There is no mystery to a country voluntarily disarming. South Africa dismantled its nuclear weapons program and gave full access to inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency. Ukraine and Kazakhstan did the same. Those two countries voluntarily disposed of nuclear weapons, intercontinental ballistic missiles, and bombers inherited from the former Soviet Union.
“Iraq’s behavior could not offer a starker contrast,” said U.S. national security adviser Condoleezza Rice in an essay in The New York Times. “Instead of a commitment to disarm, Iraq has a high-level political commitment to maintain and conceal its weapons, led by Saddam Hussein and his son Qusay, who controls the Special Security Organization, which runs Iraq’s concealment activities.”
Instead of cooperating with the United Nations, Iraq filed a false declaration. The Iraqi declaration does not account for Baghdad’s efforts to import uranium, which could be used in the production of nuclear weapons. Nor does the declaration cover Iraq’s manufacture of fuel for ballistic missiles. Nor does it mention the more than two tons of raw materials Iraq imported to produce thousands of liters of anthrax and other biological weapons.
As national security adviser Rice put it, “Far from informing, the declaration is intended to cloud and confuse the true picture of Iraq’s arsenal. It is a reflection of the [Iraqi] regime’s well-earned reputation for dishonesty and constitutes a material breach of United Nations Security Council Resolution fourteen-forty-one, which set up the current inspections program.”
Baghdad continues its noncompliance by not allowing U-N inspectors immediate, unimpeded, and unrestricted access to weapons facilities and Iraqi scientists. “Given the duplicitous record of the regime,” said Ms. Rice, “its recent promises to do better can only be seen as an attempt to stall for time.”
Many questions remain about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. Iraq has an obligation to provide the answers. But as U.S. national security adviser Rice said, “By both its actions and its inactions, Iraq is proving not that it is a nation bent on disarmament, but that it is a nation with something to hide. Iraq is still treating inspections as a game. It should know that time is running out.”