Material Breach, Working Inspections, and Antiwar

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Hans Blix, the chief UN weapons inspector, said today, "Many proscribed weapons and items are not accounted for."

Blix added, "One must not jump to the conclusion that (the proscribed weapons) exist. However, that possibility is also not excluded."

UN Security Council Resolution 1441 says the UN Security Council "decides that false statements or omissions in the declarations submitted by Iraq pursuant to this resolution and failure by Iraq at any time to comply with, and cooperate fully in the implementation of, this resolution shall constitute a further material breach of Iraq's obligations."

To sum up: according to the UN inspectors, Iraq is not accounting for forbidden weapons. According to Resolution 1441, Iraq is therefore in material breach.

There is no way around this.

But, can it be fixed? Can the inspections yet "work"? What does it mean that inspections "work"?

UN Security Council Resolution 687, which ended the Gulf War, is clear on the purpose of inspections. It says that the Security Council "unconditionally accept the destruction, removal, or rendering harmless, under international supervision, of:

      1. All chemical and biological weapons and all stocks of agents and all related subsystems and components and all research, development, support and manufacturing facilities;

      2. All ballistic missiles with a range greater than 150 kilometres and related major parts, and repair and production facilities."

And that to implement this, a Special Comission shall be establish for the "inspection of Iraq's biological, chemical and missile capabilities, based on Iraq's declarations and the designation of any additional locations by the Special Commission itself," as well as to accept those weapons from Iraq "for destruction, removal or rendering harmless, taking into account the requirements of public safety, of all (the weapons)."

Inspections work if Iraq is honest to the UN about all questions about their weapons, and those weapons are submitted to the UN for destruction. That is the only standard by which inspections "work," if those things happen.

Yet, Blix says, "Many proscribed weapons and items are not accounted for." Therefore, inspections are not working.

France says that inspections are working. Many people say Iraq is not in significant material breach. Both statements are above demonstrated to be false.

That said, what of war? Resolution 687 also says the UN Security Council "decides ... to take such further steps as may be required for the implementation of the present resolution and to secure peace and security in the area." The UN Security Council has already decided that if inspections do not work -- and they are not working, and there is no sign they will work -- that it will take further steps. The one thing I can say is that I am unconvinced there are not intermediate steps between inspections and renewed hostilities.

To you antiwar protestors, a word: I can't believe you will convince significant numbers of people by saying war is evil, Iraq is not in breach, inspections are working, other countries are just as bad, the US just wants oil, and other things that are wrong or miss the point. What we need are more people to make the case that though Iraq is bad, though Iraq is in material breach, though insepctions are not working, though the Security Council has decided to disarm Iraq through other means if inspections do not work, that the case has not been made that the step after failed inspections is war. Emphasize that there must be another way, that, as Colin Powell said today, war must be a last resort, and that you are not convinced we have reached the last resort. Offer alternatives. Say there are steps between inspections and war.

Make that case, and you have more of a chance of making a difference, I think. Make that case, and you can convince people like me.

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<pudge/*> (pronounced "PudgeGlob") is thousands of posts over many years by Pudge.

"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."

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This page contains a single entry by pudge published on February 14, 2003 8:50 PM.

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