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Letter to Congressional Leaders Reporting on Iraq's Compliance With United Nations Security Council Resolutions

September 03, 1998

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 United Nations Security Council (UNSC). This report covers the period from June 24 to the present.


From June 24 until August 5, Iraq had provided site access to U.N. weapons inspectors, as required under UNSC resolutions and reaffirmed under the terms of the February 23 Secretary General/Tariq Aziz MOU and UNSC Resolution 1154. In June, UNSCOM inspectors presented a work plan to Iraq to delineate areas of concern and elements that Iraq needed to disclose. However, in June, UNSCOM revealed that it had found evidence of Iraqi weaponization of VX nerve agent and in July, Iraq refused to turn over a document accounting for use of CW during the Iran-Iraq war. On August 3-4 when Chairman Butler was in Iraq to discuss phase two of the work plan, the Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister claimed that Iraq was fully "disarmed" and demanded that this be reported to the Council; Butler refused, and subsequently departed Baghdad.

On August 5, Iraq declared that it was suspending all cooperation with UNSCOM and the IAEA, except some limited monitoring activities. On August 6, the Security Council President issued a press statement which noted that Iraq's action contravenes the February 23 MOU and relevant Security Council resolutions. On August 11/12, the IAEA and UNSCOM sent letters to the Security Council that noted that Iraq's decision to suspend cooperation with them halted "all of the disarmament activities" of UNSCOM and placed limitations on the inspection and monitoring activities of both organizations. On August 18, the Council President replied in writing to UNSCOM and IAEA on the Council's behalf reiterating full support for the full implementation of their mandates and underscoring Iraq's obligation to cooperate in the conduct of their activities, including inspections. Chairman Butler wrote to the Iraqi regime August 19 expressing his willingness to resume activity, but that offer was rebuffed.

On August 20, the Security Council met to conduct the periodic review of Iraq's compliance with relevant Security Council resolutions. It stated that "the necessary conditions do not exist for the modification of the regime established" in relevant resolutions. Moreover, the Security Council "reiterates that the decision by Iraq to suspend cooperation with UNSCOM and the IAEA (on August 5) is totally unacceptable" and that it "views with extreme concern the continuing refusal by the Government of Iraq to rescind its decision." The United States is working with other Security Council members to suspend subsequent periodic reviews until Iraq reverses course and resumes cooperation with UNSCOM and the IAEA.

The cornerstone of U.S. policy is to contain Iraq and prevent it from threatening regional peace and security. To that end, the United States has supported UNSCOM since its inception and continues to do so, as an integral part of our policy to contain Iraq and disarm it of its WMD. We have consistently worked to uphold the principle that UNSCOM must be able to do its job, free of Iraqi restrictions and impediments. That includes inspections wherever, whenever, and however the Executive Chairman of UNSCOM directs. There have been allegations recently that the United States impeded some kinds of inspections since last fall. In fact, the international effort to secure full access for UNSCOM and the IAEA last fall and winter was lead by the United States. Since early August, the United States has again lead the effort to reverse Iraq's decision blocking UNSCOM activities. Decisions on how UNSCOM does its job, including timing, locations and modalities for inspections, are the Chairman's to make. As Chairman Butler stated on August 14, "Consultations on policy matters take place regularly between the Executive Chairman and Council members, but all operational decisions are taken by the Executive Chairman (of UNSCOM) who has not been given and would find it invidious were any attempt made to direct his operational decisions or to micro-manage the day-to-day work of the Special Commission."

Iraq's refusal to cooperate with UNSCOM and the IAEA is totally unacceptable; Iraq must meet its international obligations. In the first instance, the Council and the Secretary General must respond effectively to Iraq's flagrant challenge to their authority. We are working with Council members to ensure that there is a clear, united and forceful U.N. response to Iraq's actions. If the Council fails to persuade the Iraqi regime to resume cooperation, all other options are on the table.

We continue to support the international community's efforts to provide for the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people through the "oil-forfood" program and other humanitarian efforts. On May 27, 1998, Iraq presented a distribution plan for the implementation of Resolution 1153, which had been adopted on February 20. Under phase three of the "oil-for-food" program, which ran from December 3, 1997, through June 2, 1998, $1.1 billion worth of humanitarian goods were approved for export to Iraq. Under the current phase, phase four, which began in June, the U.N. Sanctions Committee has approved the purchase of over $562 million worth of humanitarian goods. United States companies can participate in the "oil-for-food" program, and over $165 million worth of contracts for U.S. firms have been approved since the program began.

On June 26, the Secretary of State reported to the Congress on plans to establish a program to support the democratic opposition in Iraq, as required by section 10008 of the 1998 Supplemental Appropriations and Rescissions Act (Public Law 105-174). Opposition leaders and their representatives have been generally receptive to the focus on the central themes of building a consensus on the transition from dictatorship to pluralism, conveying to the U.N. opposition views on Iraqi noncompliance with U.N. resolutions and compiling information to support the indictment of Iraqi officials for war crimes. The new Radio Free Iraq service, also funded by that Act, is preparing to broadcast directly to the Iraqi people under the direction of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. These new programs will help us encourage the Iraqi people to build a pluralistic, peaceful Iraq that observes the international rule of law and respects basic human rights. Such an Iraq would have little trouble regaining its rightful place in the region and in the international community.

The United States maintains a significant military presence in the region in order to provide the full range of military options necessary to deter Iraqi aggression, to ensure that UNSC resolutions are enforced, and to deal with other contingencies that may arise.

U.S. and Coalition Force Levels in the Gulf Region

In view of Saddam's record of aggressive behavior, it is prudent to retain a significant force presence in the region to deter Iraq and deal with any threat it might pose to its neighbors. The U.S. and allied forces now in the region are prepared to deal with all contingencies. We have the capability to respond rapidly to possible Iraqi aggression. We have restructured our intheater force levels since my last report. We will continue to maintain a robust force posture, and moreover, have established a rapid reinforcement capability to supplement our forces in the Gulf when needed. Our cruise missile force is twice the pre-October 1997 level, a number that can be augmented significantly within days. Our contingency plans allow us the capability for a swift, powerful strike.

The aircraft carrier USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN and accompanying combatant ships and aircraft are on station in the Gulf today. Our forces in the region include land and carrierbased aircraft, surface warships, a Marine expeditionary unit, a Patriot missile battalion, a mechanized battalion task force and a mix of special operations forces deployed in support of USCINCCENT operations. To enhance force protection throughout the region, additional military security personnel are also deployed.

Operation Northern Watch and Operation Southern Watch

The United States and coalition partners continue to enforce the no-fly zones over Iraq under Operation Northern Watch and Operation Southern Watch. There have been no observed no-fly zone violations. However, on June 30, U.S. forces responded to an Iraqi "threat radar" and subsequently defended the coalition forces by firing an anti-radiation (HARM) missile. We have made clear to Iraq and to all other relevant parties that the United States and coalition partners will continue to enforce both no-fly zones. The no-fly zones remain in effect.

The Maritime Interception Force

The Maritime Interception Force (MIF), operating under the authority of UNSC Resolution 665, vigorously enforces U.N. sanctions in the Gulf. The U.S. Navy is the single largest component of this multinational force, but it is frequently augmented by ships and aircraft from Australia, Canada, Belgium, The Netherlands, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. Today in the Gulf, ships and aircraft from Canada and the United Kingdom are operating with us in maritime patrols. Member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council support the MIF by providing logistical support and shipriders and by accepting vessels diverted for violating U.N. sanctions against Iraq.

The MIF continues to intercept vessels involved in illegal smuggling from Iraq. In late August, we conducted stepped-up operations in the far northern Gulf in the shallow waters near the major Iraqi waterways. These operations severely disrupted smuggling operations in the region. Since the beginning of the year, over thirty vessels have been detained for violations of the embargo and sent to ports in the Gulf for enforcement actions by the GCC. Kuwait and the UAE, two countries adjacent to the smuggling routes, have also stepped up their enforcement efforts and have recently intercepted and detained vessels involved in sanctions violations. Although petroleum products comprise most of the prohibited traffic, the MIF has recently diverted vessels engaged in date smuggling as well. Smuggling into Iraq is also a target for MIF patrols. One additional difficulty remains in our effort to enforce U.N. sanctions. Ships involved in smuggling have often utilized the territorial seas of Iran to avoid MIF inspections. We have recently provided detailed reports of these illegal activities to the U.N. sanctions Committee in New York.

Chemical Weapons

Despite major progress reported by UNSCOM in accounting for SCUD CBW warheads during this period, the Iraqis have taken a giant step backward by continuing to deny the weaponization of VX nerve agent. This denial is in direct contravention of the finding for UNSCOM by the U.S. Army Edgewood Arsenal of stabilized VX nerve agent in SCUD missile warhead fragments recovered by UNSCOM in Iraq. France and Switzerland are now examining further samples taken in Iraq. They may not report results to UNSCOM until late September.

However, we, UNSCOM Executive Chairman Butler, and a team of international experts gathered by Butler are unanimously confident of the scientific accuracy of the Edgewood results—which Butler has declared publicly. Iraq is lying today about VX.

While the Iraqis provided new documents to help account for R-400 aerial bombs used for chemical weapons, they have failed to provide the needed accounting for missing 155mm mustard-filled shells.

On July 22, 1998, UNSCOM reported in a letter to the President of the Security Council that Iraq had refused to allow an UNSCOM chief inspector to take, or even copy, a document found in Iraqi air force headquarters that gave an accounting of chemical munitions used during the Iran-Iraq war. This document would be of great value in helping UNSCOM establish a true material balance for Iraqi chemical munitions—a mandatory task for UNSCOM. During Butler's aborted visit to Iraq August 3-4, the Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister told Ambassador Butler that Iraq would never give it to the Commission. This evidence directly contradicts the Iraqi claim that it has given UNSCOM all the information it has.

Biological Weapons

In July 1998, UNSCOM assembled yet another group of international experts to meet with Iraqi counterparts for review of Iraqi declarations on the biological weapons program. And again, the Iraqis presented no new material. The experts thus found, again, that Iraq's declarations are not adequate for credible verification. This conclusion covered weapons (SCUD missile BW warheads, R-400 BW bombs, drop-tanks to be filled with BW, and spray devices for BW), production of BW agents (botulinum toxin, anthrax, aflatoxin, and wheat cover smut), and BW agent growth media.

The report of this UNSCOM-250 mission of international experts recommended to the UNSCOM Executive Chairman that no further verification of Iraq's declarations be conducted until Iraq commits itself to provide new and substantive information, stating that any other approach would be counter-productive.

Long-Range Missiles

UNSCOM Executive Chairman Richard Butler reported to the Security Council on August 5 that UNSCOM and Iraq had made significant progress in the accounting of both CBW and conventional SCUD warheads, as well as the material balance of major components for SCUD engine production. However, no progress was reported in accounting for the unique SCUD propellant possessed by Iraq, and the Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister refuses to allow further discussion of Iraq's concealment program, including the hiding of SCUD warheads.

Nuclear Weapons

In an interim report to the UNSC July 29, the IAEA said that Iraq had provided no new information regarding outstanding issues and concerns. The IAEA said while it has a "technically coherent picture" of Iraq's nuclear program, Iraq has never been fully transparent and its lack of transparency compounds remaining uncertainties. The IAEA noted Iraq claims to have no further documentation on such issues as weapons design engineering drawings, experimental data, and drawings received from foreign sources in connection with Iraq's centrifuge enrichment program. The IAEA also reported that Iraq said it was "unsuccessful" in its efforts to locate verifiable documentation of the abandonment of the nuclear program. Iraq has failed to pass the measures required under UNSC Resolution 715 to implement UNSC Resolutions 687, 707 and other relevant resolutions, including the penal laws required to enforce them.

Dual-Use Imports

Resolution 1051 established a joint UNSCOM/IAEA unit to monitor Iraq's imports of allowed dual-use items. Iraq must notify the unit before it imports specific items which can be used in both weapons of mass destruction and civilian applications. Similarly, U.N. members must provide timely notification of exports to Iraq of such dual-use items.

We continue to be concerned that Iraq's land borders are extremely porous. Iraq continues substantial trade with its neighbors. There is significant potential for evasion of sanctions by land routes, giving additional weight to our position that UNSCOM must have full unconditional access to all locations, and be allowed to inspect and monitor Iraqi compliance over time.

Iraq's Concealment Mechanisms

In June, UNSCOM Chairman Butler presented Iraq with a proposed work plan which, had Iraq cooperated, could have moved the process of verifying the disarmament forward. However, when Butler made a return visit August 3-4, the Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister denounced UNSCOM and demanded that UNSCOM report to the Council that Iraq was "disarmed in all areas." On August 5, Iraq announced it was suspending cooperation with UNSCOM and the IAEA. The following day, the Security Council President issued a press statement declaring the Iraqi decision "totally unacceptable," noting that it "contravened" relevant Security Council resolutions.

On August 11, 1998, IAEA Director-General El Baradei wrote to the President of the Security Council that Iraq's August 5 decision to suspend its cooperation with UNSCOM and the IAEA "makes it impossible for the IAEA . . . to investigate . . . remaining questions and concerns . . .," and that Iraq's decision will allow only "limited implementation" of monitoring that will "fall short of full implementation of the OMV plan and result in a significantly reduced level of assurance" that Iraq is not renewing its programs for weapons of mass destruction.

On August 12, 1998, UNSCOM Executive Chairman Butler sent the President of the Security Council a letter similar to the August 11 letter of the IAEA noted above, saying that "Iraq's actions bring to a halt all of the disarmament activities of the Commission and place limitations on the rights of the Commission to conduct its monitoring operations."

On August 18, the Council President replied to UNSCOM and the IAEA on behalf of the Council, reiterating the full support of the Council for IAEA and UNSCOM to fully implement their mandates and noting that Iraq is obliged to cooperate with them in their activities, including inspections. On August 19, Chairman Butler wrote to the Iraqi government seeking a resumption of the dialogue between UNSCOM and the regime and of all substantive UNSCOM work. That request was immediately rebuffed.

On August 20, the Security Council conducted its periodic review of Iraq's compliance with relevant Security Council resolutions. The Council stated that "the Sanctions Review showed that the necessary conditions do not exist for the modification of the regime" and reiterated that "the decision by Iraq to suspend cooperation with UNSCOM and the IAEA is totally unacceptable." Further, "they view with extreme concern the continuing refusal by the Government of Iraq to rescind its decision."

We continue to work with the Council in its effort to bring about full Iraqi cooperation with UNSCOM and the IAEA. We are now seeking a Council resolution that would suspend further periodic reviews until Iraq reverses course and resumes cooperation with UNSCOM and the IAEA. Iraq's refusal to cooperate is a challenge to the authority of the Security Council and to the credibility of all international weapons nonproliferation efforts, since UNSCOM and the IAEA are responsible to the Security Council for the most thorough arms control regime on earth.

The U.N.'s "Oil-for-Food" Program

We continue to support the international community's efforts to provide for the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people through the "oil-forfood" program and other humanitarian efforts. Under the last phase of the "oil-for-food" program, which ran from December 3, 1997, through June 2, 1998, $1.1 billion worth of humanitarian goods were approved for export to Iraq. United States companies can participate in "oil-for-food" and over $165 million worth of contracts for U.S. firms have been approved.

Under the current phase of "oil-for-food" Iraq is authorized to sell up to $5.2 billion worth of oil every 180 days, up from $2.0 billion in previous phases. Although the UNSC resolution outlining this program, Resolution 1153, was adopted on February 20, Iraq did not present an acceptable distribution plan for the implementation of Resolution 1153 until May 27, 1998; it was accepted by the U.N. Secretary General on May 29.

Under the current phase of the "oil-for-food" program, 235 contracts for the purchase of humanitarian goods for the Iraqi people have been presented for approval; of these, 162 contracts worth over $562 million have been approved and 13 are on hold pending clarification of questions about the proposed contracts. With regard to oil sales, 50 contracts with a total value of $955 million have been approved so far during this phase.

The United States has supported the repair of the Iraqi oil infrastructure in order to allow sufficient oil to be exported to fund the level of humanitarian purchases the Security Council approved in UNSC Resolution 1153. Treasury is in the process of amending its regulations to allow U.S. companies to bid on oil infrastructure repair contracts just as they are permitted both to purchase Iraqi oil and sell humanitarian goods under the U.N. "oil-for-food" program.

Resolution 1153 maintains the separate program for northern Iraq, administered directly by the U.N. in consultation with the local population. This program, which the United States strongly supports, receives 13 to 15 percent of the funds generated under the "oil-for-food" program. The separate northern program was established because of the Baghdad regime's proven disregard for the humanitarian condition of the Kurdish, Assyrian, and Turkomen minorities of northern Iraq and its readiness to apply the most brutal forms of repression against them. The well-documented series of chemical weapons attacks a decade ago by the government against civilians in the north is only one example of this brutality. In northern Iraq, where Baghdad does not exercise control, the "oil-for-food" program has been able to operate relatively effectively. The Kurdish factions are seeking to set aside their differences to work together so that the UNSC Resolution 1153 is implemented as efficiently as possible.

The U.N. must carefully monitor implementation of Resolution 1153. As the current phase anticipates a doubling of goods flowing into Iraq, including equipment for infrastructure repairs in areas such as oil export capacity, generation of electricity, and water purification, the U.N. faces increasing challenges in monitoring. The Iraqi government continues to insist on the need for rapid lifting of the sanctions regime, despite its clear record of non-compliance with its obligations under relevant U.N. resolutions—a record which was unanimously acknowledged during the Security Council's 39th sanctions review on June 24. We will continue to work with the U.N. Secretariat, the Security Council, and others in the international community to ensure that the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people are met while denying any political or economic benefits to the Baghdad regime.

The Human Rights Situation in Iraq

The human rights situation throughout Iraq continues to be a cause for grave concern. Particularly troubling are the assassinations of two distinguished Shia clerics—Ayatollah Borujerdi on April 22 and Grand Ayatollah Mirza Ali Gharavi on June 18. These killings have been widely attributed to the Baghdad regime and were followed by an increased security presence in the predominantly Shia cities of south and central Iraq, such as Najaf and Karbala. These events expose a callous disregard for human life and the free exercise of religion. Summary, arbitrary, and extra-judicial executions also remain a primary concern. Baghdad still refuses to allow independent inspections of Iraqi prisons despite the conclusion of U.N. Special Rapporteur for Iraq, Max Van der Stoel, that "there is strong evidence that hundreds of prisoners (were) executed in Abu Graraib and Radwaniyah prisons" late last year. As noted in my last report, based on these reports of summary executions and other ongoing humans rights violations, the U.N. Human Rights Commission in April issued a strong condemnation of the "all-pervasive repression and oppression" of the Iraqi government. Nevertheless, sources inside Iraq report another wave of executions in June, with about sixty people summarily killed.

In southern Iraq, the government continues to repress the Shia population, destroying the Marsh Arabs' way of life and the unique ecology of the southern marshes. In the north, outside the Kurdish-controlled areas, the government continues the forced expulsion of tens of thousands of ethnic Kurds and Turkomen from Kirkuk and other cities. The government continues to stall and obfuscate attempts to account for more than 600 Kuwaitis and third-country nationals who disappeared at the hands of Iraqi authorities during or after the occupation of Kuwait. The Government of Iraq shows no sign of complying with UNSC Resolution 688, which demands that Iraq cease the repression of its own people.

Northern Iraq: Deepening Engagement

In northern Iraq, the cease-fire between the Kurdish parties, established in November 1997 as the result of U.S. efforts, continues to hold. It is strengthened by growing and effective cooperation between the parties on humanitarian matters, particularly those related to the U.N.'s "oil-for-food" program. Working with the U.N., the Kurds have been able to resolve nutrition and medical problems and look forward to rebuilding their infrastructure as U.N. programs expand. David Welch, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, led a U.S. delegation to the north, July 17-20. He encouraged the Kurds' efforts towards peace; underscored U.S. support for their human rights, physical welfare and safety; and renewed our decades-long engagement with them. During the visit, Massoud Barzani, leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), and Jalal Talabani, leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), made positive, forward-looking statements on political reconciliation, and they accepted separate invitations to visit the United States later this year.

The United States firmly supports the territorial integrity of Iraq. Supporting the rights and welfare of Iraqi Kurds within Iraq in no way contradicts that support. The United States is committed to ensuring that international aid continues to get through to the north, that the human rights of the Kurds and northern Iraq minority groups, such as the Turkomen, Assyrians, Yezedis and others are respected, and that the no-fly zone enforced by Operation Northern Watch is observed.

We will continue our efforts to reach a permanent reconciliation through mediation in order to help the people of northern Iraq find the permanent, stable settlement they deserve, and to minimize the influence of either Baghdad or Tehran. Baghdad continues to pressure the two groups to enter into negotiations.

The Iraqi Opposition

It is the policy of the U.S. Government to support the Iraqi opposition by establishing unifying programs on which all of the opposition can agree. Section 10008 of the 1998 Supplemental Appropriations and Rescissions Act (P.L. 105-174), earmarks $5 million in FY 98 Economic Support Funds for these programs. These programs are designed to encourage and assist political opposition groups, nonpartisan opposition groups, and unaffiliated Iraqis concerned about their nation's future in peacefully espousing democracy, pluralism, human rights, and the rule of law for their country. Based on extensive consultations with opposition leaders and representatives, we have found a deep resonance on several central themes. These are: building a consensus on the transition from dictatorship to pluralism, conveying to the U.N. opposition views on Iraqi noncompliance with U.N. resolutions and compiling information to support indictment of Iraqi officials for war crimes.

Iraq is a diverse country—ethnically, religiously, and culturally. The Iraqi opposition reflects this diversity. We emphasize themes and programs, rather than individuals and groups, in order to encourage unity and discourage the rivalries which have divided the opposition in the past. Many opposition political groups that formerly coordinated their efforts decided several years ago to work independently. We are interested in working with them towards greater unity on their own terms, not enforcing the issue by declaring that any one group must take the lead. We firmly believe they can succeed in this effort.

We anticipate that there will be a need for additional funding for these programs as the opposition becomes more active and as it grows. The funds will be administered by the Department of State working through established NGOs, Federal institutions, and comparable private organizations. To ensure transparency and accountability and to avoid creating potential rivalries among opposition groups, none of these funds will go directly to any opposition group.

The United Nations Compensation Commission

The United Nations Compensation Commission (UNCC), established pursuant to UNSC Resolutions 687 and 692, continues to resolve claims against Iraq arising from Iraq's unlawful invasion and occupation of Kuwait. The UNCC has issued over 1.3 million awards worth approximately $7 billion. Thirty percent of the proceeds from the oil sales permitted by UNSC Resolution 986, 1111, 1143, and 1153 have been allocated to the Compensation Fund to pay awards and to finance operations of the UNCC. To the extent that money is available in the Compensation Fund, initial payments to each claimant are authorized for awards in the order in which the UNCC has approved them, in installments of $2,500. To date, 809 U.S. claimants have received an initial installment payment, and payment is still in process for another 25 U.S. claimants.


Iraq remains a serious threat to international peace and security. I remain determined to see Iraq comply fully with all of its obligations under UNSC resolutions. The United States looks forward to the day when Iraq rejoins the family of nations as a responsible and law-abiding member.

I appreciate the support of the Congress for our efforts and shall continue to keep the Congress informed about this important issue.



NOTE: Identical letters were sent to Newt Gingrich, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Strom Thurmond, President pro tempore of the Senate.

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

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