Now for the Hard Part:  Implementing Strengthened Inspections in Iraq

by David Albright and Corey Hinderstein

November 14, 2002

The adoption of Resolution 1441 by the United Nations Security Council on November 8, 2002 was a major accomplishment. Iraq must now decide whether it will comply with its obligations to disarm as required by this and other U.N. Security Council resolutions. A key aspect of ensuring that Iraq complies is an effective inspection system. The resolution has strengthened the inspection process and has provided new methods to ensure that Iraqi deception is detected in a timely manner. However, the implementation of effective inspections requires that the inspectors and the Security Council address several complex challenges. These challenges include:

Ensuring that inspectors are polite but insistent.

There is a pressing need to return to the aggressive, creative spirit of the first Iraq nuclear inspection missions that took place during the Spring and Summer of 1991. At that time, inspectors were willing to use all of the rights and powers granted them by the Security Council in order to accomplish their task of discovering and destroying Iraq’s banned weapons programs. Inspectors should be respectful and impartial, but they should assert all of the rights granted to them by the Security Council. Above all, inspectors need to be skeptical of Iraqi claims and insist that Iraq provide evidence supporting its statements and declarations. Inspectors must strive to recognize when Iraqis are telling lies or holding back from telling the complete truth.

Developing information sharing between inspectors and UN member states.

UNMOVIC’s emphasis on one-way sharing of information is self-defeating over time. UNMOVIC must share information with member-state governments if it expects governments to continue sharing information. If for no other reason, member states want to know that their information was used effectively and properly.

Providing usable information to inspectors.

National governments have to provide detailed, actionable information to the inspectors. Given the length of time that inspectors have been out of Iraq, member states’ information, specifically related to illicit procurement, and the location and status of possible clandestine weapons sites or activities, could be the key to determining whether Iraq is complying with its obligations.

Assessing the declarations.

Once Iraq presents its declaration, as they are required to do by December 8, 2002, the inspectors must assess the completeness and correctness of the documents. In order to do this more effectively, they should share the declarations with member states and possibly also the public.

Increasing the number of inspectors.

More inspectors can improve the coverage of inspection tasks and reduce the time needed to conduct initial assessments. The pool of inspectors can be dramatically increased, as it was in the 1990s, by recruiting inspectors on a temporary basis from national governments, especially national laboratories. Experts with specialized knowledge or skills have demonstrated that they can begin inspection efforts quickly and carry them out effectively. Resolution 1441 says that inspection teams should be comprised of “the most qualified and experienced experts available,” but it is unclear whether the inspectors will be loaned from national governments, non-governmental organizations, or private corporations.

Establishing procedures and facilities to interview Iraqis.

In order to interview Iraqi scientists without minders, inspectors need to re-establish quickly a location that is bug-free and bug proof, and determine a way to get the Iraqis there in a safe and timely manner.

Establishing procedures to remove key Iraqis and their families from Iraq.

UNMOVIC and the Action Team must establish a procedure or protocol to remove Iraqi scientists, with their families, from Iraq. Senators Joseph Biden and Arlen Spector have co-sponsored a bill in the U.S. Senate to increase the number of Iraqis who can come to the United States.

Removing natural and low enriched uranium from Iraq.

While this step is not currently required of Iraq, it is a measure that the Security Council and the inspectors should pursue to make it more difficult and time consuming for Iraq to make nuclear weapons. There is no reason for this material to remain in Iraq, as Iraq cannot use these materials for any civil purpose.

Demonstrating that Iraqi scientists work in non-prohibited programs.

In the 1990s, Iraq said that its scientists no longer worked in banned weapons programs. However, in fact the scientists were kept together in, what the inspectors viewed as, “unreal career paths.” In this way, Iraq preserved its ability to have the teams continue working on banned programs or to restart banned weapons programs quickly. Iraq should be required to disband its former weapons teams, and demonstrate that the scientists have legitimate projects or work.

Re-implementing on-going monitoring and verification (OMV) systems.

Inspectors must re-establish the monitoring systems, including environmental monitoring, aerial surveys, and real-time video camera surveillance of dual-use equipment and activities, which are essential to ensuring that Iraq complies over the long term. In addition, the inspectors must re-establish a baseline effort lost when the inspectors left in 1998. This effort included performing periodic inspections at hundreds of Iraqi facilities located throughout the country to ensure that these sites were not involved in any banned activities. Although OMV systems are a priority, their implementation should not dominate the inspectors’ efforts to the exclusion of higher, immediate priorities aimed at testing whether Iraq will cooperate with inspectors and demonstrating that Iraq intends to comply with its obligations.

Recognizing that determining compliance will take time.

Noncompliance can be determined as soon as Iraq defies a Security Council mandated obligation. Compliance, however, will take longer to assess. It will likely take longer than the first 60-day period to conclude that Iraq is in compliance with its obligations. As a result, even if Iraq is not proven to be non-compliant by the end of this period, the inspectors, the Security Council, and the international community will need to remain vigilant to ensure that Iraq does not violate its commitments later and act decisively if Iraq does so.

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