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WASHINGTON 'any voices are NOW calling for renewed United Nations inspections in Iraq.
Some belong to critics of the Bush administration who are opposed to war. Others beJong to those who favor war but see Inspections - which they fully ex
. A lying regime makes verification an endless chase.
Unmovic is also stuck with a deal the United Nations made in 1998 on "presidential sites." Irag is allowed to designate vest swaths of land (big enough to contain cadre factories) that the Inspectors can visit only after announcing the visie in adrace, disclosing the composition of the inspection toum (nuclear or bio logical experts, for example) and taking along a special group of diplomats. This loophole creates refuges for mobile Items and could defeat virtually any inspection etfort
New inspections will occur under the threat of imminent American military action. Any announcement that Ireg is not cooperating could be
casus bell. Such I tak might encourage Unmovic to monitor what is already knowo rather than a gressively try to flad what is hidden. This could mean that the foal of inspections - the disarmalment of Iraq - might never be achieved.
pect to low-u the needed triecor. ing eveot for war. Still other trag aperts believe that Saddam Husseta hizarell will invite the inspec. tors back as I means of forestalling Invasion t troops begin to move in his direction.
Whatever ope's Facce on how best to handle Saddam Hussein, it is crucial to understand one thing: United Nations inspections, u thay are currently coostituted, will never wort
There are several reasons for this Consider the record of the Unted Nation Special Commission, an Agency that was charged with inspecting Iraq's weapons programs from 1901 to 1986. While Uascom did manage to destroy tons of missiles and chemical and biological weap ons, it could not complete the job. Iraqi obfuscations prevented it trom ever goatng tall picture of the entir weapons production offort. The commission's replacement, the United Nations Monitoring Verific tion and Inspection Commission which has not yet been allowed to inter Iraq, will have even less suc. cuss given its structure and policies
Unscora was scatted mainly by officials on loan from national governments who did not owe their jobs to the United Nations; Unmovic per sonnel, on the other hand, are United
Nacions employees aho are likely to de hobbled by the United Nations notoriously inefficient bureaucracy.
These inspectors are cot set up to make effective use of Intelligence Information. In the 1990's, American Intelligence officials supplied secret information to selected Unscom in spectors, knowing that the informadon would be protected and be used to uncover hidden Iraqi weapons to cilities. Al Unmovic, however, no inspector will be allowed to receive Intelligence Information on a privt leged basis, policy that increases the risk of leaks to the Iraqus. Uomo vic bas also declared that it will not allow any information gathered trom its inspections to flow back to national intelligence agencies. This eliminates the main incentive for intelligence sources to provide Unmovie with useful information to the first place
Even Il te is allowed into long Unmovic will run up mainst obute clas u letse u formidable us those that stymied Unsoon After years of practice, Unscom becampo adept at launching surprise Visits to weapons sites, yet Iraq's intelligence opera tives defeated it more often than not It wu a run inspection when the Iraqis did not know what the inspec. tors were looking for before they arrived Most Unmovic inspectors have little experience in ing mod even less in handling Intelligence information.
Compounding this handicap is the fact that fra has taken consider able pains to make its weapons pro
hich brings us to the heart of the
Datter. In spections
can only do one thing well : vertly that a country's declaracions 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 Intor mation and surprise visits to know 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 bave to have the truth, which can only come from the Iraqis. As President Bush told the United Nations Last week, the world needs an tragi government that will stop lying and surrender the weapons programs. That is not likely to happen as long as Saddam Hussein remains in pow.
Gary Mithollin is director of the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Com trol. Kelly Motz is the editor of Iraq Watch.org
Iraq: The Snare of Inspections
Gary Milhollin & Kelly Motz
[VERY TIME war clouds gather over Baghdad, L Saddam Hussein bas a habit of hinding that he may allow UN arms inspectors to return. Similarly, every time war clouds gather over Baghdad, voices in the United States and elsewhere, including some in or near the Bush administration, can be heard urging a new and improved system of inspections. Today, some of those voices belong to critics of administration policy who are opposed to war with Iraq. Others favor war but think a provocation, or "triggering event," is lacking, and they see inspections (which they fully expect to fail) as providing the necessary trigger.
The inspectors departed Iraq in 1998 after enduring more than seven years of tricks and obfuscations, all aimed at protecting the country's programs for building weapons of mass destruction. Since then, Saddam's interest in renewed inspections has been aroused in direct proportion to the perceived risk that his country will be invaded. When things are quiet, he has refused even to consider letting the United Nations back-in egregious violation of his pledges under UN resolutions and therefore of international law. But now GARY MILHOLLIN is the director of the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear drms Control in Washington, D.C., and KELLY Motz edits the Project's Iraq Watch.org website. The prerent article is based in part on the conclusions of a panel of five former UN inspectors and a former intelligence official who met in June under the auspices of the Wisconsin Project to ascess the prospects of a resumed inspections regime in Iraq.
that Washington is seriously contemplating “regime change," he may well announce that inspectors are once again welcome.
If he does, he can count on Russia and France, Iraq's allies on the Security Council, to rally the world in favor of giving peace a chance. Any delay on Saddam's part in admitcing or cooperating with inspectors will then still look better than war, and it will become that much harder to argue that Uncle Sam should use soldiers and bullets to do what international civil servants could do with blue helmets and notebooks. If inspectors go back in, said Jack Straw, Britain's Foreign Secretary, only last month, "plainly the case for military action recedes."
Whatever one's stance on the question of how best to handle Saddam Hussein, it is vital to understand one thing. Unless the Iraqi dictator should suddenly and totally reverse course on arms inspection and everything that goes with it, or be forced into early retirement-in other words, unless Saddam Hussein's Iraq ceases to be Saddam Hussein's Iraq-inspections will never work.
THERE ARE several reasons why this is so. Some
1 of these reasons have to do with recent changes in the UN's own inspection apparatus. Ochers inhere in the nature of the man, and the regime, we are dealing with.
Almost three years ago, a new UN Monitoring, | Verification, and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC)
IRAQ: THE SNARE OF INSPECTIONS
replaced the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM). The latter, which for seven years had run the inspection effort in Iraq, was a special-purpose enterprise operated by officials on loan from national governments. The former, which has yet to take the field, is modeled on the UN's notoriously inefficient bureaucracy.
This change has a number of serious and debilitating implications. Among other things, UN inspectors are no longer set up to make effective use of intelligence information—an essential tool for determining whether Iraq is telling the truth. In the 1990's, when U.S. intelligence officials agreed to supply secret information to the UN inspectors, they did so only after becoming confident that the inspectors were themselves willing and able to use the information thereby received to uncover forbidden Iraqi weapon efforts. The information went only to inspectors who were individually trusted to protect it; these inspectors obtained the information on a privileged basis, and could be counted on co use it aggressively.
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 inore 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.
UNMOVIC's prohibition on dialogue apparently extends even to analysis. The agency recently refused an offer by a supporting Western government to help evaluate information UNMOVIC already had on hand. By thus depriving itself of access to friendly national governments, UNMOVIC has chosen ignorance over knowledge and removed one of the greatest incentives for providing intelligence in formation in the first place. And without a return flow of information, the governments concerned can hardly place confidence in UNMOVIC's inspection reports, especially if they reflect favorably on Iraq's behavior.
Nor is that all. Unlike their predecessors at UNSCOM, UNMOVIC's inspectors have been required to sever all links with their national governments and to become UN employees. Although UNMOVIC does train its inspectors in security precautions, it has no process for security clearance per se-without which there is no way to assess an inspector's personal reliability, to guarantee that he is not an intelligence agent, or to punish him if he reveals secret information. Even if UNMOVIC had not already moved to sever the loop of reciprocal relations, this lack of security would probably be enough by itself to inhibit most national governments from providing the agency with sensitive equipment or techniques of analysis.
Co much for internal considerations. On the
ground, in Iraq itself, UNMOVIC would soon run up against obstacles at least as formidable as those with which UNSCOM had to cope, and which UNMOVIC is far less equipped to handle.
UNSCOM conducted some 260 inspections in Iraq over its seven years there. A fair number of these were surprise visits with no advance notice, an enterprise at which UNSCOM had become particularly adept. Even so, Iraq's intelligence operatives defeated it more often than not: only about a halfdozen of the surprise inspections actually succeeded. Saddam Hussein's agents were active in hotel rooms in both New York and Baghdad as well as at the UN building in New York. It was a rare inspection when the Iraqis did not know what the inspectors were looking for before they arrived at the site to be searched
Compounding the advantage held by Iraq in this regard is the success it has achieved, at considerable expense, in making its secret weapon efforts mobile. Laboratories, components, and materials are ready to hit the road at a moment's notice. During
COMMENTARY OCTOBER 2002
the days when UNSCOM was conducting inspec- principle of immediate, unconditional, and unrecions, this mobility was revealed graphically in U-2 stricted access that is essential to effective inspecphotos of a suspect site. The pictures were taken in tions, and render inspection of these sites virtually sequence as soon as an inspection team left its impossible. headquarters. The first photos show no activity at İraq initially designated eight such presidential the site; a slightly later sequence reveals a large sites-each a swath of land large enough to conceal number of vehicles leaving the site: then there is entire factories as well as mobile equipment or labagain no activity; and then the vehicles of the in oratories. It also retained the prerogative to desigspectors arrive.
nate new sites at any time, and to decide just how UNMOVIC has not yet indicated whether it will many sites there are, where they are, how big they conduct surprise inspections, but it is hardly likely are, and what they include. All such locations, in efco do better at them than UNSCOM, and will almost fect, create refuges for mobile items. If Iraq chooscertainly do worse. The same goes for regular, es to use them aggressively, they could be a loopscheduled inspections. Most UNMOVIC inspectors hole large enough to defeat any inspection effort. have little or no experience in Iraq, and, worse, lit Finally, one must consider that any new inspecde or no experience in handling or evaluating in tions in Iraq will be occurring under the threat of telligence information. In effect, this will be a team imminent American military action. President Bush of rookies going to bat against a world-class intelli has emphasized that the United States is determined gence organization highly practiced at foiling in to use all the tools at our disposal” to remove Sadspections.
dam Hussein from power; under such conditions, UNMOVIC's recruitment procedures do not help. any announcement by UN arms inspectors that Iraq In assembling staff for an inspection team, UNSCOM is not cooperating is likely to be viewed as a casus looked for experts who had actually worked on the belli. But UN organizations do not normally like to specific technology it was targeting—not just, say, a trigger wars. How can this not inhibit the readiness person familiar with missile or rocket design but one of UNMOVIC to issue any such damning report, rewho knew Scuds specifically. To accomplish this, gardless of Iraq's actual behavior? UNSCOM recruited from countries that had already Besides, UNMOVIC's staff has spent more than built advanced missiles, or whose expertise was de two years in New York getting ready to return to rived from military programs. UNMOVIC, by con Iraq, and will hardly be eager to admit that it has trast, has chosen not to work this way. In order to failed to secure Iraq's cooperation. Rather, there achieve “geographic balance," UN-style, it hires will be every incentive to define inspection tasks staff from around the world, including from coun narrowly-chus making it easier for Iraq to comply, tries that do not themselves possess relevant weapon at least nominally—and to avoid any aggressive inprograms or expertise.
spection activity. UNMOVIC's executive chairman, The results are predictable, and are likely to re Hans Blix, is fully empowered to set policy in this verberate down the line, not just in planning and regard; in his previous career as director of the Incarrying out no-notice inspections (or inspections ternational Atomic Energy Agency, Blix usually of any kind) but in generating new “baseline" in avoided confrontation (except when dealing with formation on the numerous Iraqi sites and in set North Korea) and also missed Iraq's vast clandesting up a proper monitoring regime. In one way or tine effort to build nuclear weapons. another, UNMOVIC's inexperience will make itself What Blix would do now in Iraq is unknownfelt in the myriad small signals that will tip off the although, if he were to choose nonconfrontation, Iraqis to its intentions.
he would admittedly have one or two arguments on
his side. Even nonconfrontational inspections are TILL MORE obstacles remain to be mentioned. disruptive to a degree, and even when UNSCOM J UNMOVIC is stuck with a deal that UN Secre was not surprising the Iraqis, it was forcing them to tary General Kofi Annan made with Iraq in Febru mount a large concealment effort and move key ary 1998, just before the UN inspectors left. Ac equipment from one site to another, which made it cording to its terms, inspectors at certain sites—the harder to run illicit programs. Nonconfrontationso-called "presidential sites"-must be accompa al inspections also yielded much essential informanied by members of a “Special Group" of diplo- tion about Iraq's actual progress in making massmats, and must also notify Iraq in advance of any destruction weapons. (This was mainly so in the inspection, even disclosing the composition of the in | case of the country's missile program; in the case of spection team. Such procedures contradict the lits biological program, which was and is easier to
IRAO: THE SNARE OF INSPECTIONS
conceal, the nonconfrontational model was of far less benefit.)
In the present instance, however, a policy of avoiding confrontation will be dangerous in the extreme. Inspections will then be aimed only at monitoring what is already known rather than at searching aggressively for what is still hidden. Moreover, the very failure to find anything new will feed the demand that the embargo against Iraq be lifted without the goal of inspections-namely, disarmament-ever being achieved. The price to be paid will be all the higher in view of the elementary fact that, since the day inspections began in 1991, Iraq has consistently tried to defeat them.
But that brings us to the heart of the matter. What is it that inspections are designed to do?
They are designed to verify that a country's declarations about a weapon program are honest and
complete. And that sort of verification is indeed a feasible goal for an inspection team: to look at sites and equipment and see whecher the official story about their use is accurate. To do this effectively, inspectors can rely both on scientific principles and on information gained through intelligence-gathering. It is a different proposition altogether to go ranging about a country in search of things that have been deliberately concealed; that is a task with no beginning and no end.
In short, without a full and coherent description of the entire Iraqi weapon program, inspectors can never verify that it has been eliminated. The truth must come first, and it can come only from the Iraqis themselves. What the world needs is an Iraqi government that will stop lying and surrender those programs. That is hardly likely to happen as long as Saddam Hussein remains in power.