As of August 2006, Iraq Watch is no longer being updated.
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David Albright (chair), Institute for Science and International Security
Garry Dillon, Independent Consultant formerly with IAEA
Robert J. Einhorn, US Department of State
Michael Eisenstadt, Washington Institute for Near East Policy
Albright began the discussion by asking for an evaluation of current US policy towards Iraq. Einhorn responded by clarifying that the Bush administration's Iraq policy was still evolving. The new approach seeks to confront other countries’ desire to engage with Iraq, as shown by increased diplomatic ties, passenger flights and trade missions to Baghdad. Illicit oil sales, though only 10 percent of total sales, have contributed $1 to 2 billion to the leadership. Since inspectors left in December 1998, the US believes that Iraq has stepped up efforts to procure dual-use technology, refurbish chemical facilities and develop its missile production. The policy review determined that as long as Iraq remained a threat and was unwilling to allow inspectors, the US must continue containing Iraq. Promoting a regime change that installed leadership more friendly to international norms would help alleviate the threat. The US also supports restructuring the sanctions regime in exchange for new inspections, as demonstrated by Security Council Resolution 1284, which Iraq does not support. Res. 1284 contains a four-pronged strategy, currently under consideration by the Security Council under a July 3 deadline. First, the oil-for-food program would be transformed to allow a greater range of civilian goods into Iraq. Second, revenue from all oil exports, including the Syrian pipeline, would go through the escrow account. Third, cross-border arrangements would be reconfigured to permit the flow of oil and establish stronger monitoring in Jordan, Syria and Turkey. Fourth, neighboring countries would be supported by a safety net in case Iraq cuts off oil sales. Should the Security Council install this strategy, Einhorn believes it will shift the dangerous dynamic in the region by giving Iraq incentives to accept Res. 1284.
Dillon expressed his conviction that inspections in Iraq must continue. The priority of ensuring that Iraq does not acquire WMD must be balanced with a concern that efforts at containment do not victimize the Iraqi population. Dillon does not think that the current regime can be trusted. The 1991 Security Council Resolution 687, which which sought to prevent oil revenue from sponsoring a WMD program, could not be satisfied without the presence of inspectors. The increase of oil revenue outside of the oil-for-food program makes it possible for Saddam to continue to purchase loyalties necessary for his leadership to continue. IAEA and UNMOVIC can only recommence its operations when the Security Council issues a new resolution on sanctions, rights of access, continued prohibition of WMD and conventional arms, and Iraq's attempts to obstruct any effort to monitor its WMD program. When Iraq commits a breach, military action must follow.
Eisenstadt offered an assessment of US policy towards Iraq. He first noted that the containment strategy of sanctions, inspections, no-fly zones and the threat of use of force has moderately succeeded in keeping Iraq's military-industrial base static. But because of eroded unanimity in the Security Council, lessened international support and a belief in the overextension of allied forces, this strategy has become difficult to sustain. The Bush administration’s policy review focused on the inspections and sanctions structure, allied military force and Iraq's domestic opposition. Because the US believes inspections may prove ineffective, and worse than no inspections, it has sought to rebuild international support for sanctions through Res. 1284. But Res. 1284 is not likely to be passed by the deadline of July 3, Russia may veto it in any case, and even if it were passed, Russia and France may continue to evade the sanctions regime. In addition, Iraq’s neighbors are unlikely to support increased border controls and the new sanctions regime will hardly alter the situation of the Iraqi population, which would continue to elicit international sympathy. Finally, Res. 1284 contains a snap-act provision in which sanctions will be re-imposed if Iraq engages in proscribed action, but the US does not want to re-impose full sanctions. Eisenstadt concluded by offering a scenario in which Saddam will engage in a confrontation, possibly with more advanced weapons.
The question-and-answer period concerned the likelihood of Iraq acquiring nuclear weapons. According to Einhorn, the US has determined that Iraq does not have the capability to produce fissile material, and indigenous capability could take at least five years. But Dillon added that if Iraq obtains fissile material from outside, depending on the type of uranium it could take one week to one year to produce a weapon. Eisenstadt believed that if Saddam possessed nuclear capability, he would seek to use this capability in the near future. He would either embark on a confrontation, or test the bomb in the dessert, sparking a regional arms race. Other issues during question-and-answer included assistance for border controls, Russian cooperation, the effectiveness of Desert Fox, and a plan to lure Saddam's scientists out of Iraq.
As of August 2006, Iraq Watch is no longer being updated. Click here for more information.
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