Under the cease-fire that ended the Persian Gulf War in 1991, the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein was required to destroy all its weapons of mass destruction. For more than a decade, Iraq lied and covered up its weapons programs. Iraq ceased all cooperation with the inspectors in December 1998.
But in November, the United Nations Security Council demanded that the inspectors return. Now the inspectors have reported back, and the news is not good. As Hans Blix, the chief U-N weapons inspector, said, “Iraq appears not to have come to a genuine acceptance, not even today, of the disarmament that was demanded of it.”
Among other things, the world wants to know: where is the V-X nerve agent? Where is the anthrax? Where are the mobile biological laboratories? Why is Iraq violating the ban on missiles with a range of more than one-hundred-fifty kilometers?
Iraq has refused to answer any of the questions. It has responded with empty claims, incomplete declarations and unhelpful gestures. The inspectors have not been able to interview any Iraqi scientist in private. Nor have they been given a list of Iraqi personnel involved with weapons of mass destruction. The inspectors have not been able to use aerial surveillance.
As U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said, “Why, if Iraq was committed to disarmament, would they be going to these efforts to deceive and to keep the inspectors from doing their work? Passive cooperation is not what was called for in [U-N Security Council Resolution] fourteen-forty one.”
“The list of unanswered questions and the many ways Iraq is frustrating the work of the inspections goes on and on,” said Mr. Powell. “Iraq’s refusal to disarm. . .still threatens international peace and security. And Iraq’s defiance continues to challenge the relevance and credibility of the Security Council.”
Iraq must not be allowed to keep weapons of mass terror and the capacity to produce more. As Secretary of State Powell said, “Even at this late date, the United States hopes for a peaceful solution. But a peaceful solution is possible only if Iraq disarms itself with the help of the inspections.... Iraq’s time for choosing peaceful disarmament is fast coming to an end.”