The beginning of the end?

By Paul Eedle

Like this story? Donít like it? Tell Paul

Picture

February's crisis between the United States and Iraq may have marked the beginning of the end of the UNSCOM inspections.

The crisis all but isolated the United States. Only Britain supported strongly America's threat to launch massive air strikes against Iraq unless it allowed UNSCOM inspectors into Saddam Hussein's presidential palaces. Russia, France and China strongly opposed the use of force - as did the overwhelming majority of governments in the Arab world, even oil states that fought in the US-led coalition against Iraq such as Saudi Arabia.

UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, negotiated a deal to end the crisis under which Iraq agreed to give the inspectors free access to the palaces.

But now UNSCOM itself says there are discussions between the inspectors, Security Council members and the Iraqi government to agree that the current 'disarmament' phase of UNSCOM's work could be drawn to a close even if not 100% of questions have been answered. Remaining issues could be solved as part of a long-term monitoring process to ensure Iraq never rebuilds its weapons of mass destruction.

Nils Carlström, the Swedish army Major General who runs UNSCOM's Baghdad Monitoring and Verification Centre, told me: "Instead of saying that we should report that the file is closed completely - it is not possible, to be realistic - we are talking about when we have gone through the main parts of the programmes and solved the most important issues in each area, there could remain some minor parts that could be dealt with in a monitoring system rather than disarmament."

He said the discussions started before the February crisis and continued when the UNSCOM Chairman, Richard Butler, met Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister in March.

Carlström said moving from 'disarmament' to 'monitoring' would allow the Security Council to start lifting sanctions on Iraq.

I'd have to add - if the Council wants to. More accurately, February's crisis between the United States and Iraq may have marked the beginning of the end of the UNSCOM inspections.

The crisis all but isolated the United States. Only Britain supported strongly America's threat to launch massive air strikes against Iraq unless it allowed UNSCOM inspectors into Saddam Hussein's presidential palaces.  Russia, France and China strongly opposed the use of force - as did the overwhelming majority of governments in the Arab world, even oil states that fought in the US-led coalition against Iraq such as Saudi Arabia.

UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, negotiated a deal to end the crisis under which Iraq agreed to give the inspectors free access to the palaces.

But now UNSCOM itself says there are discussions between the inspectors, Security Council members and the Iraqi government to agree that the current 'disarmament' phase of UNSCOM's work could be drawn to a close even if not 100% of questions have been answered. Remaining issues could be solved as part of a long-term monitoring process to ensure Iraq never rebuilds its weapons of mass destruction.

Nils Carlström, the Swedish army Major General who runs UNSCOM's Baghdad Monitoring and Verification Centre, told me: "Instead of saying that we should report that the file is closed completely - it is not possible, to be realistic - we are talking about when we have gone through the main parts of the programmes and solved the most important issues in each area, there could remain some minor parts that could be dealt with in a monitoring system rather than disarmament."

He said the discussions started before the February crisis and continued when the UNSCOM Chairman, Richard Butler, met Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister in March.

Carlström said moving from 'disarmament' to 'monitoring' would allow the Security Council to start lifting sanctions on Iraq.

I'd have to add - if the Council wants to. More accurately, if the Clinton administration wants to.

Up

Picture
Picture
Picture
Picture
Picture
Picture
Picture
 Hardline
 Soldiers
 Public Operation
 CIA & UNSCOM
 End of the Crisis