News

Two US Paths on Iraq

Iraq News MAY 1, 1998

By Laurie Mylroie

The central focus of Iraq News is the tension between the considerable, proscribed WMD capabilities that Iraq is holding on to and its increasing stridency that it has complied with UNSCR 687 and it is time to lift sanctions. If you wish to receive Iraq News by email, a service which includes full-text of news reports not archived here, send your request to Laurie Mylroie .





I.  CLINTON PRESS CONFERENCE, APR 30
II. HOUSE PASSES CONFERENCE REPORT FUNDING DEMOCRATIC OPPOSITION, APR 30

NB: The latest [much-criticized] IAEA report on Iraq's nuclear program 
can be found at  http://www.fas.org/news/un/iraq/iaea/s1998312.htm    
Also, there is a U.N. website, largely on UNSCR 986, but also including 
some reports on Iraq's weapons programs.  It can be found at
http://www.un.org/Depts/oip 

    In his press conference yesterday, Clinton was asked about Iraq.  He 
replied, "We are encouraged by the level of compliance so far with the 
UN inspections and by the evidence that has been adduced on the nuclear 
side that more progress has been made.  And I believe we've already 
issued a statement that we believe that if Baghdad will continue to work 
with us, that by October the UN may well be able to certify that they 
are actually in compliance on the nuclear side, and they can go from the 
inspection to the monitoring phase."  

    "A little carrot," one reader remarked.  Also, a sop to the 
Russians.  Yet as today's NYT reported, "The president's remarks will 
doubtless raise concern among arms control experts who have accused the 
Atomic Energy Agency of complacency and have said Iraq's record of 
deception and its wealth of talented scientists suggest that it could 
quickly recreate an atomic program once rigorous inspections end."

   Also, despite the ominous statements emanating from Baghdad [see 
"Iraq News," Apr 16, 17, 24, 30] the administration is leaning toward 
reducing the US military presence in the Gulf.  As Clinton explained, "I 
would wait for a recommendation from the Pentagon with involvement from 
the State Department and the NSC on that.  That is, we have a certain 
number of carrier groups and a certain number of assets to deploy at 
sea.  They have to be trained; they also need to be deployed in 
different places for different reasons.  So, inevitably, unless we 
believe there is some reasons for it to be there at some point in the 
future, I would anticipate some reallocation of our resources."

  It seems Jim Hoagland, Apr 23, "No Time to Tone Down,"  ["Iraq News," 
Apr 30] was right.  The administration is preparing another retreat.  
But the tactic is unlikely to work.  Saddam needs no encouragement for 
his next challenge. Clinton's newest display of irresolution will only 
suggest to Saddam that he is correct in his calculations, while 
underscoring to America's regional allies that the US is not to be 
counted on.

  Notably, this is a different view than that offered today by the 
editors of the Wash Post, in "Isolated Iraq."  They suggested that since 
Iraq had failed to get sanctions lifted, or even a positive report from 
the alternative weapons teams it requested, Iraq was still in the 
dog-house. 

   But "Iraq News" believes the Iraqi demands are not to be taken simply 
at face value.  There is a large element of tactical maneuver and the 
real action is the crises Saddam creates that weaken the anti-Iraq 
coalition.  The relevant question is whether Saddam is better off now 
that he was in Oct, when the confrontation began.  "Iraq News" believes 
the answer is yes.  One need only consider Clinton's statement 
yesterday.  Six months hence, the US will be prepared to declare Iraq 
nuclear free.  Not only would that be highly controversial in itself, it 
would represent the first time that the US had agreed to "close" a file. 
But there is no provision in UNSCR 687 for treating Iraq's proscribed 
weapons programs individually, "closing" the "files" one by one.  That 
is an Iraqi invention and the US president, yesterday, accepted it. 

   Yet there is another path.  It is being laid by Congress.  The House 
and Senate had earlier approved versions of a bill to provide funding to 
support a democratic Iraqi opposition to Saddam.  The funding is 
attached to an emergency authorization, in significant part to cover the 
cost of the US military presence in the Gulf.  Yesterday, the House 
passed the conference report [the commonly agreed upon version of the 
bill] and the Senate is expected to do so shortly.   It provides for $5 
million to support the democratic Iraqi opposition and $5 million for a 
"Radio Free Iraq."  The State Department is required to report to 
Congress within 30 days on its plans to establish such a program, while 
Congress said that it expects "that a significant portion of the support 
for the democratic opposition should go to the Iraqi National Congress, 
a group that has demonstrated the capacity to effectively challenge the 
Saddam Hussein regime with representation from Sunni, Shia, and Kurdish 
elements of Iraq."

I. CLINTON PRESS CONFERENCE
Q: Thank you. Mr. President, the Pentagon said this week you're expected 
to decide whether to reduce U.S. forces in the Gulf soon.  Has Baghdad 
made sufficient progress on allowing weapons inspections to
permit a reduction in force? And if so, will we see an ending of the 
sanctions against Iraq?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, those are two very different questions. Let me say, 
first of all, we are encouraged by the level of compliance so far with 
the U.N. inspections and by the evidence that has been adduced on the 
nuclear side that more progress has been made. And I believe we've 
already issued a statement that we believe that if Baghdad will continue 
to work with us, that by October the U.N. may well be able to certify 
that they are actually in compliance on the nuclear side, and they can 
go from the inspection to the monitoring phase.
   Keep in mind, even under the agreements, the U.N. resolutions, no 
matter what is found out in any of these areas, there will still be a 
monitoring regime there.
   Our position on lifting the sanctions is that the U.N. resolutions 
have to be complied with completely, and then we vote to lift the 
sanctions. So this is just a nuclear peace. But I am encouraged by
that.   
   Now, on the question of reducing our military presence in the Gulf, I 
would wait for a recommendation from the Pentagon with involvement from 
the State Department and the NSC on that. That is, we have a
certain number of carrier groups and a certain number of assets to 
deploy at sea. They have to be trained; they also need to be deployed in 
different places for different reasons. So, inevitably, unless we 
believe there is some reasons for it to be there at some point in the 
future, I would anticipate some reallocation of our resources. But I 
have not received a recommendation on that yet by the Defense 
Department.

II. HOUSE PASSES CONFERENCE REPORT FUNDING DEMOCRATIC OPPOSITION
H.R. 3579
Sec. 2005: SUPPORT FOR DEMOCRATIC OPPOSITION IN IRAQ: Notwithstanding 
any other provisions of law, of the funds made available under the 
heading "Economic Support Fund," in Public Law 1050118, $5,000,000 shall 
be made available for assistance to the Iraqi democratic opposition for 
such activities as organization, training, communication and 
dissemination of information, developing and implementing agreements 
among opposition groups, compiling information to support the indictment 
of Iraqi officials for war crimes, and for related purposes.  Provided, 
That within 30 days of enactment into law of this Act the Secretary of 
State shall submit a detailed report to the appropriate committees of 
Congress on plans to establish a program to support the democratic 
opposition in Iraq.  

(Statement of Managers)
Sec.10008  SUPPORT FOR DEMOCRATIC OPPOSITION IN IRAQ
  The conference agreement includes a general provision providing that, 
notwithstanding any other provision of law, $5,000,000 of the funds 
previously appropriated for the "Economic Support Fund" in Public Law 
105-118 Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs 
Appropriations Act, 1998) be made available for support for the 
democratic opposition in Iraq.  The funds are to be used for such 
activities as organization. training, communication, dissemination of 
information, developing and implementing agreements among opposition 
groups, compiling information to support the indictment of Iraqi 
officials for war crimes, and for related purposes. The provision also 
requires a report from the Secretary of State to the appropriate 
committees of Congress within 30 days of enactment into law of this Act 
on plans to establish a program to support the democratic apposition in 
Iraq.
  The Senate amendment contained similar language, but included a 
supplemental appropriation of $5,000,000 for these activities.  It also 
designated these funds as an emergency requirement under the terms of 
the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit control Act of 1985, as 
amended, and further provided that the entire amount would be made 
available only  to the extent that an official budget request for a 
specific dollar amount, that included designation of the entire amount 
of the request as an emergency requirement, was transmitted by the 
President to Congress.  The House bill did not address this matter.
   The managers expect that a significant portion of the support for the 
democratic opposition should go to the Iraqi National Congress, a group 
that has demonstrated the capacity to effectively challenge the Saddam 
Hussein regime with representation from Sunni, Shia, and Kurdish 
elements of Iraq.

CHAPTER 2  UNITED STATES INFORMATION AGENCY
INTERNATIONAL BROADCASTING OPERATIONS
   The conference agreement includes an additional $5,000,000, as 
proposed in the Senate bill for the "International  Broadcasting 
Operations" account of the United States Information Agency to remain 
available until September 30 1999, for the establishiment of surrogate 
radio broadcasting to the Iraqi people by Radio Free Europe/Radio 
Liberty which shall be designated "Radio Free Iraq."  The House bill had 
no similar provision.  The conferees agree that this finding shall 
provide for the total costs of such a broadcast service in fiscal years 
1998 and 1999, including start-up costs RFE/RL operational costs, and 
engineering and transmission costs incurred by the International 
Broadcasting Bureau.  The conference agreement also requires the 
Broadcasting Board of Governors to submit a detailed report to the 
Congress, within 30 days of enactment, containing plans for the 
establishment and operation of such a broadcast service within the 
amount provided.  The conference agreement designates this amount as an 
emergency requirement and provides that the entire amount shall be 
available only to the extent that the President transmits to the 
Congress an official budget request designating the request as an 
emergency requirement.