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United Nations actions regarding Iraq Arms

During most of 2002 and into 2003, the United States government has called for "regime change" in Iraq and threatened to use military force to overthrow the Iraqi government unless Iraq rids itself of all weapons of mass destruction and convinces the UN that it has done so.

United Nations responses to US plans for invasion of IraqOn September 12, 2002, Bush, speaking before the General Assembly of the United Nations outlined the complaints of the United States against the Iraqi government, detailing Iraq's alleged noncompliance to the terms of 16 resolutions of the Security Council since the Gulf War in 1990. Specific areas of noncompliance alleged in this speech include:

"In violation of Security Council Resolution 1373, Iraq continues to shelter and support terrorist organization that direct violence against Iran, Israel, and Western governments....And al-Qaida terrorists escaped from Afghanistan are known to be in Iraq."

U.N. Commission on Human Rights found "extremely grave" human rights violations in 2001.

Iraqi production and use of weapons of mass destruction (biological weapons, chemical weapons, and long-range missiles), all in violation of U.N. resolutions.

Iraq used proceeds from the "oil for food" U.N. program to purchase weapons rather than food for its people.

Iraq flagrantly violated the terms of the weapons inspection program before discontinuing it altogether. Following the speech, intensive negotiations began with other members of the Security Council. In particular, three permanent members (with veto power) of the Council were known to have objections to an invasion of Iraq: Russia, China, and France. In the meantime, Iraq, while denying all charges, announced that it would permit the re-entry of United Nations arms inspectors into Iraq. The Unites States characterized this as a ploy by Iraq and continued to call for a Security Council resolution which would authorize the use of military force. On November 8, 2002, the UN passed new resolutions urging Iraq to disarm or face tough consequences. The resolution passed with a 15 to 0 vote, supported by Russia, China and France, and even Arab countries like Syria. This gave this resolution wider support than even the 1992 Gulf War resolution. Although the Iraqi parliament voted against honoring the UN resolution, Hussein agreed to honor it.

On November 18, 2002, UN Weapons inspectors returned to Iraq for the first time in four years.

The US has stated five main demands of Iraq:

End the alleged production and stockpiling of biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons
End their alleged support for terrorism
Cease persecution of the civilian population
Free or account for non-Iraqi citizens missing since the 1991 Gulf War
End all efforts to circumvent UN economic sanctions.

On September 26, 2002, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld accused Iraq of harboring al Qaeda terrorists and aiding their quest for weapons of mass destruction. In early December, 2002, Iraq filed a 12,000-page weapons declaration with the UN. After reviewing the document, U.N. weapons inspectors, the U.S., France, Britain and other countries felt that this declaration failed to account for all of Iraq's chemical and biological agents. On December 19 Secretary of State Colin Powell stated that Iraq was in material breach of the Security Council resolution. Whether Iraq actually has weapons of mass destruction or not is being investigated by Hans Blix, head of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission. Saddam Hussein has accused the weapon inspectors of being spies and says his country is prepared for war.

Blix has complained that the United States and the United Kingdom have not presented him with the evidence which they claim to posess regarding Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction. [1]

On January 16, 2003 U.N. inspectors discovered 11 empty 122 mm chemical warheads ? components not previously declared by Iraq. Iraq dismissed the warheads as old weapons that had been packed away and forgotten. After performing tests on the warheads, U.N. inspectors believe that they were new. While the warheads are evidence of an Iraqi weapons program, they may not amount to a "smoking gun", according to U.S. officials, unless some sort of chemical agent is also detected. U.N. inspectors believe there to still be large quantities of weapons materials that are still unaccounted for. U.N. inspectors also searched the homes of several Iraqi scientists.

On January 27, 2003, UN inspectors reported that Iraq had cooperated on a practical level with monitors, but had not demonstrated a "genuine acceptance" of the need to disarm. Inspector Hans Blix said that after the empty chemical warheads were found on the 16th, Iraq produced papers documenting the destruction of many other similar warheads, which had not been disclosed before. This still left thousands of warheads unaccounted for however. Inspectors also reported the discovery of over 3,000 pages of weapons program documents in the home of an Iraqi citizen, suggesting an attept to "hide" them from inspectors and apparently contradicting Iraq's earlier claim that it had no further documents to provide. In addition, by the 28th, a total of 16 Iraqi scientists had refused to be interviewed by inspectors. The United States reports that sources have told them that Saddam has ordered the death of any scientist that speaks with inspectors in private. Iraq insists that they are not putting pressure on the scientists.

On February 5 2003, the United States Secretary of State Colin Powell appeared before the UN to "prove" the urgency to engage a war with Iraq. Although the presentation has failed to change the fundamental position of the UN Security Council -- mainly France, Germany, Russia and China, Powell succeeded to harden the overall tone of the United Nations towards disarmament in Iraq. Powell also said that Iraq harbours a terrorist network headed by al-Qaeda operative Abu Musab Zarqawi. Powell also showed photos of what he said was a poison and explosives training camp in north-east Iraq, opperated by the group. However, when this camp was visited by a British journalist two days later, all that was found was a few dilapidated buildings and no evidence or signs of any terrorist activity, chemical or explosives. Powell alleged that these training camps had been opperating with help from Iraqi agents. Powell also said that Iraqis visited Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan and provided training to al-Qaeda members. According to US intelligence, Iraq maintains an active connection to the terrorist organization. While Colin Powell's statement to the UN may have been accepted as 'proof' by many in the USA, this is not the case in Europe, where there is still widespread scepticism of any links between Iraq and al Qaeda. It is notable that even the UK government's intelligence services do not believe there is any link.

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