Invasion of Iraq

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In light of a multitude of events that span across three decades, it is the opinion of the British Government that immediate and definitive military action needs to be taken against the current Iraqi Regime. This document aims to justify this position focusing on the conduct of Iraq domestically and internationally. Over the past twelve years since the withdrawal from Kuwait, the Regime has openly flouted International Law, publicly refusing to comply with the terms laid down by the Cease-fire Resolution 687. The staring point for this document is the serious threat deemed to be posed against foreign interests and the overall security of the region by Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD).

By the mid-1970’s Iraq had an effective chemical and biological warfare programme, more emphasis being put on the biological side with the outbreak of the war with Iran in the early 80’s. By 1987 a secure biological research facility had been developed at the Salman Pak site and by the mid 1990’s other civilian facilities were taken over and adapted for military research, al-Dawrah Foot and Mouth Vaccine Institute and Amariyah Sera and Vaccine Institute are names of but a few.

At the outbreak of the Gulf War we can see from Iraqi declarations to the UN that vast quantities of chemical and biological agents had been stockpiled. According to the figures submitted1, 19,000 litres of botulinum toxin, 8,500 litres of anthrax, 2,200 litres of aflatoxin, 2,850 tonnes of mustard gas, 210 tonnes of tabun, 795 tonnes of sarin and cyclosarin and 3.9 tonnes of VX. What makes these numbers of particular concern is the willingness the Regime had shown to using this form of weaponry during the Iran-Iraq war. This willingness was reiterated on Friday 17th March 1988 when Iraqi warplanes dropped mustard gas and nerve agents on the Kurdish town of Halabja in Northern Iraq. It has been estimated that over 4,000 people were killed in the attack.2

In light of the atrocities mentioned above and due to the unpredictable nature of the regime, it was decided by the international community to dispose of Iraq’s chemical and biological arsenal at the end of the Gulf War. This was to be achieved by the formation of UNSCOM, tasked with carrying out inspections within Iraq and disposing of these weapons, this also included lowering their ballistic missile range to 150km. In a period between 1991 and 1998 the inspectors successfully destroyed a large quantity of these weapons however due to continuing and increased harassment by the Regime they were withdrawn in 1998.

After their withdrawal from operations in the country, UNSCOM produced a report for the UN Security Council in 1999 estimating the quantity of weapons they could not account for, the numbers are substantial3. Up to 360 tonnes of bulk chemical warfare agent, including 1.5 tonnes of VX nerve agent, 3,000 tonnes of precusor chemicals, approximately 300 tonnes being unique to the production of VX, enough growth media to produce three times the 8,500 litres of anthrax spores Iraq admits to having manufactured, 30,000 special munitions for the delivery of chemical and biological agents.

From the facts stated above there are a number of things we can infer about Iraq’s current position. At present the Regime has access to chemical and biological weapons in direct breach of UNSCR 687. In addition to this, past events show that great importance is attached to these weapons and that by retaining them it adds to the overall political weight held by Iraq. From past experience we can also assume that Iraq has and will continue to take steps to prevent UN inspectors from collecting evidence on WMD’s and therefore they are actively seeking to resume the production of them.

In response to repeated questioning about the unaccounted stocks, Iraq has always claimed that any agents kept from before the Gulf War would have deteriorated. This is somewhat ironic in the light of them already having admitted to UNSCOM that they had the knowledge and capability to add stabilise, a chemical that would prevent decomposition. There has also never been any solid proof that all biological agents have been destroyed, a claim that the Regime has constantly made. This is especially alarming in relation to the figures given for unaccounted agents.4

In relation to the production capability of Iraq, intelligence shows that chemical agent has continued to be produced. A prime example of this is the al-Qa’qa’ chemical complex. Originally bombed during the Gulf War it has been repaired and is operational, what is of particular concern is the repair of parts dismantled under UNSCOM supervision since the withdrawal. This is also the case with biological institutes. UNSCOM only destroyed apparatus that could be used in weapons production however the country still maintains the engineering capability to design and construct this equipment. Finally, through the evidence of defectors, especially over the past two years, UNSCOM believe that there is a distinct possibility that the military have developed mobile biological facilities.

On the Subject of nuclear weapons, less is known, however in 1998 the JIC highlighted intelligence that Iraq had called its nuclear scientists back to a programme. In 2002 UN sanctions on Iraq were assessed by the JIC and were found to be hindering the import of materials essential for creating fissile material (that needed to create the devastating blast). It was judged that with the present situation as it is it would take up to five years for a weapon to be produced however if fissile material was made available now then Iraq possess enough expertise to have the weapon operational with two years5.

This brings us to the question of ballistic missile capability. As was witnessed during the Gulf War, Iraq used missiles, namely SCUD to attack coalition forces and neighbouring countries. UNSCOM endeavoured to destroy these during the 1991-1998 inspections and now Iraq has been openly developing short range missiles with a range of 150km to stay within the permitted boundaries of UNSCR Resolution 687. However, evidence suggests that production of the solid propellant Ababil-100 is underway. This potentially means that Iraq’s missile range will extend to 200km in direct breach of UNSCR 687 and with further testing of the engines a range of 600km could be reached. This means that Coalition bases in Turkey and Cyprus could be hit.

Since the Gulf War and Operation Desert Fox (1998), Iraq has been able to rebuild a great deal of its missile production infrastructure. This is made apparent through Satellite imagery of the Al-Rafah/Shahiyat liquid propellant engine static test site where an engine stand capable of testing engines with ranges over 1000km has been constructed, like so much before this is in complete breach of UNSCR Resolution 687.6 This indicates that in spite of a UN embargo blocking certain technology, tools and raw materials from being made available to Iraq, the Regime has still actively tried to acquire them and in certain cases probably has.

Having addressed the probable capabilities of Iraq at this current time it is now left to highlight the many material breaches of the United Nation Security Resolutions which have been and are being observed. It is also important to bear in mind that all the resolutions passed are done so under Chapter VII of the UN Charter allowing the Security Council to Authorise military force to enforce them.

In 1991, UNSCR 687 was passed subsequently creating UNSCOM. It also held that Iraq accept that it must unconditionally “destroy, remove or render harmless, under international supervision, it’s chemical, biological and ballistic missiles with a range of more that 150km”. In addition to this the IAEA were tasked with dismantling any nuclear weapon’s programme in existence. Both agencies were to report back to the Security Council when this was achieved, however as to date both have failed to do so.

UNSCR 707 (1991), instructed Iraq to disclose all information on WMD programmes and allow UN inspectors unrestricted access. As is outlined in the reports of the inspectors, this has never been adhered to, in fact they have actively moved against it.

Again in 1991 UNSCR 715 authorised plans prepared by UNSCOM and the IAEA to establish a system of ongoing monitoring and verification that UNSCR was being implemented. Iraq did not accept this until 1993 and even then the programme was not made fully functional until 1995, lasting through to the withdrawal in 1998. Finally UNSCR 1051 (1996) prescribed that Iraq must declare any shipment of “dual-use” goods that could be used for WMD programmes7.

In addition to being in breach of UNSCR’s, Iraq is also in breach of other agreements, most notably the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention which bans any production, acquisition or stockpiling of biological weapons and also the Geneva Protocol (1925) which bans the use of chemical and Biological weapons8.

The true extent of the non-co-operation of the regime is best outlined in the actual reports presented by the inspection teams. Richard Butler, former Chairman of UNSCOM reported to the Security Council on a regular basis during the years of inspection.

One such report in December 1997 highlighted that the Regime had created a new category of sites from which the inspectors would be barred. These extensive sites, some being hundreds of acres, went under the guise of “Presidential” and “Sovereign” areas even though the terms of the 1991 ceasefire recognised no such areas.9 This amongst other things lead Butler to report again in January 1999, this time stating that a high level Iraqi Government committee had only ever been willing to present a small portion of its weaponry and active production capabilities.

The obstruction and hindrance did not stop there though. Throughout their time in Iraq, the inspection teams were constantly exposed to blatant intimidation techniques. These included firing warning shots into the air to prevent IAEA inspectors from intercepting nuclear related equipment, repeatedly denying access to inspection teams, not allowing UNSCOM to use their own helicopters or aircraft and when they did interfering with them and on one occasion, keeping inspectors in a car park for nearly five days, refusing to allow them to leave with incriminating documents on Iraq’s nuclear weapons programme10.

When not trying to obstruct inspectors on the ground, Iraq was also actively forging documents in relation to the usage of materials used to create biological weapons. They claimed that the discrepancies in the stockpiles were due to the materials being used in hospitals etc. The only time Iraq did admit to having pursued production of biological agents on an industrial scale came after the defection of Hssein Kamil in 1995. Kamil had been the former Director of the Military Industrialisation Committee. Even in light of this, Richard Butler himself stated that the ongoing non-co-operative nature of the Iraqi’s “had a significant impact upon the Commission’s disarmament work”.

There have been no ‘full-time’ inspectors in Iraq since 1998 and even with the forming of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) through UNSCR 1284 (1999), it is still very hard to establish any clear idea where Iraq stands in relation to its continuing WMD programmes, this has been stated by Hans Blix who headed up the recent inspections.

The abuse of power and continual breaking of international law does not stop at the above though. The people’s of Iraq live and have lived under a regime based on fear and violence where human rights are not observed in the slightest.

The ruling political power in the country is the Ba’ath Party. Public life is dealt with by the party with Saddam Hussein being overall leader and decision maker. Positions of power within the party are held by family of Hussein, close friends and members of his tribe.

The party is the only legal political party in the country and to have any chance of social advancement it is necessary that citizens become a member. Hussein rules with complete power and all other parties have been outlawed, he is also extremely paranoid about the infrastructure in his party and regularly executes those he believes have other ambitions away from service to him.

Since coming to power Hussein has constantly persecuted Iraqi Kurds as is apparent in my description of the chemical attack on Halabja and the constant attack of Kurdish villages during the Iran-Iraq war leaving over 100,000 dead11. In addition to this the regime has continually tried to displace Kurdish and Tukoman populations from their native lands in the north of the country. This oil-rich area is instead allocated to Sunni Muslims (Hussein’s own tribe) which has lead according to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights to over 94,000 individuals being expelled since 1991.

Hussein’s craving for absolute domination does not stop within the boundaries of his own country however and the two wars he has waged in the last 25 years emphasise the threat he bears to the region as a whole. In 1979 and with the fall of the Shah in Iran, Hussein quickly renounced a border treaty agreed five years previously. Soon after that he ordered a full-scale invasion of Iran, using the weak political position of the country at the time to try and gain territory. By the end of the war it had cost the two sides over a million casualties and in its report after, the UN Security Council openly condemned Iraq under the 1925 Geneva Convention banning the use of chemical weapons, for its extensive use of mustard gas.

The war debt ran into hundreds of billions of dollars and by the early 90’s Iraq was in serious financial trouble. Hussein saw Kuwait as an easy target of potential wealth and under the ‘flag’ of an ancient claim to the land in Ottoman times, invaded. During their time of occupation, Iraqi forces were seen to openly loot, rape and torture, all regarded as war crimes. On top of this, Hussein used many hundreds of foreign nationals trapped in the country as human shields, this directly contravenes with international humanitarian law.

Under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (1998)12, Hussein, members of his cabinet and followers are covered by multiple articles namely, Article 6 Genocide (Upon the Kurds), Article 7 Crimes against Humanity (upon his own people, political prisoners etc) and Article 8 War crimes (Kuwait and Iran). This may not amount to a justification to invade Iraq, however it does serve as increasing evidence of the illegal nature of the Iraqi Regime’s position of power and continuing actions.

In general it needs to be recognised that the illegal international and domestic actions of Iraq will not be tolerated. Although the use of Article 51 to invoke a pre-emptive strike raises problems, it must be acknowledged that since the original 1991 ceasefire agreement, Iraq has never fully co-operated as was expected. It may be argued that the agreement itself is outdated however it has never been fully adhered to and as has been demonstrated in the past with economic sanctions being applied, Iraq will still choose to act against the agreed resolutions of the International Community anyhow. Even in the face of military action in 1998 (Operation Desert Fox) we are still in a position where Iraq are actively seeking to increase an illegal armoury.

Can we stand by as an International Community, especially in the face of continuing problems between Jew and Arab in Israel and Gaza and allow someone to threaten any possible future peace plans? As was demonstrated during the Gulf War, Iraq were keen to carry out SCUD strikes against Israel, knowing full well that it could cause all out war within the Middle East.

This situation also needs to be addressed tactically. Can we afford Iraq anymore time to arm? Surely we are placing our troops at an increased risk by allowing them to see we are preparing an assault, unwilling to carry it out due to indecision and waiting for other methods proved in the past to have failed against this sort of Regime just to fail again.

Although much of the information we are working with is from unidentifiable intelligence sources and evidence that is up to ten years old, we must draw conclusions about how Iraq may act in the future in light of their actions in the past. With the evidence outlined in this document, under Chapter VII of the UN Charter we believe a full-scale invasion of Iraq would be justified in the interests of future peace within the region and at an International level.

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