The situation since 1998
16. There have been no UN mandated weapons inspections in Iraq since 1998. In an
effort to enforce Iraqi compliance with its disarmament and monitoring
obligations, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1284 in December
1999. This established the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and
Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) as a successor organisation to UNSCOM
and called on Iraq to give UNMOVIC inspectors immediate, unconditional and
unrestricted access to any and all areas, facilities, equipment, records and means
of transport . It also set out the steps Iraq needed to take in return for the
eventual suspension and lifting of sanctions. A key measure of Iraqi compliance
would be full co operation with UN inspectors, including unconditional,
immediate and unrestricted access to any and all sites, personnel and documents.
17. For the past three years, Iraq has allowed the IAEA to carry out an annual
inspection of a stockpile of nuclear material (depleted natural and low enriched
uranium). This has led some countries and western commentators to conclude
erroneously that Iraq is meeting its nuclear disarmament and monitoring
obligations. As the IAEA has pointed out in recent weeks, this annual inspection
does not serve as a substitute for the verification activities required by the
relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council .
18. Dr Hans Blix, the Executive Chairman of UNMOVIC, and Dr Mohammed El
Baradei, the Director General of the IAEA, have declared that in the absence of
inspections it is impossible to verify Iraqi compliance with its UN disarmament
and monitoring obligations. In April 1999 an independent UN panel of experts
noted that the longer inspection and monitoring activities remain suspended,
the more difficult the comprehensive implementation of Security Council
resolutions becomes, increasing the risk that Iraq might reconstitute its
proscribed weapons programmes .
19. The departure of the inspectors greatly diminished the ability of the international
community to monitor and assess Iraq's continuing attempts to reconstitute its
chemical, biological, nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.