by Walter Pincus / Washington Pos –
Report Criticizes US on Iraq
UN Should Be Part of Weapons Program Probe, Group Says
Walter Pincus / Washington Post
(January 8, 2004) — The United States should bring UN inspectors into the probe of Iraq’s weapons programs to accurately understand how effective the United Nations was in using inspections, sanctions and monitoring to constrain Saddam Hussein, concludes a new study by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
The report, to be released today, also criticizes the Bush administration’s public assessments of the danger posed by Hussein’s Iraq in the months leading to the war. It describes as “questionable” and “unexamined” the threat cited by administration officials that Iraq or another rogue state would turn over chemical, biological or nuclear weapons to terrorists.
More logical, the Carnegie report said, is the possibility that terrorists could get such weapons from “poorly guarded stockpiles in Russia and other former Soviet states” or countries such as Pakistan and North Korea, where “instability, corruption or a desperate need for cash could allow terrorist groups to gain access to nuclear weapons or materials.”
The solution Carnegie proposes is to make security of nuclear weapons and materials “a much higher priority” for US national security policy.
Much of the Carnegie report examines prewar intelligence reports and statements by administration officials about Hussein’s Iraq.
Bush’s Warnings ‘Went far Beyond’ Intelligence Assessments
For example, the report said that in mid-2002, “official statements of the threat shifted dramatically toward greater alarm regarding certainty of the threat and greater certainty as to the evidence.” The National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) produced by the administration for Congress in October 2002, it said, “went far beyond the consensus intelligence assessments of the preceding five years.” It adds, “The declassified NIE contained 40 distinct caveats or conditions usually dropped by officials” in their public statements.
On ABC’s Nightline program last night, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell was asked about the administration’s prewar statements and about the failure of the United States’ Iraq Survey Group, led by David Kay, to find weapons of mass destruction.
Powell said he had worked to convey as accurate a picture as possible in public comments, given the limited information available before the war. He emphasized that intelligence, and the fact that Hussein’s government had used chemical weapons in the late 1980s, “led us to the conclusion, led the intelligence community to the conclusion that they still had intent, they still had capability and they were not going to give up that capability.” How many weapons were there, he said, “we’ll find out when Dr. Kay finishes his work.”
The Carnegie report noted that the United States has resisted allowing UN weapons inspectors — who have seven years of experience in Iraq — to participate in the work of its Iraq Survey Group. That resistance, the report said, interferes with the goal of figuring out whether years of sanctions and UN weapons inspections worked, and might work again in another country.
“The role and impact of each of the several constraints imposed on Iraq need to be isolated and clarified so that useful lessons can be drawn,” the report said. “The United States and the United Nations should collaborate to produce a complete history of Iraq’s WMD and missile programs.”
Report Calls for Coorperation Between Bush and United Nations
The report urges UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to study the UN inspection history in Iraq to determine the success of visits to suspected weapons sites, and to investigate better ways to use technology and intelligence. Both these areas were problematic while UN inspectors were operating in Iraq before the war.
Results of such a study could help in carrying another of the report’s recommendations to the UN Security Council: consideration of creating a permanent inspection agency to monitor proliferation of chemical and biological weapons material.
Currently, the International Atomic Energy Agency studies nuclear weapons issues, but only in countries that have signed the nuclear nonproliferation treaty. The UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission was established to look into Iraq’s chemical and biological programs and its missile systems. Some nations believe that agency should be retained and given a broader mission.
The Carnegie report also urges the Security Council to make it a violation of international law for any nation to transfer weapons of mass destruction to any other government, regardless of whether those nations have signed nonproliferation treaties.
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