spying on saddam
what UNSCOM Achieved: analysis
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DAVID KAY: He  was the chief nuclear weapons  inspector  for UNSCOM 1991-1992.

david kayI think we were able to accomplish something that, even in retrospect, I'm still amazed at. We were able to uncover a clandestine weapons program. Up until that time -- realize that the record of arms control is really confirming that people, who have no intention of cheating, are not cheating. The Belgians aren't developing their clandestine nuclear weapons program -- oh, big surprise!

Iraq was the case of actually being able to discover a program that the opposition didn't want you to.

Secondly, we were able, for the first time, to use new tools of arms control. And not just intelligence. Zero notice inspections did not involve intelligence. It involved a change of policy and will of the international community to allow inspectors to inspect without telling you in advance where you were going. The standard I.A.E.A. inspection before the war, and one that is still used today in most states: you're coming, inspectors are coming, six months in advance. They have to apply for visas. They have to get airplane flights. So, if you want to hide something, you have more than ample opportunity. We pioneered new tools and new methods of doing it. And I think that's terribly important over the long run.

But let me say, we did not fully understand the Iraqi program. The biological program was far too difficult for inspectors to find and really was not uncovered until the two son-in-laws defected.

Today, eight years after, they have not made what most people judge to be a full and complete declaration of their prohibited materials. Second, it turned out to be far more extensive.

In the nuclear area, for example, it turned out Iraq had spent over $10 billion in the 1980s to develop a program that explored practically every known way to enrich uranium, and to craft a nuclear weapon. This was not a small program. It was one that was so extensive, that as an inspector, when you faced it, your mind boggled. The largest team I ever took into Iraq was a team of 44 individuals, and we were expected to route out by ourselves this massive program? That was a challenge.

And then, of course, Saddam survived, and it became quite clear early on into the inspections, that this individual had no intent of giving up, not only his nuclear program, but his biological, chemical and missile program. So you were dealing with an actively hostile regime that was determined to frustrate the international inspectors.

BARTON GELLMAN: A reporter for The Washington Post, he covered UNSCOM from the beginning and, more recently, wrote several in-depth articles on Scott Ritter and UNSCOM's involvement with western intelligence agencies.

barton gellmanWell, first of all, in the accomplishments category, besides just the mass of what UNSCOM destroyed, if you look at it from an American policy point of view, for eight years you get to switch off Iraq's national economy and have enormous amounts of influence over its weapons program, both because Iraq is not able to buy weapons from abroad; not able to build many of weapons because it's being inspected. UNSCOM was a huge constraint on Iraq all these years.

If you have a hostile power that you want to keep a lid on, you don't get many better deals than UNSCOM these past eight years. And it's coming to an end.

[UNSCOM was] being asked to remove special weapons from Iraq that, as it turned out, Saddam Hussein considered to be at the very heart of his country's strategic interests, to hold on to.

There's no doubt that UNSCOM has had huge accomplishments. They have destroyed, as they often say, and it's absolutely true, far more of Iraq's special weapons than the whole Persian Gulf War did, even though those special weapons were one of 12 major targets that the American-led Allied Forces bombed. So, they've gotten rid of enormous quantities of chemical munitions, of gravity bombs, of missiles, of production facilities, and so on.

They have not been able to satisfy themselves that they've destroyed Iraq's most sophisticated and dangerous weapons. For example, in the chemical field, VX, the world's most lethal nerve gas. In the biological field, they're very much unsatisfied with what they know. And there are certain nagging doubts on the nuclear side and the missile side as well.

RICHARD BUTLER: He became Executive Chairman of UNSCOM in July 1997, succeeding Rolf Ekeus.

UNSCOM did a fantastic job. You have to understand that when the Gulf War was ended there was revealed an awesome array of weapons of mass destruction: almost a nuclear bomb, long-range missiles, chemical, biological, all of the weapons of mass destruction. And we, with Iraq, got hold of most of it, got an account of it or got rid of it.

DR. KHIDIR HAMZA: He was Iraq's Director of Nuclear Weaponization and is the highest- ranking scientist ever to defect from Iraq.

dr. khidir hamzaBoth UNSCOM and IAEA organizations initially worked the same and achieved a great deal, ... destroying most of ... what they knew existed, what were allowed or seen by them. There were some confrontations along the way.

Iraq fears most the losing of the scientists -- more than equipment. Equipment are replaceable. Scientists are not. These are highly trained people, experienced, and what's going on with Iraq now, nobody is coming back in. People who left with scholarships, who trained in the West, very few of them are coming back in. Iraq is losing its capabilities. It lost most of its university and high-level cadres , most of its doctors, the good ones ... and such.

... They can't travel, their families cannot leave the country, they are under strict surveillance. Saddam evaluated this more or less correctly, that equipment he can buy, destruction of buildings, there's nothing cheaper than cement in Iraq, OK? Basic material on buildings available, equipment can be purchased or smuggled in -- and he has a huge smuggling operation. And so, what he cannot replace is a scientist who leaves.

UNSCOM started becoming aggressive in that direction, too, and the action team. Which is good. And I sense this is the real disarmament, is removing the people who can reconstitute the programs. And the problems are started more on that direction.

So, the full range of the weapon industry in Iraq, the proscribed ... industry, became better known and better understood. But the capabilities are still there.

RICHARD HAASS: He currently is  director of  Foreign Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution.

I think at the beginning, there was a certain degree of skepticism. The idea that some U.N.-like organization was going to actually accomplish a great deal. A lot of us had watched things like the International Atomic Energy Agency for decades, and it had always worked on a voluntarily or consensual basis. And quite honestly, I didn't have a lot of faith in the I.A.E.A. It was only allowed to look where government said it could look. So the idea that UNSCOM, the U.N. Special Commission, was going to come along and do something very different -- possible, but quite honestly, I admit to being skeptical at the time. Glad I was proved wrong.

...The Iraqis were clearly hanging tough. They were resisting every inch of the way. So very clearly, they still had stuff they wanted to hide. That became obvious.

The good news though, is that UNSCOM was not rolling over and playing dead, that UNSCOM was proving to be extraordinarily tough, and Rolf Ekeus, the person who was running it, turned out to be a hero. Here was somebody who was actually opposite to what most Americans would say is an international civil servant. Here's a guy who spoke the truth, who was tough, was direct, and said, "Look, I've got a job to do. I'm going to do it." He was so unexpectedly direct, and you almost might say, politically incorrect for someone out of an international organization that we were just as pleased as could be. And also, the team members were hanging tough, people like David Kay and others. What they did was heroic. ...

ROLF EKEUS: He was UNSCOM's first Executive Chairman.

You have to recall that Iraq admitted only holding chemical weapons, in the beginning, and some missiles. They denied completely the existence of biological weapons. They completely denied the existence of nuclear weapons. What the inspectors and UNSCOM managed to do was to find and identify these large programs of nuclear and biological [weapons]. But the inspectors also identified the chemical weapons program, to a much larger extent than Iraq admitted. And then, the missiles, in a sense, the same.

That was one part of the job. The other part was to supervise the destruction and destroy Iraq's weapons.

I would say, spectacular was the destruction of production facilities, of the big laboratories and the machines, test sites and so on, which were done over the period. So, I think that was quite a remarkable performance by our inspectors.

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