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SEPTEMBER 19, 2002

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Nations employees who are likely to be hobbled by the United Nations' notoriously inefficient bureaucracy. These inspectors are not set up to make effective use of intelligence information. In the 1990's, American intelligence officials supplied secret information to selected Unscom inspectors, knowing that the information would be protected and be used to uncover hidden Iraqi weapons facilities. At Unmovic, however, no inspector will be allowed to receive intelligence information on a privi leged basis, a policy that increases the risk of leaks to the Iraqis. Unmovic has also declared that it will not allow any information gathered from its inspections to flow back to national intelligence agencies. This eliminates the main incentive for intelligence sources to provide Unmovic with useful information in the first place.

Even if it is allowed into Iraq, Unmovic will run up against obstacies at least as formidable as those that stymied Unscom After years of practice, Unscom became adept at launching surprise visits to weapons sites, yet Iraq's intelligence operatives defeated it more often than not. It was a rare inspection when the Iraqis did not know what the inspectors were looking for before they arrived. Most Unmovic inspectors have little experience in Iraq and even less in handling intelligence information.

Compounding this handicap is the fact that frag has taken consider able pains to make its weapons pro

grams mobile. Laboratories, components and materials are ready to hit the road at a moment's notice Once. as an experiment, Unscom had pho tos taken from a U2 spy plane of a site that it was about to inspect. First the photos showed no activity. then large numbers of Iraqi vehicles leaving the site, then no activity, then the inspectors' vehicles arriv ing

Unmovic is also stuck with a deal the United Nations made in 1998 on "presidential sites." Iraq is allowed to designate vast swaths of land (big enough to contain entire factories) that the inspectors can visit only after announcing the visit in advance, disclosing the composition of the inspection team (nuclear or biological experts, for example) and taking along a special group of diplomats. This loophole creates refuges for mobile items and could defeat virtually any inspection effort

New inspections will occur under the threat of imminent American military action. Any announcement that Iraq is not cooperating could be a casus belli. Such a risk might encourage Unmovic to monitor what is already known rather than aggressively try to find what is hidden. This could mean that the goal of inspections the disarmament of Iraq-might never be achieved.




Phich brings us to heart of the matter. Inspections can only do one thing well: verify that a country's declarations about a weapons program are honest and complete. It is feasible for inspectors to look at sites and equipment to see whether the official story about their use is accurate. Inspectors can rely on scientific principles, intelligence information and surprise visits to known weapons production sites to test what they are told. It is a different proposition altogether to wander about a country looking for what has been deliberately concealed. That is a task with no end.

For inspectors to do their job, they have to have the truth, which can only come from the Iraqis. As President Bush told the United Nations Last week, the world needs an Iraqi government that will stop lying and surrender the weapons programs. That is not likely to happen as long as Saddam Hussein remains in pow


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