The Council has grave concerns about the proliferation
of Weapons of Mass Destruction in the Middle East region. We have
called for a region Free of Weapons of Mass Destruction and support
the EU position on this issue. We believe that in a region that
still is racked by conflict, tensions and anger, all efforts must
be made to bring this about. Efforts at restricting proliferation
may soon be too late, as the region has to adjust to having several
states that may have WMD potential.
Furthermore, the economies in the region cannot
support financially an arms race. In order to promote regional
stability and prosperity a climate must be created whereby funds
should be channelled away from defence to the investment in the
poorer sections of society. Therefore it is highly regrettable
that the Arms Control and Security working groups were absent
at the resumption of the Multilateral Steering Committee Meetings
on 1 February in Moscow.
This paper will focus on two key regional players
known to have a WMD potential.
At present there is one nuclear powerIsrael.
It is estimated that it possesses in the region of 200-300 nuclear
weapons. The American Department of Energy places Israel sixth
in the atomic big-league with 300 to 500 kilograms of weapons-grade
plutonium. There appears to be no sign of any slow down in their
Formally the Israeli government maintains a
policy of ambiguity, but in reality there is no denial of possession,
or the figures cited. The French built the reactor between 1957
and 1964 and, as later revealed, the separation plant, essential
in acquiring the weapons grade plutonium, which was finished around
1965. Professor Francis Perrin, former head of the French nuclear
programme, confirmed French collusion to The Sunday Times
(12 March 1986) the week after Mordechai Vanunu's disclosures
In addition to its nuclear capacity, it has
a known chemical and biological capacity with a missile system
more advanced than anything else currently in the region. The
newest version of the Jericho missile has a range of over 3,000
There are concerns at the following levels with
the Israeli WMD programme.
1. Israel has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation
Treaty, the Chemical Weapons Convention or the Comprehensive Test
Ban Treaty. So far it has refused to respond to the Syrian demand
that peace negotiations include the dismantlement of all weapons
of mass destruction.
2. There is a lack of proper scrutiny even
within Israel of its nuclear arsenal. Obviously there is little
or no debate as to its size, or security of the sites concerned.
There is no discussion as to the circumstances in which weapons
might be used.It
was only this month that the Knesset debated Israel's nuclear
policy for the first time in its history, although it was an Arab
member of the Knesset, Issam Makhoul, who had to raise the issue.
When he claimed, as do most foreign newspapers, that Israel had
around 300 nuclear weapons, there was a mass walkout of Members
of the Knesset. There are extremist factions and groups who may
wish to gain access to the weapon's grade material, but there
are no published security procedures. As Issam Makhoul stated:
Similarly the military correspondent of the
Israeli newspaper, Ha'aretz, Ze'ev She'v commented: "One
cannot, of course, exclude the possibility of a suicidal use of
nuclear weapons in the case of an Israeli defeat . . ." (2
3. The Dimona nuclear reactor is 40 years
old and out of date. As it lies in a major earthquake area, there
is an inherent environmental risk.A
key demand of environmentalists is to know where and how waste
from Dimona is disposed. Yet again there is little or no debate
allowed on safety at the reactor. There have been numerous reports
of leakages, and health problems of workers at Dimona, but little
public debate is permitted. The reactor should be open to international
inspection. This should also apply to any new nuclear reactor
as the Israeli government is examining options to purchase a second
reactor to be installed at Shivta, also in the Negev desert.
4. The possession of Israeli nuclear weapons
does act as a spur to other powers to seek WMD for their own security.
Iran is a case in point, whilst Syria is also believed now to
have chemical weapons. Egypt has raised the issue of the treaty
on many occasions calling on Israel to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation
treaty. Although an Israeli signature on the treaty amounts to
little without proper enforcement (states such as North Korea
and Iran have signed but still allegedly pursue the nuclear weapons
option), it would at least be a start and an indication of a revised
5. The Israeli acquisition of three German
manufactured submarines has allowed it to ensure a second strike
capability that also has raised fears in the region.
6. Israel's role in proliferation of WMD
with other states. The transfer of technology to India has been
a matter of great concern. There is also a considerable body of
evidence which shows that Israel and South Africa co-operated
on a nuclear weapons programme.
The continued detention in solidarity confinement
of Mordechai Vanunu
represents a serious human rights violation. Pressure must be
applied to gain his immediate release making it known that his
kidnapping and subsequent trial in camera were both in violation
of international law.
Iraq is cited as the region's greatest threat
to peace. In terms of its conventional weapons capability, currently
it is of little danger to neighbouring states given:
It is Iraq's WMD programme that is of concern.
Ever since the Gulf War of 1991, the UN Security
Council, in particular the United States and the United Kingdom,
have been locked in battle with Iraq over the latter's WMD capability.
Iraq has to carry out its disarmament obligations as stipulated
under UNSCR 687. This is the prime reason for maintaining the
embargo against Iraq. As such Iraq is presented as a major threat
to regional, even global security. Whilst this is the case, the
attitude of Iraq is not the only threat to regional stability
and cannot be considered in isolation from other regional trends.
It was clear that Iraq had ambitions to obtain
WMD capability. The International Atomic Energy Agency has just
completed a routine inspection visit to Iraq. However, the main
concerns in Iraq surround the chemical and biological weapons
programmes in addition to the Iraqi missile programme.
By October 1998 UNSCOM stated that "the disarmament phase
of the Security Council's requirements is possibly near its end
in the missile and chemical weapons areas." The problem remains
that Iraq will always have difficulty in proving that it no longer
has any WMD capacity, and the onus must be on the UN to prove
CAABU, whilst supporting the need for a monitoring
and verification regime, is concerned that the current policy
in Iraq has undermined the ability to carry this out especially
as Iraq does not appear willing to accept a replacement regime.
Operation Desert Fox in December 1998 was carried
out over four days ostensibly over Iraq's refusal to allow UNSCOM
inspections. But the results of the bombing, other than severe
loss of Iraqi life and further damage to the civilian infrastructure,
were only too predictable, and resulted in there being no inspections
or monitoring since 14 December 1998. During this period, the
Iraqi regime would have had time to develop in secret their programme
and rebuild it. This was referred to in the special UN disarmament
panel report of March 1999 "The panel noted that the longer
inspection and monitoring activities remain suspended, the more
difficult the comprehensive implementation of Security Council
resolutions becomes, increasing the risks that Iraq might reconstitute
its proscribed weapons programmes or retain proscribed items."
It should be pointed out that it is well known
that Iraq's borders have been highly porous during this period
so the regime has had the ability to procure banned items (dual
use and so forth). This has increased according to US administration
officials since August 1999. In January 2000, a record number
of ships evaded searches by travelling through Iranian territorial
This does undermine the rationale for the embargo.
During this period there has been little expression
of international concern over this, and no sense of great urgency.
The US Ambassador to the United Nations, Richard Holbrooke, has
hardly involved himself in the issue of Iraq.
All this feeds the view that the US administration prefers containment
of the Iraqi regime, rather than actually having an inspection
regime in Iraq, which could lead to Iraq being given a clean bill
of health on the weapons programme leading to the lifting of sanctions.
Statements to the effect that sanctions could only be lifted in
a post-Saddam Hussein era have also contributed to a hardening
in the position of the Iraqi regime.
With this in mind, we hope that the US and UK
will be fully supportive of the new UNMOVIC and not undermine
it particularly through the employment of individuals from national
As much as possible it should be decoupled from the humanitarian
agenda so that the people of Iraq do not suffer any further. The
more UNMOVIC can be de-politicised and be seen as an independent
monitoring body the better.
We welcome the fact that the members of UNMOVIC
will be more accountable to the UN Secretary-General than individual
MEANS AND MOTIVE
The most successful means to ensure that chemical
and biological weapons are not deployed in Iraq is that of deterrence.
Such weapons were not used during the 1991 conflict almost certainly
because it was made quite clear by James Baker, the then US Secretary
of State, that this would mean a disproportionate US response.
There can be no doubt that the Iraqi regime is aware that this
threat is still alive and valid today.
The status quo with Iraq is not a policy position
the UK should support. The Iraqi people are suffering a humanitarian
catastrophe as a result of the policies of the regime, the sanctions
that have lasted since 1990, and the effects of two wars on the
country. Non-military sanctions do not serve the purpose of preventing
the Iraqi regime from obtaining WMD potential, and therefore moves
toward their suspension, at least in part, should be considered.
The situation will deteriorate drastically if
crucial changes are not made.
The model of attempting to control proliferation
by force as in the case of Iraq has not worked, not only since
1990 but also in June 1981 when the Israelis destroyed the Osirak
reactor. In both cases, these actions have tended to strengthen
the resolve of the Iraqis to acquire such weapons. Acquiring WMD
has now become in some areas a matter of national pride and strength.
There must also be greater consistency in condemning
possession of WMD. It hinders efforts to bring about disarmament
when one state's programme is overlooked, whilst other states
Therefore, different approaches to regional
disarmament must be adopted. The most effective way forward is
to advance moves towards regional disarmament, economic development,
and genuine moves towards peace with respect for human rights.
In October 1986, The Sunday Times published the statements
of Mordechai Vanunu, an Israeli technician who worked at the Dimona
Nuclear Reactor for nine years from 1976-85. He confirmed to the
paper that Israel had developed nuclear weapons. Vanunu substantiated
what experts had suspected for years about the real purpose of
the plant. His 57 photographs of Dimona revealed the first direct
proof that Israel had the bomb. Amongst his startling revelations,
largely ignored by the world media at the time, was that Israel
possessed the hydrogen bomb. Atomic experts, after debriefing
Vanunu, estimated that Dimona was producing something in the region
of 40 kilogrammes of plutonium every year, enough for 8-10 Hiroshima-size
bombs a year. Nuclear experts, such as Dr Frank Barnaby and Theodore
Taylor (a major pioneer of the US nuclear programme) regarded
this evidence as both sound and conclusive. Back
Missile launches have been reported on several occasions. An Iranian
general claimed to have been present at the first test of the
Jericho II in 1977 (New York Times, 1 April 1986). According
to the BBC (Newsnight, 11 July 1985), the Jericho II has
been tested in South Africa. A further test almost certainly was
carried out on 14 September 1989, when an intermediate missile
test was conducted in the Mediterranean. A missile was launched
landing to the west of Crete, a distance of 800 miles. However,
as with their nuclear capability, Israel has never acknowledged
the existence of either the Jericho, or the Jericho II missile. Back
Mounting evidence suggests that Golda Meir's government considered
the atomic option during the first 48 hours of the war of October
1973. Some 13 bombs were made ready for use as Egyptian and Syrian
forces made early gains during the war. This allegation appeared
most prominently in a Time magazine article of 12 April
According to Vanunu, airborne pollution and radioactive gases
were routinely released into the atmosphere when the wind was
blowing towards Jordan. A reported fire at Dimona in 1991, and
a waste water leak into the Little Crater Nature Reserve in April
1993 which contaminated the surrounding area, also give cause
for concern. Back
Mossad agents drugged and kidnapped Vanunu on 30 September 1986,
whilst he was in Rome, and then took him to Israel where, after
being tried in secret, his courage was rewarded with an 18 year
prison term in solidarity confinement charged with "treason".
He is now in his fourteenth year of captivity, an imprisonment
condemned by human rights groups world-wide. Back
Iraq must give up all missiles with a range greater that 150 km. Back
See New York Times, 1 February 2000. Back
See New York Times, 1 February 2000. Back
In March 1997 Madeleine Albright, the US Secretary of State said:
"We do not agree with those nations who argue that if Iraq
complies with its obligations concerning weapons of mass destruction,
sanctions should be lifted." The US congress is also actively
financing the Iraqi opposition with the hope that this will help
bring about the downfall of Saddam Hussein. Back
UNSCOM weapons inspector, Scott Ritter admitted having links with
Mossad. See also Independent: 25 January 1999 "MI6
officers worked in Iraq as UN inspectors". Back