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The Role of Inspection as a Part of the Effort to Prevent the Possession of Weapons of Mass Destruction

Lecture at the fourth training course for future staff of UNMOVIC
Ottawa 28 May 2001

Hans Blix
Chairman of United Nations Monitoring Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC)

About one hundred years ago it was agreed at the first Hague Peace Conference to prohibit the use of “projectiles, the sole object of which is the diffusion of asphyxiating or deleterious gases”. Regrettably this ban did not prevent an extensive use of gas during the First World War. With this in fresh memory the 1925 Geneva Protocol was adopted under the auspices of the League of Nations. It prohibited the use in war of both chemical and bacteriological weapons. Neither the Hague Convention of 1899 nor the Geneva Protocol had any mechanisms for inspection or other fact-finding, nor regarding enforcement in the case of violations. Nor did these agreements prohibit production or stockpiling. It was thought that any use of these weapons would be easily discovered and that such use would be deterred by the risk of retaliation. Moreover, in the early part of this century any proposal for on site inspections would have been opposed as an encroachment on national sovereignty.

The views as to what is incompatible with sovereignty are slowly changing in a world of states that are becoming ever more interdependent.Today onsite visits by foreign inspectors is a common feature in arms control. By far the most extensive on site inspection regime is the one established by the Security Council and operated in Iraq since 1991. The change in attitudes to inspection has been caused above all by governments’ need for credible assurance about the absence of nuclear weapons in states which have committed themselves to be without these weapons.

Acceptance of Inspection

While after the Second World War there has widespread demand for a prohibition of use of nuclear weapons, it has been understood that the safest way of preventing use is to prevent the very possession of these weapons. No weapon - no use.Hence the demand for non-proliferation, i.e. preventing the spread of nuclear weapons to states that did not have them (horizontal non-proliferation) and to demands for nuclear disarmament in the states that have the weapons (vertical non-proliferation). The Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1968 embodies both these ideas and both have had some success.

In the two main nuclear weapon states we have seen a considerable dismantling of nuclear weapons after the end of the Cold War and the latest review conference of the Non-Proliferation Treaty unanimously agreed on the goal of a complete and universal elimination of nuclear weapons. Nevertheless there still remain many thousands nuclear weapons. Between states which have them hopefully the risk of mutual retaliation remains an effective deterrent against use.

Success in the aim of preventing a spread of nuclear weapons to more countries has been even more tangible. When the Non-Proliferation Treaty was concluded in 1968 there were five nuclear weapon states. Since then it has become clear that three more - India, Israel and Pakistan - have nuclear weapons. South Africa had nuclear weapons but dismantled them. With the revelation after the Gulf War that Iraq had been perhaps a year from possessing a nuclear weapon without being detected by the IAEA and with the disclosure by the IAEA that the DPRK had more plutonium than it had declared, the fear arose that more parties to the NPT might be secretly violating the treaty. As I shall develop a little later in this lecture it was concluded that the IAEA verification system needed to be strengthened to give better assurance that no weapons were secretly developed.

The view that the absence of a weapon of mass destruction is the best guarantee for non-use has also prevailed as regards chemical and biological weapons.The Biological Weapons Convention of 1972 and the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993 go beyond non-use and prohibit the production and possession of the weapons.

An effective ban on the development and possession of a category of weapons calls for verification and the predominant path has been and is through verified commitments under multilateral conventions. However, we should be aware that although dominant this is not the only possible approach to assure the absence of a category of weapons. Indeed, the approach can also be unilateral, bilateral or regional.

Unilateral Actions Against Weapons of Mass Destruction

Some approaches aiming at preventing the development and possession of specific weapons might be termed unilateral. A few examples may best show what I mean. In 1981 Israel bombed and destroyed the Iraqi OSIRAK nuclear reactor. Later, during the Iran-Iraq war, Iran bombed the Iraqi nuclear center at Tuwaitha, while Iraq sent missiles on the civilian power reactors being built by Iran at Busher. Following the terror attack on the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in 1998 the U.S. sent a cruise missile on a factory suspected of producing chemical weapons outside Khartoum.Unilateral actions of this kind are sometimes referred to as counter-proliferation. They are surgical actions not slowed by international negotiations and need for agreement.However, I would not want the job to defend them legally.

Bilateral Approaches

The absence of weapons of mass destruction may also be secured through bilateral approaches. A case in point is the agreement between Argentina and Brazil mutually to open their nuclear sectors to each other for inspection. Through a trilateral arrangement IAEA inspection is also performed, thereby bringing the bilateral arrangement into an international framework.

Another example: a bilateral declaration was signed in December 1991 between North and South Korea with the aim of giving mutual assurance against the development and possession of nuclear weapons. Of greater current relevance is the so-called agreed framework of 1994, a bilateral instrument negotiated between the United States and the DPRK after Security Council recommendations. The framework prescribes that the DPRK’s indigenous nuclear program is to be frozen under continued IAEA inspection in return for the construction of two civilian nuclear power reactors.

The most important bilateral arrangements concerning nuclear weapons are evidently those between the United States and Russia.These, of course, are for the reduction of nuclear arsenals, not for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons.

The bilateral approach has some distinct merits.The reciprocity makes immediate reaction and retaliation possible in case of violation of some commitment by the other party. Each side covers its own costs and each side may supply its inspectors with intelligence from its own authorities.


Regional approaches are important to achieve the non-possession of weapons of mass destruction and, indeed, to assure conventional disarmament. The whole southern hemisphere has become covered by agreements creating nuclear weapon free zones.In all these cases the task to verify that nuclear material is used only for peaceful purposes is conferred upon the IAEA and performed through the application of the safeguards system.

The regional approach is of great practical importance as the assurances given by neighbours and other states in one and the same area are likely to strengthen the reliability of the commitments. Thus, for the long-term reliability of non-proliferation commitments in the Middle East, a treaty establishing a zone free of weapons of mass destruction would be desirable. It is of interest to note that in the resolution 687 (1991) the elimination of weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles in Iraq is seen as representing steps toward the goal of such a goal.

Universal Approaches

The universal approach is represented by the NPT, the Chemical Weapons Convention (1993) and the Biological Weapons Convention (1972). While the NPT and the CWC have comprehensive systems for verification and on site inspection the BWC has not yet been so equipped.

The universal approach is in a sense the most advanced, aiming at developing world norms. It has great authority and the support of world public opinion. However, there are also some drawbacks. While the NPT has obtained ever more parties, questions have arisen as to the genuine compliance by some parties - notably Iraq and the DPRK.Multilateral financing of common control systems is often a headache. No one wants to pay what it costs. Further, while effectiveness of inspection is desired, most states are still reluctant to accept very intrusive control.

The Resolution 687 (1991) under which the Security Council requires Iraq to rid itself of weapons of mass destruction and missiles of longer range than 150 kilometers is a multilaterally based action against a single state. The control regime is provided by UNSCOM- now UNMOVIC - and the IAEA.

What Will Secure the Absence of Weapons of Mass Destruction

The preceding discussion has focused on who pursues the effort to assure the absence of a type of weapons of mass destruction -a single state, two states mutually, a region mutually or all states together? The answer has important consequences for the way the effort is pursued and for the framework of the effort.

We might change the angle and ask which are the factors that actually make states abstain from or prevent states from acquiring weapons of mass destruction?

The first and most significant factor, in my view, is the political/security situation of the country. Almost invariably states’ incentives to acquire weapons of mass destruction are linked to their perceived security needs. Hence, the most direct way to reduce the risk of proliferation is through efforts to create such political/security situations locally, regionally or globally that states do not feel a need for such weapons. To take an example: if an alliance, e.g. NATO, offers all its members protection against any threats of weapons of mass destruction individual members may have little incentive to develop such weapons of their own. To take another example, political developments leading to détente regionally or globally reduce security concerns and incentives to acquire weapons, including weapons of mass destruction. I shall discuss this point in greater detail in a moment.

A second factor may be an inclination among states to rally to a nascent international legal order, whether in the field of human rights, prohibition of land mines or weapons of mass destruction. Adherence to conventions which aim at universal membership is a way of contributing to world law and order. However, to happen, such adherence must also be perceived at the very least as not contrary to any security interest of the state. India, Israel and Pakistan did not join the NPT because they perceived the renunciation of nuclear weapons as contrary to their security interests.

A third factor favouring nonproliferation may be the existence of an effective verification and inspection system.States may be willing to commit themselves under disarmament treaties to remain without weapons of mass destruction provided that they are assured through the verification and inspection systems of the treaties that all parties remain faithful to their commitments. There is no illusion that international inspectors could be a kind of global police who can intervene against violations. However, the awareness among parties to disarmament treaties that reactions may be expected from other governments, if inspection were to reveal disregard for pledges, may be a deterrent against violating the treaties.

A fourth factor is less a disincentive to acquire weapons of mass destruction than a barrier against such acquisition. I have in mind the export restrictions, which have been agreed upon between groups of potential supplier states in various weapons fields, e.g. the nuclear suppliers group.

While tensions in the Middle East, on the Indian subcontinent and on the Korean peninsula have raised proliferation risks in these regions, in my view the global outlook for nonproliferation is favourable, because global détente reduces the perceived needs for weapons of mass destruction. Let me briefly develop this optimistic note.

No one will ignore the continued importance of military power in the world, but one should also not ignore that since the arrival of detente military power has declined somewhat in importance while the power of finance, trade and information has grown.The share of resources spent on military power has gone down in many countries and many threats, which military power was meant to counter have disappeared or receded.This makes weapons less relevant.

Historically, armed conflicts between states and groups of states were very often linked to disputes about borders and territory or to religious or ideological differences. Such disputes are becoming much less common.How many young people today will have heard about the Oder-Neisse line, which was a dangerous East-West fault line during the cold war? When Poland joins the European Union the Oder-Neisse will be just another inter-European waterway.

A few territorial flashpoints of global significance, like Taiwan, do remain. Yet, few people today think these could ignite a global conflagration. There will evidently continue to be regional conflicts and civil wars but on the whole the tendency at the interstate level is toward exerting influence and inducing concessions and accommodation through the power of finance (e.g. IMF, the World Bank), trade (sanctions) and information (propaganda). Military power is less important.

With détente a drastic reduction in the nuclear arsenals of the United States and Russia has become possible and these two military powers have joined a large number of other states in the conventions to eliminate biological and chemical weapons. The question may even be raised today whether weapons of mass destruction are gradually becoming obsolescent.I shall not venture any answer regarding terrorists and other actors at the sub-national level, but the renunciation of nuclear weapons by Algeria, Argentina and Brazil would seem to point to an affirmative answer as regards states.

In any case, the challenge of non-proliferation can be taken up in a more cooperative environment today than at any time in the past. With a readiness among the major powers to cooperate and coordinate their efforts, multilateral approaches and regimes to prevent proliferation become a stronger prospect.

Let me now turn from the broad context in which I see the question of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to more specific questions relating to inspection regimes. I shall begin with the IAEA’s pre-Iraq safeguards system.

Inspection: the NPT Model

We have seen how the conclusion of the Non Proliferation Treaty in 1968 marked a quantum leap forward compared to the pre World War II bans on the use of gas and bacteriological means.With regard to inspection, a highly significant development occurred. It was to be performed by the IAEA under standardized safeguards agreements concluded bilaterally between the Agency and non-nuclear weapon states parties.

With the IAEA safeguards system the first global on site inspection system was born. However, states had certainly not yet put behind themselves the reluctance to receive foreign inspectors on their soil and in their facilities. This reluctance impacted at the time on the scope and contents of the standard NPT-type safeguards, which focused on declared nuclear facilities and limited inspectors’ visits to so-called strategic points. While theoretically ‘special inspections’ could in some circumstances have been demanded at non-declared sites, satellite images and intelligence pointing to such sites were never made available to the IAEA until after the Gulf War.

The Case of Iraq Leads to a Strengthening of the IAEA Safeguards System

Even the first IAEA inspection to Iraq under resolution 687 in the spring of 1991 showed that Iraq had had an undeclared industrial uranium enrichment program that the Agency’s safeguards system had failed to detect. The discovery led immediately to an examination within the IAEA of what measures could be taken to strengthen the existing NPT safeguards system. At the same time it led to a political readiness - which had not existed before - in governments to accept more far-reaching measures of inspection and monitoring.It was realized that having a verification system that lead the world into unjustified confidence was dangerous. Work was set in motion for a major strengthening of the safeguards system resulting in 1997 in new rules, which strengthen the capacity of the Agency to discover clandestine nuclear activities. However, they are very far from the forceful inspection and verification system which applies to in Iraq under resolution 687 and which I shall now discuss.

The Case of Iraq and Security Council Resolution 687 (1991)

If the NPT marked a quantum leap compared to pre-war disarmament agreements, Security Council resolution 687(1991) on Iraq marks another leap forward in inspection/enforcement compared to the verification systems existing under the IAEA.

Under resolution 687 of 1991, the IAEA was to be responsible for inspections and disarmament in the nuclear field, while the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) was to undertake the corresponding duties as regards biological and chemical weapons and missiles with a range over 150 kilometers. UNSCOM, which was to be located in New York as a subsidiary organ of the Security Council was also to be responsible for all logistics and - it was implied - for contacts with national intelligence agencies, which could contribute information of use for the designation of sites for inspection.

Results and Lessons of the Verification and Disarmament Regime Under Security Council Resolution 687 (1999)

What results should we register from the implementation of the system operated by UNSCOM and the IAEA under resolution 687 and others which relate to the eradication of the Iraqi program of weapons of mass destruction and long range missiles and what lessons should we learn from it?

A first fundamental point is one often - and I think rightly - mentioned, namely, that more weapons of mass destruction were destroyed under the direction and supervision of UNSCOM than were destroyed through the Gulf War. While there were no nuclear weapons in Iraq, the IAEA succeeded in mapping the nuclear program and moved the fissile material out of Iraq (to Russia). The Agency also ordered and supervised the destruction of installations, equipment and material linked to the proscribed nuclear program. It is generally agreed that when inspections ceased at the end of 1998 the nuclear dossier had the fewest question marks.

A second - more sobering - point is that in the absence of genuine cooperation and in the face of frequent resistance and subterfuges by Iraq, it has not proved possible even over ten years to ensure that all weapons of mass destruction have been destroyed and the programs for their production have been terminated.

It has further been understood - and this is a third point - that even where there is cooperation and the inspection regime allows for very high effectiveness, there will remain a residue of uncertainty. A ‘clean bill of health’ is just as unattainable in inspection as it is in medical examinations.

A fourth point is that the Security Council’s strong political support of UNSCOM and the IAEA has been of vital importance for the successes achieved. Conversely, when consensus began to wane in the Council, Iraqi resistance stiffened and eventually led to a suspension of inspection.

A fifth point relates to the general embargo on the purchase of oil and other products from Iraq, which was imposed to bring pressure on Iraq. One frequently hears comments that the effects of the embargo only hurt the Iraqi population and did nothing to influence the decision-makers. However, from the relations between the Iraqi government and UNSCOM and the IAEA one can draw the conclusion that the prospect of lifting sanctions did have some impact on Iraqi readiness to cooperate.What is sadly evident even from 1991 is that the sanctions were not sufficient to bring about the amount of Iraqi cooperation that was needed and required.

A sixth point relates to the threat and use of force applied on Iraq to induce cooperation and compliance. On various occasions this ‘diplomacy backed by force’ did have an effect, but we have seen that at any rate since the bombings at the end of 1998 they did not bring cooperation. It should perhaps be added that the no-fly zones and the bombing to enforce the zones have other aims than bringing Iraq to cooperate with the inspection and monitoring programs.

A seventh point to be made concerns the provision of information and intelligence to UNSCOM and the IAEA. Important information can be had through the systematic scanning of open sources. Further, intelligence provided by governments has proved to be of great help as basis for relevant questions and for the designation of relevant sites for inspection. Intelligence is not a substitute for on-site inspection. Rather, access to intelligence may make such inspection more effective. It is, of course, understood that national organizations must at all times protect their sources and set limits on what information they can give. It would be paradoxical, however, if they could not provide information, which could help reach the results their governments intended by setting up international inspection regimes.

As an eighth point let me mention that the receipt and use of intelligence raise some questions for the organizations as well. Reliable measures must be taken to ensure that no unauthorized use is made of the information obtained and that it is shared only with authorized staff and on the basis of need to know - or else there will not be any information. There must also be prudence in the reliance upon such information. It has to be examined critically and there is advantage in having several sources. Multilateral inspection regimes serve the common aim of the intergovernmental organization to which they belong, not the aim of individual states members. The inspection regimes are not using espionage or other illegal means to compile their information and they are to report only to the intergovernmental organs, which have established them, e.g. the Security Council in the case of UNMOVIC. Hence, intelligence supply must in principle be a one-way traffic to the inspection/monitoring organ.

A ninth point to make is that the inspection/monitoring in Iraq has stimulated governments, research institutions and industry to develop new technology, methods and equipment.Although the experience, knowledge and intuition of the inspector on the ground are invaluable elements, there are tasks which instruments can perform better, faster, cheaper and with more precision than inspectors.Video cameras reporting in real time to monitoring centers, environmental sampling of soil, water or air, sensors, tagging etc. are ever more powerful means to help the inspectors in the performance of effective inspection and monitoring.They may sometimes also help to reduce the sense of intrusion experienced by the inspected party at the presence of international inspectors.

As a tenth and last point let me make a few comments on so called ‘adversarial inspections’. The expression has stood for firm, even tough, demands of access for inspection resisted by the Iraqi side.There is no doubt that such firm demands for access rightly reflect the determination of the Security Council not to allow Iraq to conceal any proscribed items anywhere. There was sometimes a risk, however, that the reality was obscured that inspectors are - inspectors. They perform their jobs in countries whose governments have full territorial control and are always able to deny access. It is another matter that such denials may violate the government’s legal obligations and will not be without some cost to the government. They may lead to political or - as we have sometimes seen - military consequences. At the very least, denial of access or other lack of cooperation will raise suspicions that prohibited items or activities or information about them are being hidden.

The United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC)

How does it differ from UNSCOM?

UNMOVIC was created through Security Council resolution 1284 at the end of 1999, but the Government of Iraq has so far rejected all cooperation with it, contending inter alia that all prohibited weapons have been eliminated in Iraq and that it only remains for the Security Council to lift sanctions. This view is not shared by the Council, which in its resolution 1284 (1999) explicitly referred to ‘unresolved disarmament issues’ and to ‘key remaining disarmament tasks’, which UNMOVIC is to tackle.

While the mandate, rights and obligations of UNMOVIC and UNSCOM are the same, there are significant differences between the two organs.

One relates to financing and resources. UNSCOM relied upon voluntary contributions of staff, equipment and money. Only a limited group of states made such contributions and UNSCOM became very dependent for staff and equipment upon a number of mostly Western governments. Eventually this negatively affected the profile and legitimacy of the Commission.UNMOVIC obtains 0.8 % of the Iraqi revenues under the Oil for Food Program. This is expected to cover its expenses even when it is in full operation. This means also that the Commission is not dependent upon the voluntary contribution by governments of ‘gratis’ staff or equipment but can hire experts as UN staff wherever it finds competent candidates.

UNSCOM’s highly professional staff came to their tasks without specific experience of the Iraqi situation but acquired considerable ‘on the job training.’ Most of this staff had left when UNMOVIC was being organized. The new professional staff comes to us similarly without experience from Iraq. A full month’s introduction course, which covers not only the mandate of UNMOVIC and its background but also the various weapons dossiers, and such subjects as Iraq’s culture, religion and political history is provided to compensate for this lack of experience. By the end of June we should have trained more than 200 professionals. At present we employ a little less than 50 in New York. We foresee a need of some 150 to 200 when fully operative. Some 80 would be stationed in Baghdad and would be rotated at intervals of 3-6 months.

A distinct feature in UNMOVIC is the College of Commissioners consisting of 16 experts selected in their personal capacity by the Secretary-General and chaired by the Executive Chairman. They are to provide policy advice and guidance to the Executive Chairman on significant matters and on the reports he submits to the Security Council - at present every three months.Some have seen in the College a check on the Executive Chairman. For my part I see it so far as a valuable expert advisory group, which may help the Executive Chairman to pursue the mandate of the Commission in a way that may obtain broad approval in the UN, especially the Security Council. If there is disagreement on an issue in the College the chairman will have to be his own counsel. There is no voting.

What Does UNMOVIC Do Now?

It might be thought that there would be little work to do in UNMOVIC, when there are no inspections in Iraq. However, the activity level has been and remains very high. Our ambition is to place ourselves as far out on the launching pad for inspections as we can without taking on board a lot of staff until they are needed and without buying or leasing a lot of expensive equipment, like helicopters, until it is needed.

As there were only a few inspectors left from UNSCOM, the indispensable first task has been to train new inspectors and other staff. This process, as I have explained, is still very much ongoing and will remain so.

Another major task has been and remains the analysis of existing UNSCOM documents, like inspection reports, and Iraqi declarations in order to identify unresolved disarmament issues, to assess their relative importance and ways of solving them.

We are further revising standard forms for inspection reports and for declarations, which Iraq will have to make. They should not be too complicated and they should be susceptible of electronic handling.

We are naturally preparing for a quick operational start in Iraq - logistics, laboratory, and communications. The plans for rebaselining are being made. One of the first tasks to tackle in Iraq would be to identify and examine changes made on sites since the end of 1998, when the last inspections took place.

We are making contractual arrangements to obtain current information on an ongoing basis from open sources and satellite imagery additional to what we currently get from governments. We are consolidating the huge archive and putting the database in a shape to make it user friendly.

For many months we have worked to compile and systematize in a handbook the cumulated body of rights and directives given by the Security Council in resolutions and presidential statements. The handbook also reflects agreements, which are binding between Iraq and the UN and it includes, with some modifications, many practical directives which were drawn up by UNSCOM and which seem to have worked well. The handbook, which is still in draft, is intended primarily as guidance to our staff but it may also serve as up front information to the Iraqi authorities about the rules and procedures we would expect them - and ourselves - to respect. It covers not only the rights of inspectors but also restrictions that must be observed. UNMOVIC is to be in Iraq to perform correct, effective inspection. It is not to be there to harass, humiliate or provoke.

Will There Be Renewed Inspections?

What are the chances of green light for resumed inspections? If you ask the government of Iraq the answer currently is an emphatic ‘none’!However, in international affairs you do not necessarily take no for an answer. Many relevant factors have changed over time and continue to change. Before the Gulf War the United States mobilized the world, including the Arab world, against Iraq’s aggression. This year one might get the impression that Iraq is trying to mobilize the world - including the Arab world - against the United States. It refers to the Gulf War as the 30-nation aggression against Iraq. In 1991 the ban on the purchase of oil from Iraq was designed as leverage to make Iraq cooperate in eradicating its weapons of mass destruction program. In 2001 Iraq is permitted to sell all the oil it is able and willing to pump.

Inducement to cooperate in inspection and monitoring may one day come from an Iraqi wish to get greater control of the revenues from oil sales, from a wish for greater freedom to acquire dual use articles and from pressure from a united Security Council - if a revived consensus can be created. The Council is still divided on a number of points, but it is not divided on the need to prevent Iraq from having weapons of mass destruction and the need for inspection and continuous monitoring.

I am sure the Security Council is also aware that some very fundamental matters are at stake:

A failure to ensure the eradication of Iraq’s program of weapons of mass destruction would be a serious setback and would send the wrong signal in the global issue of non-proliferation and concerning the future efforts to achieve regional arms control in the Middle East.

The Security Council has dealt with the Iraqi issue with firmness for many years since 1990, when in the new era of détente President Bush forged a global determination under the UN Charter to stop Iraq’s aggression. A withering and disintegration of that determination would deal a blow to the authority of the Council and the idea of joint responsibility.

Thirdly, the Council might be aware that a failure to uphold and pursue the program for inspection and monitoring, which was instituted by it in Iraq, would more generally undermine the authority of multilateral approaches to the verification of non-proliferation commitments. It might well be asked what multilateral inspection regime would succeed, if one instituted by the Security Council and operated under is immediate control did not.

Let me conclude by highlighting a few points:

First, multilaterally established verification systems have the great merit of allowing perfectly legal inspection on the territories of the participating states, reaching into buildings and installations. The inspectors are not performing espionage, nor are they an international arms control police. It must be remembered that the government of the inspected state retains territorial control and can at any time deny inspectors access and withhold cooperation - but it can do so only at the price of sending warning signals to the world.

Second, an inspecting organization must at all times take care to report precisely what it has learnt, never extrapolate in a manner that may give rise to unjustified confidence, nor in a manner that may give rise to unjustified alarm. Even after the most intrusive inspections - such as the ones, which have been conducted in Iraq - there will be a residue of uncertainty.It is simply not possible to monitor every square inch in large territories of states - and some weapons activities will not require much space. The residue must be clearly acknowledged and the extent estimated, if at all possible. Assessing how serious the residue is and what measures of protection, if any, are needed against it, is a political task. In the case of the inspections of South Africa’s elimination of nuclear weapons, the cooperation of the country was such that whatever residues of uncertainty remained were apparently regarded by other states as acceptable. In the case of Iraq, the uncertainties are still significant and they are not likely to be discounted unless Iraq shows a genuine willingness to cooperate.

Third, and last, as globalization and the mutual interdependence of states grow, the likelihood is that states will ask for a high degree of assurance about respect for commitments made, particularly in the field of arms control. While national means of verification and multilateral ones are not mutually exclusive but may complement each other, multilaterally organized inspection is probably a growth business. Hopefully we may be moving away from a stage in history where nobody was under anybody’s control to a stage where we will accept that everybody is under everybody’s control.

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