Testimony of Scott Ritter
Former UNSCOM Inspector
Committee on International Relations
Hearing on "Disarming Iraq: The Status of Weapons Inspections"
September 15, 1998
Thank you for the opportunity to present my concerns to this distinguished body. There are serious problems in the foreign policy of the United States toward Iraq and the necessary inspection, monitoring and verification procedures to ensure that Iraq does not reconstitute its prohibited weapons program.
I applaud the repeatedly stated policies of the United States. I am very disappointed in the deviations from that policy. I have been very critical of specific actions undertaken by the United States to interfere with the difficult inspection tasks being carried out by the Special Commission.
I welcome this hearing as part of an overall public review of United States foreign policy objectives in Iraq, something I had hoped that my resignation and speaking out would have occasioned.
If the direct nature of my statements have caused discomfort, so be it. My criticism is based upon facts and experiences obtained over the course of seven years actively attempting to implement the provisions of Security Council resolutions calling for the disarmament of Iraq — to deprive it of its weapons of mass destruction.
I have great concern about the text of the most recent Security Council resolution, 1194, which condemns Iraq for suspending cooperation with the Special Commission and the International Atomic Energy Agency. The provision of this last resolution that causes me concern is the same one I referred to in my letter of resignation. I voiced strong objection to the concept of a "comprehensive review" of Iraq's compliance with its obligations under Security Council resolutions, and especially so if such a review were to be conducted under the auspices of the Secretary General. Based upon our previous experience at the Special Commission, such a "comprehensive review" is most likely to result in some redefining of Iraq's obligations for disarmament to the point that meaningful disarmament of Iraq would be jeopardized. Once again, Iraq, through its consistent policy of obstructionism, has achieved yet another concession.
So one must look askance at any new effort to appease Iraq by calling for a new "comprehensive review" of its compliance with Security Council resolutions. Such a review is very disturbing.
The Special Commission has been placed under such pressures in the past, always at the behest of Iraq. Prior to my departure from the Special Commission, I know that the Executive Chairman was under pressure to define Iraq's outstanding disarmament obligations in a manner which would allow such a comprehensive review to achieve the closure of the chemical and ballistic missile files. To do this, the Special Commission would have to cease its investigation of Iraq's concealment mechanism, and agree to place its remaining concerns about retained components and means of production under a program of ongoing monitoring and verification. Such a move would be fundamentally wrong, and would lead to what I have called the "Illusion of Arms Control."
This most recent Security Council resolution on Iraq is only reflective of the continuing pattern of confrontation and concession. I cannot see how the recent resolution did anything more than delay the inevitable. Iraq has paid no real price for telling one lie after another and continuing its obstruction of the weapons inspection teams. If Iraq chooses in the future to allow the resumption of inspection activity, will it be rewarded with yet another round of "comprehensive reviews." The danger the objectivity of such a review. The track record of the Secretary General on Iraq is mixed at best.
I believe that the world, especially the Congress of the United States, must pay close attention in the weeks and months ahead to keep the process of disarming Iraq honest. If recent history is any guide, there will be many pressures placed upon the Special Commission, most behind the scenes and as such out of public view, to make compromises of substance concerning Iraq's unfulfilled disarmament obligations. The credibility of the United Nations and the United States is at stake here.
I hope that in my testimony here today I might be able to help shine a light on this most important issue.