The US Schemes To Provoke War
PLAN IRAQ Update Number 3b
MISREPORTING IRAQS WEAPONS
On 7 Dec., a day early,
Iraq handed over to UN weapons inspectors a declaration of its
activities concerning weapons of mass destruction and long- range
missilesall banned by UN Security Council Resolution 687.
The declaration - 'A Currently Accurate, Full and Complete Declaration
plus supporting documents' - is over 12,000 pages long: 6,287
pages on long-range missiles; 2,081 pages on nuclear activity
up to 1991 (300 pages for the period since); and 1,334 pages on
biological activity. (And 352 pages on the UN monitoring process.)
The contents page, released by the US, strengthened initial assessments
that most of the declaration was a reprint of earlier reports
to the UN about Iraqs weapons programmes. (Guardian, 11
Dec., p. 17)
It is generally being reported that the 7 Dec. declaration has
deliberately been inflated by Iraq into a massive document which
will take months to check. Columnist Bruce Anderson writes, "A
thorough scrutiny of the minutiae of deceit would inevitably take
months: well past February" (the optimum period for war,
Anderson believes - a plausible and widely held view). (Independent,
9 Dec., p. 14)
However, it was the US and UK who wrote Security Council Resolution
1441, which required Iraq to report not only on its weapons programmes,
but also "all other chemical, biological, and nuclear
programmes, including any which it claims are for purposes
not related to weapon production or material". Chief UN weapons
inspector Hans Blix commented that while it was feasible for Iraq
to report on Iraqs past and present weapons programmes should
be possible within 30 days "and the same should be true for
declaring remaining permitted peaceful nuclear programmes",
"To declare all other chemical programmes in a country
with a fairly large chemical industry, as well as other biological
programmes might be more problematic in a short time." (Blix,
Notes for the briefing to
the Security Council, 28 October 2002, )
Reporting all chemical and biological activity in Iraq
(including every fermenting vat in the country) in 30 days was
designed to be impossible for Iraq to fulfill. It was also clearly
going to lead to a very long declaration by Iraq.
THE DOUBLE TRIGGER
And any omission in the declaration, any unreported fermenting
vat, could cost the Iraqi people dearly. Resolution 1441 says,
"false statements or omissions in the declarations
submitted by Iraq pursuant to this resolution and failure by Iraq
at any time to comply with, and cooperate fully in the implementation
of, this resolution shall constitute a further material breach
of Iraqs obligations". (Para 4.)
The phrase "material breach" is being interpreted by
Washington and London (wrongly) as authorisation to go to war.
Therefore, if Iraq has not compiled a complete inventory of all
its civilian chemical and biological activity, that could contribute
to an (unwarranted) US claim of legitimacy in launching a war.
(See ARROW Anti-War Briefing 25: Material Breach for more on this.)
There are two conditions built into the Resolution, in Paragraph
4: "false statements or omissions in the declarations submitted
by Iraq pursuant to this resolution and failure by Iraq
at any time to comply with, and cooperate fully in the implementation
of, this resolution." "The resolution talks about a
false declaration or omission plus non co- operation or compliance",
says a 'UK source'. "Plus is the important word... The document
itself is not a trigger for war." (Observer, 8 Dec.,
"The use of 'and' rather than 'or' was intensively debated
by the security council, and was a condition for its unanimous
support for the resolution. Despite hints to the contrary by both
Mr Bush and Mr Blair, most senior officials in both Washington
and London agree that this wording means that the Dec. 8 declaration
alone will not provide a justification for military action."
(Guardian, 27 Nov., p. 20)
What is needed is a "pattern of delays or outright refusal
to provide access to a site or an official" - "Much
will depend on how Iraqi behaviour is described by Mr Blix and
his fellow chief weapons inspector, Mohammed el- Baradei."
(Guardian, 27 Nov., p. 20)
Some Washington hawks are pushing for a single trigger: US Vice
President Dick Cheney "has taken up the most belligerent
position, insisting to the President that any omission - no matter
how minor - will constitute a material breach." (Observer,
8 Dec., p. 21) "Several senior officials in the Bush administration
believe that if Saddam can be shown to have lied then it would
be pointless for the UN inspections to continue... American officials
have told The Daily Telegraph that war is now likely to
begin in January  and that the signal that the inspections
process would end would be an official statement from the White
House that Iraq was in 'material breach' of Resolution 1441. (Telegraph,
10 Dec., p. 13)
Assuming that the hawks are overruled, the task for the US then
is first to demonstrate to the worlds satisfaction that the weapons
declaration is flawed, and then to create a confrontation between
the inspectors and Baghdad that can credibly be portrayed as a
pattern of non-co-operation.
RELEASING US/UK INTELLIGENCE?
One way of proving that the declaration is flawed would be to
release hitherto secret US and/or British intelligence which demonstrates
that Iraq possesses materials, equipment or fully-assembled weapons
that it has not declared. "US officials said that the CIA
and national laboratories specialising in chemical, biological
and nuclear warfare had begun an analysis of the entire Iraqi
declaration, and had been told to focus on a handful of Iraqi
claims that could be proved false with available intelligence."
(Guardian, 10 Dec., p. 13)
The US is reluctant to release its secrets, however, even to UNMOVIC.
Unfortunately, "US policy analysts question whether the classified
US information will be as convincing to Washingtons allies, and
expect US intelligence agencies to be reluctant to share all that
is at their disposal." US intelligence in the past often
relied on information from Iraqi defectors: "Our intelligence
isn't bad, but is it sexy? No", says a US policy analyst
familiar with US intelligence. "If you're willing to give
Saddam the benefit of the doubt, then any piece of equipment can
be for civilian purposes." (FT, 9 Dec., p. 9) In other
words, the secret 'evidence' that the US and Britain are relying
on is extremely shakey.
" Scepticism has been fuelled by uneventful inspection visits
to several sites identified by America or Britain as suspect."
(Sunday Times, 15 Dec., p. 22) Best then not to release
the secret 'intelligence', and to attack the declaration in other
ways. The Economist points out that if this route is taken,
the US will be violating Paragraph 10 of Resolution 1441, which
requests all countries to hand over "any information related
to prohibited programmes" in Iraq: "It would be ironic
for America to breach the resolution before Iraq is caught doing
so." (Economist, 14 Dec., p. 58)
UNACCOUNTED-FOR MATERIALS: THE FIRST STAGE
"Probably the most important aspect of the declaration will
be how it handles the Iraqi Governments longstanding claim to
have destroyed large quantities of banned chemical weapons and
germ agents in the chaotic aftermath of the Gulf War in 1991.
Hans Blix, the UNs chief weapons inspector, has said Iraq must
provide convincing evidence that the destruction actually took
place - something it has not done to date." (Times,
6 Dec., p. 19)
Focussing on this issue keeps the burden of proof on Iraq, a key
US goal. If the records documenting the destruction of these materials
have really been destroyed, Iraq cannot provide 'convincing evidence'
of anything. The first stage of establishing a 'material breach'
could be accomplished this way.
ABDUCTION OF SCIENTISTS: THE SECOND STAGE
"The decider for Washington may come over a second key question
- how tough the inspectors are prepared to be on the central issue
of access to Iraqi biological, chemical and nuclear scientists...
Here, perhaps, is the new 'presidential sites' - the sticking
point issue with the Iraqis." (Sunday Telegraph, 1
Dec., p. 27) UNMOVIC has" bowed to intense pressure from
the United States" and given Iraq until the end of December
to provide the names and locations of Iraqi scientists linked
to its weapons programmes. Under Resolution 1441, inspectors are
empowered to fly scientists and their families out of Iraq for
interviews. "Baghdad is widely expected to resist such a
move, which would place it in material breach of the resolution."
(Sunday Telegraph, 15 Dec., p. 22)
Hans Blix, head of UNMOVIC, is not in favour: "We are not
going to abduct anyone", he has said. "The UN is not
a defection agency." (Observer, 8 Dec., p. 20) We
shall see whether he is able to resist US pressure.
THE US SEIZURE OF IRAQS DECLARATION
Resolution 1441 required Iraq to deliver its weapons declaration
to all fifteen members of the UN Security Council. On the eve
of the delivery of the declaration, however, the Security Council
agreed that the declaration should be edited before circulation:
"Diplomats said they had all but decided on Friday [6 Dec.]
to allow UN experts to excise 'proliferation- sensitive' material
from the document, before passing copies to all 15 council members.
Instead - following a weekend of telephone diplomacy that saw
all but Syria agree to allow the five permanent members access
to the unedited text - US officials walked into UN offices on
Sunday and took the unedited declaration to Washington. The US
has since forwarded copies to the other permanent members of the
Security Council - the UK, Russia, China and France. The non-
elected 10 members will receive an edited version later."
(FT, 11 Dec., p. 8)
Iraq charged that the US would tamper with the declaration it
had seized. "This is unlikely given that another full set
exists" - apparently in UNMOVIC's hands. (Economist,
14 Dec., p. 58)
" Washington and London are believed to have been concerned
that the UN and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) editing
might hamper their own analysts from comparing the declaration
against alleged intelligence material held on Iraqs mass destruction
programmes." (Independent, 10 Dec., p. 11) The fact
that the declaration was seized despite the fact that Syria remained
opposed was, the FT noted, "a departure from the Council's
usual search for consensus": a diplomat said, "Procedurally
it was a bit heterodox. But this is a political situation and
we made a political decision." (FT, 10 Dec., p. 11)
Power makes the rules. The declaration is to be a propaganda
weapon, not a tool of disarmament.
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