20 November 1998
LETTER DATED 20 NOVEMBER 1998 FROM THE EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN OF
THE SPECIAL COMMISSION ESTABLISHED BY THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
PURSUANT TO PARAGRAPH 9 (b) (i) OF SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION
687 (1991) ADDRESSED TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE SECURITY COUNCIL
In the context of the United Nations Special Commission's (UNSCOM) resumption of work in Iraq, on 17 November 1998, I addressed three letters to the Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq on 17, 18 and 19 November. Copies of those letters are attached, as are two replies received from Iraq on 19 November. These are replies to my letters of 17 and 18 November 1998.
As will be evident from their texts, the purpose of my three letters was to seek from Iraq documents and explanations in the three weapons fields identified in UNSCOM's mandate, in an attempt to bring to account outstanding disarmament issues and to generally increase the level of verification available to the Commission with respect to those issues and the related matter of concealment activities by Iraq. It was judged to be appropriate to seek this information now, inter alia, in the light of Iraq's undertaking, given on 14 November, that it was prepared to extend to the Commission the full cooperation required of it under relevant resolutions of the Security Council.
In addition to forwarding this correspondence to you, for the information of members of the Council, I thought it would also be helpful to offer members of the Council UNSCOM's analyses and commentary on the Iraqi replies. This is as follows.
First, an underlying contention in both replies by Iraq is that preparations for a comprehensive review of Iraq's compliance with its obligations has already commenced. This contention has had an impact on Iraq's replies. The Iraqi reply to my letter of 18 November on Iraq's biological weapons programme is the main case in point.
Iraq declines to furnish the Commission with any further information on its biological weapons programme, stating instead that "the comprehensive review will determine whether the disarmament phase has been completed, or whether steps in the biological file need to be taken to fulfil the requirements of the disarmament phase". This stance appears to ignore the fact that, on four occasions, during the last 18 months, international experts have concluded unanimously that Iraq's current disclosure statement in this area is deeply deficient and does not provide a basis for any credible level of verification. The experts recommended that Iraq be requested to provide to the Commission further information and documents.
This is why the letter of 18 November was sent. Iraq's reply seems to indicate that it is not prepared to do any further disarmament work with the Commission in the biological weapons area, unless required to do so by the Security Council, following a comprehensive review.
Accordingly, I have written to Mr. Tariq Aziz asking that further consideration be given to the issues raised in my letter of 18 November. A copy of that letter is attached.
Secondly, in the reply to the letter of 17 November, the explanation given by Iraq in answer to our request to have access to the relevant archives of the Iraqi Ministry of Defence, the Military Industrialization Corporation and other Government departments, avoids the question as put and does not undertake that such access will be granted.
While it is the case that inspections were conducted at the times and sites mentioned in Iraq's reply, those were not specifically for the purpose to which our request of 17 November was directed. Access by UNSCOM to the archives to be provided, as I hope, through cooperation by Iraq, would be the most effective and least controversial way of the Commission obtaining the necessary evidence for the accounting of Iraq's prohibited weapons programmes. It would avoid seeking out such documents through intrusive inspection which, as Council members are aware, has sometimes been the source of tension and blockage.
Sight should also not be lost of the fact that Iraq has an obligation under the resolutions of the Council to make available to the Commission any document which in the Commission's view is relevant to its mandate. Full access, full disclosure by Iraq would be of immense assistance. That is why it was asked for such an access, generically.
Finally, it should be noted, in this context, that Iraq's response does not seek to assert that the relevant archives do not exist.
Given below are specific comments on the points made in the annex to Iraq's reply to the letter of 17 November.
1. The Commission requested Iraq to provide the document on the consumption of special munitions found by the Commission's inspection team at the Air Force Headquarters on 18 July 1998.
According to expert assessment, this document details Iraq's consumption of special munitions in the 1980s, filled with chemical warfare agents. In its reply, Iraq states that its activities during the above-mentioned time-frame fall outside the scope of UNSCOM's mandate. However, to verify and to account credibly for all proscribed weapons which remained in Iraq after the Gulf war, the Commission has to know the total holdings of Iraq's chemical weapons and their disposition prior to the adoption of resolution 687 (1991). Therefore, this document is directly related to the mandate of the Commission.
The Security Council has demanded that Iraq deliver this document to the Commission.
2. The Commission requested Iraq to provide the "Reply of the Muthanna State Establishment on the Recommendations of the Ministry of Defence on actions concerning the development of chemical weapons". In its response, Iraq stated that this matter was concluded to the satisfaction of the Commission. Iraq also claimed that this document was not raised as one of the pending questions, in June 1998.
The following are the facts. In early 1996, the Commission knew of the existence of this document through references made to it in other documents provided by Iraq. Iraq acknowledged that the document had been issued and promised to locate it. Subsequently, in 1997, Iraq stated that the document could not be found and, therefore, did not exist any more.
The document itself is not an outstanding issue. It is a tool to verify those selected priority issues outlined in the Schedule for Work for June 1998 and accepted by Iraq, such as material balance of special munitions and the issue of the chemical warfare agent VX.
3. The Commission, acting upon the recommendations of the international experts during the Technical Evaluation Meeting on VX (February 1998), requested Iraq to provide documents and records on the status of the production of the chemical warfare agent VX in 1990. The existence of such records in 1990 had been confirmed by Iraq personnel, then involved in these activities, in the course of interviews.
Iraq, in its reply, does not respond to the question, but refers to the claimed failure of the production of VX. So far, Iraq has provided records on the production of VX only until May 1988. Iraq's declared production of VX in 1990 remains unverified.
4. The Commission, in its letter dated 17 November, requested iraq to provide the whole diary of Brigadier Ismail from the Surface-to-Surface Missile Force dealing with missile-related activities in 1990 and 1991, and the report dated 30 January 1991, prepared by Lt. Gen. Hazem Abdul Razzak, Commander of the Surface-to-Surface Missile Force (SSMF).
In its verification of the material balance, it is essential for the Commission to have accurate and verifiable information on how many proscribed missiles and related operational assets Iraq had possessed at the time of the adoption of Security Council resolution 687 (1991). The Commission repeatedly sought to obtain supporting documentary evidence for Iraq's declarations in this regard.
In 1996, a biological weapons inspection team was given copies of a few pages from the whole diary of Brigadier Ismail. Those pages dealt directly with biological weapons warheads. When the Commission started finalization of the material balance of the proscribed missile warheads, both conventional and special, and missile launchers and propellants, the Commission asked Iraq for other parts of this diary. Brigadier Ismail was presented to the Commission as a senior officer responsible for the deployment and inventory of long-range missiles and their operational assets in a period of late 1990 and early 1991. Thus, access to his diary would provide pertinent information as to the quantity of proscribed missiles, their warheads and launchers that Iraq possessed before and after the war. The diary specifically dealt with receipt and deployment of long-range missiles, including those equipped with chemical and biological warheads. Such information, which was considered by Iraq as very sensitive, would belong to the category of State secrets. It could not be recorded in "personal diaries" and kept at private homes of military officers. It should be noted that when a renewed request was made for the whole diary, Brigadier Ismail himself did not state that the document had been destroyed. This explanation only came later after repeated reminders from the Commission about this request.
5. The recently published memoirs of Lt. Gen. Hazem Abdul Razzak, Commander of the SSMF, contained a reference to a report of 30 January 1991 to his superiors. According to the Commander, the report contained information on the "balance of missile and warheads" that existed on that date. Such information, if provided to the Commission, could facilitate the establishment of verifiable quantity of proscribed missiles and warheads that existed at the time of the adoption of resolution 687 (1991). Iraq's response claims that the Commander took notes from the document and then destroyed the document itself. The Commission would welcome it if Iraq could provide access to the notes that served as a basis for the memoirs of the Commander of the Surface-to-Surface Missile Force. It should be noted that the Commander could have destroyed only a copy of his report that he sent to his superiors, not the original, which should have been kept by the addressee.
6. The Commission welcomes Iraq's readiness to present the necessary documents and awaits Iraq's submission of these documents so that they could be translated and studied by the Commission. It should be noted that the request for such documents was not made for the first time. A similar request was contained in the Commission's letter dated 4 November 1996 and was subject of discussions on several occasions between Iraq and the Commission. On those occasions, Iraq stated that the requested documents were not available.
7. The Commission sought documents in order to facilitate verification of Iraq's indigenous production of proscribed missiles. Eleven pages from Engineer Muqdam's diary were given to the Commission in July 1998 and were of great assistance in clarifying some of the outstanding issues involved. In view of the important nature of the document, the Commission asked for access to the whole diary of Engineer Muqdam, who was involved in the critical area of indigenous production of proscribed missile engines. The Iraqi experts themselves used his diary for the preparation of their declarations on that issue in early 1997. The Commission hoped that access to this document would provide further helpful information. It is not clear from Iraq's response why and when Engineer Muqdam decided to destroy his diary and why he, nevertheles