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. UNSC PRESIDENTIAL STATEMENT ON IRAQ, MAY 14 II. UN MAY SCALE BACK NUCLEAR INSPECTIONS IN IRAQ, CNN, MAY 14 III. IRAQI CABINET PROTESTS UNSC STATEMENT, XINHUA, MAY 17 IV. NUCLEAR CONTROL INSTITUTE, LETTER TO BILL RICHARDSON, MAY 12 V. D. ALBRIGHT & K. O'NEILL, "IRAQ: RESETTLE THE SCIENTISTS," BULLETIN OF ATOMIC SCIENTISTS, JAN-FEB 1998 VI. NEWS FROM THE FREE IRAQ CAMPAIGN, MAY 14 One reader, responding to the WSJ May 13, on US plans to reduce forces in the Gulf and shift toward "a less confrontational posture," remarked, "Unbelievable. Orwellian. Are we living in some kind of parallel universe?" No, they are living in a world of spin; in fact, they may be lost in it. On Thurs, May 14, the UNSC issued a presidential statement. Essentially, it marked a US compromise with Russia, which had wanted to use the IAEA's controversial April report, to "close" the nuclear file, while the US had wanted to wait until Oct. The IAEA will make a previously unscheduled report in July. The Orwellian world of spin and parallel universes is not limited to Wash DC. Thus, as the UNSC stated Thursday, "The Council welcomes the improved access provided to the Special Commission and the IAEA by the Government of Iraq following the signature of the Memorandum of Understanding by the Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq and the Secretary General on 23 February 1998 . . . "The Security Council expresses the hope that the agreement by the Government of Iraq to fulfill its obligation to provide immediate, unconditional, and unrestricted access to the Special Commission and the IAEA will reflect a new Iraqi spirit with regard to providing accurate and detailed information in all areas of concern . . . "The Security Council notes that the investigations by the IAEA over the past several years have yielded a technically coherent picture of Iraq's clandestine nuclear programme, although Iraq has not supplied full responses to all of the questions and concerns of the IAEA . . . "The Council affirms its intention, given the progress of the IAEA . . . to agree in a resolution that the IAEA dedicate its resources to implement the ongoing monitoring and verification activities of the IAEA . . . upon receipt of a report from the Director General of the IAEA stating that the necessary technical and substantive clarifications have been made, including provision by Iraq of the necessary responses to all IAEA questions and concerns . . . The Council requests the Director General of the IAEA to provide this information in his report due on 11 October 1998 and to submit a status report by the end of July 1998 for possible action at that time." Nonetheless, Iraq's UN ambassador responded, as CNN reported later that day, "Iraq thinks at this moment that all the files have to be closed" and the UNSC action was "too little, too late." Too little, too late for what? Today, as Xinhua reported, the Iraqi cabinet issued a statement saying that the UNSC "statement does not respond to Iraq's minimal rights in view of the great sacrifices of its people," while "Iraq is awaiting a positive response from the council as demanded" in its May 1 open letter to the UNSC. There are enormous problems with Iraq's nuclear program [see "Iraq News," Sept 25 97; Apr 16 98]. It is the expert opinion that all Iraq lacks for a nuclear bomb is the fissile material, although that only became known after the Aug 95 defection of Hussein Kamil. Indeed, in Dec 95, then Israeli Foreign Minister, Ehud Barak, raised the danger of a potential Iraqi nuclear breakthrough in exceptionally strong terms with then US Sec Def, William Perry. But nothing was done. The US view was that it could take care of the problem by overthrowing Saddam, particularly as Saddam looked especially weak after Kamil's defection. But the administration hoped to overthrow Saddam quietly, in a coup, and otherwise sought to keep Iraq off the agenda in an election year. In Jun 96, Saddam arrested the conspirators associated with the Iraqi National Accord, whom the CIA expected to carry out the coup, while in Aug 96, Iraqi tanks assaulted the Iraqi National Congress in Irbil. And the administration lost all its options for overthrowing Saddam. How it now intends to address the problem of Iraq's proscribed unconventional programs--including the nuclear program--is anyone's guess. Most recently, on May 12, Paul Leventhal and Steven Dolley of the Nuclear Control Institute wrote the US ambassador to the UN, detailing known problems in Iraq's nuclear declarations. They include material related to weapons-design; centrifuge R&D; and missing components and equipment for a bomb. Also, David Albright and Kevin O'Neill of the Institute for Science and International Security, wrote in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Jan/Feb 98, warning that even at the present level of highly intrusive monitoring and inspections, "Under some scenarios, Iraq might be able to construct a nuclear explosive before it was detected." They advised resettling Iraq's nuclear scientists in countries like the US. And the present level of inspections and monitoring will not last. One problem in the IAEA approach is that it is willing to "close the file" on inspections and deal with unanswered problems in what was envisaged as a follow-on monitoring phase, provided for in UNSCR 715 [Oct 11 91]. Not only is the IAEA approach highly questionable in itself, it threatens to set a precedent for UNSCOM, which is under relentless political pressure from Iraq's friends on the UNSC. And once the weapons "files" are "closed" and the sanctions ended, neither the IAEA nor UNSCOM will last long in Iraq, if they last that long. Congress has been AWOL on the subject of Iraq's retention of proscribed weapons and its treatment of UNSCOM. Since Hussein Kamil's defection, when the problem became known, it has not held one hearing on the issue. Only once was the UNSCOM chairman asked to testify, and then it was a hearing related to the Nunn-Lugar legislation on enhancing the US ability to cope with unconventional terrorism. Why doesn't Congress speak out and otherwise take some action to stop the Clinton backsliding on UNSCOM and Iraq's proscribed weapons? If India was alarming, what about the day Saddam has a nuke? Finally, the Free Iraq Campaign will start May 23, with its first rally in San Jose, CA, making its way to Wash DC. I. UNSC PRESIDENTIAL STATEMENT ON IRAQ, MAY 14 S/PRST/1998/11 14 May 1998 STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SECURITY COUNCIL At the 3880th meeting of the Security Council, held on 14 May 1998, in connection with the Council's consideration of the item entitled "The situation between Iraq and Kuwait", the President of the Security Council made the following statement on behalf of the Council: "The Security Council has reviewed the report of 16 April 1998 from the Executive Chairman of the United Nations Special Commission (S/1998/332) and the report of 9 April 1998 from the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) (S/1998/312). The Council welcomes the improved access provided to the Special Commission and the IAEA by the Government of Iraq following the signature of the Memorandum of Understanding by the Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq and the Secretary-General on 23 February 1998 (S/1998/166) and the adoption of its resolution 1154 (1998) of 2 March 1998. The Council calls for continued implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding. "The Security Council expresses the hope that the agreement by the Government of Iraq to fulfil its obligation to provide immediate, unconditional, and unrestricted access to the Special Commission and the IAEA will reflect a new Iraqi spirit with regard to providing accurate and detailed information in all areas of concern to the Special Commission and the IAEA as required by the relevant resolutions. "The Security Council expresses its concern that the most recent reports of the Special Commission, including the reports of the technical evaluation meetings (S/1998/176 and S/1998/308), indicate that Iraq has not provided full disclosure in a number of critical areas, in spite of repeated requests from the Special Commission, and calls upon Iraq to do so. The Council encourages the Special Commission to continue its efforts to improve its effectiveness and efficiency and looks forward to a technical meeting of the members of the Council with the Executive Chairman of the Special Commission as a follow-up to the review of sanctions held by the Council on 27 April 1998. "The Security Council notes that the Special Commission and the IAEA must discharge their mandates as defined under resolutions 687 (1991) of 3 April 1991 and 707 (1991) of 15 August 1991 with full Iraqi cooperation in all areas, including fulfilment by Iraq of its obligation to provide full, final and complete declarations of all aspects of its prohibited programmes for weapons of mass destruction and missiles. "The Security Council notes that the investigations by the IAEA over the past several years have yielded a technically coherent picture of Iraq's clandestine nuclear programme, although Iraq has not supplied full responses to all of the questions and concerns of the IAEA, including those specified in paragraphs 24 and 27 of the report of the Director General of 9 April 1998. "The Council affirms its intention, given the progress of the IAEA, and in line with paragraphs 12 and 13 of resolution 687 (1991), to agree in a resolution that the IAEA dedicate its resources to implement the ongoing monitoring and verification activities of the IAEA under resolution 715 (1991) of 11 October 1991, upon receipt of a report from the Director General of the IAEA stating that the necessary technical and substantive clarifications have been made, including provision by Iraq of the necessary responses to all IAEA questions and concerns, in order to permit full implementation of the ongoing monitoring and verification plan approved by resolution 715 (1991). In this regard, the Council requests the Director General of the IAEA to provide this information in his report due on 11 October 1998 and to submit a status report by the end of July 1998 for possible action at that time. "The Security Council acknowledges that the IAEA is focusing most of its resources on the implementation and strengthening of its activities under the ongoing monitoring and verification plan. The Council notes that, within the framework of its ongoing monitoring and verification responsibilities, the IAEA will continue to exercise its right to investigate any aspect of Iraq's clandestine nuclear programme, in particular through the follow-up of any new information developed by the IAEA or provided by Member States and to destroy, remove or render harmless any prohibited items discovered through such investigations falling under resolutions 687 (1991) and 707 (1991) in conformity with the IAEA's ongoing monitoring and verification plan approved by resolution 715 (1991)." II. UN MAY SCALE BACK NUCLEAR INSPECTIONS IN IRAQ U.N. may scale back nuclear inspections in Iraq May 14, 1998; Web posted at: 6:34 p.m. EDT (2234 GMT) UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- The U.N. Security Council agreed Thursday to consider scaling back inspections of suspected nuclear sites in Iraq -- which would mark the first significant reduction in the inspections regime imposed on Iraq in the wake of the Persian Gulf War. In a statement drawn up by U.S. and Russian diplomats after lengthy negotiations, the Security Council agreed to decide whether the International Atomic Energy Agency should shift from its current program of inspections of suspected nuclear sites to less-frequent verification visits. The decision will be based on a report from the IAEA due July 31. The change would mean IAEA inspectors would no longer look for evidence of Iraq's past efforts to build nuclear weapons but would watch for attempts to revive a nuclear program or import materials needed to restart it. Supporters of the reduction in inspections wanted to reward Iraq for its cooperation with U.N. monitoring of its nuclear weapons capability. But Iraq's U.N. ambassador, Nizar Hamdoon, termed the council's action "too little, too late," calling for an immediate end to U.N. inspections. "Iraq thinks at this moment that all the files have to be closed," he said. Change could come as soon as July If the IAEA recommends a reduction in inspections, the Security Council could give the go-ahead by the end of July, although American diplomats say they don't expect any decision will be taken until October. The change would not apply to other U.N. weapons inspection programs in Iraq that are looking for evidence of biological or chemical weapons. Thursday's decision was a compromise between two factions among the permanent members of the Security Council. Russia, France and China wanted to reduce the regime of inspections now, based on a recent evaluation by the IAEA that Iraq had complied with U.N. requirements in dismantling its nuclear weapons program. But the United States opposed an immediate reduction in inspections, saying Iraq had not answered all of the questions about its program. "There is some progress in the nuclear field. We've acknowledged that," said Bill Richardson, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. "But we are not closing the nuclear file." Some independent experts back the U.S. position, warning that any reduction in monitoring would give Iraq more room to hide any bomb-building plans it may have. The Nuclear Control Institute sent a letter of support to Richardson, saying there are still too many questions about Iraq's nuclear capacities and missing bomb components, equipment and nuclear fuel. Correspondent Brian Jenkins and Reuters contributed to this report. III. IRAQI CABINET PROTESTS UNSC STATEMENT, XINHUA, MAY 17 Iraq Dissatisfied with U.N. Statement on Nuclear BAGHDAD (May 17) XINHUA - The Iraqi Cabinet expressed dissatisfaction on Sunday with the United Nations Security Council's presidential statement on its nuclear file, the Iraqi News Agency reported. At a session chaired by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, the cabinet maintained that to transfer International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) activities in Iraq to permanent monitoring phase by July as stipulated in the statement does not respond to Iraq's minimal rights in view of the great sacrifices of its people. The U.N. statement issued three days ago urged Iraq to continue cooperation with IAEA so that the council can close Iraq's nuclear file by July. The Iraqi cabinet said Iraq is awaiting positive response from the council as demanded in an open letter the country presented to it on May 1. In the letter, Iraq demanded the U.N. Security Council to implement Article 22 of the U.N. Resolution 687, which provides the lifting of trade embargo against Iraq. . . . IV. NUCLEAR CONTROL INSTITUTE, LETTER TO BILL RICHARDSON May 12, 1998 Ambassador Bill Richardson U.S. Representative to the United Nations U.S. Mission to the United Nations 799 United Nations Plaza New York, NY 10017 Dear Ambassador Richardson: We are writing to convey the Nuclear Control Institute's summary of unresolved issues regarding Iraq's nuclear weapons program. These issues were raised by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in its October 1997 consolidated inspection report, but were never resolved in subsequent IAEA reports. Important questions remain to be answered in the areas of weapons design; centrifuge research and development; missing weapon components and equipment; remaining uranium stocks; the EMIS ("calutron") enrichment program; Iraq's reporting to the IAEA and its efforts to conceal elements of its weapons program from the Agency; and post-war nuclear program activities. In spite of these important outstanding questions, the IAEA proposes in its April 1998 report a shift from inspections to less- intrusive monitoring. As you are aware, this report is fueling efforts by certain Security Council members to "close the nuclear file" as a first step toward lifting sanctions. We understand that the Security Council will soon consider formal affirmation of the IAEA's findings, possibly sometime this week. We agree with the Administration's position that it would be premature to close the nuclear file. We urge that the United States call for the continuation of complete, meaningful inspections until all outstanding questions about the Iraqi nuclear program can be resolved. Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter. We would welcome the opportunity to brief you and your staff further on these issues. Sincerely, (signed) Paul Leventhal, President Steven Dolley, Research Director Iraq’s Nuclear Weapons Program: Unresolved Issues Steven Dolley Nuclear Control Institute May 12, 1998 To view documentation from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspection reports, please click on the active link at the top of each issue category. Weapons Design Many important weapons-design drawings and reports are still missing. The status of R&D on advanced weapons designs (boosted, thermonuclear) remains unclear. Documentation of research on explosive lenses remains incomplete. Some key design drawings are still missing. The extent of outside assistance offered to or received by Iraq, including a reported offer of an actual nuclear weapon design, remains unresolved. Centrifuge R&D Almost all centrifuge design documents and drawings are missing. Information is incomplete and drawings are missing related to Iraq’s super-critical centrifuge R&D program. Significant inconsistencies exist between Iraqi and foreign testimony on the amount of foreign assistance and components provided to the centrifuge program. Missing Components and Equipment Not all "Group 4" nuclear weaponization equipment has been located or accounted for. Some uranium-conversion components remain unaccounted for. A plutonium-beryllium neutron source, potentially useful as a neutron initiator for a nuclear bomb, is still missing. Uranium Stocks and Enrichment Program Large stockpiles of natural uranium remain in Iraq. Historical uranium MUF’s for Iraq’s uranium conversion and enrichment are large. Over three tons of uranium remains unaccounted for. The credibility of low (20%) historical capacity for EMIS (calutron) uranium enrichment reported by Iraq is open to question. Iraqi Reporting to the IAEA The completeness of Iraq’s FFCD (Full, Final and Complete Declaration) is questionable. No information is publicly available on this report. The completeness of Iraq’s report on the technical achievements of its weaponization program is unknown. No information is publicly available on this report. Many documents seized by Iraq during the "parking lot stand-off" in September 1991 were never returned to the IAEA and remain unaccounted for, including key centrifuge documents. It is not publicly known whether all the documents from the Haider House cache have been translated and fully analyzed. Iraqi Concealment Activities Iraq now officially denies that a governmental committee to minimize impact of NPT violations ever existed, even though Iraq itself first revealed the committee to the IAEA. Reports on Iraqi nuclear team’s interactions with IAEA inspectors are incomplete. It is not publicly known whether Iraq’s report on their post-war concealment activities has been completed and reviewed. Iraq has not enacted a criminal law to punish violations of UN resolutions. Post-war Nuclear Program Activities Conversion of former weapons program facilities has not been fully documented. Documentation of ongoing activities at former weapons facilities remains incomplete. Information is inconsistent on the date of termination of weapons activity at the Al Atheer weapons facility. No evidence of any Iraqi decree to halt the nuclear weapons program. Extent of Iraq’s post-war foreign procurement network has not been documented. NCI's report, "Iraq and the Bomb: The Nuclear Threat Continues," is available on the web at http://www.nci.org/nci/sadb.htm Documentation from IAEA reports on unresolved issues may be found at http://www.nci.org/nci/iraq511.htm V. D ALBRIGHT & K O'NEILL, "IRAQ: RESETTLE THE SCIENTISTS" Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Jan-Feb 1998 Iraq: Resettle the Scientists By David Albright & Kevin O'Neill Last November, almost seven years after the end of the Persian Gulf War, Saddam Hussein demonstrated yet again that he cannot be trusted to honor Iraq's commitment to abandon weapons of mass destruction. The harsh economic sanctions and other punitive measures imposed by the U.N. Security Council after the war have failed to change the nature of the regime despite the suffering they caused the Iraqi people. Saddam Hussein is likely to restart his nuclear weapons program as soon as sanctions are lifted and his agents could more easily obtain banned items for a new more secretive nuclear program. The Security Council has constructed a powerful set of measures including economic sanctions, the destruction of Iraq s nuclear weapons assets and capabilities, and the world s most intrusive monitoring and inspection system, which is operated by the International Atomic Energy Agency and the U..N. Special Commission. With years of valuable experience before the war, however, Iraq's nuclear weapons experts are another valuable and necessary asset. Although inspections have been improved, they are unlikely to be adequate to successfully monitor the activities of those scientists involved in the pre-Gulf war nuclear program. In particular, monitoring is not sufficient to learn if these scientists are putting together a new, more secretive program that is explicitly designed to exploit the Action Team's weaknesses. Under some scenarios, Iraq might be able to construct a nuclear explosive before it was detected. If the Security Council forced Saddam to allow his cadre of knowledgeable nuclear weapons scientists and their families to leave the country, if they so wanted, Iraq would be unable to reconstitute its nuclear program. To enforce such a move, the Security Council would have to punish Iraq if it retaliated against its experts, their immediate families, or relatives that remained in Iraq. Possible UN reactions would include a refusal to remove sanctions or to reimpose any sanctions that might have been lifted. Would any nuclear scientists leave Iraq voluntarily? Probably. There is growing recognition that many of Iraq's nuclear experts are essentially prisoners. Most were arbitrarily assigned to the nuclear weapons program after returning from school abroad. After suffering years of hardships created by the sanctions, many scientists and their families may be eager to leave. The vast majority of these exports have been identified through captured Iraqi documents and Action Team inspections. And the resettlement of even a few dozen devastate Saddam's ability to rebuild his nuclear weapons program. A key to success would be the protection of the scientists and their families. The United States might be a possible resettlement site because it could provide adequate protection against Iraqi agents. The Security Council would also the need to mandate the Action Team and the Special Commission with the task of investigating any suspected retaliation against family members remaining in Iraq. Resettled scientists would need to be provided with economic support until they found employment. But the costs of resettlement could be collected from Iraq, just as the costs of the Action Team and the Special Commission are taken from the proceeds of Iraqi oil sales. For their part, the resettled scientists would have to agree to have their activities monitored by the host government or the Action Team, to insure that they were not secretly helping Saddam rebuild his military programs. Time is running out. But a resettlement initiative could nip any future Iraqi nuclear program in the bud. Such an initiative is a reasonable price for Iraq to pay to have sanctions eased. The alternative is letting the nuclear cadre, intimidated by Saddam, remain in Iraq, awaiting the inevitable order to reconstitute the nuclear warpons program or to train the next generation of nuclear weapons experts. David Albright, a physicist, is the president of the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), in Washington DC. Kevin O'Neill is deputy director of ISIS. VI. NEWS FROM THE FREE IRAQ CAMPAIGN May 14th 1998 Los Angeles, California, USA ***** FREE IRAQ CAMPAIGN PRESS RELEASE ***** Our Iraqi-American grass roots effort has build up an enormous momentum over the last several weeks. Today, over 75 Iraqi-Americans are involved daily in organizing one aspect of this campaign or another. This nation-wide activity has won endorsements from an array of seasoned Iraqi-American organizations, listed alphabetically below: Assyrian National Alliance, Chicago, IL Canadian Iraqi Community Relief Fund, ONT Independent Iraqi Group of North America, Toronto, ONT Iraqi American Committee, Los Angeles, CA Iraqi Democratic Union, CA, AZ, MI Iraqi Forum for Democracy, Nashville, TN Iraq Foundation, Washington, DC Iraqi Turkoman Association of Toronto, ONT Kurdish National Congress of North America Muslim Public Affairs Council, Los Angeles, CA The "bus tour", as its dubbed inside our community, is on schedule to hold the first rally in San Jose, California on Saturday, May 23rd. Attendance at these rallies varies from as little as 50 in some locations to as high as 300 in San Diego, 400 in Phoenix, 700 in Detroit and over 1,000 in Lafayette Park (across from the White House). Convoys of cars will be following the bus from Detroit, Boston, Cleveland and New York all the way to Washington, DC. During these rallies, Iraqi refugees who participated in the short-lived March 1991 popular revolt will be giving witness accounts of the atrocities committed inside Iraq as directed by Saddam Hussein. Members of the press may be scheduled to Be on the bus for short periods of this 3,500 mile journey. The locations for these rallies have been selected and can be found on the Free Iraq Campaign web site at: http://www.iraq.net/Editorials/FreeIraq.html which is maintaIned daily. For more information, please contact: Mr. Nibras Kazimi at email@example.com Tel. (508) 641-0443; Fax. (617) 876-0839 Yours Truly, Mazin Yousif, Free Iraq Campaign Manager firstname.lastname@example.org Tel. (714) 725-9719; Fax (714) 725-0440