Iraq: U.N. Inspections for Weapons of Mass Destruction
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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From November 2002 to March 2003 U.N. inspectors combed Iraq looking for weapons of mass destruction WMD. Under the threat of war from the United States and a unanimous Security Council resolution 1441, Iraq was granted a final chance to disarm. Many had low expectations for successful inspections. After 16 weeks, inspectors turned up some evidence of undeclared activities, but not enough to convince a majority of the Security Council members that military force was necessary. Nonetheless, on March 19, U.S. and British forces attacked Iraq to forcibly eliminate its WMD. This report, which will be updated as events warrant, analyzes the inspections, their outcome, and possible future tasks. The U.N. Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission UNMOVIC and the International Atomic Energy Agency IAEA conducted over 750 inspections at 550 sites. These inspections seemed to benefit from strengthened authorities under the new U.N. resolution, new technologies, abetter relationship between UNMOVIC and the IAEA, and pressure from the threat of military strikes. Nonetheless, most observers agree that Iraqi compliance was superficial and oriented to facilitating the process of inspections, rather than on providing cooperation in substantive mailers. In addition, new practical, technical, and political challenges arose. There were allegations that not all actionable intelligence was shared with inspectors and that the threat of war increased pressure on inspectors to produce some definitive knowledge and helped politicize their investigations. Many alleged that Iraq might have hidden weapons activities in more dual-use facilities over the last four years, thus complicating inspections. Ultimately, judging Iraqs compliance may have relied less on thresholds of evidence, than on assumptions about the effectiveness and utility of inspections at this point in time.
- Nuclear Weapons