UNSCOM: United Nations Special Commission

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October 26, 1998

The Executive Chairman


During the informal consultations held by the Security Council on 13 October, I reported to the Council that a group of international experts would meet in New York on 22-23 October, to consider the findings from analyses, conducted in three laboratories, of special missile warheads remnants excavated in Iraq. The purpose of the laboratory analyses was to seek to establish the substances with which those special missile warheads had been filled. As Council members were aware, one substance at issue was the chemical warfare agent, known as VX.

Council members will recall that results from an analyses conducted by a laboratory in the United States were given to the Commission in June 1998. Those results were passed to the Iraqi authorities during my visit to Baghdad from 11-15 June 1998.

When passing these initial results to the Iraqi side, I authorized at the same time that further laboratory analyses be conducted in the laboratory in the United States and then in two other laboratories, one in France, the other in Switzerland.

In July 1998, the Commission sent an international expert team to Baghdad to discuss the initial results of the chemical analyses which had been conducted in the laboratory in the United States and which had identified VX degradation products in the samples taken from special warhead remnants. At that time, the international experts judged the results as valid but the Iraqi side stated that it could not accept the results.

His Excellency
Sir Jeremy Greenstock, KCMG
President of the Security Council
United Nations


In my subsequent visit to Baghdad, on 3 August 1998, 1 raised again with Iraqi authorities the possibility of further discussions on the question of VX but, in the event, no such discussions took place.

On 1 September 1998, at the request of members of the Council, I wrote to the President of the Council providing answers to some technical questions which members had posed. One of those questions was that of the discovery of VX degradation products on special warhead remnants.

Following the conclusion of its meeting on the evening of last Friday 23 October, the group of international experts gave me its report. The report had been adopted unanimously by the experts.

Attached to this letter is a copy of that report and its technical annex.

As indicated to the Council on 13 October, in addition to providing this report to members of the Council immediately, I propose to pass it, at the same time, to the Permanent Representative of Iraq for transmission to the authorities in Baghdad.

When passing this report to the Permanent Representative, I would propose to invite his particular attention and through him that of the authorities in Baghdad, to three key aspects of the report: “all analytical data provided by the three laboratories were again considered as conclusive and valid”; “the existence of VX degradation products conflicts with Iraqi declarations that the unilaterally destroyed special wearheads had never been filled with CW agents”; and, the recommendations of the group of experts that UNSCOM invite Iraq “to explain first the origin and history of the fragments analysed by all three laboratories and then the presence of degradation products of nerve agents” and “to explain the presence of a compound known as VX stabilizer and its degradation product and to provide more information on the Iraqi efforts during the period mid-1988 to the end of 1990 to develop and produce VX by improved synthetic routes”.

I might also mention that consistent with the letter addressed to me by the President of the Security Council on 18 August 1998, to which I referred in my letter of 19 August addressed to the Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq, and with the terms of Security Council resolution 1194 (1998), which, inter alia, calls upon Iraq to resume dialogue with the Special Commission immediately, I will be asking the Permanent Representative of Iraq to express to the authorities in Baghdad the willingness of the Commission to resume work at the earliest possible moment with competent Iraqi authorities in order to address the questions posed by this expert report.

Accept, Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration.

Richard Butler

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