USIS Washington 

17 April 1998


(UNSCOM report critical of Iraqi cooperation) (1200)

By Judy Aita

USIA United Nations Correspondent

United Nations -- The head of the Special Commission overseeing the
destruction of Iraqi weapons (UNSCOM) told the Security Council April
17 that Iraq is no closer to providing U.N. weapons experts with the
data they need to certify Iraq is free of the banned weapons than it
was six months ago.

In his semi-annual report to the Security Council, UNSCOM Chairman
Richard Butler said "Iraq's claim, uttered repeatedly and sometimes
stridently during (the past six months) -- to the effect that it is
now absolutely free of any prohibited weapons and the equipment used
to make them -- is a claim which most would prefer to be true but
which has not been able to be verified."

"The commission's mandate does not permit it to accept disarmament by
declaration alone," he said.

Butler said "Iraq has essentially failed" to provide the information
needed to fill the gaps in the chemical and biological weapons
programs, nor has it provided new information to help account for
propellants and other materials for the banned ballistic missiles.

Iraq's "consistent refusal" to provide UNSCOM with the information and
materials needed to verify its claim that it has no more banned
weapons makes it impossible for UNSCOM to declare that Iraq is in full
compliance with the Security Council's cease-fire demands.

In the meantime, Iraq tried to shift the emphasis from the
commission's work to a set of technical evaluation meetings (TEMs) in
hopes that the international experts at those sessions would determine
that Iraq has provided all the information needed on chemical and
biological weapons and ballistic missiles to certify that Iraq has met
the cease-fire demands and have sanctions lifted.

The TEMs, however, upheld UNSCOM's assertions that the data Iraq has
provided is incomplete.

Butler pointed out in his report that "first not only did the (TEM)
process fail to improve the commission's ability to verify positively
Iraq's claims about its prohibited weapons status but, in each case,
the process indicated further areas of lack of clarity and uncertainty
and the need for further work in the field rather than at a conference

"Secondly, the (technical evaluation meetings) have become an
extremely time-consuming process for the commission and have slowed
down and, in some cases, led to the postponement of important field
work," he added.

UNSCOM "has striven to improve the situation by a range of actions,
including the new TEMs process but, unfortunately, Iraq has so far
failed to deliver what is required to verify its claim, even though it
has been asked for this help repeatedly and has promised to give it,"
Butler said.

During the six-month period under review, the most serious
confrontation between the U.N. and Iraq on the weapons inspections
occurred over UNSCOM access to the presidential and sensitive sites,
prompting a military build-up in the gulf. Military strikes were
averted by a special mission by the secretary general in talks with
President Saddam Hussein.

Butler mentioned that although the initial inspection of the eight
so-called presidential sites was completed satisfactorily, there
appeared to be differences on whether Iraq would allow UNSCOM to have
access over the long-term as spelled out in the memorandum of
understanding signed by Secretary General Kofi Annan and Iraq in

The details of that mission were the subject of a separate report to
the council in April as well.

The situation with Iraq's ballistic missiles is complicated by the
fact that Baghdad claims it unilaterally destroyed some two-thirds of
its operational missile force, including missiles, launchers,
warheads, and propellants, Butler said. In the past six months, there
has been no substantive progress on accounting for missile propellants
and no satisfactory balancing of the Iraqi-made missiles and
components with what Baghdad has claimed to have unilaterally

While it is clear that Iraq did destroy some weapons, "Iraq's refusal
to provide adequate and verifiable details" of the destruction to the
U.N. experts has made it impossible for the experts to verify all of
Iraq's claims, he said.

Iraq has continued to develop the Al Samoud missile, whose maximum
range is close to 150 kilometers (the limit allowed Iraq on ballistic
missiles), using non-Iraqi made components, including imported Volga
surface-to-air missiles, Butler reported.

The February technical evaluation meeting (TEM) on the chemical
warfare agent VX determined that Iraq has not given a full disclosure
on its VX capabilities. The TEM concluded that "Iraq was capable of
producing VX and the retention of a VX capability by Iraq cannot be
excluded," Butler said.

The long-term monitoring teams based in Iraq "continue to experience
varying levels of cooperation," Butler also said.

While support at the working level is "generally satisfactory," he
said, there continue to be incidents of non-compliance, such as late
or incorrect declarations, movement of tagged equipment without proper
notification, lack of access to sites and rooms, and interference in
inspections by Iraqi personnel.

UNSCOM is concerned that significant quantities of 155 mm rounds of
special munitions for chemical and biological weapons are unaccounted
for. "This has acquired additional importance in the light of the
recent analysis of four intact 155 mm shells filled with mustard (gas)
of the highest quality (purity of 94 to 97 percent) even after seven
years of exposure to extreme climatic conditions," he said.

That discovery was contrary to Iraq's claims that its chemical weapons
would have disintegrated and be useless over time, Butler pointed out.
"Clearly, these Iraqi munitions could be stored for decades without
any loss of quality."

If Iraq would provide verifiable data on chemical weapons, the UNSCOM
chairman said, that would immensely speed up clarification of
outstanding issues but "it has not done so."

A technical evaluation meeting on biological weapons in March 1998
backed up earlier determinations that Iraq's declarations to UNSCOM
were "incomplete, inadequate and technically flawed."

Butler pointed out that in March experts found in Iraq a 1994 document
indicating the existence of a program for the manufacture of nozzles
for spray dryers to be delivered to Al Hakam, Iraq's principal
biological weapons production facility.

In addition, in September 1997, UNSCOM discovered a set of documents
relating to 1995 discussions between Iraq and a potential supplier of
"a single-cell protein facility," whose potential for use in
manufacturing biological warfare agents "is beyond question," he said.

Butler reported that on the biological weapons program, Iraq has
provided a selected and incomplete history, given little information
on organization arrangements, not provided information on the
acquisition of supplies, given minimal reports on research and
development, and provided unreliable production and filing of
munitions figures.

Contrary to the demands of the Security Council and it's own promises,
Iraq still refuses to allow UNSCOM's fix-wing planes to land at
Rasheed Air Base and the Basrah international airport, the UNSCOM
chairman noted.

The council is expected to discuss the report the week of April 20.

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