Blix, ElBaradei Unravel Resolution 1441
Two senior UN officials, chief arms inspector Hans Blix and nuclear controller Mohamed ElBaradei, handed Saddam Hussein an epic diplomatic victory Monday, January 20 – no doubt acting on a nod from UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. They gained the Iraqi ruler yet a further stay of military action until March 27 before he risks facing war for failing to give up his weapons of mass destruction.
At the United Nations, US Secretary of State, smarting at the blind man’s bluff played out at Washington’s expense in Baghdad, appealed to members “not to be shocked into impotence” by difficult choices. He stressed that Saddam has had ample time to solve the problem. “They know what they have,” he said, “…we cannot let them dribble out this information” to thwart the will of the international community. If Iraq does not come into full compliance, we must not shrink from our responsibilities, Powell declared.
Separately Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld dismissed suggestions that UN weapons inspectors would need months of additional time to determine whether Iraq is meeting its obligation to disarm.
The inspectors wound up their two days of talks with Iraqi officials in Baghdad – cynically billed as tough demands for more cooperation – by signing onto a feeble 10-point accord that, point by point, blunted the teeth US and British diplomacy had inserted in UN Security Council resolution 1441.
Iraq undertakes to provide the inspectors with more documents: This is an admission that Iraq has to this day held back documents.
Iraqi officers will join inspection flights on Iraqi helicopters. Iraqi officers will be given the chance to keep an eye and report on the inspectors’ actions and conversations to their superiors. debkafile‘s intelligence experts add that the Iraqi officers will no doubt be equipped with miniature bugs for jamming the inspectors’ electronic surveillance systems.
Iraq refuses to allow UN U-2 surveillance craft to carry out inspections. Unlike the helicopter flights, the Iraqis have no access to the U-2s.
Iraq will provide supplementary data to the 12,000-page arms declaration presented to the UN Security Council on Dec. 7. Baghdad candidly admits by this point that it flouted Resolution 1441demanding a full and truthful account of its forbidden weapons. That declaration was termed at the time Saddam’s last chance to comply with the resolution and avoid military action. On Monday, the UN inspectors rewarded Saddam with one more last chance in the lengthening series of last chances.
Iraq will enact laws prohibiting proscribed weaponry. Blix and ElBaradei must be congratulating themselves. Obviously, the Saddam regime was able to develop – and deploy – weapons of mass destruction for 22 years, only because it had no time to enact appropriate legislation! Fortunately, the UN inspectors have arranged for this lacuna to be corrected.
All these points cover a variety of commitments by Baghdad, barring one: to disclose and hand over its arsenal of unconventional weapons.
The document produced in Baghdad Monday enables the UN to inform the Bush administration that everything possible has been done to make Iraq provide information on its weapons of mass destruction by March 27. Therefore, even if US intelligence were to produce conclusive proof prior to that date that Iraq is concealing proscribed weapons and their precise whereabouts, Annan, Blix and ElBaradei, have made Saddam Hussein safe from US attack for another two months. During that period, the Iraqi dictator has been assured of immunity by the UN weapons inspectors.