Sanctions Vote

Iraq News APRIL 30, 1998

By Laurie Mylroie

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 .


    On Apr 27, the UNSC, as expected, voted to maintain sanctions on 
Iraq.  Apr 28 was Saddam's birthday, a major holiday on which no serious 
work is to be done.  On Apr 29, Baghdad issued its first major response 
to the UNSC sanctions review.  Saddam chaired a joint meeting of the RCC 
and Bath party leadership.  It issued a short statement, "The meeting 
was held to follow up the UN Security Council's stands in light of the 
principles stated in the statement issued by the Revolutionary Command 
Council and the Iraq Command of the Arab Socialist Bath Party on 16 
April" [which had called for the immediate lifting of sanctions after 
the sanctions review.]

   Yesterday's statement also said, "The meeting will be resumed to 
discuss the foreign minister's report on the activities and contacts in 
New York with the UN secretary general and UN Security Council members." 
Iraq will respond to the UNSC vote, but it seems no decision will be 
announced until after the Foreign Minister returns from NYC, where the 
UNSC has still to decide on the Russian-led effort to "close" the 
nuclear file. 

   Meanwhile, as Jim Hoagland, Apr 23, wrote, the Clinton 
administration, which had not really expected another Iraq crisis until 
Oct, seems to be further backpedaling [that was also reported in the 
news section of the Wash Post, Apr 29].  "Despite new signs that Saddam 
Hussein may soon break out of his deal with UN Secretary General Kofi 
Annan," Hoagland explained, "the Clinton administration is weighing a 
retreat from its previous threats to bomb Iraq if Baghdad resumes active 
disruption of UN weapons inspections."  The administration is apparently 
moving toward a policy of "deterrence," rather than "containment," 
raising the threshold for Iraqi challenges that would cause the US to 
threaten military action against Baghdad.

    According to Hoagland, under a "deterrence" policy, the US would 
respond "with force to any open deployment of chemical or biological 
weapons or to any threatening move by Iraqi forces against Kuwait or 
Saudi Arabia. . . . Under one set of proposals being urged on Clinton, 
the United States would not treat expulsion of UNSCOM [!!!] as a trigger 
for strikes, despite suggestions last February that Iraq's reneging on 
the Annan deal would provoke an automatic US military response that 
would be unilateral if necessary."

   Indeed, on Feb 24, the day after the Annan deal, the Wash Post 
reported, "Clinton said he remains ready to use military force if Iraq 
reneges on the accord."  Asked to respond to Republican criticism of the 
accord, Clinton said, "Since 1991 our strategy has been to keep 
sanctions on, keep Iraq from rebuilding its military might and 
threatening its neighbors, but to pursue this inspection system to end 
what is the biggest threat both to its neighbors and to others by 
indirection, which is the chemical, the biological and the nuclear 
weapons program."

    Who is responsible for the US retreat from Feb to Apr, or at least 
contemplated retreat?  The allies, of course, particularly the Arabs.  
As Hoagland explained, the US reassessment is based on a recognition 
that Washington "failed last winter to generate support from its Arab 
allies and from its main Security Council partners" for military 

     Yet Paul Wolfowitz, former Bush Undersecretary of Defense, already 
last Nov, described the situation otherwise.  As he wrote in the WSJ, 
Nov 18, "Why has the anti-Saddam coalition become so weak . . .and what 
might be done to reconstitute a new coalition?  The major reason for 
other nations' hesitance to join any military effort to force Saddam 
Hussein to comply with the UN Security Council resolutions remains 
unspoken.  They do not wish to be associated with a US military effort 
that is ineffective and that leaves them alone to face Iraq.  That is 
the lesson of the original Gulf War coalition.

   "International condemnation of Saddam's 1990 occupation of Kuwait was 
almost universal.  But that outrage alone would not have been enough to 
create a consensus for unified action.  The actions countries were asked 
to take were extremely risky, particularly the nations of the Arabian 
Peninsula. . .   The decisive step in forming the coalition that 
eventually liberated Kuwait was not the initial condemnation of Iraqi 
aggression by the UN Security Council, but the decision by Saudi Arabia, 
a few days later, to accept the deployment of a large US armed force on 
Saudi soil.   That Saudi decision was initiated by a telephone call from 
President Bush to King Fahd on Aug 4, 1990, in which the president 
promised that US forces would finish the job of liberating Kuwait.  Mr. 
Bush then dispatched Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney to Jiddah for a 
meeting with the King on Aug 6 that sealed the Saudi agreement to the 
deployment of one of the largest American armed forces ever sent 

   "In hindsight that Saudi decision has been almost taken for granted, 
but at the time it was anything but a sure thing.  The Saudis had 
already declined a US offer of a fighter squadron in the immediate 
aftermath of Iraq's aggression. . . .  The US was asking a country with 
only modest armed forces of its own to take on a tiger in its immediate 
neighborhood . . . The Saudis had no interest in merely pulling the 
tiger's tail.  If the US was serious about eliminating a threat to their 
survival, they would join us.  Otherwise they would do the best they 
could to persuade the tiger to leave them alone."  And that, more than 
anything else, helps explain the lack of Arab support for the 
administration's proposed strikes on Iraq.  

    The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, Apr 17, also 
commented on the planned US shift to deterrence, "meaning we will only 
use military force against deployment or use of missiles or WMD - not 
their acquisition or possession.  What then?  After they are deployed, 
will we say, 'The US will only retaliate against their use'?  Or after 
they are used, will we say, 'The US will only retaliate if they are used 
against someone we like'?

   The editors of the Boston Globe, Apr 25, also took the administration 
to task, calling the proposed policy "even more untenable" than the old. 
The Globe endorsed a policy of overthrowing Saddam, applauding recent 
Senate approval of funding for the Iraqi National Congress and 
describing the INC's "realistic" plan for bringing Saddam down.

  Finally, the Center for Security Policy, Apr 28, hailed Sen Lott's 
leadership on Iraq, "Even as the Clinton administration once again shows 
itself unable or unwilling to address the threat posed by Saddam Hussein 
and his weapons of mass destruction in the only way certain to be 
effective—namely, by removing him and his clique from power—Senate 
Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) has once again insisted that the 
latter should be the object of American policy.  Better yet, he has 
helped to secure the first increment of funding need to achieve that 

   Seconding Sen. Lott's call for US support for the Iraqi National 
Congress, whose leader, Ahmad Chalabi, he met earlier this week, the 
Center concluded, "The Clinton administration could powerfully signal 
its embrace, albeit belatedly, of this goal by having President Clinton 
follow Senator Lott's in meeting with Dr. Chalabi.  Until then, the 
Majority Leader is to be commended for stepping into the breach—and his 
colleagues in the Congress for following his strategically important