the proliferation problem and the IAEA's role in it was bigger than the Iraqi problem, and we shouldn't go fix the Iraqi problem and destroy the Agency in the course of doing that.
There was another view that held that the Agency had failed in Iraq, and that it was structurally incapable of dealing with Iraq. I think that some of these critics also held a belief that the Agency really wasn't up to doing what it was supposed to do more generally. Or more precisely, it wasn't able to do what other people thought it was supposed to do. If people were precise about what the Agency's responsibilities were, and if they understood those responsibilities, then they might not have said that. But there was this tension focused on the role of the IAEA in Iraq after the Gulf War, and this led to some blood letting within the U.S. government.
And then I understood that there was a comparable kind of disagreement within the Security Council, with the U.S. government advancing the Special Commission's role, and the French, in particular taking the role of protecting the IAEA. That's how I recollect it, but I must say that there is a little asterisk here. Not long after I took on the job of the Deputy Executive Chairman, I was taken out to lunch by the then-French permanent representative to the United Nations. I do recall him saying: "isn't it awful about all this back and forth between the IAEA and the Special Commission. I don't know who is responsible for the drafting of that language." (Laughter). Go figure…
I don't know for certain, but what I've just told you is what I recall from the cable traffic coming back from New York. In any event, the language is what it is, and the compromise was struck. And the compromise, of course, not only says "assistance and cooperation," but also gives the Executive Chairman of the Special Commission a particular, exclusive authority that the Director General of the IAEA did not have, even with respect to inspections involving nuclear material. And that is the responsibility to designate sites not declared for inspection by the Iraqis. So we had this designation function to perform, even with respect to nuclear sites. This led to inevitable, intermittent tensions. That's possibly an understatement.
Speaking of understatements, I was--maybe in retrospect--massively naïve in thinking how fortunate we were, since the resolution requires close coordination, that we had two leaders--Hans Blix and Rolf Ekeus--who could happily work with one another and speak to each other in Swedish (Laughter). I did not know either of these two gentlemen terribly well, but I did know that both were Swedish diplomats and I thought, under the circumstances, how fortunate we were.
I was half right. If you've been inside the UN Secretariat building, then you know that there are all these thin metal walls. Not too many diplomats raise their voices, but if you do, people will hear you on the other side--and I knew that it was Swedish that was being spoken (Laughter).
In any event, let me turn to the establishment of the Special Commission. After we drafted the language, I was sent to New York to help Tom Pickering and work with the U.S. mission to get it passed by the Security Council. I thought that, when this was completed, I could go back to the War College.
But I was told that I was mistaken. I was told that I was the perfect person to help make sure that the right people ended up in the right places, and that this Special Commission got off to a good start.
So I was given three, quick objectives. The first was to go up and establish the Special Commission. The second: the U.S. government had somebody in mind that it would like very much to become the Executive Chairman, and I was given a name. The third--I was to be the Deputy Executive Chairman of the Special Commission.
You might wonder how this could be accomplished, and what I thought about it. The first thing I thought about was: what is the Special Commission? There was no model to follow. When I went to the International Organization Bureau of the State Department, and asked: "What does the Special Commission of the United Nations look like? What is it composed of? Who is on it?" The answer I got was: it depends; there are a lot of commissions doing lots of different things, but there has never been a commission established that was supposed to go over to another country--a country that the United States has just defeated in a war, and where there might be some hostile feelings--and destroy their weapons of mass destruction. So, I was basically told to figure this out. I got good advice--think about the mission and then figure out how it should get accomplished, but don't be bound by precedent, because there isn't any.
So I went to New York, and they said that the UN had designated the Disarmament Department that was run by Mr. Akashi, who became known later for his role in Bosnia as the principle point of contact. So I went to see him, and I said: "So, what did you have in mind for this?" He said that there is a standard model for a UN commission: the UN appoints diplomats from different regions of the world, and that will be the commission. And I said: "Actually, I didn't think that diplomats from various parts of the world could actually perform this mission." So we had a real heart-to-heart conversation about what would be required. And I said that we really did need a set of experts; we could have a commission that could be overseers intermittently, but we really needed an executive function here to be carried out.
You might wonder how I could possibly suggest who the UN Secretary General was going to name as Executive Chairman, and who--and how I, myself--was going to be named the Deputy Executive Chairman. How exactly do you rise to that level of arrogance, first on behalf of your country, and then on behalf of yourself? I thought I couldn't do it, but that's how it turned out (Laughter).
Washington was very pleased with the announcement that Rolf Ekeus was going to be the Executive Chairman, and that I would be the Deputy Executive Chairman. I was less pleased about the second announcement, but there really was no choice.
I met Rolf for the first time on--I made a note here--May 5. We met at a hotel across the street from the UN. We had breakfast, and then we walked across the street to see what provisions had been made by the United Nations for this Special Commission. We found that there was a room that was labeled "temporary" that had a few cubicles, and one office with a door. Olivia was sitting there, and she ultimately became Rolf's secretary. There also was a very pleasant, capable person, who ultimately became a real star at UNSCOM, who Mr. Akashi assigned to us. His name was Derek Boothbey, a retired British naval officer. And that was it.
Rolf said: "This won't do," and I said: "I'm sure that's right." So we went to see the Secretary General, who at that time was Perez de Quellar.
I will not go into great detail about that meeting, except to say that Rolf promised me that he would never again subject himself to a meeting with the Secretary General when I was present (Laughter). You see, I did not go to diplomatic school, and was not a Foreign Service Officer. This became very clear when Rolf asked where our permanent quarters will be, and we were told that the UN was looking at several buildings elsewhere in the city, but there was not room at headquarters. I thought that that was outrageous, and I said something a little worse then that.
Then Rolf said that the Special Commission will need a legal staff, and other staff. We were told that we couldn't hire anybody. The answers to all our requests were no, no, no and no, and then: "Get out." I know this sounds harsh, and maybe implausible, but it is a fairly accurate representation of the extremely cold reception that we got from the secretariat, and from the Secretary General himself.
We then did the natural thing. I called across the street to Tom Pickering and asked for help. Eventually, it was made clear that the United States of America really was enthusiastic about this Commission and--at that point--so were the other permanent members of the Security Council. That makes a big difference. So we were able to do a few things fairly quickly. But not as much as we had hoped.
One of the things that happened--almost that first day--was that we got a telephone call from David Kay in Vienna. I had never met David before. To my recollection, he was very agitated on the phone, and he wanted to get the inspections going right away. He argued that the IAEA was ready to begin inspections; it was in a big hurry to get out there. I told him that UNSCOM was not ready; we didn't have anything in place yet, in terms or capability or support. He did not want to hear any of that: the IAEA wanted to get going, because its reputation was on the line.
So, David pressed pretty hard, as he does with everything, and successfully, as he does with most things. And so the mission went within a couple of weeks, by my recollection. That was one of the first things that happened.
Also among the first things that happened was--and I believe it was on the second day--our first prime-time media request. Rolf came out of his office and said that he had just gotten a phone call from Nightline, and they wanted him on TV with Ted Koppel. I said: "Rolf, in literal terms, we are not ready for prime time. This would be a bad idea, DO NOT DO IT." And he said: " You know, you are right about that. So, you're going to do it" (Laughter).
I had not ever been on television before, and I thought this was… I'll tell you honestly, I had mixed emotions about this. I thought: "Ted Koppel…Nightline…call my mother-in-law…call, you know, whoever… don't miss this one!!"
This was, as it turned out, a huge mistake on my part. I went on Nightline and because Ted Koppel is not really used to dealing with someone of my stature, he decided he needed help. So he had John McCain and Tony Cordesman there to help him out. So it was the State Department/UN weenie--you get the image, right--against this array of Koppel, McCain and Cordesman.
In case you don't know how this works, if you're ever asked to go on Nightline, you sit on this little stool and you look at a plain screen. You can't see anything. There is no Ted Koppel, or anybody else, in front of you. There is no monitor that you talk into--it's just plain screen. And you've got a thing in your ear. So they are talking into your ear.
Now, THEY can see YOU. So if you ever wonder, when you watch Nightline, why Ted Koppel is so cool and the other person there looks like the deer in the headlights, that's why. Ted's got a little bit of an edge there.
The questions I got were along the lines of: "So, half a million men fought a war, tried to destroy all of this with every known piece of armament and ammunition that we have--and you're going to go and finish the job?" The interview was incredulity followed by, incredulity. It was just awful, and I was ripped to shreds. It was so bad--Nightline gives you a limo to take you from place to place, but I walked back after the interview. It was a mortifying, horrible experience. Rolf was absolutely correct not to do it.
We needed to get the Special Commission established and I made a list. We needed inspectors. We have to be able to get there. We have to be able to get around when we get there. We've got problems to face when we get there--problems of all kinds. We need all kinds of stuff. We have to know where to go. So I actually sat making a little list.
As I said, the first thing we needed was inspectors. For inspectors, I need experts. So I called the State Department and they told me that I had better plug into the Defense Department. So they gave me the numbers in DOD. I was in the Politico-Military Bureau, so, of course, I was very comfortable talking to the Department of Defense. I had a very comfortable conversation in which my interlocutor told me, in sum: "We've had a discussion about supporting the Special Commission. It is the DOD's view that we, on behalf of the United States, led the coalition in the war. You, on behalf of the State Department and the UN, can lead on behalf of the peace. Have a nice day."
Now, again, you may find this implausible, because you all know that, later, the U.S. government really did show up. But initially, not only did they not show up, they were aggressive about not showing up. Indeed, during my first approach to the intelligence community--I still remember this meeting, which I cannot, unfortunately, tell you all about. But I can tell you that a lot of people came into the room intent on telling me how much they were not going to tell me. I still had my clearances, but as soon as you start working on assignment to the UN, you are persona-non-grata. You are not going to get anything. It was very interesting; it was a very cold kind of reception.
So, what did we do for inspectors? As many of you know, we went around to other governments--permanent members of the Security Council, principally, and then others--to get experts in each of the weapons areas that we needed to inspect.
We also were told to be aware of unexploded ordinance in Iraq that had been disbursed around the country by U.S. and coalition forces during Desert Storm. Since the Special Commission was likely to inspect facilities targeted during the war, we needed to have Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) personnel with us. So, we had to get that.
We got out inspectors from other countries, not principally from the United States, although in the nuclear area we were doing better in that regard. We got greater assistance from the United States for nuclear inspectors because we had our national laboratories to support us. But I couldn't find anybody to give us EOD people. So--if you were ever wondering…if you are digging up something in your yard, and you find something--you can open the yellow pages and find EOD contractors listed there. There are two groups along the Beltway. And I went and hired some, and then I had to buy them insurance.
You might wonder, for an operation like this, how you stage it. In the beginning, in Bahrain, we staged from the Holiday Inn.
What was our airlift like, and how did we get there? The first few trips required true courage. We were in a chartered Romanian aircraft, which…was extraordinary. For mobility once we got there, the Iraqis provided these unairconditioned buses, and I rented us a couple of cars from AVIS. For medical support, since this is a dangerous mission, we had first aid kits. Equipment was minimal. Intelligence support was, like I said, minimal. For secure communications--for those of you who read spy novels, you recall how two people will take the same copy of a book, and one person has one book and the other person has the other book, and then you have a double-book process, and you can then talk in code. It takes about three days to decode "Hi Mom," but you can still do it. It was very crude.
Ultimately, of course, the inspectors came from all over the world. EOD came from, I recollect, Australia and Canada. We were able to stage from rather nice facilities in Bahrain. Many of you know that our lift was provided then by the German C-160's and our mobility by CH-53s and Norwegian-supplied SUVs. We had good medical support from New Zealand.
The intelligence picture really picked up quickly. The United States intelligence community cottoned on to the fact that we were actually walking around Iraq, and that they were interested in Iraq. Someone, someplace in the CIA figured this out, and all of a sudden we were--I don't want to say that we were besieged by the intelligence, but close to it. They got rather robust in their presence and in their interest in helping us.
We built up our staff at headquarters. The people I remember in particular in the very early days were John Scott on the legal side, Johan Molander, Nikita Smidovich, and Doug Englund. And the commissioners, themselves, were indeed quite helpful. Some of them actually went on missions, and worked as part of the staff of the executive function of the Commission. Within a month or so, the headquarters was doing what it was supposed to do--we recruited the specialized teams, did mission planning, conducted briefings, evaluated mission results, created an achieves--the offices in Bahrain and Baghdad functioned pretty well.
I want to say a word about intelligence. This is a tricky area. I have a combination of both knowing too much and having an enormous amount of ignorance. Many people have talked about how intelligence was misused, and the problems of handling intelligence that are inherent for any international organization. There was really a very pointy tip to this problem in the case of the Special Commission and the IAEA.
What struck me is that part of this discussion has not only been confused. Rather, that discussion is sort of silly, because the expectation of purity that some have here, it seems to me, is inconsistent with any concept of the real world that we needed to work in. What do I mean by this? If one looked at the declarations that we got under resolution 687 from the Iraqis--the initial ones were laugh-out-loud funny. As a matter of fact, we laughed out loud when we looked at them: the nuclear program was entirely peaceful; the chemical declaration was actually quite extensive, if not complete; there was no biological weapons program; and we always thought that the ballistic missile program declaration was incomplete. We knew that these declarations were not right.
Given our mission, and our responsibility to designate sites, the important question becomes: how do we figure out what sites to designate for inspection, without considering some non-open sources of information--that is to say, intelligence?
So therefore, I conclude that UNSCOM must have been able to accept intelligence from member states. But then as soon as you say that, you want to ask the next question: could UNSCOM trade information in order to get information? Well in the de jure sense, you certainly want to say "no" to such exchanges, especially if you have any respect for a classical international organization. But what about in a de facto sense? What happens during a discussion? Does trading occur?
Where do you get your experts from? You get them from governments in this area; chemical warfare is not exactly a big private-sector operation. These are government people. What affiliations do they have? Do you really want to ask for the pedigree of people who you get? Do you want to know if they are currently serving in the intelligence community, or if they have served in the intelligence community? Do you want to know, after they've completed a mission, what they do when they go back? Do you want to know what they say? Do you want to believe that you actually control what they say, by getting them to sign a little piece of paper saying "I will not tell?"
I think that there is a possibility of answering these questions in a way that I would call silly. I think you have to expect, if you're going to have experts take part in a mission like this, that they will return with information to their governments. This is particularly true when there is deception from the Iraqi side that continues over a period of time. Are there limits to this? I would say that there need to be. But from my side, my principal problem did not concern protecting the Special Commission--Rolf was looking out for that. Rather, I was looking to getting as much intelligence as I could from any source that I could get it from--starting with the U.S. government, but not ending there.
I concluded that the intelligence function in an international organization conducting a mission like this is difficult. There are risks on both sides: you can compromise the organization--in this case, the United Nations--or you can compromise the mission. You can have a simple rule: you collect only mission-relevant information, and you share information only for mission purposes. But I think it would be unreasonable to think that you can stick to that rule in a very strict sense. Anyway, I would be interested in hearing, if you haven't discussed this already, your thoughts on that.
I would like to turn to some of the early inspections. I did not go on the first inspection; I was back in headquarters. My recollection is that George Anzelon was up at Tarmiya, which we thought was a centrifuge site, and my recollection is that he was calling in saying: "Tarmiya is not what the Iraqis are saying, but its also not a centrifuge site." We thought that that was an interesting report. It turned out that he was looking at a facility that was part of the EMIS program, I think.
The next inspection, where we went in knowing a lot more about what we were looking for, was headed by the late Maurizio Zifferero, and it included David Kay and myself. And my recollection of that is that on the first day, the Iraqis got several of us sick--and somebody very sick--by driving us around in heated cars in 120 degree weather.
Then they denied us access--I think at Abu Gareeb, if I remember correctly. On the next day we were at Tuwaitha, and I had been told by someone from our intelligence community that it might be a good idea to go to a particular site--I think it might have been designated the "grove site"--not far from Tuwaitha.
We had, as it turned out, nothing much to do at Tuwaitha. We knew the facility; the IAEA people knew Tuwaitha particularly well. So I said I wanted to go to this nearby site, and so we went. I was looking for a particular building, and I had made a sketch of where I thought the building was. And they told me, very hesitantly, that I did not want to go there, because that building was an automobile maintenance facility, and it is now an empty automobile maintenance facility. So, I said: "that sounds really interesting, and I would love to see what that looks like, because I've not seen one of those in Iraq."
So we went down there, and it was, indeed, a big, empty, open garage-like area. But there were very large overhead cranes at the facility, and that was strange. They were large enough, as one of my colleagues said, to take a two and one-half ton dump truck and turn it up side down to drain the oil out. So it didn't look like an automobile maintenance facility. On one side of the crane, I saw some Arabic writing, and I was going to get one of our interpreters. But I walked on the other side and I didn't need the interpreter, because, stenciled there in English, was "Atomic Energy Commission of Iraq" (Laughter). As Dave Barry says, "I am not making this up." By my recollection, this turned out to be a magnet test-stand facility for the EMIS program.
So we knew we were doing pretty well, and I think it was on the third day of the inspection that the David Kay cowboys really cut loose. They were following the Calutron trail, and climbed the water tower. That really put the inspection team and effort on the map, in a public relations sense--which was important from my perspective. It caught the Iraqis in a huge lie, which was very useful for public support, and which made it clear to everybody that this was a game of hiding-and-finding. We were in the finding role, and the hiders were still busy at this. It was the beginning of the real aggressive inspection process that continued on, as you know, for many years. This was also about the time that the Iraqis admitted to a series of enrichment programs-gaseous diffusion, centrifuge, chemical, as well as EMIS.
Not long after that, in a course of another inspection that David Kay was on, but I was not on--it was an IAEA inspection--UNSCOM had another confrontation with the IAEA. I'm going to look over at Dimitri Perricos occasionally, sort of as a truth-giver--but my recollection of this is as follows: I got a phone call from David, who had finished the inspection. He said that the Iraqis had admitted that they had secretly irradiated something--I don't recall if he said "targets" or "uranium"--in their research reactor, and then they had secretly separated some gram-quantities of plutonium. And I said: "Wow, that's really something David, because everything else they've done has not been at declared nuclear facilities inspected by the IAEA. So while the other stuff was arguably in violation of the NPT and IAEA safeguards, this stuff was the diversion scenario that, pardon me, you guys were supposed to stop. The other stuff--if something is happening in the building next door that isn't declared, then the IAEA could say that they were not supposed to inspect that facility. But this--this is something that you're supposed to have caught." --Thanks for putting a fine point on it, Bob (Laughter).
So, I told David that there was a meeting of the Security Council on Monday, and that I thought that we'd better report it. David was, I believe, still in Iraq, and so I called Vienna, and told them that we needed to put this in the report on Monday. And there was a negative reaction to that. They said that the information did not rise to a sufficient level of importance and, by the way, David had shared IAEA information with me, and he really should not have done that. And I said: "well you know…picky, picky. But you know: let's think about the mission here." And I said: "look, I'm going to have to report this on Monday, but I would be perfectly happy if you reported it, because that's the best way to go." And so I waited. On Monday I went to the Security Council meeting, and there was no report from the IAEA. So I wrote this out on a piece of paper, and I didn't know what to do with it, so I gave it to Under Secretary Ronald Spires, an American, who used to be the head of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research at the State Department. He didn't hesitate: after he read what I wrote, he passed it right up to the Secretary General who read it out loud to the Council. And there we were: IAEA information being presented by the Special Commission, and not by the IAEA.
My star rose in Vienna after that (Laughter). It was a shooting star. The fact is, this was another disagreement that occurred between the Special Commission and the IAEA, and it didn't help us out very much.
What we didn't have was a clear statement from the Iraqis that they did, in fact, have a nuclear weapons program. We all thought that this was pretty obvious. They had all these programs to enrich uranium; they had been working on plutonium chemistry. Come on! "Well, no, that is not the case," said the Iraqis. The Iraqis, as they described it, were just really interested in the advanced nuclear fuel cycle, and they still maintained that there was no interest in nuclear weapons. So we still had not nailed it down. We had tried everything. We had a lot of folks come and present our views at the United Nations, but the case, we were told, was not proved, when we went into August of 1991.
Sometime during that August, I was approached by someone in our intelligence community, who told me that they had extraordinary information on the location of documents that were quite relevant and directly related to the nuclear weapons program of Iraq. We could finally make the case if we could get in, do the inspections, get the documents, and get out--or, as he put it, at least get the documents out. That was a degree of precision I didn't really appreciate until somewhat later.
I'll tell you what happened in August. It was a very interesting process, for us back in Washington, to put together the kind of technical team that we wanted to have. And then we had to figure out, since this intelligence was extremely sensitive, exactly how we were going to relate to the IAEA, since this had to be an IAEA-led inspection. So it was complicated.
We had, by my recollection, three inspectors from the IAEA, but we had about 42 people on the inspection. So this was a nuclear inspection, which included three inspectors from the IAEA, and the other 39 of us were from elsewhere.
The team was very, very special. I remember sitting in the back of an SUV with Samir in the front. Samir looked at the fellow who was driving the vehicle, who was one of our "special people" and he said to me: "He does not look like a physicist." And I said: "It's just because he has a really thick neck. Is that what you're thinking?" And he said: "Yes, that… and the crew cut. Where did you get him?" I answered: "Well, there was an ad in the New York Times."
So we had, let us say, 39 people there, and we had a lot of team members with special skills, especially people who knew how to search buildings. Nothing in my training as a civil servant had taught me how to search a building properly, but we learned. We had a lot of special stuff, which was very useful for us, as it turned out.
My recollection of this first day of the inspection is the following: this was a building that had been partly destroyed. When we met the Iraqis the night before--normally we would tell them what time we were leaving. But on this inspection we did not tell them anything.
We had already put people out to watch the building in the middle of the night before the inspection, to make sure that nothing left the building, in the event that our information had been compromised in some way.
And we surprised them about where we were going. We put people around the building to make sure that nothing got out. We started the search. We had some indication--the intelligence was so precise that it was even telling us where to go. It turned out it was precisely wrong, but it was also one of things that gave it some credibility. But we searched, I think, until about mid-morning.
We had two sets of radios: one set that, we were pretty sure, the Iraqis were monitoring, and another set, which we were very confident that they could not monitor. At one point, the message came over the secure radio: "We found it." This was one of the best moments of my nonproliferation life.
David and I met downstairs and looked at the document. We went into the parking lot with one of our more nuclear-weapons knowledgeable people, but it didn't take an expert to know what we were looking at. I'm venturing to say that everybody in this room, if I flip this document over to you, would understand this document. The Arabic wouldn't bother you a bit. The schematics were just what you would want them to be, and so was everything else. These were nuclear weapons designs, and the status of the nuclear weapons program. It was really terrific stuff.
I started, of course, with all these Iraqis around, to get excited--Wow! Right? I had a big sign on my back that said: "Not Field-Capable" (Laughter). The guy I was with, he said: "Nothing here," and he threw it back in the box.
We managed to get that material out, and it was a good thing that we did. I was not the one who thought of getting it out, somebody who was smarter, operationally, thought of that. It was a good thing, because we were collecting terrific material for the rest of the day. We got to the end of the day and the Iraqis told us that we really couldn't leave with all this material. And they stopped our vehicle, they pulled everything out and they took it away. And we watched it go away. We were very unhappy inspectors right about then. The operational people were really unhappy over this.
At about 3:00 am on the next morning, they woke us up, told us that they had our "stuff," and gave some of it back. We assumed that they had gone through a lot of material and taken what they wanted. Needless to say, we were unhappy about this.
We had another inspection at another building. This building had, among other things, personnel records and still some good stuff. And in order to avoid having the Iraqis take the documents back from us again--I don't remember whose idea this was, it might have well have been David Kay's--we told everybody to put the documents on their body someplace, so that it would be harder for the Iraqi authorities to take the documents without essentially stripping us. We thought they might not want to strip-search a UN team. We weren't sure they wouldn't do it, but we thought it would be less likely.
As it turned out, we were correct. They asked for documents, but we wouldn't give them up. So they told us that we would not be allowed to leave. And this began the "parking lot tour," which went on for four days. We slept, ate, and sang songs, and had a wonderful time. We celebrated at least one birthday in the parking lot. David Kay became a media star, and I was nothing but jealous.
There were also some issues that arose at that time about how we communicated back to Washington. Those of you who have read Tim Trevan's excellent little book know that--at least in the mind of Rolf Ekeus and some other people--I had made a very bad mistake in communicating directly to the State Department some information that was supposed to go through New York. I did this because I was not confident about my interlocutor in New York, so I decided to go through the State Department. In terms of being part of an international organization, this was not a good thing to have done. But having to do it over again, I would have done the exact same thing. It was another balancing act. Rolf did not think it was a terrific idea on my part; he let me know that, too, by my recollection.
The standoff ended, and we got out. The deal was: all the documents that we wanted to take out we could take out. The Iraqis wanted to know about everything that we took, and we had no problem with that, so we got out with what we wanted. But we got the sexiest stuff out before that.
After that inspection, it was clear to everybody that the Iraqis had a nuclear weapons program. My recollection is that it was also clear to us, through technical analysis, that these documents dated from June of 1990. The documents showed that, if they were able, in fact, to get the fissile material, they probably could produce a weapon or more, depending on the quantity of fissile material, within a year or a few years. It was clear that they were engaging in a lot of deception. It was clear that they had other facilities, and I think this inspection did a lot to energize and legitimize an aggressive inspection process, which then continued for some period of time.
Before I close, I want to mention one other inspection, because it addresses the atmosphere between us and the Iraqis in those early days. I went on an inspection in January. We went through Bonn on the way. The Germans were in a process of a judicial proceeding against a company or companies that did or may have violated German law with their exports to Iraq, either in the ballistic missile area or in the nuclear area. I wanted as much information as I could get about these exports, so that I could meet with the Iraqis and say: "this is what we know you have, and you have not declared it." That was the model in my mind, and I got statements from the Germans about exports of centrifuge-relevant material. So, I took those with me. Thank you to the government of Germany.
So we went on the Baghdad and met with the Iraqis. I remember asking: "Have you told us everything you want to tell us on centrifuge?" The answer was "Yes." So I said: "OK, well, we have this information that material was shipped to you, and you have not shown it to us. So what about this?" They huddled for a minute, and when they came back they said: "OK, we'll show you that tomorrow."
Now--talk about how naïve I was--I said: "This process of pulling teeth-you know, we don't have to go through this. Why don't you just tell us?" And the counterpart said, and my quote here is: "This is not a cooperative activity." (Laughter).
One of the interesting cultural things that people always ask is: what is it like to negotiate with the North Koreans? Well, based on my experience, to tell the Iraqis that "you are liars" receives a rejoinder of: "What is your point?" I can tell you that, sitting across from a North Korean delegation, you would not say, "You are liars." That wouldn't work terribly well. Iraq is different. The Iraqis were just incredibly comfortable with that (Laughter).
Quickly, some lessons learned. The first years of aggressive UNSCOM inspections, it seems to me, follow from the fundamental political realities. We had an essentially united UN Security Council; certainly the P-5 was united. Second, we had popular support, in the United States, in the international community and--in retrospect, remarkably--in the region. And third, there was always the plausible prospect of the resumption of hostilities, and I don't mean tit-for-tat bombing. I think it was always plausible that, if the inspections didn't go well, everything would be pulled out, and a full-scale military campaign would resume. Now, maybe it wasn't plausible. But my conclusion about how we got out of the parking lot, with not only our pants but also with all this other stuff, was because that was plausible. Nothing bad happened.
Eventually, late in the 1990s and certainly now, we lost all three. We don't have a united Security Council. We don't have popular support in the region--God knows we don't. We don't even have it internationally, or in segments of the U.S. population. You can endlessly explain to Americans--and I've done this--that there are children and old people who are starving to death, that there are old people who are not getting medicine, and that there have been deaths as a result of what Saddam has done, and not as a result of the sanctions. You explain that Saddam is successfully blackmailing the international community and holding his own people as hostages. The answer is: "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah… but if you lift sanctions those people won't die." I can't get over that reaction.
There certainly is no prospect of the resumption of hostilities, at least in the way that I think it was understood in the early days.
A second lesson is that the IAEA could dramatically adjust to new circumstances. It is just a cruel trick of fate that I should go through this experience with Iraq and then, just a very short period of time afterwards, be confronted with an IAEA that was over the top about a need for special inspections in North Korea. That change in the IAEA was very interesting. Indeed, I think that the IAEA adjusted, first, in Iraq the way it did, and then, in the North Korean case, the adjustment has everything to do with Hans Blix, Dimitri Perricos, and others who had gone through the Iraq process. I think the Agency's response would make a wonderful Ph.D thesis in organizational learning, evolution and culture. I thought it was amazing.
Third, for any inspection regime that is going to both be effective and maintain political support, it seems to me that there is going to have to be a balance struck between the "monitoring" function and the "surprise/discovery" function. Somehow, these two have to be in phase. In addition, there has to be a balance struck between the need to get intelligence, and the need to avoid compromising the mission and the organization in the process of getting the intelligence. This balance is not easy to strike.
Fourth, I think one can look at the introduction of technology, and probably put out some lessons about inspections. Technology was constantly being put in front of us--even while I was with UNSCOM--because we've got communities out there that love to invent things and then want them tried out. And sometimes it's a good idea to do that; it may be radars, analyzing a collection of samples--there are some very sexy things coming out of some very creative places in the United States and elsewhere.
In 1991, even GPS was kind of extraordinary. The Iraqis were driven crazy by us coming with coordinates on some place, because we had overhead photography. We looked at overhead photography, we got the exact coordinates, and then we got in the jeep. We had a GPS to know how to get there, and so we didn't even have to be boy scouts. It was really extraordinary.
Another lesson here is that it would be a good idea if we all remembered how big, or how large the stakes were and are. Iraq, armed with weapons of mass destruction, mated with ballistic missiles, presents a unique threat to the Gulf, to the survival of Israel, to vital U.S. interests, and to international security.
Finally, in a case like this, the UN is tested, and for me the UN showed up brilliantly in the beginning years of UNSCOM. So did the IAEA. Its credibility was enhanced; it showed itself capable of operating in a new way in this new non-Cold War world. The UN and other international organizations get defined by missions like this. At one point that was good news, and now it is bad news.
Thanks very much.
David Albright: Thank you. Are there any questions?
Question: Could you explain something for me? Why, does resolution 687,where it calls for the removal, destruction, and rendering harmless Iraq's nuclear, biological, chemical programs, allow the missile program was allowed to survive. Why was a 150 kilometer range threshold set for permitted missiles? And why weren't cruise missiles included?
Robert Gallucci: Wasn't that MTCR? Does anyone know the answer to that question?
Audience member: It was based on defensive capabilities.
Question: And cruise missiles? Why aren't cruise missiles mentioned by the resolution?
Robert Gallucci: I don't really know.
Question: Given the fact that we no longer have public domestic support for military operations, and the fact that the international community, as you pointed out, it is no longer behind us, what is the Iraqi incentive to take back inspectors? If they take them back, what is the incentive not to cause the same problems they caused earlier about restricting access?
Robert Gallucci: The short answer to that question is: I don't know why Iraq would subject itself to intrusive inspections. I can understand why Iraq would subject itself to inspections that it could control, because such inspections could be a step back to legitimacy. Right now they are still in an illegitimate mode.
If you had only two boxes, they would be in the "illegitimate box" and if they wanted to get into the "legitimate box," one of the things they could do is to accept inspections, provided those inspections did not compromise their objectives, which means the inspections would have to be constrained. Have their objectives changed? In my view: No. Iraq has not changed its objectives. I think they do want these programs for the same reasons that they have always wanted these programs.
Is the trend moving against them? No. It's moving against us. There isn't a good reason for them to allow inspectors back in. But if they could control the inspections, then they might want them. As best I've been able to learn from open sources, the sanctions regime is not all that effective in terms of the objectives we have. I don't think they are properly incentivized.
Question: Control over Iraq's money-that's the only carrot left.
Robert Gallucci: Correct.
Question: Just to follow up, given what you just said, is there any advantage either to the UN or the IAEA to attempt to reestablish inspections, given the kind of resistance that is likely to take place? Could more be done by conventional intelligence, rather than going through the torturous process of trying to reestablish the inspections regime that's not going to be credible?
Robert Gallucci: My own view about this is: it is worthwhile to make the point that the Iraqi objectives remain the same; that, unconstrained, they will seek to regenerate the programs that were made illegitimate by resolution 687; that the international community still has an interest from stopping them from doing that; that by insisting on an inspection regime before they are made legitimate, puts the Iraqis in the position of either refusing the inspections, or accepting them and then having to wrestle with them and throw them out.
If we are careful about how the IAEA's mission was defined, if we are careful about how UNMOVIC's mission was defined--but in both cases, defined properly--I think inspections would be a mechanism by which the Iraqis could be kept out of the legitimate box. That would be the reason for doing it. If the inspections could be defined aggressively enough, they will not permit them. If they do permit them, the inspections will get us a lot more intelligence than we can collect by our normal NTM.
You have to be realistic; we have extraordinary intelligence capabilities, but they are not good enough. Not for these kinds of programs. We could find the old Iraqi facilities again, but they won't build the old Iraqi facilities again.
Question: The Russian objective now, apparently, is to say that if inspections are run for a finite period, and nothing untoward is found, then the outcome of that process is to declare Iraq clean. That puts an enormous burden on the inspections.
Robert Gallucci: My view about that is...it's nonsense. As soon as you stop inspections, even if they were clean, you've got to check again. You have to continue monitoring, so there is no way they can have a permanent clean bill of health. They don't enter a state of grace by following the Russian proposal. They are clean up to that moment, and then after that they have got to continue to be inspected.
Question: Do you feel that the Security Council will support the approach you just described?
Robert Gallucci: I have no insight into what the Security Council will do. Nor do I have any confidence that they will do what I think they ought to do. I'm just telling you what I think they ought to do.
Question: Is the IAEA's new safeguards system good enough to detect, say, another Iraq? If we relied upon the new system in Iraq, would that be sufficient?
Robert Gallucci: We got to be careful here. I'm not an expert on the new inspection regime.
Let's take another case…who digs holes better than anybody else on earth? The North Koreans, right? So, let's assume that you are implementing the new full scope safeguards in North Korea. How much confidence would you have that you are able to detect undeclared activities? Well, more confidence than if you weren't implementing safeguards, right? If you combine that information with the NTM assets of other interested states, which would include not only the United States but also South Korea, that information could be used by the IAEA in North Korea or anywhere else. Now you have even more confidence. But will you have absolute confidence? You are not going to have that.
Whenever you ask a question about verification, don't compare the inspection regime to perfection. Compare the inspection regime--the best one you can get--to no inspection regime at all, and ask yourself: "Am I better off?" I know that, when asked "Am I better off with the IAEA in?" some critics will say: "No, the IAEA inspections gives us a false sense of confidence." Well, my answer to that is: get smarter, so your confidence is not false, then take it.
Question: Does experience with Iraq over the last ten years, suggest that we're really going to have to have another war or serious crisis to be able to have intrusive inspections there again?
Robert Gallucci: Pardon me for not answering that question with either a yes or a no. Right now, I don't see a clear path to an inspection regime in Iraq that I would feel comfortable with or have confident in. I don't see how we get from here to there, if we keep the other variables constant.
If Saddam is there, if the Middle East stays as it is, if there are key members of the Security Council, such as Russia and France, that have a slightly different view than we have, then I don't see how you sustain that kind of an inspection regime. We could hope that Saddam will do something magnificently stupid. This has happened before, so it's not outside the realm of possibilities--but you can't count on that. So, I don't see how you get from here to there.
I'm reluctant to say that we're going to have to fight another war. I think it is more likely that we're going to have to be comfortable with what we have now--but extended over time. If you asked those in the room right now, "what does Iraq have in terms of WMD capability right now?" I hope nobody would want to answer that question. I hope you would say: "Well I don't know." To me, that is the correct answer for the American intelligence community.
I have some degree of confidence that they don't have fissile material production facilities. I think I would know about that. I don't have a lot of confidence in what I know about BW. I have maybe a little more confidence, but not much more, in CW. This ignorance gets deeper and more profound as time goes on. And, I think what the international community is doing is electing to live with that.
Question: You were saying that one of the reasons that you were so successful in the early years was that there was always the plausible prospect for the resumption of military activity.
Robert Gallucci: I said it less dramatically than that but yes, that is correct.
Question: I'm glad you're allowing me to edit it. Now, what I would like to know is: this military activity that you had in mind, obviously, has got to be aimed at the heart of the Iraqis, otherwise it's not going to work. Now, were the Iraqis thinking that this military activity was going to come from the United States without the UN's authority? Or was it going to come from the UN, or from both?
Robert Gallucci: I'm making all this up, so you have to appreciate that, please. But in my mind, Saddam could not count on the United States being constrained by the absence of a new mandate. In other words, how do we, in fact, continue to conduct air operations there today? We are not doing it as a U.S operation, or as a U.S.-British operation--we're doing it under a UN mandate that already exists.
In 1991, I am telling you that the resumption of hostilities could have been a very easy argument to make. Resolution 687 said that Iraq has these responsibilities. There was an inspection--take the parking lot inspection that I talked about--that was conducting inspections entirely consistent with the agreement that the Iraqis accepted to end the hostilities. And as soon as they wouldn't let us out of that parking lot with our documents, they were in violation of the undertakings they made under Resolution 687. So, the resumption of hostilities were authorized by a prior U.N. resolution. The United States-I don't think the coalition would have been refashioned-but the United States would have acted, probably in my view, with one or two allies, essentially unilaterally. And that scenario was very credible in doing that, I believe.
Question: Was there any evidence on the ground that would make you think that the United States was making overt threats in this direction, and that Iraq was rather obviously, or less obviously, reacting to those threats?
Robert Gallucci: I will tell you another little story with some things missing from it. I was in the region for UNSCOM, and intelligence reached me that the United States thought it knew where some other controlled items were. It wasn't in the nuclear area.
And immediately…remember now, DOD has come along… I was immediately taken with some of my "special" colleagues to a U.S. military facility. A plan was put in front of me to lead inspectors, transported in U.S. military craft with accompanying air patrol support. There was a wholly developed extraction scenario that would have involved the use of a fair number of U.S military units still deployed in the region.
Actually one of the "special people" told me that this was not a rescue operation that I wanted to be part of, particularly as a rescuee. But I'm telling you this now because the mode at that time was that the U.S. military would sweep into the heart of Iraq and conduct military operations in support of a team. The team might have had one non-U.S. person for U.N color, but it was essentially going to be an American inspection with American transport, American rescue, American cover and it was going to be heavily military. So, I had a sense that the threat of resuming military operations was right there.
In fact, even in the parking lot, there was more than one reason why I thought that was so. And I didn't wish to be rescued. So, I am making up what's in the Iraqi minds, but I think it should have been there. It certainly was in my mind. I thought we were pretty upbeat for those days, is my recollection; I thought things were going to work out fine if we didn't get separated.
Question: What happened with that last incident?
Robert Gallucci: We didn't do it. I'll tell you that I bear some responsibility for that. I thought the information wasn't terrific, and I thought the scenario was extremely risky. The people who were advising me, who get paid to be shot at and to take highly risky risks, thought this was close to insane. And they said they would do it under orders but they were not interested.
Maybe just one or two more questions?
Question: Lets go back to before the Gulf War. How well do you think that the intelligence community understood the Iraqi WMD programs?
Robert Gallucci: There was a time, a decade ago when I could have answered that question with precision and correctly. I can only do half that right now. I think I can bring precision to it, but I don't know that it's right any more.
My recollection is that we certainly thought they had a centrifuge program, and were after nuclear weapons. We knew about their ballistic missile capability, of course, because there had been the city exchanges with Iran. There was suspicion of a BW program, and there was knowledge of a CW program. But I would say that if you looked at those people who were looking at the Iraqi capability--and I would include Israel, France, Russia, UK intelligence, our own intelligence--we missed an enormous amount of the Iraqi WMD programs. Just flat out missed it.
All of us who talk about the inclination of the intelligence community, which is true, to present worst case scenarios; well, they didn't succeed in worst casing this one. That's my feeling.
Last question, thank you.
Question:I was just going to make an anecdotal comment. I think you were correct earlier in your assessment of both the early and later years.
I spent a lot of time with Scott Ritter, and every time I would see him in Baghdad, he would say, "When are you leaving?" And I would say: "I expect to take off by Christmas." He would say "Good thing. The bombs are coming." And he would say that to me routinely, every time I would see him. I guess he got tired of waiting for the bombs, because he just quit.
David Albright: Thank you, Ambassador Gallucci, for your talk. And thank you to our audience for the comments and discussion.