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By its resolution 687 of 3 April 1991, the Security Council established the terms and conditions for a formal cease-fire between Iraq and the coalition of Member States cooperating with Kuwait. Section C of this resolution deals with the elimination, under international supervision, of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles with a range greater than 150 kilometres (km), together with related items and production facilities. It also calls for measures to ensure that the acquisition and production of prohibited items are not resumed. The Special Commission was set up to implement the non-nuclear provisions of the resolution and to assist the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in the nuclear areas. The precise terms are laid out in paragraphs 7 to 13 of the resolution.

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On 18 April 1991, after Iraq had formally accepted the provisions of resolution 687, the Secretary-General submitted to the Security Council his report regarding the establishment of the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM). Following acceptance by the Security Council of the report on 19 April the Secretary-General appointed Ambassador Rolf Ekéus (Sweden) as the Executive Chairman of the Special Commission. On 1 May 1991, the Secretary-General appointed 20 other members of the Commission, from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Poland, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, the United States and Venezuela. Mr. Richard Butler (Australia) replaced Ambassador Rolf Ekéus as the Executive Chairman on 1 July 1997. The current Deputy Executive Chairman is Mr. Charles Duelfer (United States).

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The Commission's mandate is the following: to carry out immediate on-site inspections of Iraq's biological, chemical and missile capabilities; to take possession for destruction, removal or rendering harmless of all chemical and biological weapons and all stocks of agents and all related sub-systems and components and all research, development, support and manufacturing facilities; to supervise the destruction by Iraq of all its ballistic missiles with a range greater than 150 km and related major parts, and repair and production facilities; and to monitor and verify Iraq's compliance with its undertaking not to use, develop, construct or acquire any of the items specified above. The Commission is also requested to assist the Director General of IAEA, which, under resolution 687, has been requested to undertake activities similar to those of the Commission but specifically in the nuclear field. Further, the Commission is entrusted to designate for inspection any additional site necessary for ensuring the fulfillment of the mandates given to the Commission and IAEA.

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While Security Council resolution 687 mandated UNSCOM and the IAEA to conduct inspections in Iraq, it was necessary to establish the detailed modalities and legal basis on which such inspections would be conducted. This was achieved through an exchange of letters in May 1991 involving the secretary-general of the United Nations, the Executive Chairman of UNSCOM and the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iraq. The letters constituted an agreement between the United Nations and Iraq under which Iraq was to accord to members of UNSCOM, to officials of the United Nations, the IAEA and specialized agencies of the United Nations system, and to technical experts and specialists in Iraq for the purposes of fulfilling the mandate all rights contained in the relevant provisions of the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations of 1946, and the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the UN Specialized Agencies of 1947. As agreed in the exchange of letters, Iraq was also to accord to UNSCOM:

"Unrestricted freedom of entry and exit without delay or hindrance of personnel, property, supplies, equipment, spare parts and other items as well as means of transport, including expeditious issuance of entry and exit visas";

"Unrestricted freedom of movement without advance notice within Iraq of the personnel of the Special Commission and its equipment and means of transport";

"The right to unimpeded access to any site or facility for the purpose of the on-site inspection [pursuant to the mandate] whether such a site be above or below ground .... Any number of sites, facilities or locations may be subject to inspection simultaneously";

"The right to request, receive, examine and copy any record, data or information or examine, retain, move or photograph, including videotape, any item relevant to the Special Commission's activities and to conduct interviews";

"The right to designate any site whatsoever for observation, inspection or other monitoring activity and for storage, destruction or rendering harmless" of the items described in operative paragraphs 8, 9 and 12 of resolution 687;

"The right to install equipment or construct facilities for observation, inspection, testing or other monitoring activity and for storage, destruction or rendering harmless" of those items;

"The right to take photographs, whether from the ground or from the air, relevant to the Special Commission's activities";

"The right to take and analyse samples of any kind as well as to remove and export samples for off-site analysis"; and

"The right to unrestricted communication by radio, satellite or other forms of communication".

Iraq was also to:

"Provide at no cost to the United Nations ....... all such premises as may be necessary for the accommodation and fulfillment of the functions of the Special Commission", to be under the exclusive control of the Executive Chairman of the Special Commission; and

"Without prejudice to the use by the Special Commission of its own security, ... ensure the security and safety of the Special Commission and its personnel".

"These rights, privileges and immunities have proved to be essential to the effective fulfillment of the Commission's and IAEA's mandate. They remain in force and have since been clarified and supplemented by specific provisions of Security Council resolution 707 (1991) and of UNSCOM's and the IAEA's plans for ongoing monitoring and verification.

Members of inspection teams from UNSCOM and the IAEA, and personnel assigned to serve at the BMVC, except for regular UN Secretariat or IAEA support staff, enjoy the privileges and immunities which are accorded to experts on mission under the various multilateral treaties governing the privileges and immunities of the UN and the IAEA.

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Full sessions of the members of the Commission are held approximately twice yearly in New York to discuss policy issues and to assess the results of operations to date.

Following the establishment of the Commission as a subsidiary organ of the Security Council, the Office of the Executive Chairman of the Special Commission - a full-time office to assist the Chairman in the exercise of his functions - was set up at United Nations Headquarters in New York, with offices in Bahrain and Baghdad.

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The Executive Chairman reports to the UN Security Council on the activities of the Commission on a formal basis through the secretary-general twice a year. These written reports to the Council are submitted in April and November and cover the activities and issues of the previous six months. In addition, the Executive Chairman briefs the Council orally and through the submission of written reports several times a year, as and when necessary.



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The Special Commission's operations are planned and managed under the direction of the Executive Chairman from New York. The staff there includes technical experts, analysts, data processors, logistics personnel as well as political/diplomatic and administrative support staff. The Bahrain office serves as the assembly and training point for inspection teams as well as a logistics and supply point, while the Baghdad office provides the required communications and logistical support in the field. The Baghdad office now includes the Monitoring and Verification Centre, which is responsible for the maintenance and operation of the monitoring system and also houses Baghdad based inspection teams. The total staff compliment (excluding the aircrews that provide transport to and within Iraq, some 45 persons) is approximately 120.

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The Special Commission is not financed from assessed contributions to the United Nations. The costs of its operations are to be borne by the Government of Iraq. However, this will not happen until the embargo on the sale of oil from Iraq is lifted. In the meantime, in the main, the cash requirements of the Commission have been met through funds released from the escrow account established under resolution 778 for the receipt of Iraqi frozen assets. In addition, the Commission has received some voluntary contributions from a number of States. As of the end of 1996, the Commission had spent close to $120 million from these two main sources since its beginnings in 1991. Security Council resolution 986 of 1995, which authorizes the sale of limited amounts of Iraqi oil to pay for the import of humanitarian supplies (mainly food and medicine), allows for some of the funds realized from the sale of oil to be used to meet the current operating costs of the Commission. The provisions of the resolution were accepted by Iraq in November 1996. Iraq began to export limited quantities of oil in December 1996 and funds have been available to the Commission since that time. The Commission's cash requirements are approximately $15 million per six-months. The provisions of resolution 986 are renewable every six months provided the Security Council and Iraq agree.

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The Commission's cash requirements come in addition to the generous assistance provided by Governments through the provision of aircraft, facilities, equipment, materials and expert personnel. If given a monetary value, this "in-kind" assistance would amount to approximately twice that of the Commission's cash expenditures.

Member States and the United Nations Secretariat have provided the Commission staff. Inspection teams have consisted of personnel made available by Governments, members of the Commission, the United Nations Secretariat, and, in the nuclear field, inspectors and staff of the IAEA. The nuclear teams are organized by the IAEA, with the assistance and cooperation of the Special Commission. The inspectors are selected on the basis of their technical qualifications and expertise, with due regard to drawing them from as many Member States as possible within the range of available capabilities and experience. By the end of April 1997, more than 1000 individuals from over 40 countries had served on inspection teams.

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The implementation of section C of resolution 687 (1991) entails a three-stage process. These stages are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, there is much overlap:

(a) an inspection and survey phase to gather the information necessary to make an informed assessment of Iraq's capabilities and facilities in the nuclear, chemical, biological and ballistic missile fields;

(b) the disposal of weapons of mass destruction, facilities and other related items through destruction, removal or rendering harmless and the destruction of ballistic missiles with a range greater than 150 km, including launchers, other items and repair and production facilities;

(c) long-term monitoring to ensure ongoing verification of Iraq's compliance with its obligations under paragraph 10 of resolution 687 - principally not to reacquire banned capabilities - in accordance with the plans prepared by the Special Commission and IAEA and approved by the Security Council in its resolution 715 of 1991.

In the pursuit of the first two tasks, by the end of April 1997, 188 inspection missions had been fielded by the Commission and IAEA. Of these missions, 158 were related to non-nuclear matters; 43 chemical (including three destruction visits), 49 biological, 3 joint chemical and biological (one of which was conducted in conjunction with a nuclear inspection), and 53 ballistic missile. Thirty nuclear inspections have been undertaken by the IAEA with the assistance and cooperation of the Special Commission. In addition, there has been an inspection of a computer centre in connection with computers suspected to have been used for prohibited activities. An export/import mission was also conducted in 1995 in connection with the plans for the export/import monitoring mechanism called for in paragraph 7 of Security Council resolution 715 (1991).

The inspections undertaken have had to be energetic, rigorous and intrusive because of the failure of Iraq to adopt the candid and open approach to the full, final and complete disclosure of all aspects of its weapons programmes called for in Security Council resolutions 687 and 707. Despite the obstacles placed in the way by Iraq, the Commission has been able to compile much information about Iraq's capabilities and facilities of concern to it.

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The third stage of the Commission's mandate represents its long-term operation. Its main purpose is to monitor and verify Iraq's compliance with its unconditional obligation not to use, retain possess, develop, construct or otherwise acquire any weapons or related items prohibited under section C of resolution 687 (1991).

As requested in that resolution, the secretary-general and the IAEA Director General prepared and submitted to the Security Council two separate but closely coordinated plans for compliance monitoring. By approving these plans, under its resolution 715 (1991) of 11 October 1991, the Council mandated the Special Commission to implement the plan for ongoing monitoring and verification of permitted chemical, biological and ballistic missile activities. The Council also requested the Commission to assist and cooperate with IAEA in the implementation of the plan for ongoing monitoring and verification in the nuclear field.

Under the plans, Iraq is obliged to provide, on a regular basis, full, complete, correct and timely information on activities, sites, facilities, material or other items, both military and civilian, that might be used for purposes prohibited under resolutions 687 (1991) and 707 (1991). Furthermore, the Special Commission and IAEA have the right to carry out inspections, at any time and without hindrance, of any site, facility, activity, material or other items in Iraq. They may conduct unannounced inspections and inspections at short notice. They may inspect on the ground or by aerial surveillance any number of declared or designated sites or facilities.

Both plans entered into force immediately upon their approval by the Security Council on 11 October 1991. Despite the mandatory nature of the resolution adopting the plans, Iraq initially failed to state its recognition of or act upon its obligations under resolution 715 (1991) or the plans. At its meeting on 11-12 March 1992, the Security Council demanded that Iraq meet all its obligations, including those arising from Council resolution 715 (1991) and the plans for ongoing monitoring and verification approved by the Council. On 27 June 1992, seven months after the Council resolution was adopted, Iraq gave the Commission initial declarations concerning non-nuclear activities which need to be monitored. Iraq finally accepted the terms of resolution 715 in late 1993. As a result the Commission was able to establish its monitoring activities carried out from its Baghdad Monitoring and Verification Centre (BMVC).

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Paragraph 7 of Security Council Resolution 715 requested the Sanctions Committee established under Resolution 661, the Special Commission and the Director General of the IAEA to develop a mechanism for monitoring any future sales or supplies by other countries to Iraq of dual use items that might have applications in WMD programmes. This was seen as being an essential element of the Commission's overall efforts to monitor Iraq's compliance with its obligations not to reacquire banned weapon capabilities. If monitoring and verification represent the internal element of that effort, the export/import mechanism represents the external element.

The Commission and the IAEA presented a draft concept paper to the Sanctions Committee in May 1994 containing a proposal for a system of notification by both Iraq and the exporting country of dual-purpose items to be exported to Iraq. The mechanism was not to require licensing by the Commission. Rather, Iraq would inform a joint unit, to be set up by the Commission and the IAEA of its intention to import dual-purpose items as defined in the annexes to the Commission and IAEA plans for monitoring and verification. The unit, which staff from both the Commission and IAEA, will maintain offices in New York and Baghdad. The exporting country would be obliged inter alia to report on contracts to export such items and, once the details were known, on the contract number, the date of shipment, the point of entry into Iraq and the end user in Iraq. Upon arrival of the goods in Iraq, Iraq would notify the joint unit of receipt. Monitoring groups would then inspect the items at the site of end use to assess their purpose, to tag and inventory them as necessary, and to incorporate the items into the monitoring plan for that site. Any country which became aware of attempts by Iraq to acquire proscribed items would also be required to report such attempts. The process would be underpinned by ongoing monitoring and verification activities, the rights of the Commission and the IAEA of no-notice inspection anywhere in Iraq, aerial surveillance activities and information received from other sources. Proscribed items or dual-purpose items imported for proscribed activities would be subject to destruction under the terms of Resolution 687. The assumption would be that imports of dual-purpose items not declared by Iraq were for proscribed purposes.

This paper was discussed by the Committee informally. Revisions to the annexes were presented to the Security Council in March 1995. Although there has been no change in the status of the sanctions regime imposed on Iraq under resolution 661, it had been clear for some time that items relevant to the mandate established by the Council were being imported into the country or were destined for Iraq. Thus there was an immediate requirement to put the export/import mechanism in place, in order to ensure the comprehensiveness of the Commission's and the IAEA's overall monitoring system in Iraq.

The mechanism was put forward to the Council in a letter dated 7 December 1995 from the Chairman of the Sanctions Committee. A Security Council resolution, 1051, (with the Council acting under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, thereby making the requirement to notify such exports an obligation on all states) was adopted unanimously on 27 March 1996.

Under the export/import mechanism, the import of items relevant to the Commission's and the IAEA's mandate is notified by both the Government of Iraq and the Government of the supplier. Resolution 1051 of March 1997 called upon Iraq to implement the system within 60 days of the passage of the resolution, namely 26 May 1996. In advance of that date, the Government of Iraq was provided with the necessary documentation to implement the notification system and a mission composed of experts from the Commission and the IAEA was dispatched to Baghdad to explain the requirements of the system. Concurrently, the first Export/Import Monitoring Group was established at the BMVC to receive Iraq's notification forms and to take action, as required.

Since the inception of the system, the Government of Iraq has made a number of notifications concerning imports, principally of notifiable chemical and biological related materials. In order to receive and to process notifications of the export to Iraq of notifiable items, the Commission and the IAEA have established a joint unit at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

Resolution 1051 required notifications by Governments of suppliers of notifiable goods to be provided as from "the date the secretary-general and the Director General of the IAEA, after their consultations with the members of the Council and other interested States, report to the Council indicating that they are satisfied with the preparedness of States for the effective implementation of the mechanism". The Chairman of the Commission wrote to the members of the Council and former major suppliers to Iraq noting that informal contacts with a number of States appeared to indicate that they were, or would shortly be, in a position to provide the necessary notifications. As a consequence of various consultations a recommendation was made to the secretary-general and the Director General of the IAEA that they report to the Council that notifications should be provided commencing on 1 October 1996. Such a decision was made and was transmitted to all States on 30 September 1996. This important element of the Commission's and the IAEA's ongoing monitoring and verification system is now in place and notifications have started to arrive at the joint unit.

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