Unilateral Destruction

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July 2008

Proscribed Weapons  Declared  Retained
Operational Missiles 48 85
Conventional Warheads 18 83
Special Warheads 30 45
Non-Oper. Launchers 5 9
Empty & Filled Chemical Weapons 5 0
Biological Weapons 0 ALL WEAPONS

In March 1992 Iraq revealed to UNSCOM that it had retained some proscribed weapons after the adoption of resolution 687 however, it claimed that it had destroyed them secretly in the summer of 1991.

The chart shows the quantities of proscribed weapons that Iraq declared to UNSCOM and those that it retained. It is important to note the order of magnitude of the weapons retained by Iraq: 2/3 of the operational missile force; more than half of the chemical weapons; and all the biological weapons.

This unilateral destruction, in violation of resolution 687, has created a major problem for UNSCOM in the verification of Iraq’s compliance.

The unilateral destruction was conducted by Iraq in such a manner as to hide the existence of these weapons, and to some extent to cover the level of achievement of its weapons programmes. Iraq recognized this in a letter to the Security Council on 17 November 1997, which reads: “The unilateral destruction was carried out entirely unrecorded. [N]o written and no visual records were kept, as it was not foreseen that Iraq needed to prove the destruction to anybody.”

For example, missiles and warheads were destroyed by explosives and buried in the desert. Some items were melted down.

During the unilateral destruction, some weapons and equipment were diverted and hidden. For example, some items, such as tooling for production of proscribed missiles, which had been set for destruction, were in fact diverted to a hide site and allegedly destroyed later. At least three proscribed missiles were not subject to unilateral destruction in the summer of 1991.

Even after revealing the unilateral destruction to UNSCOM in March 1992, Iraq manipulated the evidence. It seeded, moved and removed pieces of destroyed weapons at some destruction sites.

During the process of verification, the Commission has found some misrepresentations in the Iraqi account of its actions. However, some other Iraqi accounts have been proved to be correct.

Examples of misrepresentations include:

a. Iraq’s current declaration states that on 8 July 1991 at 10.00pm, 15 special missile warheads arrived at Nibai, and were destroyed there on 9 July 1991. To support this claim, Iraq presented a document (picture 1).

In order to verify this declaration, UNSCOM checked the aerial photography of Nibai available to it. As the picture shows, on 9 July 1991 no warheads were present and no destruction activity took place at the declared site (picture 2).

This puts UNSCOM in a difficult position: should we accept inaccurate declarations?

b. Second example: Iraq claimed that some missile launchers were destroyed unilaterally in July 1991 at Bismayah. Iraq took our experts to the destruction area and UNSCOM marked the sites with crosses, so they could be easily seen in an aerial picture (picture 3).

Then UNSCOM looked at its aerial pictures of those sites at the alleged time of the destruction. The pictures showed that no destruction activity took place at those sites at that time (picture 4). Only then did Iraq change its story, declaring that the launchers were in fact destroyed in October 1991. However, during six years, until August 1997, Iraq coached its personnel being interviewed by the Commission, in order to provide a cover story for its misleading declaration. Iraq waited for many years to tell the truth. The question is why? This creates problems and delays verification.

Iraq’s unilateral destruction creates the biggest problem for UNSCOM’s verification process, as it affects all the weapons areas. Iraq itself recognized, in June 1996, that unilateral destruction is a priority issue for verification.

The Commission needs to verify completely the facts of the unilateral destruction. Without a full account of such activity, the Commission cannot certify, with confidence, that all proscribed weapons claimed to have been destroyed unilaterally by Iraq were indeed destroyed.

To help the Commission and speed up the verification work, Iraq is asked to provide a full and verifiable disclosure of its decisions and actions related to the unilateral destruction.

A proper clarification of this problem will enable the Commission to substantially increase the confidence in its assessment of Iraq’s compliance with the council requirements. . . .

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