Letter to Congressional Leaders Reporting on Iraq's Compliance With United Nations Security Council Resolutions
Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)
Consistent with the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution (Public Law 102-1), and as part of my effort to keep the Congress fully informed, I am reporting on the status of efforts to obtain Iraq's compliance with the resolutions adopted by the U.N. Security Council.
It remains our judgment that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has effectively disbanded the Iraqi nuclear weapons program at least for the near term. The United Nations has destroyed Iraqi missile launchers, support facilities, and a good deal of Iraq's indigenous capability to manufacture prohibited missiles. The U.N. Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM) teams have reduced Iraq's ability to produce chemical weapons and they are inventorying and destroying chemical munitions. The United Nations now is preparing a longterm monitoring regime for facilities identified as capable of supporting a biological weapons program. But serious gaps remain in accounting for Iraq's missile and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs and the destruction process for all designated Iraqi weapons programs is not yet complete.
The international community must also ensure that Iraq does not break its promise to accept ongoing monitoring and verification as Iraq has repeatedly done in the past on other commitments. Continued vigilance is necessary because we believe that Saddam Hussein is committed to rebuilding his WMD capability.
We are seriously concerned about the many contradictions and unanswered questions remaining in regard to Iraq's WMD capability, especially in the chemical weapons area. The Secretary General's report of April 22 has detailed how the Iraqi government has stalled, obstructed, and impeded the Special Commission in its essential efforts. This report indicated that information supplied by Iraq on its missile and chemical programs was incomplete. Not only had the Iraqi government failed to furnish requested information, but the Iraqi government sought to sidestep questions that the Special Commission had posed.
It is, therefore, extremely important that the international community establish an effective, comprehensive, and sustainable ongoing monitoring and verification regime as required by U.N. Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 715. A monitoring program of this magnitude is unprecedented. Rigorous, extensive trial and field testing will be required before UNSCOM can judge the program's capability.
Rolf Ekeus, the Chairman of UNSCOM, has told Iraq that it must establish a clear track record of compliance before he can report favorably to the Security Council. This view is endorsed by most members of the Security Council. Chairman Ekeus has said he does not expect to be able to report before the end of the year at the earliest. We strongly endorse Chairman Ekeus' approach and reject any attempts to limit UNSCOM's flexibility by the establishment of a timetable for determining whether Iraq has complied with UNSCR 715. We insist on a sustained period of complete and unquestionable compliance with the monitoring and verification plans.
The "no-fly zones" over northern and southern Iraq permit the monitoring of Iraq's compliance with UNSCRs 687 and 688. Over the last 2 years, the northern no-fly zone has assisted in deterring Iraq from a major military offensive in the region. Tragically, on April 14, 1994, two American helicopters in the no-fly zone were mistakenly shot down by U.S. fighter aircraft causing 26 casualties. An investigation into the circumstances surrounding this incident is underway. In southern Iraq, since the no-fly zone was established, Iraq's use of aircraft against its population in the region has stopped. However, Iraqi forces have responded to the no-fly zone by continuing to use artillery to shell marsh villages.
In April and May, the Iraqi military continued its campaign to destroy the southern marshes.
A large search-and-destroy operation is taking place. The operation includes the razing of villages and large-scale burning operations, concentrated in the triangle bounded by An Nasiriya, Al Qurnah, and Basrah. Iraqi government engineers are draining the marshes of the region while the Iraqi Army is systematically burning thousands of reeds and dwellings to ensure that the marsh inhabitants are unable to return to their ancestral homes. The population of the region, whose marsh culture has remained essentially unchanged since 3500 B.C., has in the last few years been reduced by an estimated three-quarters. As a result of the "browning" of the marshes, civilian inhabitants continue to flee toward Iran, as well as deeper into the remaining marshes toward the outskirts of southern Iraqi cities. This campaign is a clear violation of UNSCR 688.
In northern Iraq, in the vicinity of Mosul, we continue to watch Iraqi troop movements carefully. Iraq's intentions remain unclear.
Three years after the end of the Gulf War, Iraq still refuses to recognize Kuwait's sovereignty and the inviolability of the U.N. demarcated border, which was reaffirmed by the Security Council in UNSCRs 773 and 833. Despite the passage of time, Iraq has failed to accept those resolutions. Furthermore, Iraq has not met its obligations concerning Kuwaitis and thirdcountry nationals it detained during the war. Iraq has taken no substantive steps to cooperate fully with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), as required by UNSCR 687.
Indeed, Iraq refused even to attend the ICRC meetings held in July and November 1993 to discuss these issues. Iraq also has not responded to more than 600 files on missing individuals. We continue to press for Iraqi compliance and we regard Iraq's actions on these issues as essential to the resolution of conflict in the region.
The Special Rapporteur of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, Max van der Stoel, in his February 1994 report on the human rights situation in Iraq, described the Iraqi military's continuing repression against its civilian populations in the marshes. The Special Rapporteur asserted that the Government of Iraq has engaged in war crimes and crimes against humanity, and may have committed violations of the 1948 Genocide Convention. Regarding the Kurds, the Special Rapporteur has judged that the extent and gravity of reported violations place the survival of Kurds in jeopardy. The Special Rapporteur noted that there are essentially no freedoms of opinion, expression, or association in Iraq. Torture is widespread in Iraq and results from a system of state-terror successfully directed at subduing the population. The Special Rapporteur repeated his recommendation for the establishment of human rights monitors strategically located to improve the flow of information and to provide independent verification of reports. We have stepped up efforts to press for the deployment of human rights monitors and we strongly support their placement. The United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) has extended van der Stoel's mandate for another year, asking for additional reports to the U.N. General Assembly in the fall and to the UNHRC in February 1995.
The United States continues to work closely with the United Nations and other organizations to provide humanitarian relief to the people of northern Iraq. Iraqi government efforts to disrupt this assistance persist. We continue to support U.N. efforts to mount a relief program for persons in Baghdad and the South, provided that supplies are not diverted by the Iraqi government. We are also seeking the establishment of a U.N. commission to investigate and publicize Iraqi crimes against humanity, war crimes, and other violations of international humanitarian law.
Examples of Iraqi noncooperation and noncompliance continue in other areas. For instance, reliable reports indicate that the Government of Iraq is offering reward money for terrorist acts against U.N. and humanitarian relief workers in Iraq. The offering of bounty for such acts, as well as the commission of such acts, in our view constitute violations of UNSCRs 687 and 688.
For 3 years there has been a clear pattern of criminal acts linked to the Government of Iraq in a series of assassinations and attacks in northern Iraq on relief workers, U.N. guards, and foreign journalists. These incidents continued to occur during April and May. In the first week of April alone, there were four attacks. On April 3, for example, a German journalist and her Kurdish bodyguard were killed under suspicious circumstances. The most recent example of such Iraqi-sponsored terrorism occurred on April 12 in Beirut where Iraqi government officials assigned to the Iraqi Embassy assassinated an Iraqi oppositionist living there. In response, Lebanon has broken diplomatic relations with Iraq. In other terrorist attacks during this period, 10 persons were injured, including 6 U.N. guards. In total, there have been eight incidents of attacks on U.N. guards in Iraq since January 1994. Neither now, nor in the past, has Iraq complied with UNSCR 687's requirement to refrain from committing or supporting any act of international terrorism.
The Security Council maintained sanctions at its May 17 regular 60-day review of Iraq's compliance with its obligations under relevant resolutions. Despite ongoing lobbying efforts by the Iraqi government to convince Security Council members to lift sanctions, member countries were in agreement that Iraq is not in compliance with resolutions of the Council, and that existing sanctions should remain in force without change.
The sanctions regime exempt medicine and, in the case of foodstuffs, requires only that the U.N. Sanctions Committee be notified of food shipments. The Sanctions Committee also continues to consider and, when appropriate, approve requests to send to Iraq materials and supplies for essential civilian needs. The Iraqi government, in contrast, has continued to maintain a full embargo against its northern provinces over the past 2 months and has acted to distribute humanitarian supplies throughout the country only to its supporters and to the military.
The Iraqi government has so far refused to sell $1.6 billion in oil as previously authorized by the Security Council in UNSCRs 706 and 712. Talks between Iraq and the United Nations on implementing these resolutions ended unsuccessfully in October 1993. Iraq could use proceeds from such sales to purchase foodstuffs, medicines, materials, and supplies for essential civilian needs of its population, subject to U.N. monitoring of sales and the equitable distribution of humanitarian supplies (including to its northern provinces). Iraqi authorities bear full responsibility for any suffering in Iraq that results from their refusal to implement UNSCRs 706 and 712.
Proceeds from oil sales also would be used to compensate persons injured by Iraq's unlawful invasion and occupation of Kuwait. The U.N. Compensation Commission (UNCC) has received about 2.3 million claims so far with another 200,000 expected. The United States Government has now filed a total of 8 sets of individual claims with the Commission, bringing U.S. claims filed to roughly 3,000 with a total asserted value of over $205 million. The first panel of UNCC Commissioners recently submitted its report on an initial installment of individual claims for serious personal injury or death. The Governing Council of the UNCC was expected to act on the panel's recommendations at its session in late May.
With respect to corporate claims, the United States Government filed its first group of claims with the UNCC on May 6. The filing consisted of 50 claims with an asserted value of about $1 billion. The United States Government continues to review about 100 claims by U.S. businesses for future submission to the UNCC. The asserted value of U.S. corporate claims received to date is about $1.6 billion.
United Nations Security Council Resolution 778 permits the use of a portion of frozen Iraqi oil assets to fund crucial U.N. activities concerning Iraq, including humanitarian relief, UNSCOM, and the Compensation Commission. (The funds will be repaid, with interest, from Iraqi oil revenues as soon as Iraqi oil exports resume). The United States is prepared to transfer to a U.N.-managed escrow account up to $200 million in frozen Iraqi oil assets held in U.S. financial institutions, provided that U.S. transfers do not exceed 50 percent of the total amount transferred or contributed by all countries. We have transferred a total of about $124 million in such matching funds thus far.
Iraq can rejoin the community of civilized nations only through democratic processes, respect for human rights, equal treatment of its people, and adherence to basic norms of international behavior. Iraq's government should represent all of Iraq's people and be committed to the territorial integrity and unity of Iraq. The Iraqi National Congress (INC) espouses these goals, the fulfillment of which would make Iraq a stabilizing force in the Gulf region.
I am fully determined to continue efforts to achieve Iraq's full compliance with all relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions. Until that time, the United States will maintain all the sanctions and other measures designed to achieve full compliance.
I am grateful for the support by the Congress of our efforts.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON
NOTE: Identical letters were sent to Thomas S. Foley, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Robert C. Byrd, President pro tempore of the Senate. This letter was released by the Office of the Press Secretary on June 7.
William J. Clinton, Letter to Congressional Leaders Reporting on Iraq's Compliance With United Nations Security Council Resolutions Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/219281