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2003 March 17 Monday
Bill Clinton Defends Tony Blair On Iraq

Writing in The Guardian Bill Clinton defends the moves that Tony Blair has made at the UN and criticizes Germany, France and Russia.

On the other side, France, Germany and Russia are adamantly opposed to the use of force or imposing any ultimatum on Saddam as long as the inspectors are working. They believe that, at least as long as the inspectors are there, Iraq will not use or give away its chemical and biological stocks, and therefore, no matter how unhelpful Saddam is, he does not pose a threat sufficient to justify invasion. After 150,000 US forces were deployed to the Gulf, they concluded the US was not willing to give inspections a chance anyway. The problem with their position is that only the threat of force from the US and the UK got inspectors back into Iraq in the first place. Without a credible threat of force, Saddam will not disarm.

Of course the inspections are never going to work unless the country being inspected actively assists in allowing itself to be disarmed. Inspectors do not have sufficient investigative resources and control to be able to hunt down most of what a regime decides to keep hidden. Also, it is impractical to keep one or two hundred thousand troops in the Gulf for years in order to compel Saddam to keep allowing the inspectors to go about their work.

By Randall Parker    2003 March 17 11:40 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (2)
2003 March 11 Tuesday
Nuclear Development Program To Be Found In Iraq?

As the beginning of the war in Iraq draws ever closer it is time to consider what will be found in terms of weapons of mass destruction once Iraq is conquered and Saddam's regime is history.

Kenneth Pollack thinks Saddam is developing nukes.

Mr. KENNETH POLLACK (Former CIA Analyst; Author, "The Threatening Storm"): Thanks very much, Steve. It's great to be here.

INSKEEP: Maybe the question that's on a lot of people's minds is that although Iraq is clearly a dangerous country, why now? Why attack now?

Mr. POLLACK: I believe that we are going to have to go war with Iraq sooner rather than later. The reason that it has to be sooner rather than later is because of Iraq's development of nuclear weapons. What we've heard from all of the intelligence communities in the West--there seems to be a consensus among our own, the British, the French, the Germans, the Israelis--they all believe that Saddam Hussein has effectively everything that he needs to build nuclear weapons.

INSKEEP: Except uranium, highly enriched uranium.

Mr. POLLACK: Well, he's got the uranium. He hasn't enriched it yet. But what that says is that we do have a window. We don't want Saddam Hussein to get nuclear weapons. If he were to acquire them, it would be tremendously dangerous, possibly tragic for the entire world.

In an interview with Josh Marshall Pollack says a slew of defectors have reported an active nuclear weapons development program in Iraq.

I will say flat out [that] I was under the same impression: that we had a very good grip on their nuclear program and there really wasn't much of a nuclear program well into the 1990s. I was constantly being assured that by the IAEA and by the intelligence community. And then all of a sudden we had a slew of defectors come out in the mid- and late 1990s and what they told us was that everything that we had thought was wrong. You know Khidhir Hamza is the only one who's gone public. So he's the only one I can really talk about. But in 1994 we really thought the IAEA had eradicated their nuclear program. And the IAEA really thought that they'd eradicated their nuclear program. And they were telling us they'd eradicated their nuclear program. And Khidhir Hamza comes out and says 'No, the nuclear program in 1994 was bigger than it had ever been before.'

Former UNSCOM inspector Charles Duelfer says the Iraqi nuclear weapons development program is active.

A recent defector who worked as a design engineer (evidently in the Al Majd Center) stated that an explicit order to reconstitute the nuclear teams was promulgated in August 1998, at the time Iraq ceased cooperation with UNSCOM and IAEA.

The key hurdle for Iraq to surmount to obtain a nuclear weapon is the acquisition of fissile material. Iraq had a viable weapon design and the capacity to produce all the elements of a weapon. Predictions on when Iraq will achieve a weapon depend on whether Iraq can obtain fissile material by smuggling or they have to produce it themselves which will take much longer. Predictions are particularly uncertain. The German intelligence authorities made an oft-quoted estimate last year in which it was stated that Iraq could, in the worst case, have a nuclear weapon in 3-6 years. German intelligence noted the growth in Iraqi procurement efforts in particular for weapons-related items. However, how this projection was made is not public and it may include significant unceraity.(sic)

While precise estimates of the Iraqi nuclear program are impossible, what is certain is that Baghdad has the desire, the talent, and the resources to build a nuclear weapon given the time to do so.

Former UNSCOM and IAEA inspector David Kay thinks Saddam has a very active nuclear weapons development program.

The capability to produce weapons of mass destruction arising from a national program on the scale of that of Iraq's cannot be eliminated by simply destroying "weapons" facilities. And while we should credit the UN inspection process with destroying a substantial nuclear weapons establishment in Iraq that was largely unidentified at the time of the Gulf War and that had survived largely unscathed the coalition bombing campaign. The nuclear weapons secrets are now Iraqi secrets well understood by Iraq's technical elite, and the production capabilities necessary to turn these "secrets" into weapons are part and parcel of the domestic infrastructure of Iraq which will survive even the most draconian of sanctions regimes. Simply put, Iraq is not Libya, but very much like post-Versailles Germany in terms of its ability to maintain a weapons capability in the teeth of international inspections. As long as a government remains in Baghdad committed to acquiring WMD, that capability can be expected to become - and without much warning - a reality.

...

It is very unlikely that national intelligence efforts can add much clarity to the exact status of Saddam's nuclear program. The same deception and concealment capabilities that were directed at the inspectors will have hindered national intelligence services. WMD programs have long been the hardest targets for intelligence service to unravel, even when they are very large. One should remember that the very large Soviet-era biological program, which included putting smallpox on long-range ballistic missiles aimed at the West, went undiscovered until after the end of the Cold War. The size of the Soviet uranium enrichment program was seriously underestimated and major nuclear production facilities unidentified until after the fall of the Soviets.

...

What is clear is that unless we take immediate steps to address the issue of removing the Saddam's regime from power in Iraq, we will soon face a nuclear armed and embolden Saddam. With time, and we can never be sure of how long that will be, Saddam will be able to intimidate his neighbors with nuclear weapons and find the means to use them against the United States. Saddam's own actions to obstruct the efforts of the international community to carry out the removal of his WMD capacity as mandated by the UN Security Council at the end of the Gulf War accounts for the uncertainty as to the exact status of that program today. These same actions of obstruction, however, remove all doubt about his aim to acquire and enlarge his nuclear, biological and chemical weapons stockpiles. Absence the forceful removal of Saddam, unambiguous certainty as to the status of his WMD programs is likely to come only after the first use of these weapons against the United States and its friends. This is a very high price to pay - potentially many times over the human toll one year ago in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania - for clarity as to the exact status of any nuclear program.

Will these folks turn out to be right? What is revealed by the invasion of Iraq will be a crucial factor in determining how many come to view the wisdom of the war. If these gentlemen turn out to be right then the argument for the use of force to disarm Saddam and eliminate his regime will be very strong. If they are wrong then a lot of people will claim that the danger from the Iraqi regime was exaggerated.

Some major intelligence discoveries about terrorist networks and about the activities of other regimes will also play a significant role in determining the value of this war. But it is not clear that the most valuable intelligence discoveries will be made public. Still, some of the revelations will be made public for the simple reason that many people, free from the fear of Saddam's regime, will tell reporters what they know.

By Randall Parker    2003 March 11 09:12 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (1)
2003 February 04 Tuesday
Josh Marshall Interviews Kenneth Pollack

Josh Marshall of Talkings Points Memo has published the first part of his interview with Kenneth Pollack on Iraq.

I will say flat out [that] I was under the same impression: that we had a very good grip on their nuclear program and there really wasn't much of a nuclear program well into the 1990s. I was constantly being assured that by the IAEA and by the intelligence community. And then all of a sudden we had a slew of defectors come out in the mid- and late 1990s and what they told us was that everything that we had thought was wrong. You know Khidhir Hamza is the only one who's gone public. So he's the only one I can really talk about. But in 1994 we really thought the IAEA had eradicated their nuclear program. And the IAEA really thought that they'd eradicated their nuclear program. And they were telling us they'd eradicated their nuclear program. And Khidhir Hamza comes out and says 'No, the nuclear program in 1994 was bigger than it had ever been before.'

By Randall Parker    2003 February 04 01:01 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2003 January 23 Thursday
David Kay on the Limits of UN Inspections Teams

Former UNSCOM chief nuclear weapons inspector David Kay describes why its foolish to expect a weapons inspections team to find hidden weapons.

When it comes to the U.N. weapons inspection in Iraq, looking for a smoking gun is a fool's mission. That was true 11 years ago when I led the inspections there. It is no less true today -- even after the seemingly important discovery on Thursday of a dozen empty short-range missile warheads left over from the 1980s.

The only job the inspectors can expect to accomplish is confirming whether Iraq has voluntarily disarmed. That is not a task that need take months more. And last week's cache is irrelevant in answering that question, regardless of the U.N.'s final determination. That's because the answer is already clear: Iraqi is in breach of U.N. demands that it dismantle its weapons of mass destruction.

Kay points out that it took 4 years for UNSCOM to find the Iraqi biological weapons program. An extension of the UNMOVIC and IAEA inspections into the rest 2003 will accomplish nothing more than buying Saddam more time to develop more weapons. Kay reiterates the argument he's repeatedly made in the past: a country like Iraq is too big, its intelligence agencies are too resourceful, and the inspections teams are too small for inspections to be a viable way to discover prohibited weapons. The government that is having its territory searched has a far easier task to keep things hidden than the inspections teams have in trying to find the weapons and labs.

By Randall Parker    2003 January 23 12:42 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2003 January 19 Sunday
Nuclear Weapons Development Evidence Found In Iraq

UN weapons inspectors have found documents in the homes of two Iraqi scientists showing evidence of on-going nuclear weapons development work.

Although UN officials say that they have no comment to make at present on the documents found at the scientists' homes, a Western diplomat closely involved with the investigation into Saddam's nuclear capability yesterday confirmed that the documents showed that Iraq was still attempting to develop its own atomic weapons.

"These are not old documents. They are new and they relate to on-going work taking place in Iraq to develop nuclear weapons," the official told The Telegraph.

Lots of obvious questions come to mind. Which western intelligence agency tipped the UN inspectors as to the home addresses of these nuclear scientists? Also, why couldn't Saddam Hussein find a better place to hide the documents? Couldn't he at least have had some specialists construct a well-hidden compartment for the documents under each home that would have eluded detection? It is surprising just how easy it was to find those documents. If the Iraqi scientists and officials had more enthusiasm for their jobs and weren't living in fear of Saddam my guess is that they would have shown more initiative and ingenuity in developing ways to hide the evidence of WMD development.

If this Daily Telegraph report is accurate then George W. Bush now has the sort of smoking gun evidence that proves Saddam Hussein's regime is trying to develop nuclear weapons. That the Iraqi regime is trying to do development of WMD should be glaringly obvious to anyone who wants to examine the other forms of evidence and the historical record and nature of the Iraqi regime. The use of UN inspection teams is, depending on your point of view, for the purpose of either proving the obvious to fools or to allow those who oppose the overthrow of Saddam's regime some hope of preventin its overthrow.

The writer of the Daily Telegraph report above, Con Coughlin, is the author of a recently released biography of Saddam Hussein Saddam: King of Terror.

The scientists whose houses were searched are being asked by the UN inspectors to leave the country for interviews. They are vehemently refusing to leave

Physicist Faleh Hassan Al Basri said a female American inspector told him the United Nations could help expedite departure for him and his wife, who has diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney stones.

"Never, never, never ever," Al Basri told reporters. "Even if I have instruction from my government, I would not leave my country."

They are strongly motivated to stay in Iraq because they do not want their entire families out to the level of 6th cousins killed by Saddam in retribution.

Iraqi exiles told London's Sunday Times that scientists with vital information for the UN inspectors had been forced by the Saddam regime to produce the names of scores of relatives to intimidate them against giving evidence.

The exiles claimed Saddam's secret police had formed what was called a "Six List" of family members – meaning that everyone up to and including sixth cousins would be killed if key information was revealed.

In Iraq's close-knot family structure, that meant hundreds of deaths.

The high level of marriage to relatives characteristic of Arab societies makes threats against extended family members especially effective. Cousin marriage and tribal ties will also make the creation of a liberal democracy in Iraq somewhere between extremely difficult and impossible.

Update: This latest report combined with Colin Powell's comments to a German newspaper makes clear that the war is still scheduled for February 2003.

"We believe a persuasive case will be there at the end of the month that Iraq is not co-operating," Mr. Powell said in an interview with Germany's Sueddeutsche Zeitung, according to a State Department transcript.

Update II: Its clear from this New York Times report that the Bush Administration does not even believe its necessary to prove that Iraq possesses or is developing WMD. The Bush Administration party line is that if Saddam Hussein isn't actively cooperating with UNMOVIC and IAEA then its time to start a war to remove him from power.

Top officials of the Bush administration today rejected calls for a prolonged inspections process in Iraq, asserting that the moment of decision was fast approaching on whether Saddam Hussein's regime had complied with the disarmament demands from the United Nations Security Council.

How long will the Bush Administration be willing to discuss the matter with the UN Security Council? Will they ask for a quick vote and then attack if the UNSC doesn't respond quickly? Or will they let talks go on for a few weeks while they wait for all the aircraft carriers to arrive in theater?

By Randall Parker    2003 January 19 11:57 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2002 December 04 Wednesday
Mark Steyn On Sadomasochistic UNMOVIC Inspector

Harvey John "Jack" McGeorge, an UNMOVIC weapons inspector, was reported by the Washington Post to be "a co-founder of Black Rose, a Washington-area S&M club, and a former officer in the Leather Leadership Conference Inc". Mark Steyn has responded with a column entitled "The UN's foray into Saddamasochism":

That's what gives this story its piquancy. The term "Saddamasochist" applies not just to Mr. McGeorge but to the entire mindset which persists in the bizarre belief that a tyrant can be regulated. Officially, the UN's the S and Saddam's the M, but in practice we all know who's dominant and who's submissive. Indeed, in their kinky UNphilia and Kofi Annanism, the West's liberal elites have come up with the weirdest masochistic fetish of all, demanding that the role of global dominatrix be given to an organization that can't wait to prostrate itself. On Saturday, Mr. Blix's team admitted that the Iraqis had in fact been given advance warning of what are supposed to be "surprise" site inspections. One should never underestimate the UN's capacity to abase and degrade itself before the strongman's even had a chance to get his bullwhip out.

Perhaps Mr. McGeorge could help the UNMOVIC team by doing in-country training on how to strike masochistic poses at Iraqi officials.

The Washington Post article that originally reported this story also repeated doubts about the qualifications and experience of the UNMOVIC inspections team.

Past weapons inspectors have criticized the selection of inspectors, saying experienced candidates, including former missile inspector Timothy V. McCarthy, were passed over. The critics say the new team needs seasoning if it is to find minute evidence of weapons-making in a country the size of Texas.

"We just knew too much," said Richard Spertzel, former head of the biological weapons inspection team for the U.N. Special Commission on Iraq. "They couldn't pull the wool over our eyes."

The two renowned experts retained, Igor Mitrokhin and Nikita Smidovich, will not be conducting field inspections.

A later Washington Post article that reports that Hans Blix rejected McGeorge's resignation again raises doubts about the experience level of the UNMOVIC inspectors:

McGeorge was a Secret Service munitions specialist and a Marine ordnance-disposal technician in the 1970s. He has an associate's degree in security management from Northern Virginia Community College. His company offers courses in biological and chemical weapons.

Former weapons inspector Richard Spertzel said there is little substitute for experience, and that the U.N. training program doesn't fill the gap. "The training that UNMOVIC provides doesn't train them to be a good inspector," he said. "It gives them basic knowledge, and that's where it ends."

By Randall Parker    2002 December 04 02:58 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2002 December 01 Sunday
UN IAEA Tipped Iraqis Twice On Inspection Sites

The argument that the UN people needed Iraqi help to remove the air filter seems ridiculous. If the UNMOVIC people want to examine the old air filter for evidence then this defeats the purpose. The Iraqis could have replaced the air filter the night before

BAGHDAD -- Serious doubts surfaced over the surprise nature of new arms inspections in Iraq when a United Nations spokesman admitted the head of a suspected weapons site had been given advance warning of the visit by the UN experts to his facility on Saturday.

'He was informed the day before, on Friday, that the team was coming to remove an air sampler and install a new one,' UN spokesman Hiro Ueki told AFP by phone shortly after denying at a press briefing that the UN had tipped off the Iraqis.

What will happen to the Iraqi Hussein Hammudeh who told reporters about the tip-off? That might be unhealthy for him. After all, Saddam doesn't want anything to come out that makes the UN inspections look ineffective.

By Randall Parker    2002 December 01 04:09 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
Jim Hoagland On Inspections And Triggers For War

Jim Hoagland argues that effective inspections may not be needed in order to trigger war against Iraq.

The political and diplomatic costs of going to war dominate public discussion. But imagine the costs involved in the opposite situation of an American president failing to deal with a serious threat to world peace because he has been boxed in by U.N. inspections that are seen to be ineffective or rigged. That result would shatter Bush's presidency, beginning with his national security team, which argued bitterly over the inspections last summer. It would erase significant U.S. support for the United Nations for a decade and more. America's influence in the Middle East and its protective shield for Israel would be shredded.

The ridiculous premise behind the inspections is that inspections are capable of finding the secret weapons development equipment and the weapons. But as the Times of London has reported Saddam is hiding the equipment in private houses. (or see the same article reprinted on the Fox News site).

SADDAM HUSSEIN has ordered hundreds of his officials to conceal weapons of mass destruction components in their homes to evade the prying eyes of the United Nations inspectors.

According to a stream of intelligence now emerging from inside Iraq, the full extent of the Iraqi leader’s deception operation is now becoming apparent. As the UN inspectors knock on the doors of the major military sites in Iraq, suspected of housing chemical and biological weapons and banned missiles, the bulk of the evidence is being secreted away in people’s homes.

Iraq has millions of private dwellings. Will UNMOVIC be willing to try to search some of them? If it does will it get lucky and choose one that has something hidden in it? Also, how will UNMOVIC find weapons that are buried under mosques and other buildings?

In the face of the Iraqi regime's ability to conceal its equipment and weapons Thomas Friedman argues that the best hope for discovering where the weapons and WMD development equipment is hidden is for an Iraqi to decide to tell the UN some useful information:

But this leads to the second issue, which is a deeper moral question. Is there an Iraqi Andrei Sakharov? Is there just one Iraqi scientist or official who wants to see the freedom of his country so badly that he is ready to cooperate with the U.N. by submitting to an interview and exposing the regime's hidden weapons?

It takes just one person in Iraq who wants these inspections to be real, who wants Saddam to be exposed, and the whole house of cards comes down.

There may be no Iraqi who is willing to run the risk of trying to cooperate with UNMOVIC. The Iraqi would have to signal somehow that he wants to cooperate and then hope that he or his family members do not end up dead before Blix might get the scientist and his family taken out of the country. Blix may not even be willing to try to remove an Iraqi scientist and his family outside of Iraq to be questioned. Is any Iraqi scientist willing to gamble their life and the lives of their family members on that? George W. Bush and Tony Blair may not get hard simple proof from the inspections and will still end up being faced with the decision of whether to attack Iraq without the that kind of evidence.

UNMOVIC is at a huge disadvantage to the Iraqi regime. For instance, UNMOVIC's personnel may not even be able to hold conversations among its members in Iraq without being heard by Iraqi intelligence agents. The UNMOVIC team is trying to prevent Iraqi electronic eavesdropping devices from overhearing their conversations:

The Iraqis systematically bug buildings in Baghdad and there are fears that no counter-surveillance technology can prevent them bugging the hotel the UN team is using as a base. Reports suggest that during briefings at the hotel this week inspectors refrained from naming sites they planned to visit and instead pointed in silence to their location on maps.

The Bush Administration is sending envoys to Europe to attempt to build support for military action against Iraq:

Correspondents say the officials will be following up American requests to governments for military contributions, and seeking to build a more solid political coalition against Iraq.

An unnamed French diplomat is reported to have produced his own proposed resolution on Iraq:

Recalling all its previous relevant resolutions, in particular resolution 661 (1990), 678 (1990), 686 (1991), 687 (1991), 688 (1991), 707 (1991), 715 (1991), 986 (1995), 1284 (1999), 1382 (2001) and the just-adopted 1441 (2002), as well as the relevant statements of its President, Security Council members and Larry King thereon,

Deploring the fact that Iraq has repeatedly obstructed immediate, unconditional and unrestricted access to sites designated by the United Nations and CNN,

Remaining slack-jawed that previous U.N. weapons inspectors were foiled by locked doors and clever explanations such as "Those are my wife's medical records,"

Marveling at the successful game of three-card monte that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has played for nearly a decade,

Confessing that the United States will likely do whatever it wants regardless of this august body and that it is in the paramount interests of the United Nations to appear to be relevant as long as possible,

By Randall Parker    2002 December 01 01:20 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2002 November 19 Tuesday
UNMOVIC Is Not Capable Of Doing Its Assigned Tasks

Former UNSCOM inspector David Kay emphasises the limits of inspections:

The experience with Iraq leaves the international community with a set of unhappy lessons: Voluntary arms control arrangements may fail to prevent or detect massive violations when faced with a clever, determined violator. Military action may stop short of removing the industrial and technical capabilities needed to support weapons of mass destruction programs, and leave untouched the political will that led a state to seek such capabilities. Finally, coercive disarmament by inspections, even when backed by economic sanctions and access to intelligence information, can fail when met by a determined regime that believes its own interests require possession of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.

Also see Dr. Kay's NPR interview here.

The UNMOVIC inspectors have less experience and were drawn from a smaller talent pool than the UNSCOM inspectors were:

Seventy-five percent of the roughly 270 UN inspectors from 48 countries will be visiting Iraq for the first time.

"It can be very disorienting to be in Iraq, and almost everything we saw was ambiguous," says Jonathan Tucker, a former UN bioweapons inspector. An inspector "may go into a facility and feel something is not quite right. ... There can be very subtle clues of illicit weapons production. It's a very challenging task, especially if Iraq plans to conceal things."

Hans Blix has weeded out the more aggressive inspectors and UNMOVIC is set up to have less access to intelligence:

But on biological and chemical weapons, there was broader agreement that the new inspection organization, the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, known by the acronym UNMOVIC, is in many ways weaker than the group it has replaced at Iraq's insistence: the United Nations Special Commission on Monitoring, which was known as UNSCOM.

"They are weaker in many respects than we were," said Richard Spertzel, a former army germ scientist who was an UNSCOM inspector until the group was withdrawn from Iraq in 1998. "It is optimistic to assume that in one year, which is the time they are likely to have, they will be able to account for the lack of inspectors for the past four years."

The UNMOVIC inspectors will be going up against a regime that has plenty of time to prepare to fool them:

Duelfer believes the Iraqi regime is well prepared to re-admit inspectors. "They took the decision (to admit inspectors) back in February, according to Iraqis with whom I have indirect contact. They know they can buy time. They certainly have had many years to prepare for inspectors to come back in." Furthermore, Duelfer suspects the regime also knows how long it will have to wait before creating a confrontation.

"There is a mismatch between inspectors and the tools that can be applied against them by a nation state with one of the most extensive security and intelligence apparatuses in the world." Duelfer told the Washington file.

The UNMOVIC inspectors will be too few in number:

Former UN weapons inspectors said they fear that the 100 inspectors slated to be in Iraq will be too few to outwit Hussein.

''They will be up against a concealment plan,'' said Terry Taylor, a former UN weapons inspector, now Washington director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

''They will need more resources than they have.'

The mobile weapons labs are going to be especially hard to find:

Rumbling along Iraq's highways or threading their way through crowded city streets, these mobile weapons labs may look like ice cream trucks, motor homes or 18-wheel tractor-trailer trucks, officials and experts say. But their cargo is believed to be germ agents such as anthrax, botulinum toxin and aflatoxin that theoretically could kill hundreds of thousands in an attack.

Dubbed "Winnebagos of death," the anonymous vehicles are hard to locate, even with sophisticated sensors.

Update: Also see this interview with Kenneth Pollack, author of The Threatening Storm, about why inspections can not work:

What's more the smuggling also means that Saddam is more able than ever to use that money to purchase and smuggle into the county all kinds of prohibited items for his military and WMD programs. The second element of containment are the inspections. There are many problems with the inspections - let me just name two. First we simply do not know where any of Saddam's WMD are hidden and therefore don't know where to send inspectors to find it. This was precisely the problems we had in 1996-1998. The Iraqis had gotten so good at hiding it that we didn't know where they were. Today our intelligence about it is even worse. Second, successful inspections will take a long long time - probably on the order of 4 to 6 years -- and they can only work if the international community remains united and determined to compel Saddam to comply, but all of the evidence indicates that other than the US and maybe a handful of other countries, no one else is willing to make the effort necessary to make Saddam comply. And so as I - and most of the former inspectors - believe is that new inspections might work for a year or so but at some point soon we will find ourselves right back where we were in 1998 with Saddam cheating on the inspections and no one willing to make his stop.

Also see my set of posts on Preemption, Deterrence, Containment and on Inspections and Sanctions.

By Randall Parker    2002 November 19 12:01 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2002 November 15 Friday
Krauthammer: Hans Blix In Driver's Seat

Charles Krauthammer reports that the US has handed too much power over to Hans Blix to determine whether Iraq is revealing its WMD development activities:

Yes, but if Hans can't find something, we won't know Hussein didn't cooperate. Of course, there is no doubt that Hussein will cheat, but unless Hans comes through, we won't be able to prove it, certainly not to the satisfaction of France, Russia and Hussein's other lawyers on the U.N. Security Council. Then we will be back to where we began: having to choose to go it alone or back down for lack of international support.

For all of Rice's brave words, Security Council Resolution 1441 puts Hans Blix in the driver's seat.

But is this really true? Will Hanx Blix even spend much time in Iraq? Australian Bill Jolley will manage UNMOVIC in Iraq. People from many countries will be in the UNMOVIC team. Where are their loyalties? How likely are they to speak out about observed attempts to defeat the inspections if Blix orders them to keep quiet? I've previously read that UNMOVIC is made up more of UN permanent staffers as compared to UNSCOM which was made up of people seconded from their national governments. However, Jolley is seconded from the Australian defense establishment. Is he typical of the on-the-ground UNMOVIC members?

If anyone comes across a good breakdown of the UNMOVIC team members affiliations please post in the comments or send it by e-mail.

By Randall Parker    2002 November 15 12:17 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2002 November 11 Monday
UNSCOM and Iraq's Biggest Bioweapons Facility

Start here and you can read how UNSCOM inspectors proved that the Al Hakam facility made bioweapons. It is harder now than it was then because the Iraqis no longer have to import key supplies:

Though UNSCOM was successful in uncovering Al Hakam, Tucker says that ferreting out bioweapons will still pose a big problem for future inspectors. "Bio facilities can be considerably smaller than chemical facilities, because a militarily significant quantity of chemical weapons is on the order of several tons, whereas with a biological agent, it's in the range of kilograms," he says.

Tucker says that good intelligence is crucial, but that countries such as the US often fail to provide it for fear of compromising sensitive sources and collection methods. "If we want the inspections to work, [the US] will have to be willing to put some intelligence-collection assets at risk by sharing timely information with the UN," he says.

Future inspectors won't be able to rely heavily on export documents, because Iraq can now make critical equipment and growth media, say inspectors.

By Randall Parker    2002 November 11 02:01 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2002 November 02 Saturday
Per Ahlmark on Hans Blix as Weapons Inspector

Per Ahlmark, a former deputy prime minister of Sweden, argues that Hans Blix is not up to the job of directing a weapons inspection program in Iraq having already demonstrated himself unfit for the task:

The turning point came when Kay initiated inspections of suspect buildings without notifying the Iraqis about his intentions in advance. This new, aggressive inspection strategy had dramatic consequences: Kay discovered material which confirmed that Iraq was only 12 to 18 months away from producing a nuclear device.

This historic discovery ended up in a confrontation at a parking lot in Baghdad. U.N. cars were surrounded by 200 Iraqi soldiers and a mob, ordered out to the scene by Iraqi officials. For four days and nights the siege continued, as Kay and his colleagues used satellite telephones to fax crucial documents to the West.

Blix had opposed the raid. Fortunately, Ambassador Ekeus backed it and supported the inspectors during the siege. I have met a number of experts on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, and they often compare the two Swedes: "Ekeus is brilliant," they say, "Blix is terrible."

You can also find the same article here.

By Randall Parker    2002 November 02 09:33 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
Richard Spertzel On Hard Inspections Job In Iraq

Richard Spertzel emphasises that weapons inspectors will face a very difficult task if they return to Iraq.

"In some cases, we have solid evidence that they're saying isn't true," says Richard Spertzel, former head of the UN inspections team searching for biological weapons. "When things don't add up, you start asking questions. And if you start getting dumb answers, you know you got a problem."

"If Iraq doesn't make a full disclosure, then it's up to the inspectors to find what Iraq has, and that's not what they're set up to do. That literally could take years."

Spertzel has previously argued that there is a widespread misconception about what inspection teams can accomplish. In a nutshell, inspection teams do not have adequate powers and abilities to do the necessary investigative and discovery work in a country that hides its weapons programs. For biological weapons the problem of investigation and discovery is especially difficult because the equipment and the labs are so much smaller and can even be mobile. It is suspected that Saddam Hussein does have mobile biological weapons labs.

The whole idea of a UN inspections team for Iraq is based on a fiction. Inspection teams can not discover many of the weapons labs and weapons storage facilities as long as the current regime is in power. The regime can hide what it has and intimidate its own weapons scientists and engineers to stay silent. The Bush Administration, by pursuing the resumption of an inspections regime, is lending credence to this fiction and is doing a disservice to the American people.

Update: At Hood College in Frederick Maryland on October 27, 2002 Richard Spertzel had this to say:

"I think it's inevitable that it will take a war to persuade Iraq to give up their weapons of mass destruction, now whether that comes sooner or later depends on what takes place at the Security Council."

By Randall Parker    2002 November 02 09:02 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
Kenneth Pollack: The inspections are a trap

Kenneth Pollack, author of The Threatening Storm, questions the wisdom of the entire UN Security Council drive of the Bush Administation. Pollack does not think the UN inspections regimes will achieve any worthwhile goals.

The fear is growing among hawks in Washington that the inspection process, instead of aiding the U.S. cause, will thwart the Administration's plans for toppling Saddam. "The inspections are a trap. They are highly unlikely to get [Iraqi] disarmament, as the doves want, or provide a pretext for war, as the hawks want," says Kenneth M. Pollack, an Iraq expert at Brookings Institution's Saban Center for Middle East Policy. For starters, Bush has yet to win the diplomatic battle over the inspectors' mandate, which will be set out in a new Security Council resolution. China, France, and Russia are resisting U.S. proposals for a tough resolution warning Saddam of "severe consequences" if he fails to comply.

Writing the New York Times Richard Bernstein has reviewed The Threatening Storm and Bernstein makes it plain that Pollack has framed the argument for regime change that has to be answered by anyone who is opposed to a war to topple the Iraqi regime:

It is fair to say that whatever your feelings about the question of Iraq, you owe it to yourself to read Mr. Pollack's book, which is both hawkish and judicious. Its essential argument is that the containment policy followed since the Persian Gulf war of 1991 — consisting of economic sanctions, a continued American military presence in the Persian Gulf and United Nations weapons inspections — is fast eroding. Sanctions are being circumvented by the rampant smuggling of Iraqi oil. The presence of American troops in the region, especially in Saudi Arabia, is breeding local resentment. Meanwhile, the most important element in the containment policy, United Nations inspection teams searching for and destroying Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, ceased in 1998 and, in Mr. Pollack's view, is not likely to be effective even if revived.

If Poillack's argument is correct (and I think it is) then the Bush Administration is not only wasting effort to win approval for a stiff Iraqi weapons inspecton regime but it is also undermining the security of the US by allowing the UN to restrain the US from taking the most efficacious actions to deal with a real and growing security threat. The UN is a fatally flawed institution and the Bush Administration is making an enormous error by granting it legitimacy by treating with it. Also, the Bush Administation, by supporting the fiction that inspections regimes are capable of preventing WMD proliferation, is misleading its own citizens and granting a great propaganda victory to those who wish to use inspections as a way to block US actions.

You can find links to other posts on Kenneth Pollack's arguments here. For my previous posts on inspections go here. For my previous posts on preemption vs deterrence or containment go here.

By Randall Parker    2002 November 02 07:57 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (1)
2002 October 24 Thursday
Charles Duelfer Supports Out Of Iraq Interviews

There is just no way Saddam's weapons scientists are going to be truthful as long as they are in Iraq. They do not want to be tortured or killed by Saddam or have their families tortured or killed. But one of the matters for debate in the UN Security Council over Iraq inspections is the question of removing Iraqi weapons scientists from Iraq with their families to be interviewed:

One person who encouraged the U.S. approach was Charles Duelfer, deputy executive director of the previous U.N. inspection team who, in the late 1990s, said he had suggested to the Clinton administration that "if I had 100 green cards to distribute," referring to permanent residency permits, "I could get to the bottom of Iraq's weapons program."

Duelfer said his view now is that the U.N. inspectors should "interview the few hundred key scientists, engineers and technicians who were involved in the previous weapons of mass destruction efforts and have them account for their activities since December 1998." He said that Iraqi government observers should not be present and "the U.N. should offer sanctuary or safe haven to those who find it a condition for speaking the truth."

By Randall Parker    2002 October 24 02:01 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2002 October 12 Saturday
Richard Spertzel: On WMD Iraq Has Gotten Worse

Richard Spertzel formerly was head of the UNSCOM bioweapons inspection team in Iraq. Spertzel believes the Iraqis are not only developing bioweapons but have also developed the ability to make their own equipment and growth media. So Iraqi regime can do a lot of development work on biological WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) without leaving a trail of international equipment purchases that provide evidence for their activities. Spertzel does not believe that inspections can succeed as long as Iraq continues to pursue WMD development:

Last week, Dr. Hans Blix, the chief weapons inspector for UNMOVIC (the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission), met in Vienna with officials responsible for Iraq's chemical, biological, and missile programs. Allegedly coming from this meeting was an agreement for unfettered access to all sites except Saddam's palaces. Barely had the meeting ended when Iraq's foreign minister added, "Iraq, of course, has a right to its sovereignty and dignity" — a statement with which most might agree. It's also, however, the statement that in the past has most often been heard when a United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) team wanted to conduct an inspection to which Iraq was not amenable. To better understand this nuance, one needs to examine Iraq's attitude in recent years — an attitude that has changed for the worse.

For those who haven't read my previous posts on the subject of inspections:

Spertzel has previously stated that the UN Security Council undermined the previous inspection regime. Spertzel believes UNMOVIC doesn't have a chance. You can read Spertzel's rather more lengthy Congressional testimony about inspections and Iraqi WMD programs.

You can also read the UNSCOM inspector Charles Duelfer how dedicated the Iraqi leadership is to possession of WMD and on the Iraqi regime's pursuit of biological WMD that can be used without leaving evidence that can be traced back to Iraq.

Former UNSCOM inspector David Kay describes how the Iraqi regime treated the UNSCOM inspectors.

Brink Lindsey believes inspections regimes are doomed to fail.

The US Department of Defense has described how the Iraqi regime hides its weapons, how it resists inspections, and how much it lies about what it does.

UNMOVIC isn't going to work. Read Gary Milhollin and Kelly Motz on the reasons why. More on UNMOVIC here and here and here.

Saddam's regime is buying WMD technology from Belarus and Ukraine.

By Randall Parker    2002 October 12 02:48 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2002 October 09 Wednesday
DoD Briefing on Iraqi Denial and Deception

There are people saying that the Bush Administration hasn't made its case against Iraq. If you go read the full text of this briefing you'll see references to UNSCOM reports, articles, and books that describe what Saddam's regime has been up to. These are publically available documents whose release happened before the current President came to power. The case against Saddam already exists in the public record. One just has to be willing to read it. Here's part of the US DOD briefing:

Iraq's D&D strategy has three key objectives. The first objective, quite simply, is to blur the truth about Iraqi compliance with the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty, the U.N. resolutions and this all in order to undermine the credibility of UNSCOM findings and the recommendations to the Security Council and erode support for continued inspections.

I can't emphasize sufficiently the importance of this first goal. Although some of their efforts seem crude to us, their D&D measures have prevented UNSCOM and Western intelligence from producing the kinds of smoking guns and smoking-gun photographs, for example, and other forms of juridical evidence demanded by those who are skeptical of Iraqi violations of U.N. resolutions and continued existence of illicit WMD programs.

Their second objective -- their second objective is to ensure that UNSCOM could not uncover the true full scope of Iraqis' (sic) WMD and missile programs, including number of personnel, facilities, equipment, documentation and weaponization efforts.

Finally and most importantly, the Iraqis have sought to prevent UNSCOM from achieving the complete disarmament of Iraq's chemical, biological nuclear and missile programs in accordance with the U.N. resolutions. As of 1998, when the inspectors left Iraq, the Iraqis had succeeded in achieving these three goals. This strategy -- their strategy still remains effective. The CIA report released on Friday reaffirmed that Baghdad is still hiding large portions of their WMD efforts. It also states that their vigorous concealment efforts have meant that specific information on many aspects of Iraqi's WMD programs is yet to be uncovered.

Next slide?

I'm going to walk you through these activities as we have categorized them one by one since Desert Storm. Many of these activities were directed specifically against the U.N. and the UNSCOM inspection regime, and some were and are directed against U.S. and Western intelligence; some, quite simply, are aimed at influencing world opinion. What I'm going to do is give you some historical examples and some very current examples for each of these categories.

Next slide?

Let's begin with a relatively simple D&D technique, that of concealment. This is an example of a suspected Iraqi biological warfare facility. Take a good look at the picture. One of the interesting features of this facility is its location. It's in a residential area. It's concealed inside a residential area. The buildings are nondescript in nature. The installation is nondescript in nature. Placing these kind of WMD facilities in residential areas is a practice method of concealment. There's a famous aphorism by the late Ameron Capps (sp), a specialist in arms control verification. He once said, quote, "We have never found anything that our enemies have successfully concealed," unquote. The issue for us today is how many undetected BW facilities of this type exist. As Tim Trevan, the former British UNSCOM inspector, noted, if there are undeclared and undetected and concealed WMD sites, by definition they can't be inspected or monitored. And the inspection regime cannot provide any level of assurance that a country is not conducting illicit activities.

Next slide, please.

A technique related to concealment is sanitization. And this is a very famous case. Sanitization is a system for hiding proscribed WMD material and sanitizing facilities beforehand. It relies on high mobility, good command and control. In many cases it employs trucks to move items at short notice, and most of the hide sites appear to be located near good road and telecommunications links. We know on several occasions UNSCOM and International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors detected Iraqi officials removing documents and material from buildings, and even burning documents to prevent them from being evaluated. Inspectors have routinely found high interest facilities cleaned out after their entry was delayed for several hours. In this 1991 incident, the Iraqis removed Calitrons (sp) from the reception area at Falujah as UCOM inspectors were arriving at the front of the facility. One inspector photographed these vehicles scurrying out the back gate while the inspectors were being delayed in the front.

Next slide, please.

Pretty blatant technique here: Fraudulent declarations to the U.N. U.N. Security Council resolution 687 and related resolutions 707, 715 and 1051 stipulate that Iraq must provide full, final and complete disclosure of all aspects of its nuclear, chemical, biological and long-range-missile weapons programs. Prior to 1998, Iraq made seven so-called full and final disclosures to the U.N. Iraq modified each full and final disclosure to the U.N. several times to accommodate data uncovered by inspectors, and then they provided new information and explanations only when confronted with direct evidence.

For example, Baghdad revised its nuclear declaration to the International Atomic Energy Agency four times within 14 months of its initial submission, in April 1991. Iraq formally submitted six different biological-warfare declarations, each of which UNSCOM rejected. Baghdad provided no hard evidence to support claims that it destroyed all of its biological-weapon agents and munitions in 1991. Richard Butler, the then-UNSCOM chairman, stated that Iraq's September 1997 BW declaration, quote, "failed to give a remotely credible account of Iraq's biological weapons programs." Fraudulent declarations.

Next slide.

Here's another classic case of how the Iraqis respond when their attempts at deception are exposed. This is called sacrificing certain elements of WMD programs. Baghdad has tried to generate a public impression of cooperation while working hard to conceal essential information on the scope and capabilities of its WMD programs.

One technique for achieving this objective is the sacrifice of compromised or obsolete WMD or missile program elements. For example, Iraq dramatically disclosed nearly 700,000 pages of WMD-related documents at a chicken farm following the 1995 defection of Hussein Kamil Hassan al-Majid. The president referred to this person last night. He headed the ministry of industry and military industrialization until 1990. Kamil was a key player in Iraq's effort to produce WMD.

Some sparse but significant information was often buried within a massive volume of extraneous data, all of which was intended, again, to create the appearance of candor and to overwhelm UNSCOM's analytical resources. Here's a good example. Iraq released detailed records of how many ball-point pens it ordered in the late 1980s, but at the same time, it did not provide records of how it procured biological precursors or supported claims that it destroyed its missile warheads capable of delivering BW and CW agents.

Next slide, please.

Cover stories. Cover stories. We've seen these quite frequently. These are two images of a BW facility at Abu Ghurayb (sp) bombed during Desert Storm. You're probably familiar with this story. Let me draw your attention to some of the unique features of this baby-milk plant. First of all, it's secured by a double chain-link fence, and there are guard posts covering the road access.

Please note the two dates on the images. First, September 1990; and then January 1991. Again, what's different about the two images? The baby-milk plant has been camouflaged. It's been given military camouflage covering. After the coalition struck this facility, Iraq claimed that it was an infant-formula factory; that is, a non-military target.

By Randall Parker    2002 October 09 01:14 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2002 October 08 Tuesday
Hans Blix wrong man to head UNMOVIC

Hans Blix doesn't want to offend the Iraqis by taking them by surprise:

"One must remember always that Iraq is not a country under occupation," he told the media. "You cannot go on forever to take the authorities by surprise. Inspectors are not an army, not a commando troop that can leap in and shoot their way to the target."

Okay, if the lack of a military occupation of Iraq prevents the use of surprise inspections to do a thorough job of weapons inspection then one obvious solution presents itself: Invade.

By Randall Parker    2002 October 08 02:48 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
More Signs of UNMOVIC Complacency

The complacency of UN bureaucrats argues strongly against the odds of an effective inspections regime:

Pouring scorn on the dossier released last week by the British Government that detailed the latest intelligence assessment of Iraq's weapons procurement programme, the UN officials accompanying Mr Blix declared that they had no evidence that Iraq was conducting a covert nuclear arms programme and said that they were confident that by 1998 - when the last UN inspection teams were driven out of Baghdad by Saddam - they had "neutralised" Iraq's nuclear effort. Another case, no doubt, of looking at "the wrong floors".

By Randall Parker    2002 October 08 02:40 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
Hans Blix opposed to US Iraq Inspection Proposals

UNMOVIC chief Hans Blix does not want to have Iraqi scientists taken out of Iraq to be interviewed.

In addition, Blix as well as France questioned proposals that inspectors be given authority to take Iraqi government officials and scientists, as well as their families, out of the country for interviews.

Well, sorry Hans, as long as the scientists fear for their lives at the hands of Saddam they are not going to reveal anything. An inspections regime that does not have powerful investigative and discovery tools is not going to find the secret weapons labs and storage sites. Of course the French do not want the inspections regime to succeed. But what about Blix?

By Randall Parker    2002 October 08 02:18 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
Spertzel: UNMOVIC "doesn't have a chance."

Former UNSCOM Iraq weapons inspector chief Richard Spertzel says there isn't enough support in UN Security Council to make inspections work:

"They've got to have the unconditional and unanimous support of all members of the security council, and I don't see it's there," said former UNSCOM chief bioweapons inspector Richard Spertzel, now retired as deputy commander of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases.

According to Spertzel, UNSCOM's replacement -- the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspections Commission, or UNMOVIC -- "doesn't have a chance."

The problem in a nutshell is this: There are UN Security Council members which did not want the 1990s inspections regime to succeed and their efforts to undermine it contributed to its failure. Those members (notably China, Russia, and France) are still there and their attitudes have changed little.

UPDATE: If you click thru to the full article you will find a lot about technologies developed to detect bioweapons and hand-held gadgets that will be useful if weapons inspectors are sent back into Iraq..

By Randall Parker    2002 October 08 10:57 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
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.

By Randall Parker    2002 October 06 11:57 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2002 October 05 Saturday
Thinking about Coercive Inspections

Jessica Matthews, President of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, has proposed coercive inspections in Iraq:

Under the coercive inspections plan, the Security Council would authorize the creation of an Inspections Implementation Force (IIF) to act as the enforcement arm for UNMOVIC and the IAEA task force. Under the new resolution, the inspections process is transformed from a game of cat and mouse punctuated by diversions and manufactured crises, in which conditions heavily favor Iraqi obstruction, into a last chance, "comply or else" operation.

The inspection teams would return to Iraq accompanied by a military arm strong enough to force immediate entry into any site at any time with complete security for the inspection team. No terms would be negotiated regarding the dates, duration or modalities of inspection. If Iraq chose not to accept, or established a record of noncompliance, the U.S. regime-change option or, better, a UN authorization of "use of all necessary means" would come into play.

Think about what this means in practical terms. The inspection team would need a huge military force to accompany it (actually to go in front of it) as it tried to move around in Iraq. That force would need to be capable of fighting thru any opposition thrown up by the Iraqi military. The proposal is basically to replace a general invasion of the entire country all at once with a series of narrow invasion paths to each site that the inspectors desire to inspect. This proposal strikes me as a case of a bunch of intellectuals being too clever for their (or our) own good.

Such a force still would not succeed for a simple reason: It would need to be able to exercise full police investigative powers in order to be able to get Iraqi government officials and functionaries to tell where things are hidden. The problem is that the Iraqis are more afraid of being killed by Saddam if they talk. So the investigative force would need to able to basically offer the equivalent of witness protection for all Iraqi weapons scientists and weapons program administrators. Nothing short of that would be enough to compel the Iraqis to talk.

By Randall Parker    2002 October 05 03:43 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2002 October 04 Friday
UNSCOM Inspector David Kay describes treatment

This does not sound like fun:

Kay recalls one no-notice inspection when the Iraqis barred his team from the premises, but allowed them to observe the facility from a nearby water tower. When inspectors saw the Iraqis moving equipment out the back, Kay sent a team to photograph the area. But as the tape started to roll, the Iraqis fired warning shots over their heads.

Then there was the personal harassment: Middle of the night phone calls with veiled threats to their families, 3 a.m. firing squads executing “black marketeers” near their hotel, and physical attacks by Iraqi “civilians” were only some of their intimidation tactics.

By Randall Parker    2002 October 04 02:12 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2002 October 03 Thursday
Charles A. Duelfer on Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction

Below are excerpts from a presentation Duelfer delivered to US Senate Subcommittee on Emerging Threats & Capabilities Armed Services Committee on February 27, 2002. Note in the first excerpt how dedicated the Iraqi leadership is to possession of WMD:

UNSCOM had long pressed Iraq to provide information and documents describing the requirements and operational concepts for the BW, CW, Ballistic Missile and nuclear programs. Iraq refused until shortly after Saddam Hussein's son-in-law, Hussein Kamal defected to Jordan in August 1995. Hussein Kamal was the most senior regime official with control over these weapons programs. Baghdad was concerned about what Kamal would reveal and sought to limit the damage by a burst of controlled cooperation and admissions.

On September 18, 1995, I had a long, late night meeting with several senior Iraqi ministers and other officials. The meeting was arranged to discuss the Iraqi concepts and requirements for their WMD development and production programs. Previously, Baghdad had refused to engage in such a discussion. I remember the meeting quite well, not simply because there was an unusual amount of candor, but because I suddenly realized how unlikely it was that the government would ever comply fully with the UN demand to completely give up all WMD capabilities forever. Consequently, the UNSCOM inspectors had an ultimately hopeless task under the conditions it was permitted to operate.

Iraq revealed that evening how weapons of mass destruction were viewed from the position of the Presidency. (They even provided selected presidential documents.) Partial descriptions of the origin of WMD efforts were discussed. They also discussed how these programs had been used and their importance to the regime. In essence, the possession of WMD had saved the regime on two occasions. The first was in the war with Iran in the 1980's when Iranian human wave infantry attacks were repelled with chemical munitions (UNSCOM learned that 101,000 were reported "consumed" during this period).

The second instance where WMD preserved the regime was more surprising. I had asked about the decision by the Iraqi leadership not to employ WMD in the 1991 Gulf War. In a carefully worded response, the impression was conveyed that the President thought if Iraq used chemical or biological weapons against the coalition, retaliation would end his regime and probably him personally. He was successfully deterred. However, my interlocutors went on to describe how they had loaded BW and CW agent into various missile warheads and bombs before hostilities began in 1991. Moreover they dispersed these weapons and pre-delegated the authority to use them if the United States moved on Baghdad. The Iraqis stated that these actions apparently deterred the United States from going to Baghdad.

Whether the Iraqi leadership believes this was the only reason the United States did not go to Baghdad in 1991 is unknown. However, clearly they are convinced that the possession of WMD contributed to keeping the Americans away and thus was vital to their survival.

The Iraqi WMD programs, which were begun in the mid-1970's, and consumed large material and human resources throughout the 1980's were well worth the investment from the perspective of the leadership. It was difficult then and more difficult now, to imagine circumstances under which this regime would end these programs. Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz said on more than one occasion, "You are not McArthur. You did not occupy Iraq. Therefore, there are limits to what you can do."

Then we come to thee Iraqi regime's willingness to develop and use biological weapons that can not be traced back to them:

It is difficult to understand why Iraq would produce and put into aerial bombs, aflatoxin. It has the effect of causing cancer over a period of several years. Experiments Iraq conducted in mixing aflatoxin with riot control agent appear particularly insidious as they would mask the exposure of individuals to this cancer causing agent.

The experiments with wheat smut are evidently aimed at developing economic weapons.

It was clear that Iraq understood that depending on the method of dispersal, the origin of the agent could be concealed. In other words, they understood the potential for conducting an attack that would be near impossible to connect to Baghdad as the responsible actor.

We have only two real choices in dealing with the Iraqi regime:

  • Allow Saddam and eventually his son to possess an increasingly larger assortment of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. Included in that set of weapons will be weapons that will be able to be used without our being able to trace back the source of the attack to its origin.
  • Invade, remove the regime from power, and then painstakingly search out all the weapons development, production and storage facilities.
By Randall Parker    2002 October 03 05:03 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (2)
Richard Spertzel on Iraqi biological weapons

Below are excerpts from a statement by Richard O. Spertzel, VMD, Ph.D., former head of the biology section of the UN Special Commission on Iraq before the US House Armed Services Committee on the state of Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction. Spertzel delivered this statement Sept, 10, 2002.

The first excerpt recalls just how long Iraq has been pursuing the development of biological weapons. Note the intent from the beginning to develop biological weapons for terrorist and covert purposes:

Iraq's Biological Weapons Program, Then and Now: Iraq asserts that its BW program began in 1985 and dismisses the earlier BW investigations that began in late 1972/early 1973 as being insignificant. From its inception in the 1970s, Iraq's BW program included both military and terrorist applications. The program included bacteria, viruses, toxins, and agents causing plant diseases. The agents included lethal and incapacitating agents for humans and economic damaging agents. The program sought enhanced virulence, environmental and antibiotic resistance, and aerosol dispersion. In other words, this was a well planned, broadly encompassing program. The covert (terrorist and assassination) feature of Iraq's program was not actively pursued by UNSCOM.

BW Program under Intelligence Service/Special Security Organization: The evidence suggests that Iraq's BW program was under the Intelligence Service/SSO. Much of this information came from senior Iraqi personnel, during the course of interviews. Hard evidence as might be expected is lacking.

Iraq's BW program (and, initially, it appears its chemical weapons (CW) program as well) was founded and funded by Iraq's Intelligence Service with some limited technical input from Iraq's Ministry of Defense. A variety of cover organizations were used to conceal the program including the Ministries of Interior, Health, and Higher Education and Scientific Research. From its inception, there were two distinct interests for the program. One dealt with the pursuit of agents that had small scale, covert application and the other would have application to larger scale strategic/military purpose.

Note the development of aflatoxin. It has no purpose on conventional battlefields because its effects are long term.

BW Program End of 1990: By any definition, in 1990/1991, Iraq's BW program was in an accelerating expansion phase. Iraq's bacterial BW capabilities were reasonably well established, including its ability for production, concentration, spray drying, and delivery to produce a readily dispersable small particle aerosol. Iraq was well underway in establishing a virus research, development, and production capability, but had not reached weaponization potential. Iraq had demonstrated an anticrop capability. It had demonstrated a mycotoxin capability. Although there was no information on an anti-animal program, such agents were well within Iraq's capability. Along with its agent production, Iraq was developing a weapons delivery capability, apparently for both short range and intermediate range delivery. The agents included lethal, incapacitating, and agricultural biological warfare agents. There is a major disparity between the amount of agent declared as produced by Iraq and that estimated by UNSCOM experts.

A serious issue concerns Iraq's interest in and weaponization of aflatoxin. It is apparent that Iraq's interest was in its long-term carcinogenic and liver toxicity effect rather than any short-term effects. One can only wonder what was the intended target population.

Was UNSCOM effectual? Well, Iraq was expanding its biological weapons program during the UNSCOM inspections era:

Iraq's BW program in 1998: Although Iraq claims that it "obliterated" the program in 1991 (without the supervision by the UN as was set out in the ceasefire resolution 687, April 1991), and in so doing it destroyed all weapons and bulk agents unilaterally without any further documentation. The evidence indicates rather that Iraq continued to expand its BW capabilities. UNSCOM monitoring, while useful in hindering Iraq's program, was not successful in preventing some degree of continuation of Iraq's BW investigations.

Expert panels concluded that it was not certain that Iraq had indeed "obliterated" its BW program. Documentation recovered by UNSCOM indicated a continued build up of Iraq's BW program capability. The organizations associated with its BW program continued to acquire and attempted to acquire equipment that would enhance its BW capability.

A new inspection regime under the old rules last in effect 1998 with the same lack of support by the UN Security Council (ie with UNSC permanent members France, China, and Russia actively colluding with Saddam to keep the powers of the inspectors weak) would be a farce:

UNSCOM was able to generate a lot of evidence that Iraqi declarations were not accurate. As regards the accuracy and completeness of Iraq's declaration and the likelihood that it was continuing its BW program, nothing has occurred to change the opinion of the experts. Nor does it appear, in spite of the lip-service that is given to getting inspectors back into Iraq, that there has been any material change in the support that an inspection regime might expect from UNSC P5 members. It appears that most of the proposals for getting inspectors back into Iraq is based on the premise that "any inspectors are better than none." To be blunt, that is pure rubbish, just an illusion of inspections. Even while UNSCOM inspectors were still operable, Iraq was constantly trying to restrict monitoring inspectors activities, curb their access, and require notification of inspections, even to monitored sites. Such limitations to monitoring would make such a regime a farce; under such circumstances, monitoring inspectors would be worse than no inspectors because it would provide an inappropriate illusion of compliance to the world community. What countries really believe and what they will espouse are most likely two entirely different views. I was told by a senior diplomat in 1998 "it would not matter if you placed a BW-laden Al Hussein warhead that you found in Iraq on the UNSC table, it would not change opinions about lifting sanctions". He added "if the CW and missile files are closed, the world will not care about biology." It appears to me that this may still be the viewpoint of several nations.

Here Spertzel makes an incredibly important point: Monitoring teams are not set up for discovery. Saddam can hide things from monitoring teams because the teams lack sufficient powers of investigation and they are working in a country where the populace is far far more afraid of Saddam than they are of the inspectors. Also, I added emphasis to the final paragraph of this excerpt for what it says about the UN Security Council. The UNSC has a history of not supporting the inspection teams and the same permanent UNSC members which worked to undermine inspections in the past by tolerating Saddam's obstruction will do so again. The UNSC is useless for the purpose of trying to stop WMD proliferation.

Monitoring: Monitoring teams, unlike popular misperception, are not set up for discovery, e.g., finding undeclared sites or completing unfinished proscribed program investigations. Rather these teams were designed to be a deterrent to reconstituting a proscribed program using dual-use equipment at declared sites. In UNSCOM terminology this meant the large-scale military relevant programs; it did not address the very low-scale required for terrorist purposes. Implementation of monitoring by UNSCOM was predicated on Iraq fully and willingly cooperating with UNSCOM; that did not happen. Iraq would only give up and can be expected to give up only what the inspectors can find and prove.

It was also predicated on Iraq providing full and complete disclosure of its proscribed BW program; that did not happen. It was also predicated on Iraq making full and accurate disclosure of all facilities containing dual use equipment and capability; that did not happen.

To be effective, the monitoring system must pose a reasonable risk to Iraq of the monitoring system detecting violations of a significant scale. Even under the best of circumstances it would be almost impossible to detect small-scale research, development, and production of BW agents by a State determined to conduct such activities. Without a sense of certainty by Iraq that there would be severe repercussions by a united UNSC, monitoring does not have a chance of true success.

A fundamental requirement for monitoring to be effective depends not only on having highly qualified inspectors but equally important on full support by the UNSC. Past history indicates that Iraq can hinder and in some cases outright block inspectors with impunity and then attempt to blame the incidents on the inspectors. The UNSC does not seem able to equate failure to cooperate with failure to comply.

In this section Spertzel hammers home the point that Saddam isn't just developing bioweapons for battlefield use. At the same time, it is extremely hard to trace back bioterrorism attacks to their point of origin. An example of Saddam's intent in this regard is his development of aflatoxin. So does Saddam want to be able to able to conduct attacks for which he can deny involvement? Seems obvious:

Bioterrorism Threat: The world's press in recent weeks has cited the opposition of most nations in the Middle East and Europe to any action against Iraq. It is cited that Iraq is weakened and does not pose any immediate and significant threat. It seems to me this does not address the terrorist threat posed by Iraq's WMD programs. One would think after 9/11, a more realistic appraisal of Iraq's capability and willingness to use WMD as terrorist weapons would be forthcoming. As I cited above, Iraq's BW program from its inception included a terrorist component.

The threat that Iraq's BW program poses as a bioterrorist weapon to any of its perceived enemies is enormous. While much attention is focused on bioterrorism against people, the economic devastation that could be wreaked on the food animal or food crop industry may be far greater in the long term effect. Clearly the greater danger for the US at home and abroad that is posed by Iraq's WMD activities is the potential for its use in terrorism, whether by Iraq directly or through support to terrorist organizations. Should Iraq be involved with using its BW expertise in bioterrorist activities, it may be impossible to find a "smoking gun" that would implicate Iraq. BW agents are unlikely to have a signature that will definitively pinpoint a laboratory or a country as the origin.

Concern for BW terrorism is not limited to immediate manifestation of such uses. It is worth recalling Iraq's developing and alleged weaponization of aflatoxin. Such an agent has no military relevant application and would only have relevance where an enemy did not know it was attacked or could not fight back. Iraq has shown a willingness to use CW agents on its neighbor and its own population, might it also have used or intended to use aflatoxin on such defenseless populations? It takes ten years or more for aflatoxin to manifest its carcinogenic and liver damaging effects.2

Spertzel thinks Saddam's Bioweapons threat is greater now than in 1990 and in very dangerous ways. The added ability to do genetic engineering to pathogens is frightening:

It has had 12 years to advance its viral capability and, as I have cited elsewhere, this almost certainly includes smallpox as an agent. Even more ominous is Iraq's successful efforts to acquire the necessary equipment and reagents for adding genetic engineering to its BW repertoire. This was particularly alarming because, at the same time, key personnel in Iraq's virus and bioengineering BW program were no longer functional at their stated work locations. There is no doubt in my mind that Iraq has a much stronger BW program today than it had in 1990. Perhaps of most concern would be anthrax and tularemia bacteria and smallpox virus as well as antianimal and anticrop agents.

By Randall Parker    2002 October 03 12:12 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (2)
2002 October 02 Wednesday
Former UN Weapons Inspectors on Saddam Hussein

Margaret Wente of Canada's Globe And Mail has some great comments from some former UN Iraq weapons inspectors. She starts with Charles Duelfer, former UN' deputy chief weapons inspector in Iraq. Duelfer thinks a new inspections regime would fail. He also thinks we shouldn't assume that Saddam will make nuclear use calculations that we would make:

Okay, then. So what if Saddam gets nukes? He'd never dare to use them. Or so the peace faction says.

"We make the mistake of believing that he thinks like we do," said Mr. Duelfer. "But he believes that, if he had a nuke, then no one would threaten him. He knows he got it backward in 1990. He was six months away from having an atomic weapon when he invaded Kuwait. If he goes into Kuwait again, are we going to attack Baghdad if we think he will incinerate Tel Aviv?"

She also quotes Richard Spertzel and then David Kay:

David Kay, another former UN inspector, was in charge of nuclear weapons. "Saddam's Iraq was and is a brutal, totalitarian dictatorship that can survive as long as it maintains coercive power over its citizens," he testified before Congress last month. "Once Saddam's survival became a fact, all hope of his voluntarily yielding up the very weapons that allow him to hope to dominate the region was lost." Mr. Kay figures more delays only play into Saddam's hands.

Then she quotes Kenneth Pollack. Do go read the full article.

By Randall Parker    2002 October 02 08:17 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
Kenneth Pollack on Iraq and Circumstantial Evidence

Kenneth Pollack argues that the absence of a smoking gun on Iraq is not a reason to let Saddam Hussein off the hook. The preponderance of circumstantial evidence on Iraq's activities is compelling:

Former CIA analyst and national security aide Kenneth Pollack, who urges a U.S. invasion to overthrow Hussein, said reports throughout the last year alleging Iraqi ties to the Sept. 11 attacks, anthrax-laced letters and an al-Qaida enclave in northern Iraq weren't helpful.

"There's no smoking gun in any of the reports. Nobody has a smoking gun on Saddam," said Pollack, who is research director at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy with the Washington-based Brookings Institution. "But when you look at the evidence, it does start to paint a compelling picture. Any prosecutor will tell you most of his convictions are built on circumstantial evidence."

By Randall Parker    2002 October 02 07:20 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (1)
2002 October 01 Tuesday
Saddam Hussein Pursues Strategic Obfuscation

Saddam is playing games:

By first saying that UN weapons inspectors could return with no preconditions, and then rejecting any new UN rules governing the inspectors' work, Mr. Hussein appears to be returning to the old pattern of strategic obfuscation that marked many of his actions both before and after the 1991 Gulf War.

The reason he doesn't want new inspection rules is that by playing a game of brinkmanship with the help of France, China and Russia he was gradually able to water down the old inspection regime so that the final rules of the previous regime made it easy for him to hide things from the inspectors. As long as the old rules are retained the inspectors won't be very effective.

By Randall Parker    2002 October 01 01:20 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2002 September 26 Thursday
On The Ineffectiveness of UN Weapons Inspections

Richard Spertzel, former chief biological weapons inspector for the UN in Iraq, discusses the problems the old UNSCOM inspection program had in dealing with the Iraqi regime:

Iraq's multiple so-called "Full, Final, and Complete Declarations" that it had disclosed everything about its prohibited biological weapons program have never been accurate or complete. Nothing appears to have changed Iraq's willingness to eliminate its weapons of mass destruction. Nor does it appear, in spite of the lip service given to getting inspectors back into Iraq, that there has been any significant change in the support that an inspection regime might expect from U.N. Security Council members. The existing resolutions also existed in 1997 and 1998 and failed to get Iraq's full cooperation, in part thanks to Russia's and France's support for whatever Iraq wanted.

So the same governments that do not want the US to attack Iraq also contributed to the failure of inspections as a way to prevent Iraq from developing WMD. Why should we respect their opinions at this point?

By Randall Parker    2002 September 26 12:59 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (2)
2002 September 20 Friday
Brink Lindsey: Why Weapons Inspections Won't Work

Brink Lindsey has a great post on the futility of inspections to control a regime that places a high priority on WMD development:

Any attempt to defuse the Iraqi crisis by sending in weapons inspectors is doomed to founder on this basic problem: Agreements that require ongoing, affirmative performance from one of the parties cannot work if that party doesn’t want to perform.

In contract law, when an employee breaches an employment contract by quitting or failing to show up at work or failing to do his job, the employer can’t get an injunction requiring the bum to do what he signed up to do. In legal parlance, the employer can't obtain "specific performance" of the contract; the best he can do is get money damages. Why? Because the law recognizes that it’s impractical to try to force someone to give the level of ongoing performance that one expects from a willing employee. You could order the guy to show up at work, but it would be impossible to spell out in advance all the specific acts that he needs to undertake to be the employee he was hired to be -- to use his brain, show initiative, assume responsibility, and exhibit creativity in the face of the ongoing, ever-changing circumstances of the job.

He follows with excerpts from the experiences of the UNSCOM inspection team in Iraq written by Charles Duelfer, formerly its deputy executive chairman (I would encourage anyone to go read the full articles). What is most disturbing about this account is how much the will was lacking on the part of the UN to force Saddam's compliance with inspections. Then having demonstrated just how well the Iraqis were able to work around UNSCOM Lindsey says:

It turns out the whole post-Gulf War disarmament scheme was based on a faulty premise: namely, that Iraq wanted oil revenues more than it wanted weapons of mass destruction. If that were true, then the prospect of having sanctions removed would have motivated Iraq to disarm and cooperate with inspectors to verify the fact of disarmament. Alas, the fact is that developing WMDs is so important to Saddam Hussein's regime that it has been willing to forgo hundreds of billions of dollars in oil revenue if that is the price that has to be paid.

Assuming that the same regime still has the same priorities, there's absolutely no reason to think that a new round of weapons inspections is going to accomplish anything. Accordingly, for the same reason that regime change was needed to end the nuclear arms race with Moscow, and that regime change among the Palestinians is the key to peace in the Middle East, the only reliable way to eliminate Iraq's WMD threat is to eliminate the regime intent upon developing that threat.

This is an important point. The question is this: What are we supposed to hit Saddam over the head with if he doesn't allow total access for the inspectors? What wasn't already tried during the UNSCOM era? Well, some people suggest bombing any facility that Saddam denies access to. But wait, what if Saddam places those facilities in residential buildings? Do we blow up apartment buildings full of civilians just because he won't let us into some basement room? How will people all over the world respond to that? The real problem is that he doesn't want to comply and is willing to pay a very high cost for non-compliance.

It was a shock in some quarters when the USSR fell apart and the extent of its cheating on arms control regimes became known. Ken Alibek's revelations on the size of the Soviet bioweapons program demonstrated just how useless unverifiable agreements can be. If we have the alternative of replacing an unwilling regime with a more compliant one then that will do more to eliminate the threat than any inspection team.

See another excellent previous post by Brink Lindsey There's No Invisible Hand in Foreign Affairs and his follow-up with some answers to critics of his previous argument

By Randall Parker    2002 September 20 04:04 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (1)
2002 September 19 Thursday
Rumsfeld says inspections inadequate

Rumsfeld testimony before the House Armed Services Committee:

But Rumsfeld used the occasion to reinforce his point on U.S. insistence on disarmament. "There is obviously a misunderstanding on the part of those who think that the goal is inspections," he said.

And he asserted again that Hussein's possession of chemical and biological weapons and his steady steps toward developing a nuclear capability demand swift action, without waiting for the indisputable evidence -- or "smoking gun" -- sought by some.

"The last thing we want to see is a smoking gun. A gun smokes after it's been fired…. If someone waits for a smoking gun, it's certain we will have waited too long," he declared.

"I suggest that any who insist on perfect evidence are back in the 20th century and still thinking in pre-9/11 terms," Rumsfeld said. Waiting for full evidence before acting, against the background of last year's terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, cannot be justified "unless we are willing and comfortable accepting the loss of not thousands of lives, but potentially tens of thousands of lives," he argued.

Rumsfeld ticked off the administration's reasons for singling out Iraq for action, while acknowledging that other nations -- he cited North Korea, Iran, Libya and Syria by name -- also present a serious threat to the United States and the world.

"Iraq is unique," he said. "No other living dictator matches Saddam Hussein's record of waging aggressive war against his neighbors; pursuing weapons of mass destruction; using WMD against his own people and other nations; launching ballistic missiles at his neighbors; brutalizing and torturing his own citizens; harboring terrorist networks; engaging in terrorist acts, including the attempted assassination of foreign officials; violating his international commitments; lying, cheating and hiding his WMD programs; deceiving and defying the express will of the United Nations over and over again."

Update: You can find the complete transcripts of Rumsfeld's Sept. 18, 2002 HASC testimony here.

By Randall Parker    2002 September 19 01:19 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
Lileks on the problem with weapons inspections

Lileks doesn't think they can work:

They can find the proof if they’re given unrestricted access to all of Iraq! In a best case scenario, this is like saying they can find the needle if they’re permitted to search the entire haystack - which, incidentally, is nine miles wide. (And part of it is on fire.) It almost sounds as if they believe the Marines will swarm over every installation simultaneously, kick down doors, and shoot anyone who fumbles with the keys for more than ten seconds.

I agree. The only way we can find all the weapons labs is to capture the country and interrogate the weapons labs workers and managers. Once they no longer are under the control of Saddam they will become very talkative very quickly.

By Randall Parker    2002 September 19 01:03 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
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