2002 October 06 Sunday
UNMOVIC Inspection Regime Will Not Work

Gary Milhollin and Kelly Motz have written an article in the October 2002 issue of Commentary entitled Iraq: The Snare of Inspection about why the UNMOVIC inspection regime will not work:

At UNMOVIC, which is split into a number of separate divisions, no inspector will be allowed to receive intelligence information on a privileged basis, and any and all information is liable to be shared. Not only does this make it more difficult to prevent information from leaking, thus undermining the confidence of governments thinking of supplying it, but no one can be sure that particular pieces of information will be acted upon. Unless and until national governments become convinced otherwise, not much of significant value is likely to be provided—an especially grave problem today when solid intelligence on Iraq has become scarcer and therefore more valuable.

Other considerations are relevant here. The American, British, and Israeli officials who in the past provided information to UNSCOM benefited from the fact that their relationship with the commission was a “loop.” Evidence uncovered by UNSCOM inspectors flowed back to those nations’ intelligence agencies for analysis, and this analysis produced new leads for UNSCOM in return. UNMOVIC, however, has announced that there will be no loop. Information will flow only in, not out.

This will be a crippling handicap. Even if, for example, an Iraqi defector should turn up and tell UNMOVIC to look in a certain building, the agency will need a means of evaluating his reliability before it decides to act. Without a loop, it cannot ask the intelligence service of a national government to vet what it has learned. It will have to rely on its own resources, and if these are insufficient to prompt action, an important opportunity may thereby be lost.

In the full article they provide additional information about the limitations on UNMOVIC intelligence handling and also describe several other reasons why the UNMOVIC inspections regime will not work. Among the reasons UNMOVIC inspection attempts will be less effective than UNSCOM: UNSCOM inspectors were on loan from national governments and chosen for their skills in the technologies needed to develop weapons whereas UNMOVIC inspectors are UN employees who have cut all ties to their national governments and some are recruited from countries that lack relevant technical skills bases. Iraq has set up mobile weapons labs. Just finding where these labs are at any given moment will be difficult if they can even be identified in the first place. UNMOVIC hasn't even committed to doing surprise inspections. The list goes on. Read the full article.

It is unrealistic to expect the UN to take on this task with sufficient competency or with a strong motivation to succeed. On top of that its a task that is impossible in the first place. The Iraqi regime controls too many elements in the equation. An effective inspection regime would require not only competence, motivation, and a willingness to carry out surprise inspections. It would also require a great deal of intelligence support and something equivalent to secret grand juries empowered to subpoena anyone in Iraq. But in order to be successful in compelling testimony the investigative body would need to be able to offer witness protection services that would include providing Iraqis with new secret identities in other countries.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2002 October 06 11:57 AM  Inspections and Sanctions


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