Draft UN Resolution on Iraq Lacks Plan for Return of International Weapons Inspections and Long-Term Arms Monitoring

by Corey Hinderstein and David Albright

May 16, 2003

On May 15, 2003, the United States, United Kingdom, and Spain circulated a new draft resolution to the United Nations Security Council that, like the previous draft, fails to reinforce the key requirements of previous UN Security Council resolutions for the role of international inspectors or the implementation of the ongoing monitoring and verification (OMV) system against Iraq possessing any banned weapons. The Security Council should insist that UNMOVIC and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) return to Iraq to continue their efforts.

The Security Council should implement the OMV system called for in resolution 687. The prohibitions on Iraq possessing or producing nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons and long range ballistic missiles should be re-emphasized. Most importantly, the United Nations Security Council should be authorized to implement measures called for in previous resolutions, such as the return of weapons inspectors. As long as the inspections are carried out solely by the military coalition the process will not be effective, efficient, or transparent. The inclusion of UNMOVIC and IAEA teams would also improve the credibility of any WMD findings, or lack of any significant evidence of WMD.

The draft resolution would lift the civilian sanctions on Iraq, establish a special coordinator for activities in Iraq, and create a fund to pay for reconstruction activities with Iraqi oil sale revenue. It also defines a mechanism through which the United States and the United Kingdom retain a veto over the end of UN-sanctioned coalition control in Iraq.

The draft resolution includes preambular language that reaffirms “the importance of disarmament of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction,” and says that the situation in Iraq “continues to constitute a threat to international peace and security.” However, these statements are both preambular and there is no operative language that discusses UN inspections or OMV systems. There is operative language that says that the newly-created Iraqi Assistance Fund should be used for, inter alia, the “continued disarmament of Iraq,” but does not say who would carry out those activities. There is nothing in the resolution which precludes UNMOVIC/IAEA activities in Iraq, but the role of those bodies should be explicitly required.

Operative paragraph 10 of the draft resolution effectively implements paragraphs 21 and 22 of Security Council resolution 687, but does not link such action to resolution 687 specifically. The paragraph lifts all restrictions on trade with Iraq, except the sale of arms and related material.

The US effort to search for weapons of mass destruction and protect sensitive sites and information in Iraq has so far been poorly managed. The Mobile Exploitation Teams (MET) created for the purpose of finding WMD or evidence of WMD activities have faced many obstacles. Members of the search teams have become increasingly frustrated. One told the media that they were only “going through the motions to ‘check the blocks’ on a prewar list” which was inaccurate. Another frustrated MET expert said that they “thought they would be more intensively employed than [they] were.” MET team members have said that the widespread looting and insecurity of sites, even after they have been identified as important, have been the greatest impediments to their weapons hunt.1

US Defense officials have acknowledged that the US government has “no idea” if any of the tonnes of nuclear material has been stolen from the Tuwaitha nuclear research center,2 which remained inadequately guarded for weeks. The IAEA has repeatedly asked to return to Tuwaitha under its Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) mandate to determine if any safeguarded materials have been looted from the site. The requests have received no response.

This draft resolution will likely go through more revision before coming to a vote in the Security Council. It should, in its final form, reflect an understanding by the Council that the arms inspection process in the short term, and the implementation of the OMV system in the long term, are most effectively and appropriately carried out by international teams from UNMOVIC and the IAEA.

1 “Frustrated, U.S. Arms Team to Leave Iraq,” Barton Gelman, The Washington Post, May 11, 2003, p A1.
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2 “U.S. Has Not Inspected Iraqi Nuclear Facility,” Barton Gelman, The Washington Post, April 25, 2003, p A14.
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