January 6, 2003
IAEA Director Mohamed El Baradei says that his inspections teams have yet to find a "smoking gun." "I think we need still a few months before we can reach that conclusion," he says. "We haven't seen a smoking gun, but we still have a lot of work to do before we come to the conclusion that Iraq is clean."
January 7, 2003
Developing nations, led by South Africa, demand that the U.N. weapons inspectors' January 27 report be presented in public rather than during a closed-door meeting.
At a press briefing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says, "There is no doubt in my mind but that they currently have chemical and biological weapons."
January 8, 2003
Britain urges the Bush administration to hold off its planned invasion of Iraq. A senior source in the British government tells the London Telegraph, "The Prime Minister has made it clear that, unless there is a smoking gun, the inspectors have to be given time to keep searching."
January 9, 2003
The IAEA submits a preliminary report to the U.N. Security Council, stating "no evidence of ongoing prohibited nuclear or nuclear-related activities has been detected, although not all of the laboratory results of sample analysis are yet available."
UNMOVIC inspectors say they have yet to uncover evidence indicating that Iraq has resumed its production of weapons of mass destruction. Hans Blix tells reporters, "We have now been there for some two months and been covering the country in ever wider sweeps and we haven't found any smoking guns."
During his daily press briefing, White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer asserts, "We know for a fact that there are weapons there."
January 22, 2003
The United Nations panel in charge of monitoring sanctions against the al Qaeda network says it has found no evidence of collaboration between al Qaeda and Iraq.
During a joint press conference, French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder announce that they intend to work together to oppose the Bush administration's plan to invade Iraq.
NATO denies a request from the Bush administration for military assistance.
January 28, 2003
In his State of the Union address, President Bush states, "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."
January 29, 2003
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld charges that Saddam's "regime has the design for a nuclear weapon; it was working on several different methods of enriching uranium, and recently was discovered seeking significant quantities of uranium from Africa."
February 5, 2003
After months of delay, the State Department provides the UN's IAEA with the Niger documents. The State Department includes the following caveat with the documents: "We cannot confirm these reports and have questions regarding some specific claims." French nuclear scientist Jacques Bautes, head of the U.N. Iraq Nuclear Verification office, quickly determines they are forgeries.
Secretary of State Colin Powell presents the Bush administration's case against Saddam to the U.N. Security Council, in advance of an expected vote on a second resolution that the U.S. and Britain hope will provide the justification to use military force against Iraq.
February 15, 2003
Nearly 1.3 million people gather in cities around the world to protest war in Iraq.
February 24, 2003
The United States, Britain and Spain submit a second draft resolution to the U.N. Security Council, that would declare Iraq in "further material breach" of previous U.N. resolutions. Meanwhile France, Russia and Germany field an alternative plan aimed at achieving peaceful disarmament with more rigorous inspections over a period of five months.
February 27, 2003
Iraq agrees to destroy all the equipment associated with its Al Samoud missile program.
February 28, 2003
In a report to U.N. Security Council members, chief weapons inspector Hans Blix says that there is no evidence to support the U.S. and British claim that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction or that is has any programs to develop such weapons.
March 6, 2003
During a televised national press conference, President Bush states that the U.S. will call for a vote in the U.N. Security Council, regardless of the anticipated vote. But 11 days later, when it becomes apparent that a resolution will not pass, Bush announces that the US will not call for a vote, saying, "The United Nations Security Council has not lived up to its responsibilities, so we will rise to ours."
March 10, 2003
John Brown, a career diplomat of 22 years, submits his letter of resignation to Secretary of State Colin Powell, saying that he cannot in good conscience support President Bush's war plans against Iraq." His resignation follows that of John Brady Kiesling two weeks earlier. A third diplomat, Mary Wright, resigns a week later.
March 18, 2003
In a televised speech, President Bush gives Saddam Hussein 48 hours to leave Iraq, or the U.S. will begin military action "at a time of our choosing."
March 20, 2003
90 minutes after the 48-hour deadline expires, at 5:30 am local time, explosions are heard in Baghdad. President Bush announces that he has ordered the coalition to launch an "attack of opportunity" against specified targets in Iraq.
Troops from the United States, Britain, Australia, and Poland invade Iraq. Bush sends a letter to Congress, saying that he has determined that further diplomacy will not protect the U.S., and that the U.S. is "continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001."
March 22, 2003
"Shock and awe" airstrikes on Baghdad continue.
Gen. Tommy Franks, commander of the U.S. Central Command, says during a news conference in Qatar, "There is no doubt that the regime of Saddam Hussein possesses weapons of mass destruction. As this operation continues, those weapons will be identified, found, along with the people who have produced them and who guard them."
March 24, 2003
On CBS's "Face the Nation," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says, "We have seen intelligence over many months that they have chemical and biological weapons, and that they have dispersed them and that they're weaponized and that, in one case at least, the command and control arrangements have been established."
March 27, 2003
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz tells the House Appropriations Committee that Iraq's oil wealth will help fund post-war reconstruction: "There's a lot of money to pay for this that doesn't have to be U.S. taxpayer money, and it starts with the assets of the Iraqi people…. On a rough recollection, the oil revenues of that country could bring between $50 billion and $100 billion over the course of the next two or three years."
April 3, 2003
U.S. forces take control of Saddam International Airport in southern Baghdad.
Former CIA Director James Woolsey says that the U.S. is engaged in a world war, and that it could continue for years: "As we move toward a new Middle East, over the years and, I think, over the decades to come … we will make a lot of people very nervous." He calls the conflict World War IV (with World War III being the Cold War).
April 13, 2003
Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit falls to U.S. Marines, who meet little resistance.
April 19, 2003
Baghdad falls to U.S. forces. Some Iraqis cheer in the streets as American infantrymen seize deserted Ba'ath Party ministries and pull down a huge statue of Saddam Hussein. Larege-scale looting of government offices takes place throughout the city.
U.S. authorities in Iraq seize a trailer at a checkpoint in the northern city of Mosul. The government will later claim that this trailer, and a similar one discovered on May 9, are mobile biological weapons labs.
May 1, 2003
In a speech from the deck of the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Lincoln, President Bush declares that "major combat operations" in Iraq are over.
May 6, 2003
Ambassador L. Paul Bremer III is named Presidential Envoy to Iraq and Administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority. He arrives in Iraq on May 11.
New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, citing unnamed sources, breaks the story of former U.S. diplomat Joseph Wilson's February 2002 trip to Niger. The major source for the story is later revealed to be Wilson himself.
May 28, 2003
The CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency [DIA] issue a 6-page white paper titled, "Iraqi Mobile Biological Warfare Agent Production Plants [PDF; requires free Adobe Reader]," concluding that the two trailers discovered in northern Iraq were designed to produce biological weapons. It calls the discovery, "the strongest evidence to date that Iraq was hiding a biological warfare program."
May 29, 2003
In an interview with Polish TV station TVP, President Bush declares, "We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories."
June 1, 2003
In St. Petersburg, Russia, responding to a question from an American reporter, President Bush says, "Yes, we found a biological laboratory in Iraq which the U.N. prohibited."
June 2, 2003
The State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research authors a classified memo addressed to Colin Powell, informing him that current intelligence did not support the conclusion of the joint CIA-DIA May 28 white paper which concluded that the two trailers found in Iraq were mobile biological weapon factories.
June 8, 2003
U.S. and British intelligence experts conclude that the two trailers found in northern Iraq which the Bush administration continues to insist are mobile biological weapon factories are part of a mobile system to produce hydrogen for weather balloons.
June 15, 2003
The U.S. military begins Operation Desert Scorpion, a series of raids across Iraq intended to find Iraqi resistance and heavy weapons.
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