UNSCOM - Report to the Security Council - 25 January 1999


Background and Overview

1. As part of the formal cease-fire following the end of the Gulf war, the Security Council, by its resolution 687 (1991), established, inter alia, the requirement for long term monitoring and verification of Iraq to assure that Iraq did not reconstitute or retain its prohibited chemical and biological weapons and missiles with a range greater than 150 kilometres.

2. By resolution 715 (1991) of 11 October 1991, the Security Council approved the Plan for establishing such monitoring in the chemical, biological and missile areas. Under this Plan, the Special Commission established its monitoring system which is comprehensive in its approach.

3. Iraq refused to acknowledge resolution 715 (1991) for two years. It was not until Iraq officially acknowledged it, on 26 November 1993, that real efforts to design and build the full OMV system could start.

4. Some key principles which underpin the design efforts for the overall OMV system:

5. It was believed, that the net combined effect of the system would be sufficient to provide a credible measure of confidence that prohibited weapons and capabilities were not being retained or reconstituted.

6. The process of implementing the system involved a number of key tasks. The first required Iraq to provide information on sites having dual use capabilities as well as sites known to have been involved in prohibited weapons programmes. In early 1994, detailed formats for the provision of data relevant to ascertaining the capabilities and future monitoring of such sites were created and passed to the Iraqi counterparts for completion. Iraq provided data on identified sites. Throughout 1994, baseline survey missions were conducted by visiting teams of experts to sites in Iraq. These activities had, as their goal, the design and implementation of monitoring at each site and the creation of protocols for their monitoring.

7. Given that each site is unique, a regimen for inspecting each site was developed based on its importance, nature and size. Prescriptions for: how often a site should be visited; what parameters should be examined; whether sensors or cameras would be beneficial; what sorts of regular reports would be required from Iraq; and, other techniques for inspecting were identified and included in each site monitoring protocol.

8. Over three hundred sites were eventually included in the Commission's monitoring database. These sites are subject to regular inspections and Iraq is required, in most cases, to provide regular declarations in formats established by the Commission. These declarations are usually provided on a semi-annual basis, but some sites require more frequent declarations.

9. The Commission established a permanent and extensive facility in Baghdad as a base for its monitoring work. The Commission's earlier work had been conducted with a minimum of resident staff. With the advent of ongoing monitoring work, the necessity for a larger number of resident experts and administrative support was required. In 1994, Iraq provided a building for the use of the Commission and the IAEA. It was modified by the Commission to provide suitable arrangements and offices for monitoring work and a senior officer was appointed to head the Baghdad Monitoring and Verification Centre (BMVC). This building is shared with other United Nations Agencies. It incorporates the Commission's communications equipment, chemical laboratory, monitoring camera system control room and administrative and logistical support for field operations.

10. The monitoring design, in each area, faced unique issues. For example, missile related sites are the smallest in number, but, since specified missile activities are permitted to Iraq, there is a challenge in detecting prohibited activities latent in permitted activities. Scrutiny of all aspects of permitted programmes is essential, using cameras, requiring regular reports from Iraq, and most importantly regular detailed on-site inspections.

11. The chemical sites are more extensive, covering facilities with equipment and specialists that could be diverted to prohibited activities. Such facilities include pesticide plants, refineries and industrial chemical plants. Moreover, monitoring of dual-use chemicals, some used in large quantity for legitimate civilian purposes, was a problem to be managed.

12. The most extensive monitoring problem is in the biological area. BW agents can be produced in small facilities using relatively simple equipment. There are limited signatures to look for, if small quantities are being produced and not weaponized. Hence the net cast for monitoring must be large. A great number of facilities incorporating dual-use capabilities are inspected and are under varying degrees of monitoring. These include such facilities as production sites, research and development facilities, laboratories and other sites, apparently innocuous, such as breweries and drug production plants.

13. Following Iraq's acknowledgement of resolution 715 (1991), the Commission, the IAEA and the Committee established pursuant to resolution 661 (1990) (the "Sanctions Committee") developed a mechanism for the monitoring of any future sales or supplies by other countries to Iraq of items relevant to the implementation of section C of resolution 687 (1991) and other relevant resolutions. The lists of such items are contained in Annexes to the Commission's and the IAEA's Plans for OMV. Following consultations with States with export control experience, a report on provisions for a mechanism for Export/Import Monitoring was transmitted to the Security Council on 7 December 1995. On 27 March 1996, the Security Council adopted resolution 1051 (1996) which approved the provisions of the mechanism. A Joint IAEA-UNSCOM Unit was established in New York to run the mechanism and a corresponding office and resident monitoring team established in the BMVC.

14. The Export/Import mechanism is an integral and vital component of the overall monitoring system. It is a notification system which allows the Commission and the IAEA to be cognisant of, for monitoring purposes, the existence in Iraq of relevant equipment and materials. An important feature of the system is that, should any unreported notifiable imported equipment or materials be discovered in Iraq, and no adequate explanation is given thereof, the Commission and the IAEA have the right to destroy, remove or render such items harmless.

15. Export/Import inspections are conducted throughout Iraq, including at points-of-entry, but most emphasis is currently focussed on end-user customers inside Iraq. The current workload is mainly limited to items imported in connection with the humanitarian aid programmes. Any change in the status of the sanctions regime will have a significant impact throughout the monitoring system, but most particularly with respect to the operation of the Export/Import mechanism.

16. A further component of the monitoring system has been the aerial surveillance provided by the U-2 aircraft at high altitude since August 1991, the Mirage aircraft at medium altitude since June 1998, and the helicopter surveillance provided at low altitude since June 1992. These data have been useful in ascertaining the status of declared facilities. In addition, they provide information of particular importance in identifying possible new or undeclared facilities that may have monitorable dual-use capabilities or, indeed, be engaged in proscribed activity.

17. This touches on a key element of the monitoring system: the ability to detect undeclared, proscribed activities through the identification and conduct of inspections of newly identified sites. To monitor Iraq fully and deter violations, the Commission must have the credible and real ability to inspect any site in Iraq, on short notice. Sites for inspections may be identified by analysis based on previous inspection and monitoring activities or information generated from a wide range of sources. Sources ranged from intelligence information provided by Governments, to information available publicly such as on the Internet, to information conveyed by Iraqis no longer in Iraq. This approach can be expected to continue to support credible monitoring as mandated by the Council.

18. In summary, the Commission has designed a monitoring system of many related parts. Each part could not provide high confidence in detection of infractions, but collectively, over time, the Commission believes the system is able to provide adequate and credible monitoring. However, it is vitally dependent upon the full exercise of the rights of access and Iraq's cooperation provided for in the resolutions of the Council. While making use of technology and sensors as much as possible, it is also important to note that the essence of the system is the presence of knowledgeable inspectors.

19. Despite several differences in the monitoring and verification techniques in the chemical, biological and missile fields, activities in all areas covered by the Plan for OMV represent an integral monitoring and verification system. It is based on the joint operational planning, inspection procedures and supporting elements, including Export/Import mechanism and aerial surveillance. In addition there is a significant overlap in the Commission's monitoring activities in the chemical, biological and missile areas due to the multipurpose character of activities and sites in Iraq. Therefore, an integral system comprising chemical, biological and missile elements represents an optimal approach of monitoring and verification in Iraq.

20. In the chemical, biological and missile areas, in contrast with the nuclear field, Iraq produced and deployed operational weapons. These three programmes were closely connected and intertwined. Proscribed missiles were equipped with warheads filled with chemical and biological warfare agents. Chemical weapons facilities were often used for research activities related to BW programmes and for weaponization of BW agents. Missile facilities manufactured different types of chemical and biological munitions. In a period prior to the adoption of Security Council resolution 687 (1991), all three programmes, chemical, biological and missile, were managed and coordinated by a single Governmental agency: the Military Industrialization Commission (MIC).

21. There will always be a continuum between accounting for Iraq's proscribed activities of the past and monitoring to ensure that proscribed programmes are not reconstituted. Monitoring does not necessarily imply a categorical change in inspection techniques or procedures. For example, no-notice inspections will be needed whether their proximate cause is to discover a possible residual weapon from the past or a newly built one.

22. The OMV system as designed and implemented by the Commission, has been based on the assumption that ultimately, the full verification and disposal of Iraq's proscribed weapons would be achieved, as directed by resolution 687 (1991). This had the implication that the OMV system, in the long term, would rest on a foundation of full knowledge of the disposition of proscribed weapons and capabilities.

23. This present review of the OMV system takes into account the possibility that the mandated objective of the full accounting of Iraq's proscribed weapons and verification of Iraq's prohibited programmes will not be achieved but the Commission may, nevertheless, be required to operate its OMV system under the shadow of Iraq possibly retaining prohibited materials. It further takes into account that once sanctions are reduced or lifted, the Commission will face a considerable increase in its OMV work.

24. In these contexts, the Commission notes that the Plan for OMV approved by the Security Council in resolution 715 (1991), provides adequate potential for implementing a system of monitoring and verification more rigorous than had been in place in the past. It must be emphasised that the absence of the resolution of disarmament issues would lead to a degradation in the degree of confidence able to be provided by the OMV system, notwithstanding that additional measures would need to be introduced into the system in an attempt to offset the failure to bring all disarmament issues to account.

Key Elements

25. Three elements are of paramount importance for any effective and credible monitoring and verification system in Iraq. First, Iraq's full and unreserved adherence to its obligations and cooperation with the Commission's monitoring activities. The two other critical elements are: the Commission's access to sites for inspection and to information from all sources relevant to its mandate; and the resources available to the Commission for implementation of its mandate.

Iraq's Cooperation

26. The extent of Iraq's cooperation is the key determinant for the level of OMV procedures employed, and the resulting confidence in the system. Iraq has provided varying degrees of cooperation since 1991. Where cooperation has been good, monitoring has been good. The better the information and access provided by Iraq, the less intrusive the OMV procedures and the higher the confidence in the resulting assessments of Iraq's compliance.

27. A fundamental requirement is for the Government of Iraq to cease any prohibited activity. In this context, an important step by Iraq is the adoption of legislation prohibiting all natural and legal persons under its jurisdiction from undertaking anywhere any activity prohibited by the relevant resolutions and the Plan and to enact penal legislation to enforce such prohibitions. Such legislation was required to have been enacted within thirty days of adoption by the Security Council of resolution 715 (1991). Iraq has not yet taken this action.

28. Iraq states it ended its illegal concealment activities in 1995, but has never provided any evidence, such as documentation, to support this claim. In light of uncertainties concerning remaining disarmament issues, and less than full cooperation by Iraq, monitoring will have to take into account evasion techniques. If ongoing concealment were to be uncovered, this would be a matter of grave concern both intrinsically and in terms of the credibility of the OMV system.

Access to sites and information

29. Under the Plan for OMV, Iraq undertook to accept unconditionally the inspection of any site, facility, activity, material or other items declared by Iraq or designated by the Commission; and to provide immediate and unimpeded access to any site, facility, activity, material or other items to be inspected. Timely and unfettered access for inspection purposes is crucial to obtaining information which could serve as a basis for assessments of Iraq's compliance.

No-notice Inspections

30. The Commission has the right to conduct inspections on a no-notice basis. In the practical implementation of this right, it is important to minimise the opportunity for Iraq to have predictable warning of specific sites to be inspected. Iraq has attempted to defeat the principle of no-notice inspection by working assiduously to track and predict the Commission's inspection activities. Iraq seems to have succeeded in identifying blocks of time and certain locations in which and at which inspections were to be conducted, thus minimising, and indeed in many instances eliminating the risk of discovery of prohibited items or undeclared activities. This is a serious issue involving both cooperation by Iraq and operational security on the part of the Commission. An effective OMV system requires that there should not be sanctuaries in time.

Sites for inspections

31. An effective OMV system also requires that there should not be sanctuaries of sites and facilities from inspection throughout Iraq. Statistically, the Commission has conducted a large number of inspections in Iraq, but for the most part such inspections under the Plan for OMV have been to sites declared by Iraq. This is not without its importance, but monitoring demands verification of the absence of prohibited activities at all other locations in Iraq based on reliable information or assessment. Inspections conducted in a credible manner lead to no ambiguous results. This is critical to both Iraq and the Commission.

32. The range of sites to be inspected on a regular basis depends on the Commission's knowledge of Iraq's proscribed programmes and its understanding of Iraq's activities which fall under the Plan for OMV. If certain disarmament issues are not resolved, the Commission may need to regularly inspect a broader range of military facilities in Iraq. For instance, if full accounting of 155mm mustard rounds were not achieved, regular inspections of ammunition bunkers and depots might be judged as necessary.

33. The identification and inspection of sites where undeclared or prohibited activity might be conducted is fundamental to any effective monitoring system. Such sites are identified through the analysis of data obtained from a variety of sources available to the Commission and are inspected by teams which may comprise resident or non-resident expertise, as required. It is necessary to maintain a coordinated approach to the identification and inspection of potential sites in order to maximise the effectiveness of these inspection efforts for the benefit of ongoing monitoring. The potential of inspections of undeclared sites makes an important contribution to the overall deterrent effect of the monitoring system.

34. The Plan for OMV does not envisage any sanctuary for inspections or limitation on assess to sites designated for inspection. In the past, following blockages of inspections by Iraq, special modalities for inspection of specific categories of sites were established. These were themselves the subject of further dispute and blockage. Given the terms of resolution 715 (1991) and the Plan for OMV, the serious question arises of the impact of such modalities on a credible monitoring system, or indeed whether they should have any role with respect to that system.

35. A part of the resolution of disputes caused by Iraq blocking inspections and seeking to establish areas which may not be inspected at all, has been acceptance of the concern that Iraq's legitimate security, sovereignty and dignity must be respected. The Commission does not believe that the effective conduct of its work and these concerns are inherently incompatible. They could prove to be so if the claims by Iraq of such concerns were clearly being advanced as a rationale for avoiding its obligations. The Commission has and will continue to balance its need to conduct effective inspections with Iraq's legitimate security, sovereignty and dignity concerns.

Geographic Access

36. Shortened access time to sites designated for inspections could be achieved through the following steps, either separately or in combination: the creation of regional monitoring and verification sub-centers or operational bases, the use of fixed-wing aircraft for transportation within Iraq and the improvement of rotary-wing aerial transportation.

37. The creation of two regional monitoring sub-centers or operational bases in Mosul and Basrah, in addition to the BMVC, would enable the Commission to reach practically all of the listed sites in Iraq within two hours. The creation of regional centers would necessitate a further increase in the number of personnel on resident teams in Iraq. Another option would be the creation of regional operational bases where a sub-component of the monitoring teams would be able to operate from at any time on a temporary basis. The second option would not require a significant increase of personnel.

38. The use of fixed-wing aircraft within Iraq would allow for the transportation, to any operational airfield in Iraq, of inspection teams comprising 10 or more inspectors, together with all required verification equipment and vehicles for ground transportation. It would also allow the deployment of inspection teams to particular areas in Iraq straight from the Commission's field office in Bahrain.

39. The deployment of helicopters by the Commission would also allow the transportation of inspection teams comprising 10 or more inspectors, together with a limited amount of verification equipment and vehicles for ground transportation to any specific site designated for inspection.

Access to Information

40. The Plan for OMV approved by Security Council resolution 715 (1991) stipulates that the Commission shall have the right to "request, receive, examine, copy and remove any record, data, information or documentation and to verify inventories." Access to documentation has been emphasized in relation to verifying Iraq's proscribed activities. It will also be vitally important to OMV. Records relating to production and acquisition records, inventory lists, financial transactions documentation and tasking orders can be highly revealing for tracking Iraq's activities under monitoring. A credible monitoring system must make full use of relevant procedures based on the right of access to records and information.

41. Effective monitoring through the examination of records has shown the general need for experienced linguists. With the increased use in Iraq of electronic information systems, there is a further requirement for computer experts who can examine electronic records. The Commission has found many useful pieces of information through examination of computers. Continued examination of such media will remain essential.

42. In the implementation of its monitoring and verification tasks, the Commission will continue to rely on information from sources other than the Government of Iraq. Information of relevance to monitoring in Iraq has been provided to the Commission from a number of sources outside Iraq. Such data is assessed by the Commission and collated with what is known to be in Iraq. Inspections may be planned on the basis of such data depending upon assessment. Without such information, the level of success achieved by the Commission in understanding Iraq's prohibited programmes would not have been possible. This will continue to be the case for monitoring.


43. The ongoing monitoring and verification in Iraq is an operation that relies mostly on human efforts not on technical devices. The Commission has found that one of the greatest shortcomings in its work on monitoring in Iraq has been the relative lack of experts who have extended and detailed knowledge of Iraq's proscribed weapons programmes. The Commission has been provided experts for assignment to Baghdad from many Governments. Typically, these have been highly qualified technical experts in their fields, in their countries. What the Commission finds is that this expertise, while necessary, is not sufficient since additional knowledge of the Iraqi-specific programmes and activities is required. Moreover, in most cases these experts are loaned to the Commission for terms of three to six months. This does not allow enough time to become familiarized with Iraq's programmes and techniques. Over the long term, however, it will be necessary to recruit experts and other inspection personnel who will be engaged in the monitoring activities in Iraq for extensive periods.

44. At this stage, it is impossible to provide a very precise estimation of the size and cost of the OMV system in the future, as that would depend, in significant ways, on decisions regarding tasks, scope and objectives of such a system.

45. In the evaluation and identification of the possible magnitude of the OMV system in the future, the characteristics of the OMV system implemented by the Commission over the last years are provided as a point of reference.

46. In the past, the Commission has used a staff of over 200 personnel per year on a long-term basis (including experts, inspectors, policy officers, support personnel and aircrew), distributed among its three locations: Baghdad, Bahrain and New York. Although the staff was engaged in both disarmament and monitoring activities, since 1994 most of them were devoted to monitoring duties.

47. Additionally, an average of 700 visiting experts and other specialists were employed per year for short-term missions in Iraq, mostly for monitoring inspections.

48. The majority of the Commission's personnel has been provided by governments (as proposed by the Secretary-General and endorsed by the Security Council in 1991 - S/22508). United Nations staff have also been seconded to the Commission. As the Council agreed in 1991, the Member States whose nationals serve on the Commission or assist it in the discharge of its responsibilities have been responsible for their salaries, while the Commission has borne the costs of travel and daily subsistence. These arrangements have helped to keep the overall budget of the Commission to a minimum.

49. In addition, the Commission has borne the costs of transportation, communications, acquisition of some but not all the required equipment, and administration.

50. The overall budget of the Commission has been around $35 million per year. This does not include the cost of significant in-kind support provided - without charge to the Commission - by several governments, such as the U-2 and Mirage IV operational costs, sample analysis and procurement of equipment, among others. Were that support to be borne by the Commission, the actual budget would have been considerably larger.

51. For effective implementation of the Plan for OMV in the future, substantial increases in the resources should be envisaged. Even without critical changes, the cost of the implementation of the OMV system and its size in the future may well double.

52. On a preliminary basis the Commission estimates that the OMV system in the future would require over $50 million, annually, for salaries of long-term (UN recruited) and short-term staff, including inspectors, specialists, support personnel, aircrew and administration. Travel costs, communications and other operational expenditures would require over $15 million per year. Contractual services for the provision of aerial transportation capabilities in Iraq (fixed-wing cargo aircraft and helicopters) would amount to over $10 million. Aerial surveillance support (high, medium and low-altitude aerial surveillance), if to be provided to the Commission, under contractual services, would represent a very considerable expenditure. At this stage, it is difficult to provide any estimate figure for these services. The Governments currently providing such services to the Commission have not provided data on their actual cost. Moreover, this kind of service is not available, currently, in the commercial market.

53. The Commission also estimates that the OMV system in the future, even without the introduction of more far-reaching changes (such as an increase in the resources devoted to the Export/Import mechanism), would require a staff of over 350 personnel for the implementation of all its activities. Most of them will need to be recruited under contracts with the United Nations. Additionally, the OMV system would require an average of 400 visiting experts and other specialists, per year, for short-term missions in Iraq.